(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Advanced Microdevices Manuals | Linear Circuits Manuals | Supertex Manuals | Sundry Manuals | Echelon Manuals | RCA Manuals | National Semiconductor Manuals | Hewlett Packard Manuals | Signetics Manuals | Fluke Manuals | Datel Manuals | Intersil Manuals | Zilog Manuals | Maxim Manuals | Dallas Semiconductor Manuals | Temperature Manuals | SGS Manuals | Quantum Electronics Manuals | STDBus Manuals | Texas Instruments Manuals | IBM Microsoft Manuals | Grammar Analysis | Harris Manuals | Arrow Manuals | Monolithic Memories Manuals | Intel Manuals | Fault Tolerance Manuals | Johns Hopkins University Commencement | PHOIBLE Online | International Rectifier Manuals | Rectifiers scrs Triacs Manuals | Standard Microsystems Manuals | Additional Collections | Control PID Fuzzy Logic Manuals | Densitron Manuals | Philips Manuals | The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly Debates | Linear Technologies Manuals | Cermetek Manuals | Miscellaneous Manuals | Hitachi Manuals | The Video Box | Communication Manuals | Scenix Manuals | Motorola Manuals | Agilent Manuals
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The lock and key library: the most interesting stories of all nations Volume 9"

\: 


" 


\ ) 


}.} 


i 111. 1 1 "11;1,1111 111 : Ii: !
I 


(I 


II 


It 



 ==== Lt') 
W
 
...J- 
o 
 
 
I U - --=-: cO 

 VJ 
 

 == -D 
I 
 _ D 

 0- 
\ (fa 
 
 ==== ,....=t 
h. 
 
 = - 0 
u.= 
o _ -,....=t 

 -
 -D 
tñ _ 
 
ffi ,....=t 
( 
 ::::::::: 
,
 ::>
"., 
t 
 \. 


,,-Y. 
, 


. 
 
J... l1 
p
, J. 


, J 
i 
', 
)
 of 
\
 I 
J }, 


I 


Jj 
-Hit,!; . 

 ,I 
. . ) 
\; 
 
. I h. 


" 

'). 
\ I} 'l " 
 
I \
 f i 
I "J ; 
\ . "1 . 
Ii. 1.
;1 


u 


,It I 


. 
",I 


, nil' 1111 ill 


. I 
.
t. 1111 

 . 
" 
t\ 


It 


, } 1111 


II 


.r 


)' 


11" Ii II' III 
., : 1111 I 1111 11 -11m I' III 
I. , " , 1 ! I I II I 
_ ::1'" I .1 111 1 II 

 ":111 IIII '1 111 11 ,I 1111 1 11 I' 1 111 
) I 1 I , I II III 
I I 1111 III Iii III : II III 
" '.I,; : I II !IIi I " 1 1111 11: 1'11111111, nUl I I Ii 
I I I II 1: 1 
I II I 
I I I I I : I 111m I 
I, I I III I 11 11 111 I 111 11 Ii I,ll 
II I, I " I I I Iitl :11 1 III 


II 


hll 




 
 



 


D 
" I 
J 
, 
 to 


a 


 


..... 


tl 

'Ç 0 


· 
 ' r 
e _ v . \0 Î '-,' 
J 
, 
 


l' OJ 
 
 
 n,u ... J 

 "+ ( 11 :
 
 
 
 
-./ 
"'- 
J. \J 
" 

 
 [;J
 
LJ_ 
,. 
r t W 
4 I - 
) 
 ('
J 

 J 


u 


.- D 

"<) 


. w, 
} 
 
 



, 

 + 



 



 
?'+ 


J 


1 
, 
?' ,. 


, L , L 
+'+ 9
 
, i
l. IJ ' 
, 
.c. 
 J 9'+ 


, 
, 
 , C 
'" 

 
 
 0) 
 
 
j \ M 

 

 [;;] I:n1 , 
(- '+ 

 Ll_1:'.J .c. 
..... -.\ 
, è 
, r- >- \
 
. \! 

 .) 

 
,.J 
 
- .. 

\CH El 
 
c}" 
Q 

 
 
rn 
r , ' Ë LIDRARv 
 

 
 

 
 

 o \,
t;j 





\CHAEl ;r 

'" 
Co Q 

 

 
c 
 

 LIBRARY 
 
--- 

 
 

 
 

/.I,1 
f:S . 
'YI} 0 
 




THE LOCK AND KEY LIBRARY 


CLASSIC MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE 
STORIES OF ALL NATIONS 


TEN VOLUMES 


NORTH EUROPE MEDITERRANEAN GERMAN CLASSIC FRENCH 
MODERN FRENCH FRENCH NOVELS OLD TIME ENGLISH 
MODERN ENGLISH AMERICAN REAL LIFE 


'tt:\CHAEl 'j"\ 
4-' u 
 

 
 
o f"'" 
>- r1'\ I 
..- R. t. r. " C), 
_ L.., I
' 
tol') 


 ,,=:.;t 
'" or: 
,
'$ 
0);. 


'I} 



TRANSLATORS 


whose work is represented in this collection 
of "C LAS SIC :1\1 Y S T E R Y and 
DETECTIVE STORIES," many here 
rendered into English for the first tinle 


ARTHUR ARRIVET . 
JOHN P. BROWN 
United States Legation, Constantinople 
JONATHAN STURGES 
SIR RICHARD FRANCIS BURTON . 
LADY ISABEL BURTON 
GRACE I. COLBRON 
FREDERICK TABER COOI'ER, PH. D. 
GEORGE F. DUYSTERS . 
HERBERT A. GILES 
British Consular Service 
GLANVILL GILL Frt1zch 
D. F. HANNIGAN, LL.B. Fl"ellcb 
LOUIS HOFFMANN . French 
FLORENCE hWIN Frencb 
CHARLES JOHNSTON . Russian-Oriental 
Royal Asiatic Society, Indian Civil Service 
EUGENE LUCAS . . H1l11f[a1'Ïan 
R. SHELTON MACKENZIE . French 
ELLEN MARRIA
 . Fre11ch 
JOHN A. PIERCE Fl'fllCb 
W. R. S. RALSTON, M.A. . Tlbetmz 
EDWARD REHATSEK . Persian 
Royal Asiatic Society, Examiner Bombay University 
GEORGE RAWLINSON, M.A. (OXON.) 
MARY J. SAFFORD. 
FRANZ ANTON VON SCHlEP'NER . 
Librarian, St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences 
CHARLES HENRY TAWNEY, M.A., C.I.E. . 
Librarian, India Office 
R. WHITTU}I;G, M.A. (OXON.) 
EDW ARD ZIEGLER 


Japanese 
. Turkisb 


Frellcb 
Arabic 
Arabic 
Gel mall-Scalzdi1zaviall 
Romance Languages 
'. Spanish 
Chinese 


Greek 
Frellcb 
. TibetalZ 


. Hilldoo 


French 
German 




. H' t:\) C\\(t;\,rr.'i) t:\Vr.\ìY
Y(t:\Y(l:ÙTr.:\\"({;\Vt:"\Vtõ\)(i:\
 

 . 
 

 . 
 
- r - 
) 
 
"\ 
 

 
 

 , 
 

 .
 
 

 
 

 
 
"'" 
 \ 
 

 - 
 
 

 
 

 4 

 
 

 " 
 
& 
 , 

 "a " ,-" 

 
 
 
: l ( 
 

 
 

 - 
 

 ,
 , 
 

 
 

 
 

 

 
::;.;, 

 

 
5' 

 

 

 

 

 
:>' 

 
:f 
'-", 

 
:;I 

 

 
;, 

 


E 
:-:: 

 

 


...: 
:-;: 


S 
f 
,. 

I 



 

 

 
G 
...:: 

 

 , 

 ' 

 ....- 
Zl 


.,-- 


"--- 



 \. 
"- 
G . 
 

V).""
J\..VJ,\\ÿ).\.W)'-
""


'J.....t.;;/Jl-..:JJ\
).\
'.,-':'; ". . 


....... 


:\ 
-;:. 


: 


s::: 
cI1 
8 

 

 
$-0 
IJ:. 
I 
fIJ 
.!:: 

 

 


f/) 

 
o 

 
ç:4 

 cI1:>, 
-C .t;h 
Cf) r.r.cI1 
o 2:::: 

 :::::>, 
L.. 0,0 
L' E-<:: 
(1) 
\0. 
<( 


(1) 
\0. 
(1) 
-C 
.f- 
I 
(1) 
.... 
<( 
(1) 
.... 
(1) 
-C 
f- 
ê 

 
-C 
OD 
.C 
c:c 


-
 
w
 
:?; 
 

.r:: 
Z....., 
h s:: 

 0 

 fIJ 
P-. :?; 
>,0 
,o'C 
cI1 
b.Q..r:: 
s::"J1 
.
 11> 
cI1.r:: 
hf-4 
Q:: 


u) 
""' 
:E 

 
C1) 
c. 
f/) 

 
c.J 



 
o 
c.J 

 

 
...ci 
o 


: 


'" 


, 




 



 
,. 
Q 

 
t"'" 
LIBRAAY 
 

 
is 
O\.

 


THE 
LOCK AND KEY 
LIBRAR Y 


CLASSIC MYSTERY AND 
DETECTIVE STORIES 


EDITED BY 


JULIAN HAWTHORNE 


w 


AMERICAN 


Julian Hawthorne F. Marion Crawford 
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
Melville D. Post Ambrose Bierce 
Edgar Allan Poe Washington Irving 
Charles Brockden Brown 
Fitzjames O'Brien Nathaniel Hawthorne 


w 


NEW YORK 
THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS CO. '" .f
 
1909 
 1.1 



 



Copyright, 1909, by 
THE REVIE\V OF REVIEWS COMPANY 


THE QUINN 6: BODEN CO. PRESS 

AHWAY, N. J. 



Table of Contents 


PAGE 


INTRODUCTION BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE 
" Riddle Stories ., 


9 


F. MARION CRAWFORD (1854-) 
By the Waters of Paradise 
MARY E. 'VILKINS FREEMAN (1862-) 
The Shadows on the \Vall 


21 


47 


MELVILLE D. POST (18jl-) 
The Corpus Delicti . 
AMBROSE BIERCE (1842-) 
An Heiress from Redhorse 
The :Man and the Snake . 


65 


97 
103 


EDGAR ALLAN POE (180<.r-49) 
The Oblong Box 
The Gold-Bug . 
\V ASHINGTON IRVING (1783-1859) 
Wolfert Webber, or Golden Dreams 
Adventure of the Black Fisherman 


II2 


124 


165 
189 


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


. 222 


FITZJAMES O"BRIEN (1828-1862) 
The Golden Ingot 
:My Wife's Tempter . 
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (I804-1864) 
The 
iinister's Black Veil 


. 3 0 5 
. 3 21 


ANo
YMOUS 
Horror: A True Tale 




" Riddle Stories " 


Introduction by Julian Hawthorne 


WHEN Poe wrote his immortal Dupin tales, the name 
It Detective" stories had not been invented; the de- 
tective of fiction not having been as yet discovered. And 
the title is still something of a misnomer, for many nar- 
ratives 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 ot its mystery; once in a \vhile some ven- 
turesome genius has the courage to leave his enigma unex- 
plained. But ever since Gaboriau created his Lecoq, the 
transcendant 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 hin1 
is the more presentable. But in this age of marvels \ve 
seem less difficult to suit in this respect than our forefathers 
were. 
The fact is, meanwhile, that, in the riddle story, the de- 
tective was an afterthought, or, more accurately, a deus ex 
machina to make the story go. The riddle had to be un- 
riddled; 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 aftenvards that 'INriters perceived 
his availability as a character. Lecoq accordingly becomes 
a figure in fiction, and Sherlock, while he was as yet a 
9 



. American !Iystery Stories 
," 


novelty, was nearly as attractive as the complications in 
which he involved himself. Riddle-story writers in gen- 
eral, 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 de- 
mand of hinl, 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 eluci- 
dations of oneself; the professional endowment obscures 
all the others. We ordinarily find, therefore, our author 
dismissing the individuality of his detective \vith a few 
strong black-chalk outlines, and devoting his main labor 
upon what he feels the reader \vill chiefly occupy his o\vn 
ingenuity \vith,-namely, the elaboration of the riddle itself. 
Reader and 'writer sit down to a game, as it \'Tere, \vith the 
odds, of course, altogether on the latter's siâe,-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 \vriter's pay, and aids the deception by leading 
the reader off on false scents. Be that as it may, the pro- 
fessional sleuth is in nine cases out of ten a dun1my 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 ahvays finds a way that is better than the rules, and 
I think it \vill be found that the very best riddle stories con- 
trive to drive character and riddle side by side, and to make 
each somehow enhance the effect of the other.- The inten- 
tion of the above paragraph '\\!iIl be more precisely conveyed 
if I include under the name of detective not only the n1an 
from the central office, but also anybody whom the \vriter 
may, for ends of his o\vn, 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 any- 
thing to prevent his becoming, in his o\vn right, the most 
fascinating of mankind. 
But in addition to the dummyship of the detectiye, or to 
the cases in which the mere slip of circumstance takes his 
10 



Julian H au.'thoyne 
place, there is another reason against narro\ving our con- 
ception of the riddle story to the degree which the alter- 
native appel1ation would imply. And that is, that it 'would 
exclude not a fe\v 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 \veb, but in the \veav- 
ing of it. rfhe same remark applies to Buhver'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 ,vould 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; other- 
wise their introduction \vould not be a square deal. It 
would not be fair, in other words, to propose a conundnlm 
on a basis of ostensible materialism, and then, \vhen 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 n1ake; 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. N ever- 
theless, when a ghost story is told ,vith the consummate art 
of a Miss Wilkins, and of one or hvo 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. Weare to contemplate a condition, not to ,vatch 
the events that ultimate in it. Our detective, or anyone 
else, may of course meet 'with haps and mishaps on his \vay 
to the solution of his puzzle; but an astute writer will not 
II 



A 1nerican l.f ystery Stories 
color such incidents too vividly, lest he risk forfeiting our 
preoccupation \vith the problem that we caIne 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 respect- 
able literature at aIL vVith that sect} I announce at the 
outset that I am entirely out of sympathy. It is not needed 
to compare" The Gold Bug" \vith " Paradise Lost"; no- 
body denies the superior literary stature of the latter, al- 
though, 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, \vith incomparable felicity, as follo\vs:- 
you will recall that the two protagonists had a difference, 
originating in the fact that the former caned the latter 
"Little Prig." Bun made a very sprightly retort, sum- 
ming up to this effect:- 


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



ndes 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 dimen- 
sions differ. But I \vould rather live in a \vorld that pos- 
sessed only literature of the Poe caliber, than shiver in 
one echoing solely the strains of the 1\Iiltonian 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 no- 
body has any business to pooh-pooh them. In fact. I feel 
as if I 'were knocking do\vn a man of straw. I look in 
12 



Julian Hau'thornc 
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 Dædalian; it is fine. It is the product of the ingenuity 
lobe of the human brain working and expatiating in free- 
dom. 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 \vatch your arms overnight in order to under- 
stand it. Look at the nice setting of the mortises; mark 
how the cover fits; ho,v 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 mechan- 
ism. Note, moreover, ho\v 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 \vill materially im- 
prove the looks of the empty chambers, or disorderly or 
ungainly chambers that you carry under your cro\vn. 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, ho\vever, rely upon abstract ar- 
gument to support my contention. !\1:any of the b
st writ- 
ers of all time have used their skill in the inverted form of 
story telling, as a glance at our table of contents \vill 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 ,vriters \vho 
would ",-rite good ones if they could, and \vho have tried 
and failed to write them, is past computation. And one 
13 



A11lericGn Mystery Stories 
reason probably is that such stories, for their success, must 
depend prinlarily upon structure-a sound and perfect plot 
-\vhich is one of the rare things in our contemporary fic- 
tion. Our writers get hold of an incident, or a sentiment, 
or a character, or a moral principle, or a bit of technical 
kno\vledge, or a splotch of local color, or even of a new 
version of dialect, and they will do something in two to ten 
thousand ,vords out of that and call it a short story. Maga- 
zines may be found to print it-for there are all manner of 
n1agazines; 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 bat- 
tle; it is next to being quite unimportant, .and, moreover, 
it is always easy. The unexplained corpse lies \veltering in 
its gore in the first paragraph; the inexplicable cipher pre- 
sents its enigma at the turning of the opening page. The 
writer who is secure in the kno,vledge that he has got a 
good thing coming, and has arranged the manner and de- 
tails 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 ,,-ill do it in the right way. But O! what 
a labor and s\veat it is; \vhat a planning and trimming; what 
a remodeling, curtailing, interlining; what despairs suc- 
ceeded by new lights, ,vhat heroic expedients tried at the 
last monlent, and disn1Ïssed the moment after; 'what waste- 
paper baskets full of futilities, and what gallant commence- 
ments all over again! Did the reader know, or remotely 
suspect, what terrific struggles the 'writer of a really good 
detective story had sustained, he ,vould regard the final 
product \vith a new ,,'onder and respect, and read it all over 
once more to find out how the troubles occurred. But he 
\vill 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 other\vise than it is; and the wise reader is 
14 



Julian H a'ä/thorne 
convinced that he could have done the thing himself with- 
out half trying. At that, the weary ,vriter smiles a bitter 
smile; but it is one of the spurns that patient merit of the 
un\vorthy takes. Nobody, except him '\\>-ho has tried it, \vill 
ever know ho\v hard it is to write a really good detective 
story. The Ilian or woman who can do it can also \vrite a 
good play (according to modern ideas of plays), and pos- 
sesses force of character, individuality, and mental ability. 
He or she must combine the intuition of the artist \vith 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 ,vrong, 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. 
11ercy is not his strong point, ho\\"ever he may abound in 
justice; and he will not stickle at piling up the agony, if 
there by he provides opportunity for enhancing the pictur- 
esqueness and cOll1pleteness 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 \vriter; 
and that is, that he is not sincere; he n1akes his mysteries 
backward, and kno\vs the answer to his riddle before he 
states its terms. He deliberately supplies his reader, also, 
with all manner of false scents, well kno\ving them to be 
such; and concocts various seeming artless and innocent 
remarks and allusions, which in reality are diabolically art- 
ful, 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 pron1pt you to sharpen your ,vits; 
and as you are yourself the real detective in the case, so you 
must regard your author as the real criminal \vho111 you are 
to detect. Credit no statel11ent of his save as supported by 
the clearest evidence; be continually repeating to yourself, 
"Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes,"-nay, never so n1uch 
as then. But, as I said before, when the game is well set, 
you have no chance whatever against the dealer; and for 
IS 



Anlericalt "Afystery Stories 
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 mOßt insolent gold bricks; and in that way I occasion- 
ally 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 
,visdom 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 ,,,ho know every- 
thing beforehand, and smile compassionately or scornfully 
at the artless outcries of astonishment of those who are un- 
infonned, 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 developl11ent; the enigma cannot be posed in so many 
ways, but must be stated once for all; there cannot be false 
scents, or but a fe\v of them; there can be small oppor- 
tunity for character dra\ving, 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 \vriter would deem it impossible 
to tell the story of " The Gold Bug" in less than a volume, 
:r6 



J'ltlian Hau'thorne 
Poe could do it in a fe\v thousand ,vords, and yet appear 
to have said everything worth saying. In the case of the 
Sherlock Holmes tales, they form a series, and our pre- 
vious knowledge of the hero enables the writer to dispense 
with much description and accompaniment that would be 
necessary had that elninent personage been presented in 
only a single complication of events. Each special episode 
of the great analyst's career can therefore be handled \vith 
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 \vhich inspires the short tale. We are given, 
as it were, a \vide landscape instead of a detailed genre 
picture. The number of the dræ/natis personæ is much 
larger, and the parts given to many of them may be very 
small, though each should have bis or her necessary func- 
tion in the general plan. It is much easier to create per- 
plexity on these terms; but on the other hand, the riddle 
novel demands a power of vivid character portrayal and of 
telling description \vhich 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 con- 
cealed 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 surbordinate ones, are drawn. The author was 
a woman, and I have often marveled that \vomen so sel- 
dom attempt this form of 1iterature; many of them pos- 
sess 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 sel- 
dom balance these so perfectly that one or the other of 
them shall not suffer. The mind of the reader beCOlnes 
weary in its frequent journeys between human characters 
on one side the mysterious events on the other, and 
would prefer the more single-eyed treat111ent of the short 
17 



A11lerican M'jlstery Stories 
tale. Wonder, too, is a very tender and short-lived emo.. 
tion, and sometimes perishes after a few pages. Curiosity 
is tougher; but that too may be baffied too long, and end 
by tiring of the pursuit while it is yet in its early stages. 
1Iany excellent plots, admirable frotTI the constructive point 
of view, have been ,vasted 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 \Vhite," by Wilkie Collins, was published 
about 1860, I think, in weekly installments, and certainly 
they were devoured with insatiable appetite by many thou- 
sands of readers. But I doubt whether a book of silnilar 
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 n10st other forms of 
literature, for a nlystery or a riddle is equally captivating 
in all languages. 11any of the good ones-perhaps SOI11e 
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 seelTIingly of equal excellence, 
and were obliged to consider space limitations which, how- 
ever 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 
,vhich 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 never- 
theless not anticipate any serious quarr
l with our readers; 
if there be room to question the right of any given storx 
18 



J u/ian Hawthorne 
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 disquali- 
fication. 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 nlore 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 pub- 
lishers who l1ave 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 collec- 
tion of the fruits of the finest literary ingenuity and nicest 
art accessible to the human mind. Gaudeat, non caveat 
emþtor! 


JULIAN HA WTHORNE. 


19 



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 memoPj, for I have 
never been clever at learning words by heart, in prose or 
rhyme; so that I believe my remembrance of events de- 
pends 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 dnly myself, but my whole family and every indi- 
vidual who bore my nanle. 
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 fortifica- 
tions 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 flo\ver-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 
21 



A merican Mystery Stories 
river. The buildings were extended a little and greatly 
altered more than two hundred years ago, in the tinle of 
Charles 11., but since then little has been done to improve 
them, though they have been kept in fairly good repair, ac- 
cording 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 ho\v I used to appeal for ex- 
planations 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 win- 
dow 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 nlassively furnished 
rooms within, the deep, mysterious recesses and the heavy 
curtains, all affected nlY spirits. I was silent and sad from 
my childhood. There was a great clock tower above, froln 
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 nlan, with sad eyes; kind, I 
think, but silent and unhappy. N ext to my mother, I be- 
lieve he loved me better than anything on earth, for he took 
22 



F. 
larion Crawford 
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 some- 
times Ì\vice 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 ahvays with a sad smile, and kissed 
me with a sigh ,,'hen I was taken a,vay. . 
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 \vas sitting sewing in the next room. Suddenly I 
heard her groan, and say in a strange voice, "One-two- 
one-t\vo!" I was frightened, and I jumped up and ran 
to the door, barefooted as I was. 
H What is it, Judith?" I cried, clinging to her skirts. I 
can remember the look in her strange dark eyes as she an- 
swered : 
" One-t\vo leaden coffins, fallen from the ceiling!" she 
crooned, working herself in her chair. "One-hvo-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 ,vas, 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 ,vas a great room, my 
day nursery, full of sun when there was any; and \vhen 
the days were dark it was the most cheerful place in the 
house. My mother gre\v rapidly \vorse, and I was trans- 
ferred 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 1 cried bitterly. 
"The light one, the light one-the heavy one to come," 
crooned the Welshwoman. And she was right. My father 
23 



A tnerican lYI ystery Stories 
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 a\vay 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 Welsh woman till strange people 
came, and relations \vhom 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 be- 
lieve that they were kind only because I was to be very rich 
when I grew to be a man. The world nev
r 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 re- 
member 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 child- 
hood ,vas 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 mo- 
ment. 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 ,vhat 
the appearances might be. I became discouraged and list- 
less in everything. I gave up the idea of competing for any 
distinction at the University, comforting myself with the 
24 



F. Marion Crawford 
thought that I could not fail in the examination for the ordi- 
nary 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 for- 
tune; but so deeply had the long chain of small unlucky 
circumstances affected me that I thought seriously of shut- 
ting 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 sho\vn 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 ele- 
ments 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 wan- 
dered about the house and grounds for many hours that I 
realized the huge size of the home where I was to Jive in 
solitude. Then I began to delight in it, and my resolution 
to live alone gre\v 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 myoId memories. She went over the house with 
me. 
" And how is the Woman of the Water?" I asked, try- 
ing to laugh a little. "Does she still play in the moon- 
light? " 


25 



A merican Mystery Stories 
"She is hungry," answereù the Welshwoman, in a lo\v 
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 mut- 
tered, 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 t1nlid. Only, as in a far-off dream, I seemed 
to see her standing with the light in her hand and mut- 
tering, "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 smolder
ng fire. So we 
\vent 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 
Ineander 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 ,vas open, for the weather 
was ,varnl. As I sat alone I heard the unceasing spiash of 
the great fountains, and I fell to thinking of the Woman 
of the Water. I rose and went out into the still night, anù 
sat do\vn 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 
26 



F. !larion Crawford 
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, n1aking 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 ,vater 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 s\viftly 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 moon- 
light, shining through the tossing spray of the fountain, 
made traceries of shadow on the gleaming folds of her gar- 
ments. 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 argu- 
27 


\ 



Al1tCrican Al:ystery Stories 
ment 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, no,v 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 won- 
derful mouth most exactly in my mind, and when I had re- 
constructed every detail from memory I knew that the whole 
was beautiful, and that I should love a \voman with such a 
face. 
" I wonder \vhether 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 an- 
other frot11 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 seen1ed sweeter, and I was very 
calm, so that I think I smiled to n1yself as I walked, as 
though a new happiness had come to me. The woman's 
face seemed ahvays before me, and the thought of it gave 
me an un\vonted 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 \vith 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 t}1:a,t I was not alone. 
28 



F. Marion Crawford 
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 ex- 
claimed. "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 myoid 
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 
myoid 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 ,vas 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 
29 



American Mystery Stories 
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. 
Ho\vever, 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 n1Y 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 ,vent abroad. But in my dreaols 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 whin1s 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 
\vhich chanced to be abreast of mine, and idly read the black 
letters painted on a \vhite board swinging from the brass 
handrail: BERLIN-COLOGNE- PARIS. Then I looked up at 
the window above. I started violently, and the cold per- 
3 0 



F. Marion Crawford 
spiration 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 vie\v, a long whistle screamed through the sta- 
tion, followed by a quick series of dull, clanking sounds; 
then there was a slight jerk, and my train moved on. Luck- 
ily 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 
\vas 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 t\VO 
other passengers, a large and gorgeous captain of the vVhite 
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 fello\v-passengers, and got out, de- 
termined 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 \vas anything 
unreal about the face, or about the woman to whom it be- 
longed. I did not try to explain to myself how the face, 
and the woman, could be traveling by a fast train from Ber- 
lin to Paris on a winter's afternoon, when both were in my 
mind indelibly associated with the moonlight and the foun- 
tains in my o\vn 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 
3 1 



American Mystery Stories 
my mind, and I was positively sure that I had again seen 
the face I loved. I did not hesitate, and in a fe,v 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 won1an, instead of going the other 
,yay. But my luck was destined to turn for a time. 
I searched Paris for several days. I dined at the prin- 
cipal hotels; I went to the theaters; I rode in the Bois de 
Boulogne in the morning, and picked up an acquaintance, 
\yhom I forced to drive \vith me in the afternoon. I went 
to mass at the l\1adeleine, and I attended the services at the 
English Church. I hung about the Louvre and Notre Dame. 
I ,vent to Versailles. I spent hours in parading the Rue de 
Rivoli, in the neighborhood of l\1eurice's corner, where 
foreigners pass and repass from morning till night. At last 
I received an invitation to a reception at the English Em- 
bassy. 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 sa\v only the face that had haunted 
me for months, and in the excitement of the moment I 
,valked 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 ,vas 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 eye- 
b.rows. I could see that she was slender too, but strong 
withal, as she sat there quietly gazing at the moving scene 
3 2 



F. Marion Crawford 
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 be- 
fore 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 re- 
marked, 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 gar- 
33 



Am.erican Mystery Stories 
den last summer-near the end of July-âo 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 Blue- 
bell? 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 ho\v many of them there 
have been. And I-do you know who I am?" She laughed, 
\vell knowing that I did not. 
"No," I answered frankly. "I have not the least idea. 
I asked to be introduced because I recognized you. Per- 
haps-perhaps you are a Miss Bluebell?" 
"Considering that you are a neighbor, I \vill tell you 
who I am," she answered. " No; I am of the tribe of Blue- 
bells, 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 
IIarebell-with two I'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 com- 
n1ttnicate to my aunt the fact that you are a Cairngorm and 
a neighbor? I am sure she would like to know." 
34 , 



F. 1-,1 arioJl Cl'a'lvford 
I leaned toward the old lady, inflating my lungs for a 
yell. But Miss Lammas stopped me. 
Ie 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 ans\vered; "but I have no paper. 
Would my cuff do, do you think? " 
"Oh, yes!" replied Miss Lammas, with alacrity; "men 
often do that." 
I \vrote on my cuff: " l\Iiss Lammas \vishes n1e to explain 
that I am your neighbor, Cairngorm." Then I held out my 
arm before the old lady's nose. She seemed perfectly accus- 
tomed to the proceeding, put up her glasses, read the words, 
smiled, nodded, and addressed me in the unearthly voice 
peculiar to people \vho 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 Blue- 
bell knows she is deaf, and does not say much, like the par- 
rot. You see, she kne\v your grandfather. Ho\v odd that 
we should be neighbors! Why have we never met before? " 
" If you had told me you knew my grandfather \vhen you 
appeared in the garden, I should not have been in the least 
surprised," I ans\vered rather irrelevantly. "I really 
thought you were the ghost of the old fountain. How in 
the \vorld did you come there at that hour? " 
" We were a large party and we went out for a walk. 
Then \ve thought \ve 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 \vhether anybody \vould ever come and live there 
again. It looks like the castle of I\1acbeth, or a scene from 
the opera. Do you kno\v 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. " 


35 



An
erican Mystery Stories 
"I am sorry you find it a burden," said 1. "Shall I go 
a\vay? " 
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 íull, 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 \ve 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, ho\vever, it all 
seemed natural enough. I had dreamed of her face too long 
not to be utterly happy \vhen I met her át last and could 
talk to her as much as I pleased. To me, the man of ill luck 
in everything, the whole meeting seel11ed 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 \vorth living; 
my sluggish, melancholy blood ran faster, and filled me with 
a new sense of strength. I said to myself that \vithout this 
\voman I \vas but an imperfect being, but that \vith her I 
could accomplish everything to \vhich 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 fleet- 
ing moment, Ver'iL'cile doch, du bist so sc/lön! 
"Are you ahvays gay?" I asked, suddenly. "HO'w 
happy you must be! " 
"The days \\Tould sometimes seem very long if I \vere 
gloomy," she ans\vered, 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 \vould abuse it pro- 
digiously, I assure you." 
" I dare say. You have a melancholy temper. You ought 
3 6 



F. Marion Crawford 
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, apolo- 
getically, 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 any- 
body. 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 quickl
 
upon me. 
"Oh-nothing. You might try my paces with a view to 
quarreling in the future. I cannot imagine ho\v you are 
going to do it. You \vill have to resort to immediate and 
direct abuse." 
" No. I \vill only say that if you do not like your life, it 
is your o\vn 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 \voman, or any particular \\Toman 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 unreason- 
ably. If abuse is your particular talent, abuse something 
37 



A l1wrican Mystery Stories 
that ought to be abused. Abuse the Conservatives-or the 
Liberals-it does not matter which, since they are al'ways 
abusing each other. l\lake yourself felt by other people. 
You will like it, if they don't. It \vill make a man of you. 
Fill your mouth \vith pebbles, and ho\vl at the sea, if you 
cannot do anything else. I t did Demosthenes no end of 
good, you know. You \vill have the satisfaction of imitating 
a great man." 
" Really, l\Iiss Lammas, I think the list of innocent exer- 
cises you propose-" 
" Very \vell-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 
nlay 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 kno\v \vhether she would marry me," I replied. 
" I have never asked her." 
"Then ask her at once," ans\vered 11iss Lammas. " I 
shall die happy if I feel I have persuaded a melancholy fel- 
low creature to rouse himself to action. Ask her, by all 
means, and see \vhat she says. If she does not accept you 
at once, she may take you the next time. lVleanwhile, 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 ,vord, ivIiss LamInas? " 
" I hope you will," she answered. 
" Since you yourself advise me, I ,vill. 1iiss Lammas, 
will you do me the honor to nlarry me? " 
For the first time in my life the blood rushed to my head 
and my sight swam. I cannot tell \vhy I said it. It \vould 
be useless to try to explain the extraordinary fascination the 
girl exercised over me, or the still nlore extraordinary feel- 
ing of intimacy \vith her which had grown in me during that 
half hour. Lonely, sad, unlucky as I had been all my life, 
I ,vas certainly not timid, nor even shy. But to propose to 
marry a woman after half an hour's acquaintance was a 
3 8 



F. Al arioll Craë.vford 
piece of madness of \yhich I never believed myself capable, 
and of \vhich I should never be capable again, could I be 
placed in the same situation. It \vas as though my whole 
being had been changed in a moment by magic-by the \vhite 
magic of her nature brought into contact \vith mine. The 
blood sank back to my heart, and a moment later I found 
myself staring at her \vith anxious eyes. To n1Y amaze- 
ment she was as cahl1 as ever, but her beautiful mouth 
smiled, and there \vas 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 \vhat you were going to say. 
\V ouldn't it be singularly awkward for you if I had said 
, Yes'? I never sa\v anybody begin to practice so sharply 
what \vas preached to him-\vith so very little loss of time! " 
" You probably never met a man \\"ho 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 \vell ; 
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 \vould 
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 \vith 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 l11e a saner man ever since. 
Rer manner turned my head, for it was so different from 

hat I had expected. 1'0 hear this lovely creature, who, 
39 



'A 1nerican Mystery Stories 
in my imagination, was a heroine of romance, if not of 
tragedy, talking familiarly and laughing readily ,vas lTIOre 
than my equanimity could bear, and I lost my head as well 
as my heart. But when I ,vent back to England in the 
spring, I went to make certain arrangements at the Castle 
-certain changes and improvements \vhich would be abso- 
lutely necessary. I had won the race for which I had 
entered myself so rashly, and we ,vere 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 ,vindow on the morn- 
ing 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 ,vater lilies and the s\vans, just as of 
old. But there was something else there, too-sonlething in 
the air, in the water, and in the greenness that I did not 
recognize-a light over everything by which everything was 
transfigured. rfhe clock in the to\ver struck seven, and the 
strokes of the ancient bell sounded like a \vedding chime. 
The air sang with the thrilling treble of the song-birds, with 
the silvery music of the plashing water and the softer har- 
mony of the leaves stirred by the fresh morning wind. 
There was a smell of new-mo\vn hay frolll the distant 
meadows, and of blooming roses from the beds belo,v, 
wafted up together to my window. I stood 'in the pure sun- 
shine 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 
Tight when they called heaven a garden, and Eden a garden 
inhabited by one man and one \voman, the Earthly Paradise. 
I turned away, \vondering v"hat had becotne of the gloomy 
memories I had always associated \vith my home. I tried 
to recall the impression of my nurse's horrible prophecy be- 
fore the death of my parents-an impression which hitherto 
had been vivid enough. I tried to remember myoid self, 
4 0 



F. Marion Crawford 
my dejection, my listlessness, my bad lucK, my petty <tisap- 
p)intments. I endeavored to force myself to think as I used 
to think, if only to satisfy myself that I had not lost my 
irdividuality. But I succeeded in none of these efforts. I 
was a different man, a changed being, incapable of sorrow, 
of ill iuck, or of sadness. My life had been a dream, not 
e.,.il, but infinitely gloomy and hopeless. It was now a 
reality, full of hope, gladness, and all manner of good. J\1y 
hane had been like a tomb; to-day it \vas Paradise. J\ly 
hmrt had been as though it had not existed; to-day it beat 
w:th strength and youth and the certainty of realized hap- 
p11ess. I reveled in the beauty of the \vorld, and called 
loveliness out of the future to enjoy it before titl1e should 
bring it to me, as a traveler in the plains looks up to the 
rmuntains, 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 to\vard evening and in the deep 
moonlight. Down those paths we will wander together. On 
those benches \ve will rest and talk. Among those eastern 
hills we \vill ride through the soft twilight, and in the old 
house we will tell tales on winter nights, \vhen 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 pas- 
sages 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 slo\v and sad as mine were, nor shall the childish 
words be spoken in an awed whisper. No gloomy Welsh- 
woman shall people the dusky corners with ,veird horrors, 
nor utter horrid prophecies of death and ghastly things. All 
shall be young, and fresh, and joyful, and happy, and \ve 
win turn the old luck again, and forget that there was ever 
any sadness. 
So I thought, as I looked out of my window that morn- 
ing 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 say- 
41 



A 11tc1'ican M ystCf'j' Stories 
ings about the \V 0111a11 of the Water. I cared little what 
she said, for I \vas far too happy. 
At last the time came near for the wedding. Lady Blue- 
bell and all the tribe of Bluebells, as :\Iargaret called then, 
were at Bluebell Grange, for ,ve had determined to be mar- 
ried in the country, and to come straight to the Castle afte:-- 
wards. We cared little for traveling, and not at all for a 
crowded ceremony at St. George's in Hanover Square, wlth 
all the tiresome formalities after,vards. I used to ride o\er 
to the Grange every day, and very often Margaret world 
come with her aunt and some of her cousins to the Caste. 
I was suspicious of my o\vn taste, and was only too ghd 
to let her have her \vay about the alterations and impro,e- 
rnents in our home. 
"vVe \vere to be married on the thirtieth of July, and on 
the evening of the twenty-eighth 1Iargaret drove over with 
some of the Bluebell party. In the long SUl11mer Ì\vilight 
we all went out into the garden. Naturally enough, l\1é.r- 
garet 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 1110nth of July," answered 11ar- 
garet with a laugh, "and that we have been here almost 
every day, I don't think the coincidence is so extraordinc.ry, 
after all." 
"No, dear," said I, "I suppose not. I don't know why 
it struck me. \Ve shall very likely be here a year froI11 to- 
day, and a year from that. The odd thing, \vhen 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 thc.t I 
have you. It is all sure to be good." 
" A slight change in your ideas since that remarkable per- 
formance of yours in Paris," said l\Iargaret. "Do you 
know, I thought you were the most extraordinary 111a:1 I 
had ever met." 
"I thought you \vere the n10st charming woman I had 
ever seen. I naturally did not \vant to lose any time in 
4 2 



F. }.;[arion Crau}ford 
frivolities. I took you at your word, I followed your ad- 
vice, I asked you to marry me, and this is the delightful 
:-esult-what's the matter? " 
Margaret had started suddenly, and her hand tightened 
Dn my arm. .A.n old woman was coming up the path, and 
Nas close to us before \ve saw her, for the moon had risen, 
and \vas shining full in our faces. The woman turned out 
10 be nlY old nurse. 
"It's only Judith, dear-don't be frightened," I said. 
Then I spoke to the W elsh\voman: "What are you about, 
: udith? Have you been feeding the Woman of the Water?" 
" Aye-when the clock strikes, Willie-my Lord, I mean," 
muttered the old creature, dra\ving aside to let us pass, and 
ixing her strange eyes on 1\1argaret's face. 
"What does she mean? " asked 1Iargaret, when \ve had 
lone by. 
" Nothing, darling. The old thing is nlildly crazy, but 

he is a good souL" 
\"'1 e went on in silence for a few moments, and canle to 
1he rustic bridge just above the artificial grotto through 
which the water ran out into the park, dark and s\vift in its 
narrow channel. We stopped, and leaned on the wooden 
tail. The moon was now behind us, and shone full upon 
tile long vista of basins and on the huge walls and to\vers 
of the Castle above. 
" How proud you ought to be of such a grand old place! " 
sÛd Margaret, softly. 
" It is yours now, darling," I answered. "Y ou have as 
good a right to love it as I-but I only love it because you 
a:-e to live in it, dear." 
Her hand stole out and lay on mine, and we were both 
sJent. Just then the clock began to strike far off in the 
tower. I counted-eight-nine-ten-eleven-I looked at 
n:y 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 
43 



A 11leri
an lrf 'j'stery Stories 
looking in tlie (lirection 
hence the sound came. On and on 
it \vent. 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 ,vood, a cry 
and a heavy splash, and I ,vas alone, clinging to the broken 
end of the rail of the rustic bridge. 
I do not think I hesitated \vhile my pulse beat t\vice. ] 
sprang clear of the bridge into the black rushing water 
dived to the bottom, came up again with empty hands 
turned and s\vam do\vn,vard through the grotto in the thick 
darkness, plunging and diving at every stroke, striking m} 
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 \va
 
no ans'wer. I was alone in the pitchy darkness with m} 
burden, and the house was five hundred yards away. Strug- 
gling still, I felt the ground beneath my feet, I sa\v a ray of 
moonlight-the grotto \videned, and the deep 'water became: 
a broad and shallow brook as I stumbled over the stone
 
and at last laid Margaret's body on the bank in the park 
beyond. 
" Aye, Willie, as the clock struck!" said the voice 0: 
Judith, the Welsh nurse, as she bent dO\ivn and looked at the 
white face. The old woman must have turned back anl 
followed us, seen the accident, and slipped out by the lo\ver 
gate of the gardeJ).. "Aye," she groaned, "you have fed 
the Woman of the Water this night, Willie, \vhile the clock 
was striking." 
I scarcely heard her as I knelt beside the lifeless body of 
the woman I loved, chafing the ,vet white temples and gazin
 
wildly into the wide-staring eyes. I remember only the first 
returning look of consciousness, the first heaving breath, 
the first lTIOVement of those dear hands stretching out toward 
me. 


That is not much of a story, you say. It is the story Gf 
. my life. That is all. It does not pretend to be anything 
44 



F. Marion Crawford 
else. Old Judith says my luck turned on that summer's 
night 'when I was struggling in the water to save all that 
was \vorth living for. A month later there was a stone 
bridge above the grotto, and 11argaret and I stood on it and 
looked up at the moonlit Castle, as \ve 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, \vith red-gold hair and dark-brown eyes like their 
mother's, and a little l\1argaret, with solemn black eyes like 
mine. \\Thy 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 joUy firelight seem more 
cheerful, the good \vife's face look gladder, and to give the 
children's laughter a merrier ring, by contrast \vith 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 
nlyself, may take courage from my example, and having 
found the \voman 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 \vill necessarily fare ,vorse. :!\ly wife has 
done miracles, but I \vill not assert that any other \voman 
is able to follo\v her example. 
Margaret always said that the old place \vas beautiful, 
and that I ought to be proud of it. I dare say she is right. 
She has even more in1agination than 1. But I have a good 
ans\ver and a plain one, \vhich is this,-that all the beauty 
of the Castle comes frOll1 her. She has breathed upon it all, 
as the children blo\v upon the cold glass windo\v panes in 
winter; and as their warm breath crystallizes into landscapes 
from fairyland, full of exquisite shapes and traceri
s upon 
45 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
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 ,vas sad is glad, and I 
am the gladdest of all. Whatever heaven may be, there is 
no earthly paradise without ,voman, nor is there anywhere 
a place so desolate, so dreary, so unutterably miserable that 
a ,voman 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 no,v by many, and perhaps you say 
yours, too. I do not think they lose anything by being re- 
peated, nor you by repeating them. You say that the ,vorld 
is bitter, and full of the Waters of Bitterness. Love, and so 
live that you may be loved-the \vorld will turn sweet for 
you, and you shall rest like me by the Waters of Paradise. 
'Fr011t "The Play-Actress and the Upper Berth," by F. 
Jrrlarion Craulford. Copyright, I896, by G. P. Pulnatn'S 
Sons. 


,. 46 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
The Shadows on the Wall 


(C HENRY had \vords with Edward in the study the night 
. before Edward died," said Caroline Glynn. 
She was elderly, tall, and harshly thin, with a hard color- 
lessness of face. She spoke not \vith acrimony, but with 
grave severity. Rebecca Ann Glynn, younger, stouter and 
rosy of face bet\veen 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 1vlrs. 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 del11eanor. 
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 Í111portance amidst the 
waters of tribulation. She was always awake to the con- 
sciousness of her own stability in the midst of vicissitudes 
and the splendor of her pern1anent bearing. 
But even her expression of masterly placidity changed be- 
fore her sister Caroline's announcement and her sister Re- 
becca Ann's gasp of terror and distress in response. 
" I think Henry might have controlled his tefnper, when 
poor Edward was so near his end," said she \vith an asperity 
which disturbed slightly the roseate curves of her beautiful 
mouth. 
Ie Of course he did not know," murmured Rebecca Ann 
47 



'A n1-crican AI ystery Stories 
in a faint tone strangely out of keeping \vith her appear- 
ance. 
One involuntarily looked again to be sure that such a 
feeble pipe came from that full-swelling chest. 
" Of course he did not kno\v it," said Caroline quickly. 
She turned on her sister with a strange sharp look of sus- 
picion. U Ho\v could he have kno'wn it?" said she. Then 
she shrank as if from the other's possible ans\ver. "Of 
course you and I both know he could not," said she con- 
clusively, but her pale face \vas paler than it had been 
before. 
Rebecca gasped again. The married sister, Mrs. Emma 
Brigham, ,vas now sitting up straight in her chair; she had 
ceased rocking, and \vas eyeing them both intently with a 
sudden accentuation of family likeness in her face. Given 
one common intensity of emotion and similar lines sho\ved 
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 ans\ver. 
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. 
U Nobody means anything," said Caroline firmly. She 
rose and crossed the room toward the door with grim de- 
cIsIveness. 
" 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 :11rs. Brigham. 
After the door had closed behind Caroline, she turned to 
Rebecca. 
"Did Henry have many words with him?" she asked. 
" They ,vere 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 rock- 
ing. She still sat up straight with a slight knitting of in- 
4 8 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
tensity 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 to\vard the door. 
" I was just across the hall in the south parlor, and that 
door was open and this poor 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 
Ed\vard 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 ho\v 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 \vasn't." 
" No, he \vasn't." 
"It \vas the \vay 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 hOlne." 
" Yes." 
" And Ed\vard had a right here according to the tern1S 
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 Ed\vard that he had no business here at 
all, and he thought he had better go a\vay." 
" What did Edward say?" 
" That he \vould stay here as long as he lived and after- 
49 



A 1nerican M :ystery Stories 
wards, 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 reëntered the room. She ,vent 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 ,vere 
reddened from recent washing in cold ,vater. 
11rs. Brigham looked at her and hesitated. She glanced 
at the door, which ,vas still ajar, as it did not easily shut, 
being still swollen \vith the damp weather of the summer. 
She rose and pushed it together with a sharp thud which 
jarred the house. Rebecca started painfully wi.th 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 \vail. "I 
am nervous. There's enough to make me so, the Lord 
kno\vs." 
" \"'hat do you n1ean by that?" asked Caroline ,vith her 
old air of sharp suspicion, and something between challenge 
and dread of its being met. 
Rebecca shrank. 
" Nothing," said she. 
,. Then I ,vouldn'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 \ve have had the fire a few 
So 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
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 talk- 
ing 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 Caro- 
line. 
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 ,vas 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 him- 
self. I shouldn't think he'd ever get over it, having words 
with poor Edward the very night before he died. Edward 
,vas 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 ,vord, unless he spoke 
cross to Henry that last night. I don't kno\v, but he did 
from what Rebecca overheard," said Emma. 
" Not so much cross as sort of soft, and sweet, and aggra- 
vating," sniffled Rebecca. 


51 



Am.erican Mystery Stories 
It He never raised his voice," said Caroline; " but he had 
h . " 
IS 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, strea
ing eyes. 
" I know you said that he had terrible pains in his stom- 
ach, 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. Brig- 
ham 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 
52 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
revealing ber alertness for bis presence; at Caroline sitting 
\vith a strained composure in her armchair by tbe stove. 
She met bis eyes quite firmly witb a look of inscrutable fear, 
and defiance of the fear and of him. 
Henry Glynn looked more like this sister tban the others. 
Both had the same hard delicacy of form and feature, both 
\vere 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 con- 
fronted 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 élnd irresolution appeared in his fac
. 
He flung himself into a chair with a gesture 'which was be- 
wildering from its incongruity with his general appearanc
. 
He leaned his head back, flung one leg over the other, and 
looked laughingly at Mrs. Brigham. 
H I declare, Emma, you grow younger every year," he 
said. 
She flushed a little, and her placid mouth wid
ned 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. R
- 
becca also rose and hurried after her, sobbing loudly. 
Henry looked slowly after them. 
" Caroline is complet
ly unstrung," said h
. 
Mrs. Brigham rocked. A confidenc
 in him inspired by 
his manner was stealing over her. Out of that confidence 
she spoke quite easily and naturally. 
53 



A merican Mystery Stories 
" His death was very sudden," said she. 
Henry's eyelids quivered slightly but his gaze was un- 
swervIng. 
" 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 hor- 
ror over her very soul. Her flesh prickled with cold, before 
an inflection of his voice. She rose, tottering on weak 
knees. 
"\Vhere 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 cham- 
ber 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 \\"on't have it!" said Carolin
 
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, \vhen the dusk deepened. 
Mrs. Brigham \vas 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 \vriting 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. 


54 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
U It doesn't seem to me that we need a lamp quite yet," 
she said in a piteous, pleading voice like a child's. 
u Yes, we do," returned Mrs. Brigham peremptorily. 
u 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, Re- 
becca Glynn?" cried Mrs. Brigham. U I can go and get 
the light myself, but I have this work all in my lap." 
Caroline's pen stopped scratching. 
U Rebecca, we must have the light," said she. 
"Had we better have it in here?" asked Rebecca 
\veakly. 
"Of course! Why not?" cried Caroline sternly. 
U 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. 
U Why, I never heard such a to-do about lighting a 
lamp." 
Rebecca rose and left the room. Presently she entered 
\vith 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 
y;all was clear of bookcases and books, which were only on 
three sides of the room. That opposite wall was taken up 
\vith three doors, the one small space being occupied by the 
table. Above the table on the old-fashioned paper, of a 
,vhite 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. 
\Yhen the lamp was set on the table beneath it, the tiny 
pretty face painted on the ivory seemed to gleam out \vith 
a look of intelligence. 
"What have you put that lamp over there for?" asked 
Mrs. Brigham, with more of impatience than her voice usu- 
ally revealed. "Why didn't you set it in the hall and have 
55 




4. merican M yslery S lories 
done with it? N either 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 Caro- 
line. 
"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. Brig- 
ham. "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 re- 
mained 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 chok- 
ingly. 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 oppo- 
site 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 roof, taking note of the various 
objects; she looked at the wall10ng and intently. Then she 
turned to her sisters. 
" What is that?" said she. 
S6 



Mary E. Wilkins F reentan 
" 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. Brig- 
ham. 
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 arti- 
cles of furniture, with her eyes on the shadow. 
Then suddenly she shrieked out: 
"Look at this awful shado\v! What is it! Caroline, 
look, look! Rebecca, look! What is it! " 
All Mrs. Brigham's triumphant placidity was gone. Her 
handsome face \vas livid with horror. She stood stiffly 
pointing at the shadow. 
U 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! " 
U 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 Re- 
becca. 
U Every night?" 
" Yes. He died Thursday and this is Saturday; that 
nlakes three nights," said Caroline rigidly. She stood as if 
holding herself calm with a vise of concentrated will. 
ce It-it looks like-like-" stammered Mrs. Brigham 
in a tone of intense horror. 


57 



A merican Mystery Stories 
" I know what it looks like well enough," said Caroline. 
" I've got eyes in my head." 
" It looks like Ed\ovard," 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 111'llSt 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 Caro- 
line 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 \ovall. It ,vas 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. Brig- 
ham 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 nloment longer. His 
S8 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
face sho,ved 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 ,vhich 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 fe\v 
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 ,vatching. 
Then suddenly he desisted. He laughed and began 
straightening the furniture \vhich 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 ,vall. 
Henry's eyes followed hers and he quivered perceptibly. 
59 



American Mystery Stories 
" 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; Re- 
becca brought up the rear; she could scarcely walk, her 
knees trembled so. 
"I can't sit in that room again this evening," she whis- 
pered to Caroline after supper. 
" Very well, we will sit in the south room," replied Caro- 
line. "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 agi- 
tatedly. 
" I am going to see what he is about," replied Mrs. Brig- 
ham 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. 
60 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
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. Brig- 
ham. "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 Ed ward! " 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." 
61 



A m.erican Mystery Stories 
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 re- 
flections. 
Then he took the lamp up and returned to the library. 
He set the lamp on the center 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 sis- 
ters, 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 shado\v 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 Ed- 
ward'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 Mit- 
ford." 
" Consultation?" inquired Mrs. Brigham. 
" I have business," replied Henry. 
Doctor Mitford was an old classmate of his who lived in 
62 



Mary E. Wilkins Freeman 
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 strang
," said Rebecca with a shud- 
der. 
"What do you mean?" inquired Caroline sharply. 
" Nothing," replied Rebecca. 
Nobody entered the library that day, nor the next, nor the 
next. Th
 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 sens
 in it, and flOW 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 rus- 
tling 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. Re- 
becca 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 "vas out. 
Caroline and her sister Emma entered the study. Caro- 
63 



Anwrican Mystery Stories 
line 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 U The Wind in the Rosebush," by lvfary E. Wilkins 
Freen1all. Copyright
 I903
 by Doubleday
 Page & 
C ontpany. 


64 



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 çommitted 
6S 



A merican Mystery S lories 
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 
xpeditious 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 bas 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 mys- 
terious 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 com- 
panion, Marshall St. Clair, of the great law firm of Seward, 
St. Clair & De M uth. "I had lost track of him since he 
,vent 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 
n10nths 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 wan- 
ders through the house usually late at night, apparently 
66 



Melville Davisson Post 
without noticing anything or anybody. His mind seems to 
be deeply and busily at work, leaving his bodily self to wan- 
der 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 t:nen 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 what- 
ever, and yet one night he sat down to the chess table \vith 
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 accu- 
rately determined. To the utter disgust of Du Brey, 11ason 
opened the game with an unheard-of attack from the ex- 
tremes 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 sOlne 
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 11ason 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, \vhen, suddenly, 
to his utter horror, Du Brey found that his king was in a 
trap. The foolish opening had been only a piece of shre\vd 
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. 
" I Where in Heaven's name, man,' said the old Admiral, 
thunderstruck, I did you learn that masterpiece?' 
II I Just here,' replied Mason. I To play chess, one should 
know his opponent. How could the dead masters lay down 
rules by \vhich you could be beaten, sir? They had never 
seen you'; and thereupon he turned and left the room. Of 
67 



Atnerican Mystery Stoy,ies 
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." 
U 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 be- 
came 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 let- 
ter 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, un- 
compromising fighter, always a recluse." 
" Well," said Walcott, " he reminds me of a great world- 
weary cynic, transplanted from some ancient mysterious em- 
pire. When I come into the man's presence I feel in- 
stinctively 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 thø room and 
68 



Meh}ille Davisson Post 
handed Mr. Walcott a telegram. "St. Clair," said that 
gentleman, rising, " the directors of the Elevated are in ses- 
sion, 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 ,vealth. 
He had various corporate interests in the larger syndicates, 
but the basis and foundation of his fortune ,vas 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 kno\vn 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 ,vith the 
merchant princes. His judgment ,vas 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 \vith marriage- 
able daughters. He ,vas 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 ,vere above reproach. But with 
all he was a silent man \vith 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 grace- 
fully afield, but Fate is relentless. If she shields the victim 
from the traps of men, it is not because she wishes hitn to 
escape, but because she is pleased to reserve him for her 
69 



Amer1
an Mystery Stories 
own trap. So it happened that, when Virginia St. Clair 
assisted Mrs. Miriam Steuvisant at her Inid\vinter recep- 
tion, 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 Wal- 
cott 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 rôle 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 be- 
ing 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 rest- 
less inky black, and not over-large. The nose was big and 
n1uscular 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 
7 0 



Melville Davisson Post 


expression in repose was crafty and cynical; viewed from 
below upward, it was savage and vindictive, almost brutal; 
","hile 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 sneer- 
ing. 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 
\vhich ever heralds the coming winter, even in the midst of 
a city. The man's face looked tired and ugly. His long 
\vhite hands were clasped tight together. His entire figure 
and face wore every mark of 'weakness and physical ex- 
haustion; but his eyes contradicted. They \vere red and 
restless. 
In the private dining-room the dinner party was in the 
best of spirits. Samuel Walcott ,vas happy. Across the 
table from him was Miss Virginia St. Clair, radiant, a tinge 
of color in her cheeks. On either side, Mrs. Miriam Steu- 
visant and Marshall St. Clair \vere brilliant and light- 
hearted. 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 \vhat earthly 
miracle she had come to accept him, and how it \vould be 
always to have her across the table fron1 him, his o,vn table 
in his own house. 
They were about to rise from the table when one of the 
,vaiters 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 ,vas ash 
\vhite and his hands trenlbled violently as he placed the 
\vraps around the bewitching shoulders of Miss St. Clair. 
" Marshall," he said, and despite the powerful effort his 
voice was hollo\v, "you will see the ladies safely cared for, 
l am called to attend a grave matter." 
"All right, Walcott," answered the young man, with 
cheery good nature, U you are too serious, old man, trot 
along." 


7 1 



A l1ter1:can Mystery Stories 
" The poor dear," murmured Mrs. Steuvisant, after Wal- 
cott 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 motion- 
less 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 cheek- 
bones 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. 
U 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. 
It The old schemer," muttered Mason. U 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, 
7 2 



Melville Davisso1t Post 
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? \Valcott 
could not know that Mason meant only Fate, that he be- 
lieved her to be his great enemy . Walcott had never before 
poubted his own ability to meet any emergency. This mighty 
jerk had carried him off his feet. He \vas 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 \vithout 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 de- 
canter 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 1fason, turning sav- 
agely. "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. 
73 



A11t.Crica1
 Mystery Stories 
"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 nanle which I bear is not my 
own, but is the bastard child of a crime. I am more than 
all that-I aln a murderer; a murderer before the la\v; a 
murderer before God; and worse than a murderer before 
the pure woman ,,-horn I love more than anything that God 
could make." 
He paused for a moment and wiped the perspiration from 
his face. 
H Sir," said l\iason, H 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 s\vallo'wed it. 
" 'VVell," he said, speaking slo\vly, H my right nalne is 
Richard \Varren. In the spring of 1879 I came to New 
York and fell in \vith the real Samuel \Valcott, a young 
man with a little money and some property \vhich his grand- 
father had left hitn. vVe became friends, and concluded 
to go to the far ,vest together. Accordingly \ve scraped to- 
gether ,vhat money \ve could lay our hands on, and landed 
in the gold-nlining regions of California. \Ve ""ere young 
and inexperienced, and our money \vent rapidly. One April 
morning \ve drifted into a little shack camp, a\vay up in the 
Sierra N evadas, called f-Iell's Elbow. Here we struggled 
and starved for perhaps a year. Finally, in utter despera- 
tion, \Valcott married the daughter of a l\1exican gambler, 
\vho ran an eating house and a poker joint. \Vith them \ve 
lived fronl hand to mouth in a \vild God-forsaken \vay for 
several years. After a tinle the \voman began to take a 
strange fancy to me. Walcott finally noticed it, and grew 
jealous. 
"One night, in a drunken bra\vl, ,ve quarreled, and I 
killed him. It was late at night, and, beside the woman, 
there "'ere four of us in the poker room,-the 11exican 
74 



Melville Davisson Post 
gaf11bler, a half-breed devil called Cherubim Pete, \Valcott, 
and myself. When Walcott fell, the half-breed whipped 
out hi
 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 \vounded her 
father, the l\1exican 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 \vindovv, 
and bade me wait for her on the cross trail belovv. 
" It was fully three hours later before the woman joined 
me at the place indicated. She had a bag of gold dust, a 
few jevlels that belonged to her father, and a package of 
papers. I asked her \vhy she had stayed behind so long, 
and she replied that the men were not killed outright, and 
that she had brought a priest to thelTI and waited until they 
had died. This vvas the truth, but not all the truth. Moved 
by superstition or foresight, the woman had induced the 
priest to take down the s\vorn statelTIents of the two dying 
men, seal it, and give it to her. This paper she brought 
with her. ,A.ll this I learned after\vards. At the tilTIe I 
knew nothing of this damning evidence. 
" \Ve struck out together for the Pacific coast. The coun- 
try was lawless. The privations \ve endured were almost 
past belief. At tÍ1TIes the woman exhibited cunning and abil- 
ity that \vere altTIost genius; and through it all, often in the 
very fingers of death, her devotion to me never wavered. It 
was doglike, and seelTIed to be her only object on earth. 
When we reached San Francisco, the WOlTIan put these pa- 
pers into my hands." Walcott took up the yellow package, 
and pushed it across the table to Mason. 
" She proposed that I assume Walcott's nalTIe, and that 
we COlTIe boldly to N ew York and claim the property. I 
exan1Ïned the papers, found a copy of the \vill 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 
75 



A 11 z.erican M )'stcry Stories 
attelTIpted fraud would be detected and would result in in- 
vestigation, and perhaps unearth the whole horrible lTIatter. 
H 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 
in1possible it would be to trace back the fraud to Walcott's 
murder at Hell's Elbow, in the wild passes of the Sierra 
N evadas. She bade me remember that we were both out- 
casts, both crime-branded, both enemies of man's la\v 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 re- 
sult was, we sold the gold dust and jewels in San Francisco, 
took on such evidences of civilization as possible, and pur- 
chased passage to N e\v York on the best steamer we could 
find. 
" I was growing to depend on the bold gatTIbler spirit of 
this woman, Nina San Croix; I felt the need of her strong, 
profligate nature. She \vas of a queer breed and a queerer 
school. Her mother \vas the daughter of a Spanish engi- 
neer, and had been stolen by the lVIexican, 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 \vith him. 
"When we landed in New York I offered to announce 
her as my wife, but she refused, saying that her presence 
\vould 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 my- 
self as Samuel Walcott, and that she should remain under 
cover until such time as we would feel the ground safe un- 
der us. 
" Every detail of the plan was fatally successful. I estab- 
lished 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 
7 6 



Melville Davisson Post 
in hiding ana 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 N ew York, and more and more felt that the woman 
\vas an albatross on my neck. I put her off with one excuse 
after another. Finally she began to suspect me and de- 
manded that I should recognize her as my wife. I at- 
tempted 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 stonning 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 mar- 
riage to Walcott duly authenticated; the other was the dying 
statement of her father, the Mexican gambler, and of Sam- 
uel Walcott, charging me with murder. It was in proper 
form and certified by the Jesuit priest. 
H , 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. 
77 



American Mystery Stories 
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 ,vas to follow. Of course I never intended to go. I con- 
gratulated myself on the fact that all trace of evidence 
against me was destroyed and that her grip was now broken. 
1iy plan was to induce her to sail, believing that I ,vould 
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 ,vas reckoning like an in- 
fernal ass, to imagine for a moment that I cÇ>uld thus hood- 
\vink such a vvoman as Nina San Croix. 
"To-night I received this." Walcott took the envelope 
tfrom his pocket and gave it to :rv1ason. " You saw the 
effect of it; read it and you will understand why. I felt the 
death hand when I sa,v her writing on the envelope." 
1\1ason took the paper from the envelope. It was written 
in Spanish, and ran: 


" Greeting to RICHARD WARREN. 
"The great Señor 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 Señor shall be, Oh 
so very safe! The Archbishop and the kind Church hate 
murderers. 
"NINA SAN CROIX. 
U Of course, fool, the papers you destroyed were copies. 
U 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 pos- 
7 8 



Melville Davisson Post 
sible 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. Wal- 
cott sat with his head dO'wn, watching 
Iason hopelessly, 
almost indifferently, his face blank and sunken. The ticking 
of the bronze clock on the mantel shelf was loud, painfully 
loud. Suddenly Mason dre\v his knees in and bent over, 
put both his bony hands on the table, and looked at Walcott. 
" Sir," he said, H 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 kno\v 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 s\vap 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 crÎ1ne 
would see here but t\VO difficulties to meet: 
U 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 
requiren1ents of the problems met, and would stop. The 
greatest, the very giants among them, have stopped here and 
have been in great error. 
U In every crime, especially iP the great ones, there exists 
a third element, preëminently vital. This third element the 
master plotters have either overlookeci or else have not had 
the genius to construct. They plan with rare cunning to 
baffle the victim. They plan with vast wisdon1, almost 
g
nius, 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 
79 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
necessity lor providing the third element-the escaþe iþso 
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 go- 
ing 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 to- 
morrow morning. If you do not come aboard by that time
 
they are to go to one of the South American ports and re- 
main 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 every- 
thing that you shall need and give you full and exact in- 
structions in every particular. These details you must exe- 
cute 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 N ew 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 
80 



Melville Davisson Post 
by trees. Around it all was a rusty iron fence. The place 
had the air of genteel ruin, such as one finds in the Vir- 
glnlas. 
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 an- 
swered that she was asleep at this hour and could not be 
seen. 
U 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 J\Iay morning. "De cellar door is open, carry it all 
in and put it in de back part and nobody ain't never going 
to kno\v 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 care- 
fully 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 th - 
f1bBR1...T a 
Mexican sailor dodged in the front gáte ar
. 
 .. IIpeçt 
. 0 
 
81 
.. 
 

 
,_ -r 
t'Z' 
 J 
I 


.
 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
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, Señor? 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 shoul- 
ders 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 
n1e? 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 do\vn 
at him. The fire glittered for a moment and then died out 
of her eyes, her bosom heaved and her lips began to tremble. 
82 



lvI elville Davisson Post 
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 
slo\vly 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, \varm and litTIp, 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 "voman up in his arms, went out into the 
hall, and started to go up the stairway. The body "vas re- 
laxed and heavy, and for that reason difficult to carry. He 
doubled it up into an a\vful heap, with the knees against 
the chin, and walked slowly and heavily up the stairs and 
out into the bathroolTI. There he laid the corpse down on 
the tiled floor. Then he opened the window, closed the shut- 
ters, and lighted the gas. The bathroom was small and 
contained an ordinary steel tub, porcelain lined, standing 
near the \vindow 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 attacl:êd 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 \vith 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 
83 



A111crican :Alystery Stories 
hands, and ,vent out of the bathroom and do,vnstairs to 
the lo,ver hall. The sailor seen1ed 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 
\vith the empty bottles, which he replaced in the ,vine cases. 
This he continued to do until all the cases but one were 
emptied and the bath tub was lTIOre than half full of liquid. 
This liquid ,vas sulphuric acid. 
\Vhen the sailor returned to the cellar with the last empty 
wine bottles, he opened the fifth case, ,vhich really contained 
wine, took some of it out, and poured a little into each of 
the empty bottles in order to reillove 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 ,vere filled with nitrate 
of soda. He set thelll do\vn by the door, opened the little 
bundle, and took out t\VO 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 t\vo of the gas 
jets, put the burners under the tub, turned the gas on full, 
and lighted it. Then he thre\v into the tub the ,voman's 
clothing and the papers ,vhich he had found on her body, 
after which he took up the t,vo heavy sacks of nitrate of 
soda and dropped then1 carefully into the sui ph uric acid. 
\Vhen he had done this he ,vent quickly out of the bath- 
room 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 ,vas rapid and a\vfu1. Fron1 titne to time 
the sailor opened the door of the bathrooln cautiously, and, 
holding a wet to\vel over his mouth and nose, looked in at 
his horrible work. At the end of a fevv hours there was 
only a s,vimming mass in the tub. When the man looked 
at four o'clock, it ,vas all a thick murky liquid. He turned 
off the gas quickly and stepped back out of the room. For 
84 



}'lclville Davisson Post 
perhaps half an hour he \vaited in the hall; finally, 'when 
the acids had cooled so that they no longer gave off fumes, 
he opened the door and \vent in, took hold of the platinum 
\vire and, pulling the porcelain disk from the stopcock, 
allowed the awful contents of the tub to run out. Then he 
turned on the hot \vater, rinsed the tub clean, and replaced 
the n1etal outlet. Rel110ving the rubber tubes, he cut them 
into pieces, broke the porcelain disk, and, rolling up the 
platinum 'wire, 'washed it all down the se\\-er 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 nloved around \vith the very greatest de- 
gree of care. Finally, 'when he had arranged everything to 
his cOlnplete satisfaction, he picked up the two burners, 
turned out the gas, and left the bathroonl, closing the door 
after hin1. Froln the bathroonl he went directly to the attic, 
concealed the two rusty burners under a heap of rubbish, 
and then \valked carefully and noiselessly down the stairs 
and through the lo'wer hall. As he opened the door and 
stepped into the room \vhere he had killed the wotnan, two 
police officers sprang out and seized hitn. The 111 an screamed 
like a 'wild beast taken in a trap and sank do'wn. 
" Oh ! oh ! " he cried, " it \vas no use! it \vas no use to do 
it!" Then he recovered hitnself in a manner and was silent. 
The officers handcuffed hÜn, sUlnmoned the patrol, and took 
him at once to the station house. There he said he was a 
11exican sailor and that his nanle was Victor Ancona; but 
he \vould say nothing further. The following morning he 
sent for Randolph Mason and the two \vere long together. 


IV 


THE obscure 'defendant charged \vith l11urder has little 
reason to cOl11plain of the la\v's delays. The l110rning fol- 
lowing the arrest of Victor Ancona, the newspapers pub- 
lished long sensational articles, denounced him as a fiend, 
85 




 'ltlerican lv! yster'V Stories 
and convicted him. The grand jury, as it happened, v:as in 
session. The preliminaries 'were soon arranged and the case 
\vas 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 continueCl for three days and had appeared 
so over\vhelmingly one-sided that the spectators \vho 'were 
cro\vded in the court room had gro\vn to be violent and bitter 
partisans, to such an extent that the police \vatched thenl 
closely. The attorneys for the People 'were dramatic and 

enunciatory, and forced their case with arrogant confidence. 
Mason, as counsel for the prisoner, was indifferent and list- 
less. Throughout the entire trial he had sat almost motion- 
less at the table, his gaunt form bent ov'er, his long legs 
dra'wn up under his chair, and his ,veary, heavy-muscled 
lace, ,vith 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 aban- 
poned 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 \vas arrested; that she 
had lived by herself, 'with no other companion than an old 
negro servant; that her past 'was unkno\vn, and that she 
received no visitors, save the l\lexican sailor, \vho came to 
her house at long intervals. Nothing 'whatever was sho\vn 
tending to explain 'who the prisoner \vas or 'whence he had 
come. It ,vas 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 \villingly grant her 
a hearing if she \vould 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 pris- 
oner slip into the gate of Nina San Croix's residence and 
go down to the side 9f the house. \vhere he "vas adl11itted; 
86 



M e/1.}ille Davisson Post 
tnat his appearance and seeming haste had attracteèl their 
attention; that they had concluded that it 'was some clandes- 
tine amour, and out of curiosity had both slipped do\vn to 
the house and endeavored to find a position from \vhich 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 \vant to get rid of me, but you shall not do it! 
You murdered him, but you shall not n1urder 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' quar- 
rel 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 "vaited 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, \vith the instruction that she \vas 
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 
\vhich she needed; that thereupon she had returned to the 
house and had gone up the back "vay to her room,-this was 
about eight o'clock; that "vhile there she had heard Nina 
San Croix's voice in great passion and remembered that she 
had used the "vords stated by the policemen; that these sud- 
den, 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 \vith 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 
87 



A l1lcrica'1 J!)'stcr}' Stories 
under the bed. She rcmen1bcred hearing the footsteps mov- 
ing about upstairs for nlany hours, ho\v long she could not 
tell. Finally, about half-past four in the morning, she crept 
out, opened the door, slipped do\vnstairs, and ran out into 
the street. 1'here she had found the policemen and re- 
quested them to search the house. 
The two officers had gone to the h01.1se "rith the woman. 
She had opened the door and they had had just time to step 
back into the shadow when the prisoner entered. When ar- 
rested, Victor Ancona had screamed with terror, and cried 
out, H It 'was no use! it \vas no use to do it! " 
The Chief of Police had conle to the house and instituted 
a careful search. In the room belo\v, from "Thich the cries 
had come, he found a dress 'which ,vas identified as belong- 
ing to Nina San Croix and which she "7as 'wearing when 
last seen by the dOlllestic, about six o'clock that evening. 
This dress ,vas covered ,vith 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 \vas 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 \vas also blood on the prisoner's coat and the leg 
of his trousers, and the heavy Mexican knife was also 
bloody. The blood \vas sho\vn by the experts to be human 
blood. 
The body of the \vornan was not found, and the most 
rigid and tireless search failed to develop the slightest trace 
of the corpse, or the nlanner of its disposal. The body of 
the \vornan 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 slo\vly and dis- 
88 



Melville Davisson Post 
tinctly, "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 cro\vd stirred. The counsel for the People sn1iled. 
The judge looked sharply at the speaker over his glasses. 
" On 'what ground? " he said curtly. 
" On the ground," replied ÑIason, "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 gentlelnan 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 substan- 
tial fact that a crin1e has been committed. Does anyone 
doubt it in this case? It is true that no one actually sa\v 
the prisoner kill the decedent, and that he has so success- 
fully hidden the body that it has not been found, but the 
po\verful chain of circumstances, clear and close-linked, 
proving motive, the criminal agency, and the criminal act, 
is ovenvhelming. 
" The victinl in this case is on the eve of making a state- 
nlent that would prove fatal to the prisoner. The night be- 
fore the staten1ent 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 n1ur- 
derer, that she has the evidence and \vill 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 \vitncsses to tlle criminal act? The 
crinlinaI agency of the prisoner has not the shadow of a 
possibility to obscure it. lIis motive is gigantic. The 
blood on hilTI, and his despair when arrested, cry , 
lurder! 
ll1urder! ' \vith a thousand tongues. 
" Men may lie, but CirCUlTIstances cannot. The thousand 
89 



:American 
{ystery Stories 
hopes anâ fears and passions of men nlay delude, or bias 
the witness. Yet it is beyond the human rpind 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 im- 
probable 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 \vork 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 ,veIl leave the spider to w'eave 
his \veb through the abandoned court room." 
The attorney stopped, looked down at Ma"son \vith a pom- 
pous sneer, and retired to his place at the table. The judge 
sat thoughtful and motionless. The jurymen leaned for- 
\vard in their seats. 
" If your Honor please," said 11ason, rising, "this is a 
matter of law, plain, clear, and so \vell settled in the State 
of N ew York that even counsel for the People should know 
it. The question before your Honor is sin1ple. If the cor- 
þus delicti, the body of the crime, has been proven, as re- 
quired by the laws of the commonwealth, then this case 
should go to the jury. If not, then it is the duty df this 
Court to direct the jury to find the prisoner not guilty. 
There is here no roonl for judicial discretion. Your Honor 
has but to recall and apply the rigid rule announced by our 
courts prescribing distinctly ho\v the corpus delicti in murder 
must be proven. 
"The prisoner here stands charged 'with the highest 
crime. The law demands, first, that the crinle, as a fact, 
be established. The fact that the victinl is indeed dead 
must first be made certain before anyone can be convicted 
for her killing, because, so long as there remains the re- 
motest 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, com- 
90 



]vI elville Davisson Post 
plete, and utterly irresistible. In murder, the corþus 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 bind- 
ing 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 mat- 
ter how powerful, how cogent, or how completely over- 
whelming 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 SOlne act ade- 
quate 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 gre\v hard. The mem- 
bers of the bar \vere attentive and alert; they 'were begin- 
ning 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 con- 
tempt. 
" 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 \vith 
a living \vitness, \\"ho 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, ,vere convinced of the guilt of the pris- 
oner to the degree of certainty that is absolute; if the cir- 
9 1 



A 11zerican !1 ystery S torie
' 
cun1stantial evidence left in the mind no shadow of the 
remotest improbable doubt; yet, in the absence of the eye- 
witness, this prisoner cannot be punished, and this Court 
Dlust compel the jury to acquit him." 
The audience now understood, and they 'vere dum- 
founded. Surely this ,vas not the law. They had been 
taught that the la\v was common sense, and this,-this was 
anything else. 
Mason sa 'N it all, and grinned. "In its tenderness," he 
sneered, "the la\v shields the innocent. The good law of 
N ew York reaches out its hand and lifts the prisoner out 
of the clutches of the fierce jury that would hang hiln." 
Mason sat dov".n. The room was silent. The jurymen 
looked at each other in amazement. The. counsel for the 
People arose. His face \vas v",hite \vith anger, and in- 
credulous. 
" Your Honor," he said, "this doctrine is n1onstrous. 
Can it be said that, in order to evade punishment, the n1ur- 
derer 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 la\v 
for the highest crime is a dead letter. The great conlmon- 
\vealth \vinks at n1urder and invites every nlan to kill his 
enemy, provided he kill him in secret and hide him. I re- 
peat, your Honor,"-the man's voice \vas now loud and 
angry and rang through the court room-" that this doc- 
trine is monstrous!" 
" So said Best, and Story, and nlany another," muttered 
Mason, " and the law remained." 
"The Court," said the judge, abruptly, " desires no fur- 
ther argument." 
The counsel for the People resumed his seat. His face 
lighted up with triumph. The Court ,vas going to sustain 
him. 
The judge turned and looked down at the jury. He was 
grave, and spoke \vith deliberate emphasis. 
" Gentlemen of the jury," he said, "the rule of Lord Hale 
9 2 



AI eh.,ille Davisson Post 
obtains in this State and is binding upon me. It is the law 
as stated by counsel for the prisoner: that to warrant con- 
viction 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 ex- 
erted 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 evi- 
dence. This is the law, and cannot no\v 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 \vhere 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 cer- 
tainly 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 refer- 
ence to the dangerous possibility that a general preconcep- 
tion 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 pris- 
oner, although the chain of circumstantial evidence is com- 
plete and irresistible in the highest degree. Nevertheless, 
it is all circumstantial evidence, anù under the la\\'s of New 
York the prisoner cannot be punished. I have no right 
of discretion. The la\v does not permit a conviction in this 
case, although everyone of us may be n10rally 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 
93 


, 




 111erican M 'Jlstcry S !ories 
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 
\vil1 write a verdict of not guilty, \vhich you, as forelnan, 
,vill sign." 
The spectators broke out into a threatening munllur that 
began to gro\v 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 di- 
rected the foren1an to sign the verdict prepared by the clerk. 
\\Then this \vas 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 
,vas 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 
la\v, rigid, passionless, even-eyed, has thrust in between you 
and the \vrath of your fellows and saved you from it. I do 
not cry out against the impotency of the la\v; it is perhaps 
as \vise 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 N ew 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 roonl, not 
guiltless of the crime of murder, perhaps, but at least rid 
of its punishment. The eyes of men nlay see Cain's mark 
on your brow, but the eyes of the La\v are blind to it." 
94 



Melville Davisson Post 
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 im- 
memorial 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 \vith its paradox of warning. The theater of this 
con1Îng contract before high heaven was a wilderness of 
roses worth the taxes of a county. The high caste of Man- 
hattan, 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 
\vith 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 hOl1lO, \vhich obtains at the five- 
o'clock teas, instituted, say the sages, for the purpose of 
sprinkling the holy water of Lethe. 
" Czarina," \vhispered Reggie Du Puyster, leaning for- 
ward, " I salute you. The ceremony sub jugun'l is superb." 
" Walcott is an excellent felIow," answered Mrs. Steuvi- 
sant; "not a vice, you know, Reggie." 
" Aye, Empress," put in the others, "a purist taken in 
the net. The clean-skirted one has con1e to the altar. Vive 
la vertu!" 
San1uel Walcott, still sunburned from his cruise, stood 
before the chancel with the only daughter of the blue... 
q
 



A1nerican l.fystcry Stories 
blooded St. Clairs. His face ".as clear and honest and his 
voice firm. This was life and not rOlnance. The lid of the 
sepulcher had closed and he had slipped from under it. 
And no,v, and ever after, the hand red with murder ,vas 
clean as any. 
The minister raised his voice, proclaiming the holy union 
before God, and this hvain, 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 do\vn his thumb. "Habet!" he said. 
Fro 11'1, (C The Stra.nge Sche11'tes of Randolph Mason," by 
}.f elville Davisson Post. Copyright) I896) by G. P. Put.. 
lla11z/ s Sons. - 


96 



Ambrose Bierce 


An Heiress from Redhorse 


CORONADO, June 20th. 
I FIND myself more and more interested in him. I t is 
not, I am sure, his-do you know any noun corre- 
sponding 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. N or 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 un- 
definable, and to you and me, my dear Irene, I fancy there 
is rather less of that in the branch of art under considera- 
tion 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. N ever- 
theless, his manner is something truly delightful. I sup- 
pose what interests me chiefly is the n1an's brains. His 
conversation is the best I have ever heard, and altogether 
unlike anyone's else. He seems to know everything, as, in- 
deed, he ought, for he has been every\vhere, read every- 
thing, 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, \vhen 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 ,vritten 
of him \vith such levity, not to say disrespect. Believe me, 
dearest, he has more dignity and ieriousness (of the kind, 
97 



Alllcrican Mystery Stories 
I mean, which is not inconsistent \vith a manner sometimes 
playful and ahvays charming) than any of the men that 
you and I ever met. And young Raynor-you kne\v Ray- 
nor at 1\10nterey-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 
\vould 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 ordi- 
nary mystery is not, of course, as good as a scandal, but 
\vhen it relates to dark and dreadful practices-to the exer- 
cise of unearthly powers-could anything be more piquant? 
I t explains, too, the singular influence the nlan 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 at- 
tempted to describe to you. How dreadful if \ve have the 
power to make one fall in love! Do you know if the Blavat- 
sky crowd have that power-outside of Sepoy? 


July I 
The strangest thing! Last evening while Auntie was 
attending one of the hotel hops (I hate thenl) Dr. Barritz 
called. It was scandalously late-I actually believe he had 
talked with Auntie in the ballroom, and learned from her 
that I \vas 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, 1- 
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-l daring to love 


 



Ambrose B'ierce 
a god like him! 1Iy 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 17 th . 
That little wretch, Raynor, called yesterday, and his bab- 
ble 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 vraisem- 
blance. ) 
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 bare- 
footed. He was known in those far fair days as " Giggles," 
and 1-0 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 deli- 
cate 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 pre- 
carious living for himself and an aged mother by " chlorid- 
ing the dumps," that is to say, the miners permitted him to 
99 



Al1
erican Mystery Stories 
search the heaps of waste rock for such pieces of "pay 
are" as had been overlooked; and these he sacked up and 
sold at the Syndicate 1\Iill. He became a menlber of our 
finn-" Gunny, Giggles, and Dumps," thenceforth-through 
my favor; for I could not then, nor can I no\v, be indiffer- 
ent to his courage and prowess in defending against Giggles 
the immemorial right of his sex to insult a strange and un- 
protected 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 becanle 
Jack Raynor, of Wells, Fargo & Co., and old Mrs. Barts 
was herself chlorided to her fathers, Dumps drifted over to 
San Juan Stnith 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 \"'alley of Humility. Be- 
cause I am subduing tnyself 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 Dtunps at 
this hotel! I haven't spoken to him. I never had any 
acquaintance \vith him, but-do you suppose he has recog- 
nized me? Do, please, give me in your next your candiù, 
sure-enough opinion about it, and say you don't think so. 
Do you think He kno\vs about me already and that is why 
He left tne last evening when He saw that I blushed and 
trenlbled like a fool under His eyes ? You kno\v I can't 
bribe all the newspapers, and I can't go back on anybody 
who \vas 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 no\v-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 lTlyself. Dear, dear! I wish 
I had something besides a million dollars! If J ack w
re 
three inches taller I'd marry him alive and go back to Red- 
horse and wear sackcloth again to the end of my miserable 
days. 


100 



Ambrose Bierce 


July 25 th . 
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 sea ward side of the hotel and seen him 
walking alone on the beach. I f you are not lost to every 
feeling of womanly delicacy you \vill accept my statel11ent 
without question. I soon established myself under n1Y sun- 
shade 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 \vith 
you ?
r will you walk \vith me?" 
The possibility that neither might be agreeable seems not 
to have occurred to him. Did you ever know such assur- 
ance? Assurance? 1\1:y dear, it was gall, downright gall! 
\Vell, I didn't fi
d it worm\vood, and replied, with my un- 
tutored 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 0' 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 111)' hand, I pulled on it a little, but unsuccess- 
fully. He simply held on, saying nothing, but looking 
down into 111Y 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 in- 
clination of his head as he stood over l11e after I had got 
101 



A tnerican Mystery Stories 
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 sup- 
ported 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. I f he had added: "I suppose that is about 
what I anl 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 support- 
ing 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, þlease 
go away, you-you Thug! How dare you think that when 
my leg is asleep? " 
I actually said those identical words 1 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 be- 
side me, parted the tangle of hair, and said, in the tenderest 
way: "
1y poor girl, God kno\vs 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 
102 



Ambrose Bierce 
dark, I lifted my head, looked him straight in the eyes, and 
smiled n1Y 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 
un,vorthy 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 inter- 
est. 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 miserabylJ 
by ye creature hys byte. 
STRETCHED at ease upon a sofa, in gown and slippers, 
Harker Brayton smiled as he read the foregoing sentence 
1 0 3 



Al1z.crican Afystcry Stories 
In old l\10rryster'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 follo\ved-for Brayton was a man 
of thought-and he unconsciously lowered his book with- 
out altering the direction of his eyes. As soon as the vol- 
Ul1le had gone below the line of sight, something in an 
obscure corner of the room recalled his attention to his 
surroundings. What he sa\v, in the shadow under his bed, 
were two small points of light, apparently about an inch 
apart. They n1ight have been reflections of the gas jet 
above hitn, in metal nail heads; he gave them but little 
thought and resumed his reading. A mon1ent later some- 
thing-some impulse which it did not occur to him to 
analyze-impelled him to lower the book a.gain and seek for 
"what he sa\v before. The points of light were still there. 
They seelned to have become brighter than before, shining 
with a greenish luster \vhich he had not at first observed. 
He thought, too, that they might have moved a trifle-were 
somewhat nearer. They \vere still too H1ttch in the shado\v, 
ho\vever, to reveal their nature and origin to an indolent 
attention, and he resnn1ed his reading. Suddenly something 
in the text suggested a thought \vhich made him start and 
drop the book for the third til11e to the side of the sofa, 
\vhence, escaping from his hand, it fell spra\vling to the 
floor, back up\vard. Brayton, half-risen, ,vas staring in- 
tently into the obscurity beneath the bed, where the points 
of light shone \vith, it seemed to him, an added fire. His 
attention \vas now fully aroused, his gaze eager and Ït11- 
perative. It disclosed, almost directly beneath the foot rail 
of the bed, the coils of a large serpent-the points of light 
,vere its eyes! Its horrible head, thrust flatly forth from the 
innermost coil and resting upon the outermost, was directed 
straight to\vard him, the definition of the \vide, brutal ja\v 
and the idiotlike forehead serving to sho\v the direction of 
its malevolent gaze. The eyes were no longer merely lumi- 
10 4 



A 11tbrose Bierce 
nous points; they looked into his own with a meaning, a 
l11align 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 re- 
sources 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 ,vas 
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 environl11ent, and ap- 
peared to have developed some of the eccentricities which 
come of isolation. One of these was a "wing," conspicu- 
ously irrelevant in point of architecture, and no less rebel- 
lious in the matter of purpose; for it was a combination 
of laboratory, menagerie, and museum. I t 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 lo,ver forms. For one of the higher types 
nil11bly and sweetly to recommend itself unto his gentle 
senses, it had at least to retain certain rudimentary charac- 
teristics allying it to such" dragons of the prime" as toads 
and snakes. His scientific sympathies were distinctly rep- 
tilian; he loved nature's vulgarians and described himself 
as the Zola of zoölogy. His \\rife and daughters, not having 
the advantage to share his enlightened curiosity regarding 
the works and ways of our ill-starred fello\\T-creatures, ,vere, 
,vith needless austerity, excluded from what he called the 
105 



A11lcrican Mystery Stories 
Snakery, and doomed to companionship with their own 
kind; though, to soften the rigors of their lot, he had per- 
mitted 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, how- 
ever, they ,vere 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 associa- 
tions-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 un- 
familiar. Its length he could only conjecture; the body at 
the largest visible part seemed about as thick as his fore- 
arm. In what way was it dangerous, if in any way ? Was 
it venomous ? Was it a constrictor? His knowledge of 
106 



Anlbrose Bierce 
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 \vith furniture, and 
the furniture with bric-à-brac, had not quite fitted the 
place for this bit of the savage life of the jungle. Be- 
sides - insupportable thought! - the exhalations of its 
breath nlingled \vith 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 
,ve are \vise 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 nanle 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 fol- 
low, the taste which had plastered the walls with paintings 
had consistently supplied a rack of murderous Oriental 
weapons frolll which he could snatch one to suit the occa- 
sion. In the meantilne 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. 
U I am accounted brave," he murmured; "is bravery, 
then, no nlore than pride? Because there are none to wit- 
ness the shame shall I retreat?" 
10 7 



American Mystery Stories 
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 cow- 
ard 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! FIe could not think how that occurred. A trial 
with the left foot had the same result; it was again in ad- 
vance of the right. The hand upon the chair back was 
grasping it; the arm was straight, reaching somewhat back- 
,vard. 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. I t 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 for- 
ward, 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 ,vas wholly 
concealed by them. They gave off enlarging rings of rich 
and vivid colors, which at their greatest expansion succes- 
sively 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, inconceiv- 
ably sweet, like the tones of an æolian 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 cen- 
turies. 
The music ceased; rather, it became by insensible degrees 
the distant roll of a retreating thunderstorIn. A landscape, 
glittering ,vith sun and rain, stretched before him, arched 
with a vivid rainbow, fralning in its giant curve a hundred 
visible cities. In the middle distance a vast serpent, wear- 
ing a crown, reared its head out of its voluminous convo- 
lutions and looked at him with his dead mother's eyes. 
108 



A 11zbrose Bierce 
Str.ddenly this enchanting landscape seemed to rise swiftly 
up\vard, 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 mOlnents 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 thro\v- 
ing its coils about his throat-was too horrible. I-Ie 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 fe\v n10ments before \vere not repeated. Be- 
neath that flat and brainless bro\v its black, beady eyes 
simply glittered, as at first, \vith an expression unspeakably 
malignant. It was as if the creature, kno\ving its tri- 
umph assured, had determined to practice no more allur- 
ing wiles. 
No\v ensued a fearful scene. The n1an, prone upon the 
floor, within a yard of his enenlY, raised the upper part of 
his body upon his elbo\vs, his head thro\vn back, his legs 
extended to their full length. His face was vvhite bet\,veen 
its gouts of blood; his eyes \vere 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 hinl- 
self at the waist, shifting his legs from side to side. And 
every movement left hinl a little nearer to the snake. He 
thrust his hands forward to brace himself back, yet con- 
stantly advanced upon his elbows. 


109 



American Mystery Stories 


IV 


DR. DRURING and his wife sat in the library. The sci- 
entist was in rare good humor. 
"I have just obtained, by exchange with another col- 
lector," 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 Oþhio- 
þhagus 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 nlet some servants who had come from the upper floor. 
Together they rushed at the door without knocking. It 
,vas unfastened, and gave way. Brayton lay upon his stom- 
ach on the floor, dead. His head and arms \vere 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 1 
"Died in a fit," said the scientist, bending his knee and 
placing his hand upon the heart. While in that position he 
110 



Ambrose Bierce 
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 U Tales of Soldiers and Civilians/' by Ambrose 
Bierce. Coþyright l I89I1 by E. L. G. Steele. . 


"I 



Edgar Allan Poe 
The Oblong Box 


SOME years ago, I engaged passage from Charleston, 
S. C., to the city of N ew York, in the fine packet ship 
"Independence," Captain Hardy. We were to sail on the 
fifteenth of the month (June), \veather 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. 
l-Ie 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 misan- 
thropy, sensibility, and enthusiasm. To these qualities he 
unite0. the warmest and truest heart which ever beat in a 
human bosom. 
I observed that his name \vas 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 staterooms were sufficiently 
roomy, and each had two berths, one above the other. 
These berths, to be sure, were so exceedingly narro\v 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 in- 
quisitive about trifles: and I confess, \vith shanle, that I 
busied myself in a variety of ill-bred and preposterous con- 
jectures about this matter of the supernumerary stateroom. 
112 



Edgar Allan Poe 
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 \vishes 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 bargain- 
ing about 'with Nicolino, the Italian Jew." This idea sat- 
isfied me, and I dismissed my curiosity for the nonce. 
vVyatt'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), 
\Vyatt and party were also to visit it-so the captain in- 
fornled 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 nlorrow 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 \vould 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 
113 



A-m.erican Mystery Stories 
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 im- 
mediately went on board. The ship was crowded with pas- 
sengers, and everything was in a 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, perforce, upon hii 
sister Marian-a very sweet and intelIigent 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 descrip- 
tions 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 endur- 
ing graces of the intellect and soul. She said very few 
words, and passed at once into her stateroom with Mr. W. 
MyoId inquisitiveness no\v returned. There was no ser- 
vant-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, \vhich was everything 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 \vas about 
114 



Edgar Allan Poe 
six feet in length by t\vo and a half in breadth;-I observed 
it attentively, and like to be precise. No\v this shape \vas 
peculiar; and no sooner had I seen it, than I took credit to 
nlyself for the accuracy of my guessing. I had reached the 
conclusion, it \vill be remen1bered, that the extra baggag
 
of n1Y friend, the artist, \vould prove to be pictures, or at 
least a picture; for I kne\v he had been for several \veeks 
in conference \vith Nicolino :-and no\v here \vas a box, 
which, from its shape, could possibly contain nothing in the 
'\TorId 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 kno\vn, for some titne, to be 
in the possession of Nicolino. This point, therefore, I con- 
sidered as sufficiently settled. I chuckled excessively "Then 
I thought of nIY acumen. It was the first time I had ever 
kno\vn \V yatt 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 N e\v York, under my very 
nose; expecting me to kno\v nothing of the matter. I re- 
solved to quiz him well, no\v and hereafter. 
One thing, ho\vcver, annoyed me not a little. The box 
did not go into the extra stateroom. It was deposited in 
vVyatt's own; and there, too, it remained, occupying very 
nearly the \\Thole of the floor-no doubt to the exceeding 
discomfort of the artist and his wife ;-this the more espe- 
cially as the tar or paint \vith \vhich it \vas lettered in 
sprawling capitals, emitted a strong, disagreeable, and to 
1J1Y fancy, a peculiarly disgusting odor. On the lid \vere 
painted the words-a AIrs. Adelaide Curl-Ïs, Alball)', N e'ZCJ 
Y?ork. Charge of Cornelius ÞVyatt, Esq. This side up. To 
be handled with care." 
No\v, I was a\vare that Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, of Albany, 
,vas the artist's wife's mother ;-but then I looked upon the 
,vhole address as a n1ystification, intended especially for 
myself. I made up n1Y n1ind, of course, that the box and 
contents \vould never get farther north than the studio 
of my misanthropic friend, in Chambers Street, New York. 
For the first three or four days \ve had fine weather, 
lIS 




 1J'l.erican M j l stery Stories 
although the \vind \vas dead ahead; having chopped round 
to the north\vard, imn1ediately upon our losing sight of 
the coast. The passengers were, consequently, in high 
spirits and disposed to be social. I Ulust except, however, 
Wyatt and his sisters, \vho behaved stiffly, and, I could not 
help thinking, uncourteously to the rest of the party. 
TV j'aft's conduct I did not so much regard. l-Ie \vas 
gloomy, even beyond his usual habit-in fact he \vas "lO- 
rose-but in hin1 I \vas prepared. for eccentricity. For the 
sisters, ho\vever, 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. 
J\lrs. vV yatt herself \vas far more agreeable. That is to 
say, she \vas chatty; and to be chatty is no slight recom- 
mendation at sea. She became excess.ively intimate \vith 
most of the ladies; and, to n1Y profound astonishment, 
evinced no equivocal disposition to coquet \vith the n1en. 
She amused us all very much. I say "a11zZtscd "-and 
scarcely know how to explain n1yself. The truth is, I soon 
found that Mrs. vV. was far oftener laughed at than 'lvith. 
The gentlemen said little about her; but the ladies, in a 
little \vhile, pronounced her "a good-hearted thing, rather 
indifferent-looking, totally uneducated, and decidedly vul- 
gar." The great wonder \vas, how vVyatt had been en- 
trapped into such a match. Wealth was the general solu- 
tion-but this I kne\v to be no solution at all; for \Vyatt 
had told me that she neither brought hin1 a dollar nor had 
any expectations from any source whatever. "I-Ie had 
married," he said, "for love, and for love only; and his 
bride \vas 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 \vas 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 
116 



Edgar Allan Poe 
seemed especial1y fond of hint-particularly so in his absence 
-\vhen she made herself ridiculous by frequent quotations 
of what had been said by her" beloved husband, Mr. Wy- 
att." The \vord "husband" seemed forever-to use one 
of her o\vn 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 stateroom, 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 in- 
duced 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 incommuni- 
cativeness 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 \vont, I sauntered with him backward and for- 
ward. His gloom, ho\vever (\vhich I considered quite natu- 
ral under any circumstances), seemed entirely unabated. 
He said little, and that moodily, and with evident effort. I 
ventured a jest or hvo, and he made a sickening atten1pt at 
a smile. Poor fello\v!-as I thought of his wife, I wondered 
that he could have heart to put on even the sen1blance 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 n1ystification. 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 kno\vingly, winked, and touched him gently with 
my forcfingeF in the ribs. 
The manner in which Wyatt received this harmless pleas- 
IIZ 



'A 1nerican 
1 ystery Stories 
antry convinced me, at once, that he \vas mad. At first he' 
stared at nle as if he found it impossible to comprehend 
the witticism of my remark; but as its point seemed slo\vly 
to make its way into his brain, his eyes, in the same pro- 
portion, seet11ed protruding from their sockets. Then he 
grew very red-then hideously pale-then, as if highly 
anltlsed \vith what I had insinuated, he began a loud and 
boisterous laugh, which, to my astonishn1ent, 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, \vith 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 re- 
garded 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, \vho seemed to coincide with me 
altogether in my vie\vs 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's \vhich contributed to heighten the curiosity with 
which I \vas 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. N o\V, my stateroom opened 
into the nlain 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 
\vere almost constantly on a wind, and the breeze 'was not 
a little stiff, the ship heeled to lee\vard very considerably; 
and \vhenever her starboard side \vas to leeward, the sliding 
door between the cabins slid open, and so remained, no- 
body taking the trouble to get up and shut it. But my 
berth \vas in such a position, that \vhen my own stateroom 
door was open, as well as the sliding door in question, (and 
my: own door was always open on account of the heat,) I 
118 



Edgar Allan Poe 
could see into the after-cabin quite distinctly, and just at 
that portion of it, too, where were situated the staterooms 
of Mr. vVyatt. \íV ell, during two nights (not consecutive) 
while I lay a\vake, 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, \vhere she re- 
mained until daybreak, when she \vas called by her husband 
and \vent back. That they \vere virtually separated was 
clear. They had separate apartments-no doubt in contem- 
plation 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 t\VO wakeful nights in question, and 
immediately after the disappearance of lVlrs. Wyatt into the 
extra stateroom, I was attracted by certain singular, cau- 
tious, subdued noises in that of her husband. After listen- 
ing to them for some time, \vith thoughtful attention, I at 
length succeeded perfectly in translating their import. 
They \vere sounds occasioned by the artist in prying 
open the oblong box, by means of a chisel and malIet- 
the latter being apparently muffled, or deadened, by some 
soft woolen or cotton substance in which its head \vas 
enveloped. 
In this manner I fancied I could distinguish the precise 
moment 'when he fairly disengaged the lid-also, that I 
could determine \vhen he removed it altogether, and \vhen 
he deposited it upon the lower berth in his room; this latter 
point I kne\v 9 for example, by certain slight taps which 
the lid made in striking against the \vooden edges of the 
berth, as he endeavored to lay it do\vn 'vcry gently-there 
being no room for it on the floor. After this there \vas a 
dead stillness, and I heard nothing more, upon either occa... 
sian, until nearly daybreak; unless, perhaps, I may men... 
tion a lov
' sobbing, or murmuring sound, so very nluch 
suppressed as to be nearly inaudible-if, indeed, the whole 
of this latter noise \vere not rather produced by my o\vn 
imagination. I say it seemed to rcsc111ble sobbing or sigh- 
ing-but, of course, it could not have been either. I rather 
119 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
think it ,vas a ringing in my o\vn ears. 
1r. 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 ,vithin. There ,vas 
nothing in this, however, to n1ake him sob. I repeat, there- 
fore, that it must have been simply a freak of my o\vn 
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 n1eans of the muffled mallet. Having done this, he 
issued fron1 his stateroom, fully dressed, and proceeded to 
call J\Irs. W. from hers. 
\Ve had been at sea seven days, and ,vere now off Cape 
Hatteras, when there eame a trenlendously heavy blow from 
the south\vest. vVe were, in a measure, prepared for it, 
however, as the weather had been holding out threats for 
some time. Everything \vas made snug, alo\v and aloft; 
and as the \vind steadily freshened, \ve 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, bring- 
ing us so much in the trough of the ,vater that \ve shipped 
several prodigious seas, one ilnn1ediately after the other. 
By this accident ,ve lost three men overboard \vith the 
caboose, and nearly the ,vhole of the larboard buhvarks. 
Scarcely had we recovered our senses, before the foretop- 
sail ,vent 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, ho\vever, and \ve sa\v no signs of 
its abating. The rigging was found to be ill-fitted, and 
greatly strained; and on the third day of the blo\v, about 
five in the afternoon" our nlizzenmast" in a heavy lurch to 
120 



Edgar Allan Poe 
wind,vard, went by the board. For an hour or more, wè 
tried in vain to get rid of it, on account of the prodigious 
rolling of the ship; and, before \ve had succeeded, the car- 
penter came aft and announced four feet \vater in the hold. 
To add to our dilemma, \ve found the pumps choked and 
nearly useless. 
All ,vas no\v confusion and despair-but an effort \vas 
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 anything at the pumps: and, 
in the meantime, the leak gained on us very fast. 
At sundown, the gale had sensibly diminished in vio- 
lence, and, as the sea went do\vn with it, we still enter- 
tained faint hopes of saving ourselves in the boats. At 
eight P. M., the clouds broke away to \vindward, and \ve 
had the advantage of a full moon-a piece of good for- 
tune 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 ,ve crowded the whole of the crew and most of the 
passengers. This party made off ilnn1cdiately, and, after 
undergoing much suffering, finally arrived, in safety, at 
Ocracoke Inlet, on the third day after the \vreck. 
Fourteen passengers, \vith the captain, remained on 
board, resolving to trust their fortunes to the jolly-boat at 
the stern. We lo,vered it without difficulty, although it 
was only by a miracle that we prevented it from s\vamping 
as it touched the \vater. It contained, when afloat, the cap- 
tain and his wife, Mr. \Vyatt and party, a 1-Iexican officer, 
wife, four children, and n1yself, \vith a negro valet. 
We had no room, of course, for anything except a few 
positively necessary instruments, some provisions, and the 
clothes upon our backs. Noone had thought of even at- 
tempting to save anything more. vVhat n1ust have been the 
astonishment of all, then, when, having proceeded a few 
fathoms fro In the ship, Mr. Wyatt stood up in the stern 
121 



'A'fnerican Mystery Stories 
sheets, and coolly demanded of Captain Hardy that the boat 
should be put back for the purpose of taking in his oblong 
box! 
"Sit do\vn, Mr. Wyatt," replied the captain, somewhat 
sternly, "you will capsize us if you do not sit quite still. 
Our gun\vale is almost in the \vater now." 
" The box! " vociferated Mr. vVyatt, still standing-" the 
box, I say! Captain Hardy, you cannot, you will not refuse 
me. Its 'weight \vill be but a trifle-it is nothing-mere 
nothing. By the nlother who bore you-for the love of 
Heaven-by your hope of salvation, I i1nPlore you to put 
back for the box! " 
The captain, for a moment, seemed touched by the ear- 
nest appeal of the artist, but he regained his stern com- 
posure, and merely said: 
" 1ir. Wyatt, you are 11Wd. I cannot listen to you. Sit 
do\vn, I say, or you ,vill 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. \Vyatt, in fact, sprang fron1 
the boat, and, as we were yet in the lee of the wreck, suc- 
ceeded, by almost superhuman exertion, in getting hold 
of a rope which hung from the fore-chains. In another nlO- 
ment he was on board, and rushing frantically do\vn into 
the cabin. 
In the meantime, \ve had been swept astern of the ship, 
and being quite out of her lee, were at the n1ercy of the 
tremendous sea \vhich ,vas still running. \Ve made a deter- 
mined effort to put back, but our little boat \vas like a 
feather in the breath of the tempest. vVe sa\v at a glance 
that the doom of the unfortunate artist ,vas sealed. 
As our distance fronl the wreck rapidly increased, the 
madman (for as such only could we regard him) \vas seen 
to elnerge from the con1panion-\vay, up ,vhich by dint of 
strength that appeared gigantic, he dragged, bodily, the 
oblong box. \i\Thile 'we gazed in the extremity of astonish- 
ment, he passed, rapidly, several turns of a three-inch rope, 
first around the box and then around his body. In another 
122 



Edgar Allan Pae 
instant both body and box were in the sea-disappearing 
suddenly, at once and forever. 
We lingered a\vhile sadly upon our oars, with our eyes 
riveted upon the spot. At length we pulled a\vay. The 
silence ren1ained unbroken for an hour. Finally, I hazarded 
a ren1ark. 
"Did you observe, captain, how suddenly they sank? 
Was not that an exceedingly singular thing? I confess that 
î entertained some feeble hope of his final deliverance, when 
I sa\v 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 t-ill the salt 'Jnelts." 
" The salt! " I ejaculated. 
" Hush!" said the captain, pointing to the wife and sis- 
ters of the deceased. " We must talk of these things at 
some more appropriate time." 


We suffered much, and n1ade a narrow escape; but for- 
tune befriended us, as well as our mates in the longboat. 
We landed, in fine, more dead than alive, after four days 
of intense distress, upon the beach opposite Roanoke Is- 
land. vVe remained here a week, '\vere not ill-treated by 
the ,vreckers, and at length obtained a passage to N e\v 
York. 
About a month after the loss of the "Independence," I 
happened to l11eet Captain Hardy in Broadway. Our con- 
versation turned, naturally, upon the disaster, and especially 
upon the sad fate of poor Wyatt. I thus learned the fol- 
lowing particulars: 
The artist had engaged passage for himself, wife, two 
sisters and a servant. His wife ,vas, 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 sick- 
ened and died. The young husband was frantic ,vith grief 
-but circumstances imperatively forbade the deferring his 
12 3 



A l1zcrican M 'j'stery Stories 
voyage to Ne,v York. It \vas necessary to take to her 
nlother the corpse of his adored ,vife, and, on the other 
hand, the universal prejudice which "'Tould prevent his do- 
ing so openly was \vell known. Nine tenths of the passen- 
gers \vould have abandoned the ship rather than take pas- 
sage with a dead body. 
In this dilemnla, Captain Hardy arranged that the corpse, 
being first partially embalmed, and packed, \vith 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; anù, as it \vas \vell understood 
that Mr. \Vyatt had engaged passage for his 'wife, it becanle 
necessary that some person should personate her during 
the voyage. This the deceased lady's-maid \vas easily pre- 
vailed on to do. The extra stateroom, originally engaged 
for this girl, during her mistress' life, was 110\V merely re- 
tained. In this stateroom the pseudo "'Tife 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 unkno\\Tn to any of the pas- 
sengers on board. 
J\1:y o,vn 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 hot what hol this fellow is dancing mad! 
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula. 
-All in the Wrong. 


lVIANY years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a l\lr. 
William Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot fam- 
ily, and had once been ,vealthy: but a series of misfor- 
1 2 4 



Edgar Allan Poe 
tunes had reduced him to want. To avoid the nlortifica- 
tion 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 sepa- 
rated frol11 the nlainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, 
oozing its "vay 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 d\varfish. No trees of any 
nlagnitude are to be seen. N ear the ,vestern extremity, 
"'here Fort 1Vloultrie stands, and where are some miserable 
franle buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives 
froin Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the 
bristly palnletto; but the whole island, with the exception 
of this \vestern point, and a line of hard, white beach on 
the seacoast, is covered \vith a dense undergro\vth of the 
sweet myrtle so much prized by the horticulturists of Eng- 
land. The shrub here often attains the height of fifteen or 
Ì\venty feet, and forms an ah110st impenetrable coppice) 
burdening the air \vith 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 nluch in the recluse to ex- 
cite interest and esteem. I found him ,yell educated, with 
unusual po\vers of nlind, but infected with nlisanthropy, 
and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasl11 and 
Inelancholy. He had with hil11 nlany books, but rarely enl- 
ployed them. IIis chief anlusements were gunning and 
fishing, or sauntering along the beach and through the myr- 
tles, in quest of shells or entomological specil1lens-his col- 
lection of the latter might have been envied by a Swanlmer- 
dalnnl. In these excursions he "vas usually acconlpanied 
by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been l11anumitted 
before the reverses of the family, but \vho could be induced, 
12 5 




lnerican Mystery Stor'ics 
neither by threats nor by promise!, to abandon what he con- 
sidered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his 
young CI lVlassa 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 sel- 
dom 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 ,veeks-my residence 
being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine miles 
from the island, \vhile the facilities of passage and repas- 
sage 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. I t was a novelty, and by no means an 
ungrateful one. I thre\v 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 pr
pare some marsh hens for supper. Legrand was in 
one of his fits-how else shall I term them ?-of enthu
iasm. 
He had found an unkno\vn bivalve, forming a new genus, 
and, more than this, he had hunted do\vn and secured, with 
Jupiter's assistance, a scarabæus ,vhich he believed to be 
totally new, but in respect to which he wished to have my 
opinion on the morro\v. 
"And \vhy not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands 
over th
 blaze, and wishing the whole tribe of scarabæi at 
the devil. 
"Ah, if I had oniy kno,vn you were here!" said Le- 
grand, " but it's so long since I saw you; and ho\v could I 
126 



Edgar Allan Poe 
foresee that you would pay me a visit this very night of 
all others? As I was coming home I met Lieutenant G-, 
froln the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the bug; so 
it \vill be impossible for you to see it until the Inorning. 
Stay here to-night, and I will send J up down for it at sun- 
rise. 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, some- 
what longer, at the other. The antennæ are-" 
"Dey ain't no tin in hÏ1n, 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, J up," replied Legrand, somewhat 
nlore earnestly, it seemed to nle, 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 nlore brilliant 
nletallic luster than the scales emit-but of this you can- 
not judge till to-nlorrow. In the meantime I can give 
you some idea of the shape." Saying this, he seated him- 
self at a small table, on which ,vere a pen and ink, but 
no paper. I-Ie looked for some in a drawer, but found 
none. 
" Never mind," he said at length, "this will answer;" 
and he drew from his \vaistcoat pocket a scrap of wbat 
I took to be very dirty foolscap, and made upon it a rough 
dra wing with the pen. While he did this, I retained my 
seat by the fire, for I was still chilly. When the design 
,vas complete, he handed it to me without rising. As I 
received it, a loud gro\vl was heard, succeeded by a scratch- 
ing at the door. Jupiter opened it, and a large N ewfound- 
land, belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my 
shoulders, and loaded me ,vith caresses; for I had shown 
him much attention during previous visits. \Vhen his gam- 
bols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the 
12 7 



A1ner.ican Mystery Stories 
truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my íriena 
had depicted. 
" Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some min- 
utes, "this is a strange scarabæus, I must confess; ne\v to 
me; never sa \v anything like it before-unless it was a 
skull, or a death's head, which it n10re nearly resembles 
than anything else that has COlTIe under l1ZY observation." 
" A death's head!" echoed Legrand. " Oh-yes-\vell, 
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 
\vhole is ova1." 
" 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 kno\v," said he, a little nettled, "I dra\v 
tolerably-should do it at least-have had good masters, 
and flatter myself that I aln not quite a blockhead." 
" But, my dear fello\v, 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 scarabæ'lts must be the 
queerest scarabæus in the world if it resembles it. Why, 
\ve may get up a very thrilling bit of superstition upon this 
hint. I presume you will call the bug Scarabælls caput 
honlÍn-is, or sOlnething of that kind-there are many similar 
titles in the Natural Histories. But where are the antennæ 
you spoke of? " 
"The alltcllllæ!" said Legrand, who seemed to be get- 
ting unaccountably warn1 upon the subject; "I alTI sure 
you 111USt see the antennæ. I made them as distinct as 
they are in the original insect, and I presume that is suf- 
ficient. " 
" 'VVell, \vell," I said, "perhaps you have-still I don't 
see then1; " and I handed hin1 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 puz- 
zled me-and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there were 
128 



Edgar Allan Poe 
positively no antennæ 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 ex- 
cessively 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 hÏ111self 
upon a sea chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here 
again he n1ade an anxious exan1ination of the paper, turn- 
ing 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 
COlnment. 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 gre,v more com- 
posed in his demeanor; but his original air of enthusiasm 
had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed not so n1uch sulky 
as abstracted. As the evening \vore away he becalne l110re 
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, see- 
ing 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. 
" \Vell, J up," said I, "what is the matter now?-how is 
your l11aster?" 
"Why, to speak the trooi, massa, hin1 not so berry well 
as 1110Ught be." 
" Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. vVhat does he 
c0111plain of? " 


12 9 



L1.11lcrican 
lys"tery Stories 
ct Dar! dot's it I-him neber 'plain of notin'-but him 
berry sick for all dat." 
II Very sick, Jupiter I-why didn"t you say so at once? 
Is he confined to bed? " 
uNo, dat he aint I-he aint 'fin'd nowhar-dat's just 
whar de shoe pinch-my mind is got to be berry hebby 'bout 
poor l\1assa Will." 
" Jupiter, I should like to understand \vhat it is you are 
talking about. You say your nlaster is sick. Hasn't he 
told you what ails him?" 
" Why, massa, 'taint worf while for to git mad about de 
matter-l\1assa 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 a.ll de time-" 
II Keeps a what, Jupiter?" 
II Keeps a syphon \vid 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 hitn 'noovers. 
Todd
r 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 \vhen he did come- 
but Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all-he looked 
so berry poorly." 
II Eh ?-what ?-ah yes !-upon the \vhole I think you had 
better not be too severe with the poor fello\v-don't flog 
him, Jupiter-he can't very well stand it-but can you form 
no id
a of what has occasioned this illness, or rather this 
change of conduct? Has anything unpleasant happened 
sinc
 I saw you? " 
II No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant since den- 
'twas 'fore den I'm feared-'t\vas de berry day you was 
dare." 
II How? what do you mean?" 
II \Vhy, massa, I mean de bug-dare no\v." 
II The what?" 
II De bug-I'm berry sartin dat Massa vVill bin bit some.. 
where 'bout de head by dat goole-bug." 
13 0 



Edgar Allan Poe 
"And \vhat cause have you, Jupiter, for such a sup- 
position? " 
" Claws enuff, massa, and mouff, too. I nebber did see 
sich a deuced bug-he kick and he bite eberyting what 
cum near him. lVIassa Will cotch him fuss, but had for to 
let him go 'gin mighty quick, I tell you-den was de time 
he n1ust ha' got de bite. I didn't like de look ob de bug 
nlouff, myself, noho\v, so I wouldn't take hold ob him wid 
my finger, but I cotch him \vid a piece ob 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 ho\v do you know he dreams about gold?" 
" How I kno\v? why, 'cause he talk about it in he sleep---- 
dat's ho\v I nose." 
" Well, J up, perhaps you are right; but to what fortu- 
nate ,circumstance an1 I to attribute the honor of a visit 
from you to-day? " 
"What de matter, massa?" 
"Did you bring any l11essage from 11r. Legrand?" 
" No, massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter 
handed me a note \vhich 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 ho\v to tell 
it, or whether I should tell it at all. 
" I have not been quite \vell for son1e days past, and poor 
old J up annoys nle, almost beyond endurance, b . well- 
meant attentions. Wauld you believe it ?-h J; 4 ('ep ed 
13 I .t 
 ' 
 
::( '-- 

.
 



A111crican ]Iystc,'y Stories 
a huge stick, the other day, with \vhich to chastise me for 
giving him the slip, and spending the day, solus, among 
the hills on the mainland. I verily believe that l11Y ill looks 
alone saved me a flogging. 
"I have made no addition to my cabinet since \ve met. 
" If you can, in any way, make it convenient, CaIne over 
\vith Jupiter. Do come. I \vish to see you to-night, upon 
business of importance. I assure you that it is of the 
I
ighest Í111portance. 


" Ever yours, 
"\VILLIAl\I LEGRAND." 


There was something in the tone of this note \vhich gave 
me great uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially 
from that of Legrand. \Vhat could he be dreaming of? 
\Vhat 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 accolnpany 
the negro. 
Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three 
spades, all apparently new, lying in the bottoln of the boat 
in which we were to embark. 
" What is the meaning of all this, J up?" I inquired. 
" Him syfe, massa, and spade." 
" Very true; but \vhat are they doing here?" 
"Him de syfe and de spade \vhat 1Iassa Will sis 'pon 
my buying for him in de to\vn, and de debbil's o\vn 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 kno\v, 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 \vas to be obtained of Jupiter, 
,vhose \vhole intellect seemed to be absorbed by " de bug," 
13 2 



Edgar Allan Poe 
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 l\loultrie, 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 a\vaiting us in eager 
expectation. He grasped my hand with a nervous enl- 
þressentcnt \vhich alarmed Ine and strengthened the sus- 
picions 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 \vhat better to say, if he had yet obtained 
the scarabæus from Lieutenant G-. 
"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it fron1 
him the next morning. Nothing should tempt me to part 
with that scarabæ'Us. Do you know that Jupiter is quite 
right about it? " 
" In what way? " I asked, \vith a sad foreboding at heart. 
" In supposing it to be a bug of real gold." tIe 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 n1Y family posses- 
sions. Is it any wonder, then, that I prize it? Since For- 
tune 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 scarabæus!" 
" What! de bug, n1assa? I'd rudder not go fer trubble 
dat bug; you mus' git him for your own self." Hereupon 
Legrand arose, with a grave a.nd stately air, and brought 
me the beetle from a glass case in which it was enclosed. 
It was a beautiful scal'abæus, and, at that titHe, unknown 
to naturalists-of course a great prize in a scientific point 
of view. There were t\vo round black spots near one ex- 
tremity of the back, and a long one near the other. The 
scales were exceedingly hard and glossy, \vith all the ap- 
pearance of burnished gold. The weight of the insect was 
very remarkable, and, taking all things into consièeration, 
I could hardly blan1e Jupiter for his opinion respecting it;, 
133 



A mcrican ...!'vI YStC1 Y Stories 
but what to make of Legrand"s concordance with that opin- 
ion, I could not, for the life of me, tell. 
" I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when 
I had completed my exanlination of the beetle, "I sent for 
JOu that I might have your counsel and assistance in fur- 
thering the views of Fate and of the bug-" 
"l\1y dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you 
are certainly un\vell, and had better use sonle little precau- 
tions. You shall go to bed, and I will remain with you a 
few days, until you get over this. \
 ou are feverish 
and-" 
" Feel nlY pulse," said he. 
I feIt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest 
indication of fever. 
" But you nlay be in 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 \vell as 
I can expect to be under the excitement \vhich I suffer. 
I f you really ,vish nle ,v en, you will relieve this excite- 
ment." 
" And 110\V is this to be done?" 
" Very easily. Jupiter and nl) self are going upon an 
expeòition into the hills, upon the mainland, and, in this 
expedition, \ve shall need the aid of SOl1le person in whonl 
we can confide. You are the only one \ve can trust. 
vVhether we 'succeed or fail, the excitetTIent ,vhich you no\v 
perceive in nle will be equally aUayed." 
., I aITI anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; 
U but do you nlean to say that this infernal beetle has any 
connection \vith your expedition into the hins? " 
" It has." 
" Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd 
proceeding." 
" I am sorry-very sorry-for ,ve 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? " 
134 



Edgar Allan Poe 
"Probably all night. \Ve 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 \vill then return 
home and follow my advice implicitly, as that of your 
physician? " 
" Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for ,ve have no . 
time to lose." 
With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. \Ve started 
about four o'clock-Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself. 
Jupiter had with him the scythe and spades-the "Thole of 
'v hich he insisted upon carrying-more through fear, it 
seemed to me, of trusting either of the Î111plements within 
reach of his n1aster, than from any excess of industry or 
complaisance. His demeanor ,vas dogged in the extreme. 
and" dat deuced bug" were the sole words "Thich escaped 
his lips during the journey. For my own part, I had charg
 
of a couple of dark lanterns, while Legrand contented hin1- 
self with the scarabæus, which he carried attached to the 
end of a bit of \vhipcord; t\virling it to and fro, "Tith the 
air of a conjurer, as he ,vent. vVhen 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 "Tith a chance of suc- 
cess. In the meantin1e I endeavored, but all in vain, to 
sound him in regard to the object of the expedition. Hav- 
ing succeeded in inducing 111e to accolnpany 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! JJ 
We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means 
of a skiff, and, ascending the high grounds on the shon
 
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. Le- 
grand led the "Tay with decision; pausing only for an in- 
135 



A111crican ]1 'j'StC1'Y Storics 
stant, here and there, to consult ,vhat 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 
mor
 dreary than any yet seen. It ,vas 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 nlany 
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 ,vhich we soon 
discovered that it would have been inlpossible 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 ,vide spread of its branches, 
and in the general majesty of its appearance. \Vhen ,ve 
reached this tree, Legrand turned to Jupiter, and asked hilTI 
if he thought he could climb it. The old man seemed a 
little staggered by the question, and for sonle moments 
made no reply. At length he approached the huge trunk, 
walked slowly around it, and exanlined it with minute atten- 
tion. When he had completed his scrutiny, he merely said: 
u Yes, massa, J up climb any tree he ebber see in he life." 
U Then up ,vith you as soon as possible, for it 'v ill soon 
be too dark to see what we are about." 
U How far mus' go up, massa?" inquired Jupiter. 
U Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you 
which way to go-and here-stop! take this beetle with 
you." 
U De bug, Massa Will I-de goole-bug! " cried the negro, 
drawing back in dismay-U what for mus' tote de bug way 
up de tree ?-d-n if I do! " 
13 6 



Edgar Allan Poe 
"If you are afraid, J up, a great big negro like Y011, 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 \vay, I shall be under the necessity of breaking 
your head with this shovel." 
"What de matter now, massa?" said J up, evidently 
shamed into compliance; "ahvays want for to raise fuss 
,vid old nigger. Was only funnin anyho\v. A1e fee red 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 per- 
mit, prepared to ascend the tree. 
In youth, the tulip tree, or Lin.odendron tulipiferu11't, 
the most magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk 
peculiarly smooth, and often rises to a great height \vithout 
lateral branches; but, in its riper age, the bark becomes 
gnarled and uneven, \vhile many short limbs make their 
appearance on the steIn. 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 ,vith his hands some projec- 
tions, 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, no\v over, although the climber 
,vas some sixty or seventy feet from the ground. 
"Which way mus' go no\v, 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 \vhich enveloped it. Presently his voice 
was heard in a sort of halloo. 
"How much fudder is got for go?" 
" Ho\v high up are you?" asked Legrand. 
" Ebber so fur," replied the negro; " can see de sky fra 
de top ob de tree." 


137 



A mer icon !! )'stcry Stories 
" Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look 
òown the trunk and count the limbs below you on this side. 
How nlany limbs have you passed?" 
"One, t\vo, tree, four, fibe-I done pass fibe big limb, 
, d . " d " 
nlassa, pon 1S SI e. . 
" Then go one Iinlb higher." 
In a few minutes the voice \vas heard again, announcing 
that the seventh limb was attained. 
" Now, J up," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, " I 
want you to \vork your way out upon that limb as far as 
JOU can. If you see anything strange let me kno\v." 
By this tilne what little doubt I Inight have entertained 
of nlY poor friend's insanity \vas put finally at rest. I had 
no alternative but to concJude hinl stricken with lunacy, 
élnd I became seriously anxious about getting him home. 
vVhile I was pondering upon \vhat \vas best to be done, 
Jupiter's voice was again heard. 
"1\10s feered for to ventur pon dis limb berry far-'tis 
dead limb putty Inuch all de \vay." 
"Did you say it \vas a dead litnb, Jupiter?" cried Le- 
grand in a quavering voice. 
" Yes, nlassa, hinl dead as de door-nail-done up for 
sartin-done departed dis here life." 
"What in the name of heaven shall I do?" asked Le- 
grand, seenlingly in the greatest distress. 
" Do!" said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a 
word, "\vhy come home and go to bed. Conle now!- 
that's a fine feHow. I1"s getting late, and, besides, you re- 
meln ber your promise." 
" Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, " do 
you hear me?" 
" Yes, 11assa Win, hear you ebber so plain." 
., Try the wood \-v ell , then, with your knife, and see if 
you think it very rotten." 
H Him Totten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a 
few moments, "but not so berry rotten as mought be. 
Mought venture out leetle way pan de limb by myself, dat's 
true." 


13 8 



Edgar Allan Poe 
u By yourse1f I-what do you mean?" 
" Why, I Inean de bug. 'Tis berry hebby bug. Spose I 
drop hinl down fuss, an den de lÜnb v,lon't break wid just 
de weight of one nigger." 
" You infernal scoundrel!:' cried Legrand, apparently 
much relieved, " what do you mean by teUing me such non- 
sense as that? As sure as you drop that beetle 1"11 break 
your neck. Look here, Jupiter, do you hear me? " 
" Yes, massa, needn't holla at poor nigger dat style." 
" Well! no\v listen I-if you will venture out on the linlb 
as far as you think safe, and not let go the beetle, 1"11 nlake 
you a present of a silver dollar as soon as you get down. H 
"I'm gwine, Massa Will-deed I is," replied the negro 

ery pronlptly-" mos out to the eend now." 
" Out to the end!" here fairly screanled Legrand; "do 
you say you are out to the end of that limb? " 
"Soon be to de cend, massa-o-o-o-o-oh! Lor-gol-a- 
marey! what is dis here pon de tree? " 
" \Vell ! " cried Legrand, highly delighted, " what is it?" 
"vVhy 'taint noffin but a skull-solnebody bin lef him 
head up de tree, and de cro\vs done gobble ebery bit ob de 
n1eat off." 
"A skulI, you say I-very \vel1,-how is it fastened to 
the limb ?-what holds it on? " 
" Sure Duff, massa; nlUS look. \Vhy dis berry curious 
sarcumstance, pon Iny 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." 
" Hunl! 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-kno\vs aU about dat-'tis nlY lef 
nand what I chops de wood wid." 
" To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eye is 
on the saIne side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you 
139 



Anlcrican Mystery Stories 
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 saine side as de lef 
hand of de skull too ?-cause de skull aint got not a bit ob 
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, Nlassa \Vill; 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, ånd glistened, like 
a globe of burnished gold, in the l
st rays oÍ the setting 
sun, some of which still faintly illun1ined the eminence upon 
which we stood. The scarabæus hung quite clear of any 
branches, and, if allo\ved to fall, \vould 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, or- 
dered Jupiter to let go the string and cOlne down fron1 the 
tree. 
Driving a peg, \vith great nicety, into the ground, at the 
precise spot where the beetle fell, my friend no\v produced 
from his pocket a tape n1easure. Fastening one end of this 
at that point of the trunk of the tree \yhich ,vas nearest the 
peg, he unrolled it till it reached the peg and thence fur- 
ther 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 \vith the scythe. 
At the spot thus attained a second peg \vas driven, and 
about this, as a center, a rude circle, about four feet in 
diameter, described. Taking no\v a spade hÏ1nself, and giv- 
ing 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 
14 0 



Edgar Allan Poe 
amusement at any titne, and, at that particular moment, 
would willingly have declined it; for the night ,vas coming 
on, and I felt much fatigued \vith the exercise already 
taken; but I saw no nlode of escape, and \vas fearful of 
disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by a refusal. Could 
I have depended, indeed, upon Jupiter's aid, I ,vould have 
had no hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by 
force; but I was too \vell assured of the old negro's dispo- 
sition, to hope that he \vould assist nle, under any circum- 
stances, in a personal contest with his master. I made no 
doubt that the latter had been infected \vith some of the 
innumerable Southern superstitions about money buried, 
and that his fantasy had received confirmation by the find- 
ing of the scarabæus, or, perhaps, by Jupiter's obstinacy in 
maintaining it to be "a bug of real gold." A mind dis- 
posed to lunacy would readily be led a\vay by such sugges- 
tions-especially if chiming in with favorite preconceived 
ideas-and then I called to mind the poor fellow's speech 
about the beetle's being U the index of his fortune." Upon 
the whole, I was sadly vexed and puzzled, but, 
t length, I 
concluded to make a virtue of necessity-to dig with a good 
,vill, and thus the sooner to convince the visionary, by 
ocular demonstration, of the fallacy of the opinion he en- 
tertained. 
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 Ï1nplements, I could not help think- 
ing how picturesque a group \ve composed, and how strange 
and suspicious our lahors must bave appeared to any inter- 
loper who, by chance, might have stumbled upon our 
whereabouts. 
We dug very steadily for t\VO 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,- 
Qr, rather, this was the apprehension of Legrand ;-for 
myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption which 
14 1 



Anzerican }Vlystery Stories 
nlight have enabled me to get the wanderer home. The 
noise \vas, at l
ngth, very effectually silenced by Jupiter, 
who,. getting out of the hole \vith a dogged air of de- 
liberation, tied the brute's mouth up with one of hls 
suspenders, and then returned, \vith a grave chuckle, to 
his task. 
When the time mentioned had expired, we had reache j 
a depth of five feet, and yet no signs of any treasure became 
manifest. A general pause ensued, and I began to hor 
 
that the farce \vas at an end. Legrand, ho\vever, althoug:l 
evidently much disconcerted, wiped his bro\v thoughtfully 
and recomlnenced. We had excavated the entire circle of 
four feet diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the limit, 
and went to the farther depth of t\VO feet. Still nothing 
appeared. The gold-seeker, \vhom I sincerely pitied, at 
length clambered from the pit, \vith the bitterest disappoint- 
ment 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 relnark. 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 towarù 
home. 
We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, 
when, \vith a loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and 
seÏzed 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 sylla- 
bles from between his clenched teeth-" you infernal black 
villain I-speak, I tell you I-answer me this instant, with- 
out prevarication !-\vhich-\vhich is your left eye?" 
"Oh, my golly, 11assa Will! aint dis here my lei 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 itnmediate dread of his In
s- ( 
ter's attempt at a gouge. 
"I thought so I-I knew it! hurrah!" vociferated Lc- 
142 



Edgar Allan Poe 
grand, lctting the negro go and executing a series of curvets 
and caracols, much to the astonishll1ent of his valet, who, 
arising fronl his knees, looked, nlutely, frolll his Blaster to 
myself, and then from myself to his ll1aster. 
" Comc! 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 
bere! was the sku1l nailed to the linlb with the face out- 
ward, or with the face to the limb? " 
"De face was out, nlassa, so dat de crows could get at 
de eyes good, widout any trouble." 
"We]}, then, was it this eye or that through which you 
dropped the beetle?" here Legrand touched each of J upi- 
ter's eyes. 
" '1'was dis eye, massa-de Ief eye-jis as you te1l me," 
and here it was his right eye that the negro indicated. 
" That will do-we must try it again." 
lIete 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 feU, to a 
spot about three inches to the westward of its former posi- 
tion. Taking, now, the tape nleasure frOlTI 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 dreadful1y 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 inter- 
ested-nay, even excited. Perhaps there was something, 
amid an 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 look- 
ing, with something that very much re
embled expectation, 
for the fancied treasure, the vision of which had demented 
143 



Al1zcrican Mystery Stories 
my unfortunate companion. At a period when such vaga- 
ries of thought n10st fully possessed Ine, and when we had 
been at work perhaps an hour and a half, we were again 
interrupted by the violent howlings of the dog. I-lis un- 
easiness, in the first instance, had been, evidently, but the 
result of playfulness or caprice, but he no\v assumed a bit- 
ter 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 n1ass of human bones, 
forming two complete skeletons, intermingled with several 
buttons of metal, and vvhat appeared to be the dust of de- 
cayed woolen. One or t\VO 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 caine to 
light. 
At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be 
restrained, but the countenance of his master \vore an air 
of extreme disappointment. He urged us, however, to con- 
tinue our exertions, and the \vords ,vere 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 no\v ,vorked in earnest, and never did I pass ten 
minutes of more intense excitenlent. 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-per- 
haps that of the bichloride of mercury. This box ,vas three 
feet and a half long, three feet broad, and two and a half 
feet deep. It was firmly secured by bands of ,vrought 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 en- 
deavors 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 con- 
144 



Edgar Allan Poe 

isted of two sliding bolts. These we dre\v back-trem- 
bling 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 
glo\v and a glare, from a confused heap of gold and of 
je\vels, 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 
\vords. Jupiter's countenance ,vore, 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 ren1ain, as if enjoying the luxury of a bath. 
At length, \vith a deep sigh, he exclaimed, as if in a 
soliloquy: 
" And dis all cum ob de goole-bug! de putty goole-bug! 
de poor little goo Ie-bug, what I boosed in that sabage kind 
ob style! Aint you shamed ob yourself, nigger ?-answer 
me dat!" 
It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both 
master and valet to the expediency of removing the treas- 
ure. It was growing late, and it behooved us to make 
exertion, that \ve might get everything housed before day- 
light. It \vas difficult to say what should be done, and 
much time was spent in deliberation-so confused were the 
ideas of all. \Ve, 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 
\vere 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. \Ve then hurriedly made for home with 
the chest; reaching the hut in safety, but after excessive 
toil, at one o'clock in the morning. 'Vorn out as we were, 
it was not in human nature to do more immediately. \Ve 
rested until two, and had supper; starting for the hills im- 
145 



Anzcrican Mystery Stories 
mediately afterwards, armed with three stout 
acks, 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 un- 
quiet slumber of some three or four hours' duration, we 
arose, as if by preconcert, to n1ake 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 promiscu- 
ously. Having assorted all with care, we found ourselves 
possessed of even vaster wealth than we had at first sup- 
posed. In coin there was rather n10re than four hundred 
and fifty thousand dollars-estimating the value of the 
pieces, as accurately as \ve 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 \vere several very large and heavy coins, so worn 
that \ve 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 sll1all; eighteen rubies of 
remarkable brilliancy;-three hundred and ten etneralds, 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 identifica- 
14 6 



Edgar Allan Poe 
tion. Besides all this, there 'was a vast quantity of solid 
gold ornan1ents ; nearly two hundred massive finger and ear- 
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 \vhich I cannot recollect. The \veight 
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 
ntunber being worth each five hundred dollars, if one. 
I\Iany of theln were very old, and as timekeepers valueless; 
the works having suffered, more or less, frolTI corrosion- 
but all \vere richly j e\veled and in cases of great worth. 
vVe estin1ated 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 under- 
valued the treasure. 
vVhen, at length, we had concluded our examination, and 
the intense excitement of the time had, in some measure, 
subsided, Legrand, \vho saw that I was dying with impa- 
tience for a solution of this most extraordinary riddle, en- 
tered into a full detail of all the circumstances connected 
with it. 
" You ren1ember," said he, "the night when I handed 
you the rough sketch I had n1ade of the scarabæ'lts. You 
recollect, also, that I becanle quite vexed at you for insist- 
ing that my drawing reselnbled a death's head. \Vhen you 
first made this assertion I thought you were jesting; but 
afterwards I called to 111ind the peculiar spots on the back 
of the insect, and adlnitted to myself that your renlark had 
SOlne little foundation in fact. Still, the sneer at lny graphic 
powers irritated n1e-for I am considered a good artist- 
and, therefore, when you handed me the scrap of parch- 
ment, I was about to crumple it up and throw it angriJy 
into the fire." 


141 



'American Alystcry Stories 
"The scrap of paper, you nlean," said I. 
" No; it had much of the appearance of paper, and at 
first I supposed it to be such, but \vhen I canle to draw upon 
it, I discovered it at once to be a piece of very thin parch- 
Inent. It was quite dirty, you renlember. vVell, as I was 
in the very act of crumpling it up, nlY glance fell upon 
the sketch at which you had been looking, and you may 
imagine my astonishment '\\-hen I perceived, in fact, the 
figure of a death's head just 'where, it seemed to me, I had 
Blade the drawing of the beetle. For a moment I was too 
much amazed to think with accuracy. I knew that my 
design \vas very different in detail frOITI this-although 
there \vas 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 sa\v my o,vn sketch upon the re- 
verse, just as I had made it. 11y first idea, now, \vas mere 
surprise at the really remarkable similarity of outline-at 
the singular coincidence involved in the fact that, unkno\vn 
to me, there should have been a skull upon the other side 
of the parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the 
scarabæus, 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 
110 drawing upon the parchment, \vhen I made my sketch 
of the scarabæ'Us. 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 inlpossible to explain; 
but, even at that early moment, there seemed to glin1mer. 
148 



Edga1- Allan Poe 
faintly, within the n10st remote and secret chambers of my 
intellect, a glow-\vorn1like conception of that truth \vhich 
last night's adventure brought to so n1agnificent a demon- 
stration. I arose at once, and putting the parchment se- 
curely a\vay, dismissed all further reflection until I should 
be alone. 
" \Vhen you had gone, and when Jupiter ,vas fast asleep, 
I betook myself to a more methodical investigation of the 
affair. In the first place I considered the manner in which 
the parchn1ent had come into my possession. The spot 
\vhere we discovered the scarabæus was on the coast of 
the mainland, about a mile eastward of the island, and but 
a short distance above high-water mark. Upon n1Y taking 
hold of it, it gave me a sharp bite, which caused me to 
let it drop. Jupiter, \vith his accustomed caution, before 
seizing the insect, vlhich had flo\vn toward hiln, looked 
about him for a leaf, or sOlnething of that nature, by which 
to take hold of it. It ,vas at this mon1ent 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 comer sticking up. N ear the spot \vhere we found 
it, I observed the remnants of the hull of what appeareù to 
have been a ship's longboat. The wreck seemed to have 
been there for a very great while, for the resemblance to 
boat tin1bers could scarcely be traced. 
""V ell, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the 
beetle in it, and gave it to n1e. Soon afterwards we turned 
to go home, and on the way met Lieutenant G-. I 
showed him the insect, and he begged n1e to let him take 
it to the fort. Upon l11Y consenting, he thrust it fort1nvith 
into his \vaistcoat pocket, without the parchment in which 
it had been \vrapped, and which I had continued to hold in 
my hand during his inspection. Perhaps he dreaded my 
changing n1Y mind, and thought it b
st to make sure of the 
prize at once-you know how enthusiastic he is on all sub- 
jects connected with Natural History. At the same time, 
without being conscious of it, I must have deposited the 
parchment in my o\vn pocket. 
149 



Anwrican Mystery Stories 
"You remember that \vhen 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 nlY pockets, hoping to find 
an old letter, when my hand feU upon the parchment. I 
thus detail the precise nlode in \vhich it came into my pos- 
session, for the circumstances impressed me with peculiar 
force. 
" No doubt you will think nle 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 sea- 
coast, 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 engage- 
nlents. 
"I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not 
paper. Parchment is durable-almost imperishable. 1\'1 at- 
ters of little moment are rarely consigned to parchnlent; 
since, for the mere ordinary purposes of dra\ving or writ- 
ing, it is not nearly so well adapted as paper. This reflec- 
tion suggested some meaning-some relevancy-in the 
death's head. I did not fail to observe, also, the fOrl1't 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 pre- 
served." 
"But," I interposed, "you say that the skull was not 
upon the parchment when you made the dra"wing 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 sketch- 
ing the scarabæus? " 
"Ah, hereupon turns the whole mystery; although the 
15 0 



Edgar Allan Poe 
secret, at this point, I had con1paratively little difficulty in 
solving. My steps were sure, and could afford but a single 
result. I reasoned, for example, thus: vVhen I drew the 
.scarabæu.s, there was no skull apparent upon the parch- 
n1ent. vVhen I had completed the dra\ving I gave it to you, 
and observed you narro\vly until you returned it. Yau, 
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 remem- 
ber, and did remember, with entire distinctness, every in- 
cident 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 exer- 
cise 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 per- 
mitted to fall listlessly between your knees, and in close 
proxin1ity to the fire. At one mon1ent 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 exan1ination. 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 
vellun1, so that the characters shall becon1e visible only 
when subjected to the action of fire. Zaffre, digested in 
aqua regia, and diluted with four tin1es its weight of water, 
is sometimes en1ployed; 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 ma- 
terial written upon cools, but again become apparent upon 
the reapplication of heat. 


1.1 1 



Al1zcrican l11ystery Stories 
(( I no\v scrutinized the death's head ,vith 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 glo\ving heat. At first, the 
only effect \vas the strengthening of the faint lines in the 
skull; but, upon persevering in the experiment, there be- 
came visible, at the corner of the slip, diagonally opposite 
to the spot in which the death's head \vas 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 ,vill 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 
goa t." 
" Well, a kid then-pretty much the same thing." 
" Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand. ""iT OU 
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 posi- 
tion upon the vellum suggested this idea. The death's head 
at the corner diagonally opposite, had, in the san1e l11anner, 
the air of a stan1p, or seal. But I was sorely put out by 
the absence of all else-of the body to my imagined instru- 
ment-of the text for my context." 
"I presume you expected to find a letter between the 
stan1p and the signature." 
" Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irresistibly 
impressed with a presentin1ent 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 
I .C)2 



Edgar Allan Poe 
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 ex- 
traordinary. Do you observe how lnere 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 ,vithout the in- 
tervention 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 treas- 
ure ? " 
" 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 founda- 
tion 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 re1nain- 
ing 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 seen1ed to n1e 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 follow- 
ers, who other\vise n1ight never have heard that the treas- 
ure 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 re- 
ports which are now so common. Have you ever heard 
of any important treasure being unearthed along the 
coast? " 
" Never." 
"But that l{idd's accumulations were inll11ense, is well 
known. I took it for granted, therefore, that the earth still 
153 



Ä1nerican Mystery Stories 
held them; and you will. scarcely be surprised \vhen I tell 
you that I felt a hope, nearly an10unting to certainty, that 
the parchn1ent 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 110\V thought it possible that 
the coating of dirt might have something to do \vith the 
failure: so I carefully rinsed the parchment by pouring 
warm \vater over it, and, having done this, I placed it in 
a tin pan, with the skull do\vnward, and put the pan upon 
a furnace of lighted charcoal. In a few minutes, the pan 
having becon1e 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: 


U53

t305))6*;4826)4
)4
. ;8oó*;48t8
6o) )8S ;I
(; :t*8t 8 3 (88) s* 
t;4 6 ( ;88*9 6 * ?;8) *
(;48 s) ;S*t2 :*
(;49S6*2 (S*-4)8
8*;406928S) 
;)6t8)4tt;I (t9;4 8081 ;8:8tI ;4 8 t 8 S ;4)4 8 StS28806*81 (t9;4 8 ;(88;4( 
t ?34;4 8 )4t;IÓI; :I88;t ?;" 


"But," said I, returning him the slip, " I am as much in 
the dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda a\vait- 
ing me upon my solution of this enign1a, I am quite sure 
that I should be unable to earn thel11." 
" 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 n1ight readily guess, form a cipher-that is to say, 
they convey a meaning; but then from what is kno\vn of 
Kidd, I could not suppose hin1 capable of constructing an){ 
154 



Edgar Allan Poe 
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, abso- 
lutely insoluble without the key." 
" And you really solved it?" 
" Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten 
thousand times greater. Circunlstances, and a certain bias 
of mind, have led me to take interest in such riddles, and 
it may \vell be doubted whether human ingenuity can con- 
struct 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 \vrit- 
ing-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 attel11pts the solution, 
until the true one be attained. But, with the cipher now 
before us, all difficulty \vas removed by the signature. The 
pun upon the word ' I{:idd ' is appreciable in no other lan- 
guage 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 \vould most 
naturally have been \vritten by a pirate of the Span- 
ish main. As it was, I assumed the cryptograph to be 
English. 
" You observe there are no divisions between the \vords. 
Had there been divisions the task \vould have been conl- 
paratively easy. In such cases I should have commenced 
with a collation and analysis of the shorter \vords, and, had 
a word of a single letter occurred, as is 1110St likely, (a or 
I, for example,) I should have considered the solution as 
assured. But, there being no division, my first step "Tas to 
ascertain the predominant letters, as well as the least fre- 
guent. Counting all, I constructed a table thus: 
155 



A1Jterica1
 Mysfery Stories 
Of the character 8 there are 33. 
" 26. 
4 " 19. 
t) " 16. 
* " 13. 
5 " 12. 
6 " I I. 
t I " 8. 
0 " 6. 
9 2 " S. 
,: 3 " 4. 
? " 3. 

 " 2. 
" I. 


"Now, in English, the letter \vhich . most frequently 
occurs is e. After\vards, the succession runs thus: a 0 ì J 
h 11, r s t u yet g 1111, W b k P q x z. E predominates SO 
remarkably, that an individual sentence of any length is 
rarely seen, in \vhich it is not the prevailing character. 
" Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the ground- 
work 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 com- 
mence 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 \vith great frequency in Eng- 
lish-in such words, for example, as ' meet,' 'fleet,' , speed,' 
'seen,' 'been,' 'agree,' etc. In the present instance \ve 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 ,vord 'the.' Upon inspection, 
156 



Edgar Allan Poe 
we find no less than seven such arrangements, the charac- 
ters being ;48. We may, therefore, assume that ; repre- 
sents 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 \vords. 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 suc- 
ceeding this' the,' we are cognizant of no less than five. 
Let us set these characters down, thus, by the letters ,ve 
know them to represent, leaving a space for the unkno\vn- 
teeth. 


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


tee, 


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, ,ve 
again see the combination ;48, and employ it by way of 
termination to what immediately precedes. We have thus 
this arrangen1ent: 


the tree ;4 ( t ?34 the, 


Of, substituting the natural letters, where kno\vn, it reads 
thus: 


the tree thrt ?3h the. 
157 



A111erican MYStC1 Þ Y Stories 
"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, 0, u, and g, 
represented by!, ?, and 3. 
" Looking no\v, narro\vly, through the cipher for com- 
binations 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 I degree,' and 
gives us another letter, d, represented by t. 
" Four letters beyond the word' degree,' we perceive the 
combination 


;46 ( ;88. 


" Translating the known characters, and representing the 
unkno\vn by dots, as before, \ve read thus: 


th.rtee, 


an arrangement iml11ediately suggestive of the word' thir- 
teen,' and again furnishing us with t\VO new characters, 
i and 1t, represented by 6 and *. 
"Referring, no\v, to the beginning of the cryptograph, 
we find the combination, 


53!!t. 


"Translating as before, we obtain 


. good, 
which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the first 
t\VO \vords are ' A good.' 


158 



Edgar Allan Pac 
"It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as dis- 
covered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. It will 
stand thus: 


5 represents a 
t " d 
8 " e 
3 " g 
4 " h 
6 " 1 
* " n 
t " 0 
.< " r 
. " t 
, 
? " U 
,e 


"We have, therefore, no less than eleven of the most 
important letters represented, and it \vill be unnecessary to 
proceed \vith the details of the solution. I have said enough 
to convince you that ciphers of this nature are readily 
soluble, and to give you son1e 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 tninutes northeast and by 
north main branch seventh lÍ1nb east side shoot fro1Jt the 
left eye of the death's head a bee-line frol1t the tree through 
the shot fifty feet out.' " 


" But," said I, "the enigma seems still in as bad a con- 
dition as ever. Ho\v is it possible to extort a meaning froln 
all this jargon about 'devil's seats,' 'death's heads,' and 
'bishop's hostels'?" 
" I confess," replied Legrand, "that the matter still ,years 
a serious aspect, when regarded \vith a casual glance. !Vly 
159 



A111erican :AI ystery Stories 
first endeavor was to divide the sentence into the natural 
division intended by the cryptographist." 
" You Inean, to punctuate it?" 
" SOlnething of that kind." 
" But how \vas 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, \vould 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 IVIS., in the present in- 
stance, you will easily detect five such cases of unusual 
crowding. Acting upon this hint, I n1ade the division thus: 


" , A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devif s seat- 
forty-one degrees and thirteen 'Ininutes-northeast and by 
north-1nain branch seventh li111b east side-shoot fro111, the 
left eye of the death's head--a bee-line front 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 n1ade 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 infonna- 
tion on the subject, I was on the point of extending my 
sphere of search, and proceeding in a Inore systelnatic n1an- 
ner, when, one morning, it entered into my head, quite 
suddenly, that this ' Bishop's Hostel' might have some ref- 
erence 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 accord- 
ingly went over to the plantation, and reinstituted my; 
160 



Edgar Allan Poe 
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 B essop' s Castle, and thought that she 
could guide nle to it, but that it "vas not a castle, nor a 
tavern, but a high rock. 
H I offered to pay her well for her trouble, and, after 
some demur, she consented to accompany me to the spot. 
vVe 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 nluch at a loss as to what should be 
next done. 
H While I was busied in reflection, my eyes fell upon a 
narro"v 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 \vide, \vhile 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 1\15., 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 \vord ' glass' is rarely em- 
ployed in any other sense by seamen. Now here, I at once 
saw, was a telescope to be used, and a definite point of 
vie\v, adl1
itting no variation, from which (0 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 honle, procured a 
telescope, and returned to the rock. 
"I let myself do\vn to the ledge, and found that it was 
impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular 
position. This fact confinned nlY preconceived idea. I 
proceeded to use the glass. Of course, the' forty-one de- 
grees and thirteen minutes' could allude to nothing but 
161 



A111e1 Þ ican Mystery Stories 
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 open- 
ing in the foliage of a large tree that overtopped its fello'ws 
in the distance. In the center of this rift I perceived a 
white spot, but could not, at first, distinguish \vhat it was. 
Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I again looked, and 
no\v 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 dis- 
tance 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. \;Vhen you left the 
Bishop's Hotel, what then?" 
"\Vhy, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree, 
I turned home\vard. The instant that I left 'the devil's 
seat,' however, the circular rift vanished; nor could I get 
a glimpse of it after\vards, turn as I would. vVhat seelns 
to Ine 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 vie\v than that afforded by the narrow 
ledge upon the face of the rock. 
,. In this expedition to the ' Bishop's Hotel' I had been 
162 



Edgar Allan Pot 
attended by Jupiter, who had, no doubt, observed, for son1e 
weeks past, the abstraction of my demeanor, and took espe- 
cial 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 J ttpiter'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 hvo points for the establishment of a 
line of direction; of course the error, ho\vever trivial in 
the beginning, increased as we proceeded \vith the line, and 
by the time we had gone fifty feet thre\v us quite off the 
scent. But for my deep-seated impressions that treasure 
was here somewhere actually buried, \ve 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 some\vhat annoyed by your 
evident suspicions touching my sanity, and so resolved to 
punish you quietly, in my o\vn 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 
16 3 




tne1Þican 
1 ystery .Sto1 Þ ies 
yourself. There seems, ho\vever, only one plausible \vay 
of accounting for them-and yet it is dreadful to believe in 
such atrocity as my suggestion \vould 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. Per- 
haps 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?" 


164 



Washington Irving 
Wo!fert Webber or Golden Dreams 


I N the year of grace one thousand seven hundred and- 
blank-for I do not relnember the precise date; however, 
it was somewhere in the early part of the last century,- 
there lived in the ancìent city of the Manhattoes a worthy 
burgher, Wolfert \Vebber 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. " 
The field in which Cobus Webber first planted himself and 
his cabbages had remained ever since in the family, \vho 
continued in the same line of husbandry with that praise- 
worthy perseverance for which our Dutch burghers are 
noted. The \vhole family genius, during several genera- 
tions, 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 \vhich the 
Webber cabbages attained. 
The Webber dynasty continued in uninterrupted succes- 
sion, 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 \vould 
have presented a row of heads marvelously resembling, 
in shape and magnitude, the vegetables over \vhich they 
reigned. 
T?e seat of government continued unchanged in the 
1 'lhe Brill is a fortified seaport of Holland, ou the Meuse River, 
near Rotterdam. 


16 5 




merican J.;Iystery Stories 
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 sun1mer 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 pros- 
pects. 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 inhab- 
itants of a city. Still, however, they maintained their hered- 
itary 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 patri- 
archal 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 nota- 
ble little house\vives \vho are ahvays busy where there is 
nothing to do. Her activity, ho\vever, took one particular 
direction,-her whole life seemed devoted to intense knit- 
ting; whether at home or abroad, walking or sitting, her 
needles \vere 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 
166 



WasJu"ngton Irving 
with great tenderness and care; uncommon pains had been 
taken with her education, so that she could stitch in every 
variety of way, make 211 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 orna- 
mental began to mingle 'with the useful; whole rows of fiery 
marigolds and splendid hollyhocks bordered the cabbage 
beds, and gigantic sunflowers lolled their broad, j oIly faces 
over the fences, seeming to ogle most affectionately the 
passers-by. 
Thus reigned anr.ì vegetated W oIfert 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 metropo- 
lis, who \vould make midnight forays into his dominions, 
and carry off captive \vhole 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 sun- 
flowers, the glory of the garden, as they lolled their heads 
so fondly over the walls. Still all these were petty griev- 
ances, which might no\v and then ruffle the surface of his 
mind, as a sunlnler breeze 'wiIl 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 W oIfert, 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 
16 7 



A1ncrican Alystcry Stories 
poorer, and he could not, for the life of him, perceive how 
the evil \vas to be remedied. 
This gro\ving 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 tranqui1, 
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 be- 
gin to ripen, no fruit nor flower requires so much looking 
after. I have no talent at describing female charms, else 
f.ain \vould I depict the progress of this little Dutch beauty: 
ho\v her blue eyes grew deeper and deeper, and her cherry 
lips redder and redder, and ho\v 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 
oÍ the old Dutch clothespress, of \vhich her mother had con- 
fided to her the key! The wedding dress of her grand- 
mother, modernized for use, \vith sundry ornaments, handed 
down as heirlooms in the family. Her pale bro\vn haw 
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 \vorked in deep blue silk, 
and it ,vas evident she began to languish for some more 
J68 



Washington Irving 
interesting occupation than the rearing of sunflowers or 
pickling of cucumbers. 
At this critical period of female existence, when the heart 
v;ithin a damsel's bosom, like its emblem, the miniature 
\v hich hangs without, is apt to be engrossed by a single 
Ï1nage, a new visitor began to make his appearance under 
the roof of 'VVolfert Webber. This was Dirk Waldron, the 
only son of a poor wido\v, but \"ho 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 ,vas 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 ,vorsted, 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 cop- 
per kettle that sang before the fire. All these quiet little 
offices may seem of trifling import, but when true love is 
translated into Lo\v Dutch it is in this ,yay that it eloquently 
expresses itself. They were not lost upon the Webber fam- 
ily. The winning youngster found marvelous favor in the 
eyes of the mother; the tortoise-shell cat, albeit the n10st 
staid and demure of her kind, gave indubitable signs of 
approbation of his visits; the teakettle seemed to sing out a 
cheering note of welcon1e 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 
\vas not a whit behind Dame Webber, or grimalkin, or the 
teakettle, in good \vilI. 
W oHert alone saw nothing of what was going on. Pro- 
foundly wrapt up in meditation on the gro\vth of the çity 
16g 



:Anzcrican J.,fystcry Stories 
and his cabbages, he sat looking in the fire, and puffing his 
pipe in silence. One night, ho\vever, as the gentle Amy, 
according to custom, lighted her lover to the outer door, 
and he, according to custom, took his parting salute, the 
slnack resounded so vigorously through the long, silent entry 

s to startle even the dull ear of Wolfert. I-Ie was slowly 
roused to a nc\v 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 
,\"ith 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 ","hile he had been drealning 
of other nlatters, she had actually grown to be a \voman, 
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. W oIfert's ideas 
all ran in one channel, and he sa\v 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 fle\v 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 con- 
trary, 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 \vas either out of the kitchen window or 
over the garden fence. 
W oHert 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 hvo miles 
17 0 



Washington Irving 
írom 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 settlelnent. It stood near a point of land called Corlear's 
Hook, l which stretches out into the Sound, and against 
\vhich the tide, at its flux and reflux, sets \vith extraordi- 
nary rapidity. The venerable and somewhat crazy man- 
sion was distinguished from afar by a grove of elms and 
sycamores that seemed to wave a hospitable invitation, 
'while a few weeping \villows, \vith their dank, drooping 
foliage, resembling falling waters, gave an idea of cool- 
ness that rendered it an attractive spot during the heats of 
summer. 
Here, therefore, as I said, resorted many of the old in- 
habitants of the l\1anhattoes, where, while some played at 
shuffleboard 2 and quoits,3 and ninepins, others smoked a de- 
liberate pipe, and talked over public affairs. 
It was on a blustering autumnal afternoon that Wolfert 
made his visit to the inn. The grove of elms and willo\'"\"s 
was stripped of its leaves, \vhich 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 arm- 
chair, sat the dictator of this little world, the venerable Rem, 
or, as it was pronounced, "Ramm" Rapelye. He \vas a 
1 A point of land at the bend of the East River below Grand 
Street, New York City. 
2 A game played by pushing or shaking pieces of money or metal 
so as to make them reach certain marks on a board. 
I A game played by pitching a flattened, ring-shaped piece of 
iron, called a quoit, at a fixed object. 
17 1 



':An-tcrican Mystery Stories 
man of \Valloon 1 rac
, and illustrious for the antiquity ot 
his line, his great-grandmoth
r having been the first white 
child born in the province. But he ,vas still more illustrious 
for his ,vealth 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 ,vas 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 offi- 
ciousness,-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 approba- 
tion, which, though nothing more nor less than a kind of 
grunt, still delighted the landlord more than a broad laugh 
from a poorer man. 
" This will be a rough night for the money diggers," said 
mine host, as a gust of wind howled 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. 


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. 


17 2 



Washington Irving 
" 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 \valks, 
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 labor- 
ing 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 erup- 
tion. 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. 
U 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 
173 J 



A'11crican lJIysfel'Y Stories 
talk to n1e of Peter Stuyvesant's \valking (puff-puff- 
puff-puff) ." 
Here the redoubtable Ramnl contracted his bro\v, clasped 
up his mouth till it \vrinkled at each corner, and redoubled 
his smoking \vith such vehemence that the cloudy volumes 
S0011 wreathed round his head, as the smoke envelops the 
a\vful summit of lVlount Æ.tna. 
A general silence followed the sudden rebuke of this very 
rich man. The subject, ho\vever, \vas 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 \vho seel11 to 
be troubled \vith an incontinence of words as they grow old. 
Peechy could, at any tinle, tell as many stories in an even- 
ing 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 \vho had discovered them had 
always dreamed of them three times beforehand, and, what 
was worthy of relnark, those treasures had never been found 
but by sonle descendant of the good old Dutch families, 
\vhich clearly proved that they had been buried by Dutch- 
men in the olden tinle. 
" Fiddlestick with your Dutchmen!" cried the half-pay 
officer. "The Dutch had nothing to do ,vith them. They 
were all buried by IZidd the pirate, and his crew." 
Here a keynote was touched that roused the \vhole com- 
pany. The name of Captain Kidd \vas 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 Mor- 
gan, l Blackbeard, 2 and the \vhole list of bloody buccaneers. 


1 Sir Henry Morgan (1637-90), a noted Welsh buccaneer. lIe 
was captured and sent to England for trial, but Charles II., instead 
of punishing him, knighted him, and subsequently appointed him 
governor of Jamaica. 
I Edward Teach, one of the most cruel of the pirates, took com.. 
174 



Washington Irving 
The officer was a man of great weight among the peace- 
able members of the club, by reason of his warlike character 
and gunpowder tales. All his golden stories of Kidd, how- 
ever, 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, en- 
riched every field and shore in the neighborhood with the 
hidden wealth of Peter Stuyvesant and his contemporaries. 
Not a ,vord 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 heed- 
lessly rambled over places where countless sums lay, scarcely 
covered by the turf beneath his feet. His mind ,vas 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 ,vhole 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! " 
W oHert Webber went to bed ,vith a heavy heart, and it 
,vas long before the golden visions that disturbed his brain 
permitted him to sink into repose. The same visions, how- 
ever, extended into his sleeping thoughts, and assumed a 
more definite forn1. 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 


rnand 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 tJ was given him because of his black 
beard. 
1 Spanish gold coins, equivalent to $15. 60 . 
175 



:t111lcrican 1.1ystery Stories 
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 vom- 
ited forth their glittering contents. 
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, pictur- 
ing 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 somethjng very singular in this repetition. He 
passed another day of reverie, and though it was clean- 
ing day, and the house, as usual in Dutch households, com- 
pletely 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 re- 
peated, 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. rs He no 
longer doubted that a huge store of money lay buried some- 
where 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. 
He took his seat at the breakfast table, full of these specu- 
lations, asked his daughter to put a lump of gold into his 


1 Spanish coins, worth about $1 each. 
2 Portuguese gold coins, valued at $6.50. 
I Coins of gold and silver, valued at $2 and $1 respectively. 
· Spanish silver coins, worth about $.20. 
I It is an old superstition that to put on one's clothes wrong side 
out forebodes good luck. 


17 6 



Washingtoll Irving 
tea, aød on handing his wife a plate of slapjacks, begged her 
to help herself to a doubloon. 
His grand care now \vas how to secure this imlnense treas- 
ure without its being known. Instead of his \vorking regularly 
in his grounds in the daytime, he now stole fron1 his bed at 
night, and with spade and pickax went to ,vork to rip up 
and dig about his paternal acres, from one end to the other. 
In a little time the \vhole garden, which had presented such 
a goodly and regular appearance, with its phalanx of cab- 
bages, like a vegetable army in battle array, was reduced to 
a scene of devastation, while the relentless \V oIfert, with 
night-cap on head and lantern and spade in hand, stalked 
through the slaughtered ranks, the destroying angel of his 
o\vn vegetable world. 
Every morning bore testimony to the ravages of the pre- 
ceding night in cabbages of all ages and conditions, from 
the tender sprout to the full-gro"vn head, piteously rooted 
from their quiet beds like ,vorthless weeds, and left to 
wither in the sunshine. In vain W oIfert's wife remon- 
strated; in vain his darling daughter wept over the destruc- 
tion of some favorite marigold. "Thou shalt have gold of 
another-guess 1 sort," he would cry, chucking her under the 
chin; H 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 Inines 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 SOlne piteous recital. 
The daughter, too, was fain to seek for more frequent con- 
solation from the stolen interviews of her favored swain, 
Dirk Waldron. The delectable little Dutch songs with which 


1 A corruption of the old expression "another-gates," or "of an4 
other gate," meaning "of another way or manner" ; hence, "of 
another kind." 


177 



An'tcrican i11ystery Stories 
she used to d"Lllcify the house grew less and less frequent, 
and she \vould forget her sçwing, and look \vistfully in her 
father's face as he sat pondering by the fireside. \V oHert 
caught her eye one day fixed on him thus anxiously, and for 
a moment was roused from his golden reveries. "Cheer up, 
nly girl," said he exultingly; " why clost thou droop? Thou 
shalt hold up thy head one day with the Brinckerhoffs, and 
the Schermerhorns, the \T an Hornes, and the Van DaIns. 1 
By St. Nicholas, but the patroon 2 himself shall be glad to 
get thee for his son! " 
Amy shook her head at his vainglorious boast, and \vas 
more than ever in doubt of the soundness of the good man's 
intellect. 
In the meantime \\7 oHert 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 \vinter 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. 
N 0 sooner, ho\vever, did the returning warmth of spring 
loosen the soil, and the small frogs begin to pipe in the 
meadows, but W oHert resumed his labors with renovated 
zeal. Still, ho\vever, the hours of industry were reversed. 
Instead of \vorking cheerily all day, planting and setting 
out his vegetables, he remained thoughtfully idle, until the 
shades of night sunlmoned 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 3 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 
1 Names of rich and influential Dutch families in the old Dutch 
colony of New Amsterdam. 
2 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 
te1Titory, enjoyed feudal rights similar to those of the barons of the 
Middle Ages. 
a A Dutch coin, worth about two cents; hence, anything of little 
worth. 


17 8 



Washington Irving 
and gravel from beneath \vas thrown to the surface, until 
the whole field presented an aspect of sandy barrenness. 
In the meantime, the seasons gradually rolled on. The 
little frogs which had piped in the meado\vs 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 swallo\vs and martins came, twittered about 
the roof, built their nests, reared their young, held their 
congress along the eaves, and then \vinged 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 sun- 
shine 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 \vind and dust, whispered that \vinter was 
at hand. 
W oHert gradually woke from his dream of wealth as the 
year dêclined. 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 \vent 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 occa- 
sioned much speculation and remark. For a long time he 
179 



A11lcri
an lvlystcry Stories 
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 out- 
side of the door when he called, entertained him hospitably 
on the threshold, pressed him \varmly by the hand at part- 
ing, shook their heads as he walked a\vay, with the kind- 
hearted expression of " poor \V oIfert," and turned a corner 
nimbly if by chance they sa,v 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 ,,
sits to 
the daughter, and indeed seelned to \vax more affectionate 
as the fortunes of his mistress were on the wane. 
Many months had elapsed since \VoIfert had frequented 
his old resort, the rural inn. He 'vas taking a long, lonely 
\valk one Saturday afternoon, musing over his \vants and 
disappointments, when his feet took instinctively their 
wonted direction, and on a\vaking 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 com- 
panionship, and \vhere can a ruined man find better compan- 
ionship than at a tavern, \vhere there is neither sober exam- 
ple nor sober advice to put hÏ1n out of countenance? 
W oHert 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 RapeIye, ,vho for In any years 
had filled the leather-bottomeu chair of state. His place ,vas 
supplied by a stranger, ,vho seemed, ho\vever, completely at 
home in the chair and the tavern. He was rather under 
size, but deep-chested, square, and muscular. His broad 
180 




v aslzington Irving 
shoulders, double joints, and bow knees gave tokens of pro- 
digious strength. His face was dark and ,veather-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 ,vore an old hat 
edged \vith tarnished lace, and cocked in martial style on 
one side of his head; a rusty 1 blue n1ilitary coat with brass 
buttons; and a \vide 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, talk- 
ing 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 ,vas ,vaited upon with greater obse- 
quiousness than had ever been shown to the mighty Ramm 
himself . 
Wolfert's curiosity ,vas awakened to know who and \vhat 
was this stranger ,vho had thus usurped absolute sway in 
this ancient domain. Peechy Prau\v took him aside into a 
remote corner of the hall, and there, in an under voice and 
\vith 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 ,volfe They came from the water 
side, and at length \vere 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, \vith his old negro Cuff. On approach- 
ing the place ,vhence the voice proceeded, they found this 
amphibious-looking personage at the \vater's edge, quite 
alone, and seated on a great oaken sea chest. How he came 
there,-whether he had been set on shore fronl some boat, 
or had floated to land on his chest,-nobody could tell, for 
he did not seem disposed to ans\ver questions, and there ,vas 
something in his looks and nlanners that put a stop to all 
questioning. Suffice it to say, he took possession of a corner 
1 Shabby. 2 Noisy. 
I8r 



A111crican 
f'J'stcry Stories 
Toom of the inn, to which his chest "'as removed with great 
difficulty. Here he had remained ever since, keeping about 
the inn and its vicinity. Sometimes, it is true, he disap- 
peared for one, t\\'O, or three days at a time, going and re- 
turning ,vithout giving any notice or account of his move- 
ments. 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 ,valls with rusty pistols and cutlasses of foreign 'work- 
D1anship. A greater part of his time ,vas passed in this 
room, seated by the \vindow, which cOlnmanded a \,ride view 
()f the Sound, a short, old-fashioned pipe in his mouth, a 
glass of run1 toddy 1 at his elbo\v, and a pocket telescope in 
his hand, with which he reconnoitered every boat that n10ved 
upon the water. Large square-rigged vessels seemed to ex- 
cite but little attention; but the moment he descried anything 
with a shoulder-of-mutton 2 sail, or that a barge or ya,vl or 
jolly-boat hove in sight, up ,vent the telescope, and he ex- 
amined it ,vith the most scrupulous attention. 
All this might have passed without much notice, for in 
those times the province was so much the resort of adven- 
turers of all characters and climes that any oddity in dress 
or behavior attracted but smal1 attention. In a little while, 
bowever, this strange sea monster, thus strangely cast upon 
dry land, began to encroach upon the long established cus- 
toms and customers of the place, and to interfere in a dicta- 
torial n1anner in the affairs of the ninepin alley and the bar- 
room, until in the end he usurped an absolute COlnmand over 
the whole inn. It was all in vain to attelnpt to \vithstand his 
authority. He \vas not exactly quarrelsome, but boisterous 
and peremptory, like one accustomed to tyrannize on a quar- 
ter-deck; and there \vas a dare-devil 3 air about everything 
be said and did that inspired ,,'ariness in all bystanders. 
Even the half-pay officer, so long the hero of the club, was 
1 A mixture of rum and hot water sweetened. 
2 Triangular. 3 Reckless. 
182 



rVashington fr'ving 
soon silenced by him, and the quiet burghers stared with 
wonder at seeing their inflammable man of war so readily 
and quietly extinguished. 
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 \vould glisten as he described the way- 
laying of treasure ships; the desperate fights, yardarm and, 
yardarm, 2 broadside and broadside; 3 the boarding and cap- 
turing huge Spanish galleons! vVith what chuckling relish 
would he describe the descent upon SOlne 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 1Iichaelmas, 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 \vith infinite glee, as if he considered 
it an excellent joke, and then he \-vould give such a tyran- 
nical leer in the face of his next neighbor that the poor man 
would be fain to laugh out of sheer faint-heartedness. If 
anyone, ho\vever, pretended to contradict him in any of his 
stories, he \vas on fire in an instant. His very cocked hat 
assumed a mon1entary fierceness, and seemed to resent the 
contradiction. "How the devil should you know as well 
as I? I tell you it \-vas as I say; " and he would at the same 
1 The coast of the northern part of South America along the Car- 
ibbean Sea, the route formerly traversed by the Spanish treasure 
ships between the Old and New'Vorlds. 
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 touch- 
ing that of another. 
4 The Feast of the Archangell\1ichael, 
 church festival celebrated 
on September 29th. 


18 3 



 
 #'(
 Ofo' 
/: 

 t' ":: 

 

 . 



A111erican J.f yitcry Stories 
time let slip a broadside of thundering oaths 1 and tretnen- 
dous sea phrases, such as had never been heard before 
within these peaceful waUs. 
Indeed, the 'worthy burghers began to surmise that he 
knew more of those stories than mere hearsay. Day after 

ay their conjectures concerning him gre,v more and n10re 
wild and fearful. The strangeness of his arrival, the 
strangeness of his manners, the l11ystery that surrounded 
him,-all made him something inco111prehensible in their 
eyes. He ,vas a kind of monster of the deep to them; he 
was a merman, he ,vas a behel11oth, he ,vas a leviathan,-in 
short, they kne,v not 'v hat he \\Tas. 
The domineering spirit of this boisterous sea urchin at 
length grew quite intolerable. He ,,,as no respecter of per- 
sons; he contradicted the richest burghers without hesita- 
tion; 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, j ocular moods, as to slap that mighty 
burgher on the back, drink his toddy, and ,,,ink in his face, 
-a thing scarcely to be believed. From this time Ramm 
Rapelye appeared no more at the inn. His example ,vas 
followed by several of the most enlinent customers, who 
were too rich to tolerate being bullied out of their opinions 
or being obliged to laugh at another man's jokes. The land- 
lord was alnlost in despair; but he kne,v 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 establish- 
ment. 
Such was the account ".hispered cautiously in W oIfert's 
ear by the narrator, Peechy Prau,,,, as he held hinl by the 
button in a corner of the hall, casting a ,vary glance no\v 
and then toward the door of the barroom, lest he should 
be overheard by the terrible hero of his tale. 
W oHert took his seat in a remote part of the roonl in 
silence, impressed \\Tith profound a,ve of this unknown, so 
versed in freebooting history. It ,vas to him a ,vonderful 
1 "Broaùside of thundering oaths," i.e., a volley of abuse. 
I
-+ 


'f 



Washington lr'ving 
instance of the revolutions of mighty empires, to find the 
venerable RamlTI Rapelye thus ousted from the throne, and 
a rugged tarpaulin 1 dictating from his elbow chair, hector- 
ing the patriarchs, and filling this tranquil little realm with 
bra wi and bravado. 
The stranger ,vas, on this evening, in a more than usu- 
ally communicative mood, and was narrating a number of 
astounding stories of plunderings and burnings on the high 
seas. He dwelt upon them ,vith peculiar relish, heightening 
the frightful particulars in proportion to their effect on his 
peaceful auditors. He gave a swaggering detail of the cap- 
ture of a Spanish merchantman. She ,vas 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 fello\vs set off for her in a whaleboat. They ap- 
proached with muffled oars, as she lay rocking idly with the 
undulations of the sea, and her sails flapping against the 
masts. They ,vere close under the stern before the guard 
on deck was a\vare of their approach. The alarm was given; 
the pirates threw hand grenades 2 on deck, and sprang up 
the main chains, 3 s,vord in hand. 
The crew flew to arms, but in great confusion; some were 
shot down, others took refuge in the tops, others were driven 
overboard and dro\vned, ,vhile 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 ,vay,4 cut down 


I A kind of canvas used about a ship; hence, a sai1or. 
2 "Hand grenades," i.e., small shells of iron or glass filled with 
gunpowder and thrown by hand. 
3 "!\lain 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 companion way is a staircase leading to the cabin of a ship. 
18 5 



'A 11ler;Ca11, .Ztf ystcry Stories 
several of their assailants, and fought like very devils, for 
they were l11addened by the shrieks of the ladies from the 
cabin. One of the dons was old, and soon dispatched. The 
other t,vo kept their ground vigorously, even though the 
captain of the pirates \vas among their assailants. Just then 
there ,vas a shout of victory from the main deck. "The 
.snip is ours! " cried the pirates. 
One of the dons immediately dropped his sword and sur- 
rendered; the other, who ,vas 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 ,vhat did they do \vith their prisoners?" said 
Peechy Prauw eagerly. 
II Threw them all overboard," ,vas the ans,ver. A dead 
pause followed the reply. Peechy Prauw'sank quietly back, 
like a man who had unwarily stolen upon the lair of a sleep- 
ing 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, how- 
ever, smoked on ,vithout 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 tre- 
mendous. Kidd, as usual, ,vas his hero, concerning whom 
he seemed to have picked up many of the floating traditions 
of the province. The seanlan had al'ways evinced a settled 
pique against the one-eyed \varrior. On this occasion he 
listened ,vith peculiar impatience. He sat ,vith one arm 
akimbo, the other elbo,v on the table, the hand holding on 
to the small pipe he ,vas 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 as- 
186 



Washington Irving 
cended the I-Iudson with some of his cre\v, to land his plun- 
der in secrecy. 
" Kidd up the Hudson! " burst forth the seaman, \vith a 
tremendous oath; " Kidd never ,vas up the -Hudson! " 
" I tell you he \vas," said the other. "Aye, and they say 
he buried a quantity of treasure on the little flat that runs 
out into the river, caned the Ðevil's Dans Kammer." 1 
"The DeviI's Dans Kammer in your teeth! "2 cried the 
seaman. "I tell you Kidd never ,vas up the Hudson. \Vhat 
a plague do you know of Kidd and his haunts? " 
" What do I kno,v? " echoed the half-pay officer. "\Vhy, 
I \vas 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 sa,v as pretty a fello\v 
hanged as ever trod shoe leather. Aye!" putting his face 
nearer to that of the officer, "and there ,vas many a land- 
lubber 3 looked on that might much better have s\vung in 
his stead." 
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 Prau\v, ,vho 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 ,vas 
Bradish 4 and others of the buccaneers who had buried 


1 A huge, flat rock, projecting into the Hudson River above the 
Highlands. 
2 .. In your teeth," a phrase to denote direct opposition or defiance. 
I A tenn of contempt used by seamen for those who pass their 
lives on land. 

 Bradish was a pirate whose actions were blended in the popuJar 
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. 
18 7 



A111crican lvlystery Stories 
money, some said in Turtle Bay,! 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 \ve are all friends here, and as it will 
go no further, I'll tell it to you. 
"'Upon a dark night many years ago, as Black Sam ,vas 
returning from fishing in Hell Gate-" 
Here the story ,vas nipped in toe bud by a sudden move- 
ment from the unknown, 'who, laying his iron fist on the 
table, knuckles downward, ,vith 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 n1en 
and old ,vomen to meddle \vith. They fought hard for their 
money-they gave body and soul for it; and wherever it 
lies buried, depend upon it he n1ust have a tug with the devil 
'\\
ho gets it! " 
This sudden explosion ,vas succeeded by a blank silence 
throughout the room. Peechy Prauw shrunk within him- 
self, and even the one-eyed officer turned pale. Wolfert, 
\vho from a dark corner of the room had listened with in- 
tense eagerness to all this talk about buried treasure, looked 
,vith mingled a,ve and reverence at this bold buccaneer, for 
such he really suspected him to be. There ,vas a chinking 
of gold and a sparkling of j e\vels in all his stories about 
the Spanish 
1ain that gave a value to every period, and 
W o1fert 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 pro- 
digious watch of curious and ancient ,vorkmanship, and 
which in W oIfert's eyes had a decidedly Spanish look. On 
I A small cove in the East River two miles north of Corlear's 
Hook. 


188 



Washington Irving 
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 bever- 
age, and \vithout taking leave of anyone, rolled out of the 
roonl, muttering to himself as he stamped upstairs to his 
chamber. 
I t was some time before the company could recover from 
the silence into \vhich they had been thro\vn. The very foot- 
steps of the stranger, which \vere heard now and then as 
he traversed his chamber, inspired a\ve. 
Still the conversation in which they had been engaged was 
too interesting not to be resun1ed. A heavy thunder gust 
bad gathered up unnoticed while they \vere 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 \vorthy Peechy 
Prlluw 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, \vith evident a\ve, as he heard the 
beavy footsteps of the stranger pacing overhead. The fol- 
lowing is the purport of his story: 


Adventure of the Black Fisherman 


EVERYBODY kno\vs Black Sam, the old negro fishern1an, 
or, as he is commonly called, " Mud San1," who has fished 
about the Sound for the last half century. It is no\v many 
years since Sam, \vho \vas then as active a young negro 
as any in the province, and \vorked on the farm of I(illian 
Suydam on Long Island, having finished his day's work 
at an early hour, \vas fishing, one still summer evening, 
just about the neighborhood of Hell Gate. 
He \vas in a light skiff, and being \vell acquainted with 
the currents and eddies, had shifted his station, according 
18 9 



Al1lerican AIystery Stories 
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 ,yarned him of his dan- 
ger, 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 home- 
ward. As the night set in, it gre\v blustering and gusty. 
Dark clouds came bundling up in the west, and no\v and 
then a gro\vI of thunder or a flash of lightning told that a 
summer storm ,vas 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 canlC scouring along, the. \vind threw up 
the river in \vhite surges, the rain rattled among the leaves. 
the thunder bellowed ,vorse than that ,vhich is now bel- 
lowing, 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 billo\vs until he fell 
asleep. 
\Vhen he ,yoke all ,vas quiet. The gust had passed a,vay, 
and only now and then a faint gleam of lightning in the 
east sho\ved ,vhich \vay it had gone. The night was dark 
and moonless, and from the state of the tide Sanl concluded 
it was near midnight. He ,vas on the point of making loose 
his skiff to return home,,'ard when he saw a light gleaming 
along the \vater from a distance, \vhich seemed rapidly ap- 
proaching. As it dre\v near he perceived it came from a 
lantern in the bow of a boat gliding along under shado\v of 
the land. It pulled up in a small cove close to ,vhere he 
\vas. A man junlped on shore, and searching about ,vith 
the lantern, exclainled, "rfhis is the place-here's the iron 
1 A long, narrow island in the East River, between New York and 
Long Island City. 


19 0 



U T aslzillgton I Y'l.'illg 
'ring." The boat \vas then made fast, and the man, return- 
ing on board, assisted his comrades in conveying something 
heavy on shore. As the light gleamed among them, Saln 
sa\v that they were five stout, desperate-looking fellows, in 
red woolen caps, \vith a leader in a three-cornered hat, and 
that some of them \vere armed with dirks, or long knives, and 
pistols. They talked lo\v to one another, and occasionally 
in some outlandish tongue \vhich he could not understand., 
On landing they n1ade their \vay among the bushes, taking 
turns to relieve each other in lugging their burden up the 
rocky bank. Sam's curiosity was no\V fully aroused, so 
leaving his skiff he clambered silently up a ridge that over- 
looked their path. They had stopped to rest for a nloment, 
and the leader \\'as 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. 
" '
e must dig deep, where there v;iIl be no risk of dis- 
coverv," said a third. 
A cold chill ran through Sam's yeins. He fancied he saw 
before him a gang of murderers, about to bury their victim. 
I-lis knees smote together. In his agitation he shook the 
branch of a tree \vith ,vhich he \vas 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 to\vard 
the very place \vhere Sam \vas standing. He stood motion- 
Jess, breathless, expecting the next 1110ment to be his last. 
Fortunately his dingy complexion was in his favor, and 
made no glare an10ng the leaves. 
" 'Tis no one," said the man \vith the lantern. "\Vhat a 
plague! you would not fire off your pistol and alarm the 
country! " 
The pistol \"as uncocked, the burden ,vas resumed, and 
the party slo\vly toiled along the bank. Sam \vatched them 
as they \vent, the light sending back fitful gleams through 
the dripping bushes, and it ,vas not till they were fairly out 
19 1 



A11lcrican lYfystery Stories 
of sight that he ventured to draw breath freely. He no\v 
thought of getting back to his boat, and making his escape 
out of the reach of such dangerous neighbors; but curiosity 
\vas all-po\verfu1. He hesitated, and lingered, and listened. 
By and by he heard the strokes of spades. "They are dig- 
ging the grave!" said he to himself, and the cold s\veat 
started upon his forehead. Every stroke of a spade, as it 
sounded through the silent groves, went to his heart. It 
\vas evident there \vas as little noise made as possible; every- 
thing had an air of terrible mystery and secrecy. Sam had 
a great relisH for the horrible; a tale of murder \vas 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 nlidnight 
felIo\vs at their work. He crawled along cautiously, there- 
fore, inch by inch, stepping with the utmost care among the 
dry leaves, lest their rustling should betray him. He came 
at length to ,vhere a steep rock intervened behveen him and 
the gang, for he sa\v 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 vil- 
lains immediately beIo\v him, and so near that though he 
dreaded discovery he dared not 'withdraw lest the least move- 
ment should be heard. In this \vay he remained, with his 
round black face peering above the edge of the rock, like 
the sun just elnerging above the edge of the horizon, or the 
round-cheeked moon on the dial of a clock. 
The red-caps had nearly finished their ,york, the grave 
was filled up, and they \vere carefully replacing the turf. 
This done they scattered dry leaves over the place. "And 
no\v," said the leader, "I defy the devil hin1self to find it 
out." 
" The murderers! " exclaimed Sam involuntarily. 
The \vhole 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 \vhite teeth chattering, and his 
\\0 110le visage shining \vith cold perspiration. 
19 2 



Waslzington IrvÙtg 
" '\tVe're âiscovered! " 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 do\vn banks like a hedgehog, scram- 
bled up others like a catamount. In every direction he h
ard 
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 grape- 
vine 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 hinlself to the 
slUl1mit of the cliff. Here he stood in full re!ief against the 
sky, \vhen the red-cap cocked his pistol and fired. The ball 
whistled by Sam's head. With the lucky thought of a Dlan 
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 no\v 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 \vas not, however, until he had drifted a great distance 
that he ventured to ply his oars, \vhen 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 farnlhouse of the Suydams. 


Here the worthy Peechy Prau\v 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 out- 
193 



Al1zerican Mystery Stories 
stretched necks, gaping like a nest of swallo\vs for an addi- 
tional 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 \vhat was buried by the red- 
caps?" said Wolfert eagerly, \vhose mind was haunted by 
nothing but ingots and doubloons. 
" Not that I kno\v 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 
òigged? everything would look so different by daylight. 
And then, \vhere was the use of looking for a dead body 
when there was no chance of hanging the murderers? " 
" Aye, but are you sure it \vas a dead body they buried? " 
said \V oHert. 
" 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 \vider, and edging their chairs still closer. 
"Aye, haunts," repeated Peechy; "have none of you 
heard of Father Red-cap, \vho haunts the old burned farm- 
house 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 unoccu- 
pied 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 feILo\v in a red cap has been 
seen at the \vindo\vs more than once, \vhich 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, \vith 
a jug in one hand and a goblet in the other. He offered 
194 



Wash.ingtoll Irving 
them a drink out of his goblet, but just as one of the soldiers 
was putting it to his mouth-\vhew I-a flash of fire blazed 
through the cellar, blinqed every mother's son of them for 
several minutes, and ,,-hen they recovered their eyesight, jug, 
goblet, and Red-cap had vanished, and nothing but the 
empty cider barrel remained." 
Here the half-pay officer, ,vho ,vas growing very muzzy 
and sleepy, and nodding over his liquor, with half-extin- 
guished 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 Prau\v, "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 com- 
pany had made them unconscious of the uproar abroad 
among the elements, "rhen suddenly they ,vere 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 "rindows and the 
wind ho,vling 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 "ret \vith rain, and shone like a 
bottle. In a j argon but half intelligible he announced that 
the kitchen chimney had been struck with lightning. 
A sullen pause of the stann, \vhich 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 \vindow; another Inusket shot was heard, and another. 
195 



A11'lerican 
Iystcry Stories 
long shout, mingled wildly with a rising blast of ,vind. It 
seemed as if the cry came up from the boson1 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. Sev- 
eral hailings passed from one party to the other, but in a 
language which none of the con1pany 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 sun1- 
moned, and shortly afterwards was seen assisting the veteran 
to lug the ponderous sea chest do\vnstairs. 
The landlord was in amazement. "\Vhat, you are not 
going on the water in such a storn1? " , 
It Storm!" said the other scornfully, "do you call such 
a sputter of weather a storn1?" 
" You'll get drenched to the skin; you'll catch your 
death! " said Peechy Prauw affectionately. 
" Thunder and lightning! " exclain1ed the veteran; " don't 
preach about weather to a man that has cruised in whirl- 
winds and tornadoes." 
The obsequious Peechy waE again struck dun1b. The 
voice from the water was heard I)nce n10re in a tone of im- 
patience; the bystanders stared with redoubled a\ve at this 
man of storn1s, who seemed to have con1e up out of the deep, 
and to be sun1moned back tl It again. As, with the assist- 
ance of the negro, he slowly bore his ponderous sea chest 
toward the shore, they eyed it \vith a superstitious feeling, 
half doubting whether he were not really about to en1bark 
upon it and launch forth upon the ,vild waves. They fol- 
lowed him at a distance with a lantern. 
" Dowse 1 the light!" roared the hoarse voice from the 
water. "N 0 one wants light here! " 
"Thunder and lightning!" exclaimed the veteran, turn- 
ing short upon them; U back to the house with you! " 
"/olfert and his companions shrank back in dismay. Still 
1 Extinguish. 
19 6 



Washington Irving 
their curiosity would not allo\v thenl entirely to withdraw. 
A long sheet of lightning no\v flickered across the 'waves, 
and discovered a boat, filled ,,'ith men, just under a rocky 
point, rising and sinking \vith the heaving surges, and swash- 
ing the waters at every heave. It \vas 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 lunl- 
bering sea chest on the gun\vale of the boat, and seized the 
handle at the other end to lift it in, when the motion propelled 
the boat fronl the shore, the chest slipped off from the gun- 
wale, and, sinking into the ,vaves, pulled the veteran head- 
long after it. A loud shriek \vas uttered by all on shore, and 
a volley of execrations by those on board, but boat and man 
\vere hurried away by the rushing s\viftness of the tide. A 
pitchy darkness succeeded. \V olfert \V ebber, indeed, fancied 
that he distinguished a cry for help, and that he beheld the 
drowning man beckoning for assistance; but when the light- 
ning again gleamed along the water all was void; neither 
man nor boat \vas to be seen,-nothing but the dashing and 
vJeltering of the waves as they hurried past. 
The company returned to the tavern to a\vait the subsiding 
of the storm. They resumed their seats and gazed on each 
other with dismay. The \vholc transaction had not occupied 
five minutes, and not a dozen words had been spoken. \Vhen 
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 ,vas the very glass he had just drunk froul; 
there lay the ashes from the pipe which he had smoked, as 
it were, with his last breath. As the \vorthy burghers pon- 
dered on these things, they felt a terrible conviction of the 
uncertainty of existence, and each felt as if the ground on 
which he stood \vas rendered less stable by his awful ex- 
ample. 
As, however, the most of the company were possessed of 
that valuable philosophy \vhich enables a man to bear up 
with fortitude against the misfortunes of his neighbors, they 
soon managed to console thenlselves for the tragic end of 
197 



. 
l1lCrican lvfys1cry Stories 
tbe veteran. The landlord "vas 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 ,vent in a 
storm; he came in the night, and he ,vent in the night; he 
came noboòy kno\vs ,,,hence, and he has gone nobody knows 
,vhere. For aught I kno\v he has gone to sea once more 
en his chest, and may land to bother sonle people 011 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 o\vn locker 2 behind him." 
"His locker! St. Nicholas preserve us!" cried Peechy 
Prau,v. "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 nlaking 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 A111ster- 
dam. 
"The boatswain died during a storm, so they wrapped 
binl up in a sheet, and put him in his own sea chest, and 
threw him overboard; but they neglecteò, in their hurry- 
skurry, to say prayers over hiIn, and the storm raged and 
roared louder than ever, and they sa,v.the dead man seated 
in his chest, with his shroud for a sail, conling hard after 
the ship, and the sea breaking before hin1 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 sa,v the dead boats\vain 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 ,,"ould 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 supposeò he had veered ship anò stood íor Dead Man's 


I 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 ICdcad and buried in the sea." 
a Chest. 


19 8 



Washington Irving 
Isle. 1 So much for burying a man at sea without saying 
prayers over him." 
The thunder gust which had hitherto detained the com- 
pany 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 se- 
rene. 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 nar- 
rations they had made, bad left a superstitious feeling in 
every mind. They cast a fearful glance at the spot where 
the buccaneer had disappeared, almost expecting to see hilTI 
sailing on his chest in the cool moonshine. The trembling 
rays glittered along the waters, but all \vas placid, and the 
current dimpled over the spot where he had gone down. 
The party huddled together in a little cro\vd as they repaired 
homeward, particularly \vhen 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 o\vn 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 every\vhere 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] ,vhen 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 
1 Probably Deadman's Point, a small island near Deadman's 
Bay, off the eastern coast of Newfoundland. 
199 



A111crican 

J)'s1cry Stories 
of the singular adventure of the negro fisherman, his im- 
agination gave a totally different complexion 1 to the tale. 
He saw in the gang of red-caps nothing but a cre-w of 
pirates burying their spoils, and his cupidity \vas once more 
a\vakened by the possibility of at length getting on the 
traces of some of this lurking v{ealth. Indeed, his infected 
fancy tinged everything \vith gold. He felt like the greedy 
inhabitant of Bagdad ,,"hen his eyes had been greased \vith 
the magic ointment of the dervish, that gave him to see 
all the treasures of the earth. 2 Caskets of buried je\vels, 
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. 
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 dig- 
gers \vho had heard Black Sanl's story" though none of 
them had met with success. On the contrary, they had 
always been dogged \vith ill luck of some kind or other, in 
consequence, as VV olfert concluded, of not going to \vork 
at the proper time and \vith the proper ceremonials. The 
last attempt had been made by Cobus Quackenbos, \vho 
dug for a whole night, and met \vith incredible difficulty, 
for as fast as he thre\v one shovelful of earth out of the 
hole, two \vere thrown in by invisible hands. He succeeded 
so far, ho\vever, as to uncover an iron chest, when there 
was a terrible rO:1ring, ramping, and raging of uncouth fig- 
ures about the hole, and at length a sho\ver of blo\vs, dealt 
1 Aspect. 
2 See Story of the Blind :Man, Baba Abdalla, in Arabian 
ights' 
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, ,vhich, applied to the 
left eye, enables one to see the treaSU1"es 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. 


200 



Washingtort Irving 
by invisible cudgels, fairly belabored him off of the for.. 
bidden 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 ,vas thought would have ultimately 
succeeded had he not died recently of a brain fever in the 
almshouse. 
Wolfert Webber was novv 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 \vas 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 Sanl 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 \veather, for one 
of the hobgoblins that used to haunt that strait. There 
\\'ould he be seen, at all times and in all weathers, some- 
times in his skiff, anchored among the eddies, or prowling 
like a shark about some ,vreck, where the fish are suppsed 
to be nlost abundant; sometimes seated on a rock from 
hour to hour, looking, in the mist and drizzle, like a soli- 
tary heron watching for its prey. He was ,veIl acquainted 
,vith every hole and corner of the Sound, from the Walla- 
bout 1 to Hell Gate, and from Hell Gate unto the Devil's 
Stepping-Stones; and it \\'as even affirmed that he knew all 
the fish in the river by their Christian nanles. 
\Volfert found him at his cabin, \vhich was not much 
larger than a tolerable dog house. It was rudely con- 
I A bay of the East River, on which the Brooklyn Navy Yard is 
situated. 


201 



AnzerieGu 11I:ys"tc!,y Stories 
structed of fragments of 'wrecks and drifÌ\yood, and built 
on the rocky shore at the foot of the old fort, just about 
v.'hat at present forms the point of the Battery.1 A" very 
ancient and fishlike smell" 2 pervaded the place. Oars, 
paddles, and fishing rods ,vere leaning against the waU of 
the fort, a net was spread on the sand to dry, a skiff was 
dra,vn up on the beach, and at the door of his cabin was 
11 ud Sam himself, indulging in the true negro luxury of 
sleeping in the sunshine. 
lVlany years had passed a\vay since the time of Sam's 
youthful adventure, and the snO\\7S of many a winter had 
grizzled the knotty ,vool upon his head. He perfectly recol- 
lected 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 1110ney diggers, Sam knew 
nothing about them; they were matters quite out of his 
line; neither did the cautious "\IVoHert care to disturb his 
thoughts on that point. His only \vish ,vas to secure the 
old fisherman as a pilot to the spot, and this was readily 
effected. The long time that had intervened since his noc- 
turnal adventure had effaced all Sam's a"'"e of the place, and 
the promise of a trifling re\vard roused hin1 at once from 
his sleep and his sunshine. 
The tide ,vas adverse to making the expedition by water, 
a.nd Wolfert was too impatient to get to the land of promise 
to wait for its turning; they set off, therefore, by land. A 
,valk of four or five miles brought them to the edge of a 
wood, 'v hich at that tin1e covered the greater part of the 
eastern side of the island. It was just beyond the pleasant 
region of Bloomen-dael. 3 Here they struck into a long 


1 Th
 southern extremity of New ì"'ork City. 
2 See Shakespeare's The Tempest, act ii., sc. 2. 
I At the time this story was written Bloomen-dael (Flowery Val- 
ley) 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 II undredth Streets. 
202 



Waslu"ngtoJ1, Ir'ving 
fane, straggling among trees and bushes very much over- 
grown with \veeds and mullein stalks, as if but seldom used, 
and so completely overshado\ved 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 tOéid hopped and waddled before them; and the 
restless catbird me\ved at them from every thicket. Had 
W o1fert Webber been deeply read in ronlantic legend he 
might have fancied himself entering upon forbidden, en- 
chanted ground, or that these "'ere sonle 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. 
On reaching the lo\ver end of the lane they found them- 
selves near the shore of the Sound, in a kind of amphi- 
theater 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, ,vas 
a ruined building, little better than a heap of rubbish, \vith 
a stack of chimneys rising like a solitary tower out of the 
center. The current of the Sound rushed along just below 
it, with \vildly grown trees drooping their branches into its 
waves. 
Wolfert had not a doubt that this \\Tas the haunted house 
of Father Red-cap, and called to mind the story of Peechy 
Prauw. The evening was approaching, and the light, fall- 
ing dubiously among the woody places, gave a melancholy 
tone to the scene well calculated to foster any lurking feel- 
ing of awe or superstition. The night hawk, \vheeling about 
in the highest regions of the air, emitted his peevish, boding 
cry. The ,voodpecker gave a lonely tap now and then on 
some holIo\v tree, and the firebird 1 streamed by them ,vith 
his deep red plumage. 
They no\v came to an inclosure that had once been a gar- 
den. It extended along the foot of a rocky ridge, but was 


j Orchard oriole. 
20 3 



A11JCrican Jo.fystery Stories 
tittle better than a wilderness of \veeds, with here and there 
a Inatted rosebush, or a peach or plunl tree, grown \vild 
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, ,,,as still strong, and appeared 
to have been recently patched up. vV olfert 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. \tV olfert dre\v back shuddering, but ,vas 
reassured on being informed by the negro that this \vas a 
family vault, belonging to one of the old Dutch families that 
o\vned this estate, an assertion corroborated by the sight 
of coffins of various sizes piled within. Sam had been fa- 
miliar with all these scenes ,vhen a boy, and now knew that 
he could not be far from the place of ,vhich they were in 
quest. 
They no\v made their \yay to the \vater's edge, scrambling 
along ledges of rocks that overhung the \vaves, and obliged 
often to hold by shrubs and grapevines to avoid slipping 
into the deep and hurried stream. At length they canle to 
a small cove, or rather indent of the shore. It was pro- 
tected by steep rocks, and overshadov{ed by a thick copse 
of oaks and chestnuts, so as to be sheltered and almost 
concealed. The beach shelved gradually \vithin the cove, 
but the current s\vept 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 fonvard l and pointed to a large iron 
ring, stapled finnly 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 slo,,"ly to the influence of time. On 


I "Root house," i.e., a house for storing up potatoes, turnips, ot 
other roots for the winter feed of cattle. 
204 



Washington Irving 
looking more closely W oHert remarked three crosses cut in 
the rock just above the ring, \vhich had no doubt some mys- 
terious signification. Old Sam now readily recognized the 
overhanging rock under \vhich his skiff had been sheltered 
during the thunder gust. To follow up the course ,vhich 
the midnight gang had takef.1, however, ,vas 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 \vandering about for some time, 
however, they came to an opening among the trees ,vhich 
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 ,vhence he had over- 
looked the diggers. W oHert examined it narro,vly, and at 
length discovered three crosses similar to those on tbe 
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 no,v that remained was to as- 
certain 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 nad 
already had enough of such profitless labor. Here, how- 
ever, the old negro was perfectly at a loss, and indeed per- 
plexed him by a variety of opinions, for his recollections 
\vere all confused. Sometimes he declared it must have 
b
en at the foot of a mulberry tree hard by; then beside a 
great \vhite 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 no,v spreading themselves 
over the \voods, and rock and tree began to mingle to- 
gether. It was evidently too late to attempt anything fur- 
ther at present, and, indeed, 'VV olfert had come unprovided 
\vith 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 
20 5 



Anz.erican Jl.lystery Stories 
set out on his return homeward, resolved to prosecute this 
golden enterprise without delay. 
The leading anxiety \vhich had hitherto absorbed every 
feeling being now in some nleasure appeased, fancy began 
to wander, and to conjure up a thousand shapes and chi- 
meras 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 slo\vly out of the ground, and 
shaking the ghost of a money bag. 
Their \vay back lay through the desolate garden, and 
W oIfert'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 \vas enough to startle him. As they entered the con- 
fines of the garden, they caught sight of a figure at a dis- 
tance advancing slowly up one of the \valks, and bending 
under the \veight of a burden. They paused and regarded 
him attentively. He \vore \vhat appear
d to be a woolen 
cap, and, still more alarming, of a most sanguinary red. 
The figure moved slo\vly on, ascended the bank, and 
stopped at the very door of the sepulchral vault. Just 
before entering it he looked around. What \vas the af- 
fright of VV oHert when he recognized the grisly visage of 
the drowned buccaneer! He uttered an ejaculation of hor- 
rOf. The figure slovdy raised his iron fist and shook it 
with a terrible menace. W oHert did not pause to see any 
more, but hurried off as fast as his legs could carry hin1, 
nor \vas Sam slow in following at his heels, having all his 
ancient terrors revived. A\vay, then, did they scramble 
through bush and brake, horribly frightened at every bram- 
ble that tugged at their skirts, nOf did they pause to breathe 
until they had blundered their way through this perilous 
\vood, and fairly reached the highroad to the city. 
Several days elapsed before W oHert could summon cour- 
age 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, \vhat a conflict 
of mind did he suffer! He neglected all his concerns, \\'as 
206 



Washington I y,,'illg 
moody and restless an day, lost his appetite, 'wandered in 
his thoughts and words, and committed a thousand blun- 
ders. His rest \vas 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 a\vay 
the dirt, groped under the bed in quest of the treasure, 
and lugged forth, as he supposed, an inestimable pot of 
gold. 
Dan1e \Vebber 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 house\vives 
consult in all cases of great doubt and perplexity,-the 
dominie and the doctor. In the present instance they re- 
paired 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 \\Tas more conlmonly 
known by the appellation of the" High German Doctor." 1 
To him did the poor \vomen repair for counsel and assist- 
ance touching the mental vagaries of Wolfert Webber. 
They found the doctor seated in his little study, clad in his 
dark camlet 2 robe of knowledge, \vith his black velvet cap, 
after the manner of Boerhaave,3 Van Helmont,4 and other 
Inedical 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 doc- 
tor listened to their statement of the symptoms of Wolfert's 
malady with profound attention, but \vhen they came to 


1 The same, no doubt, of whom mention is made in the history 
of Dolph Heyliger. 
2 A fabric made of goat's hair and silk, or wool and cotton. 
I Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738), a celebrated Dutch physician 
and philosopher. 
I: Jan Baptista Van Helmont (1577-1644), a celebrated Flemish 
physician and chemist. 


20 7 



Al1lcrica1Z 
fystery Stories 
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. 
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 '\vasted. He had passed some years of 
his youth among the Harz 1 mountains of Germany, and 
had derived nluch 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 '\vith magic and 
legerdemain. His mind, therefore, had bcconle stored with 
all kinds of mystic lore; he had dabbled a little in astrology, 
alchemy, divination; 2 kne\v how to detect stolen money, 
and to tell where springs of '\vater 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 "rere Wolfert's '\vaking and sleeping 
vagaries confided to him than he beheld in them the con- 
firmed symptoms of a case of money digging, and lost no 
time in probing it to the bottom. vV olfert 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 fronl 
curing, the doctor caught the n1alady from his patient. The 
circumstances unfolded to him awakened all his cupidity; 
he had not a doubt of money b,eing buried somewhere in 


1 A mountain chain in northwestern Germany, between the Elbe 
and the W eser. 
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 dis. 
covery of secret or future events by preternatural means. 
208 



Waslzington I y,.:illg 
the neighborhood of the mysterious crosses, and offered 
to join W oHert 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, \vith cer- 
tain forms and cerenlonies and burning of drugs, the repeat- 
ing of mystic 'words, and, above all, that the seekers must 
first be provided 'with a divining rod, l which haå the \von- 
derful property of pointing to the very spot on the surface 
of the earth under which treasure lay hidden. As the doc- 
tor had given much of his mind to these matters he charged 
himself \vith all the necessary preparations, and, as the quar- 
ter of the moon \vas propitious, he undertook to have the 
divining rod ready by a certain night. 
vVolfert's heart leaped with joy at having met with so 
learned and able a coadjutor. Everything went on secretly 
but s\vimmingly. The doctor had many consultations \vith 
his patient, and the good women of the household lauded 
the comforting effect of his visits. In the meantime the 
\vonderful divining rod, that great key to nature's secrets, 
was duly prepared. The doctor had thumbed over all his 
books of kno\vledge for the occasion, and the black fisher- 
man 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 
\vomen, on being told not to feel alarm they fell immediately 
into a panic. They saw at once by his manner that some- 
thing unusual was in agitation; all their fears about the 
unsettled state of his mind \vere revived with tenfold force; 
they hung about him, entreating him not to expose himself 
to the night air, but all in vain. \ Vhen once W oHert \vas 


1 A divining rod is a rod used by those who pretend to discover 
water or metals underground. I t is commonly made of witch 
hazel, with forked branches. 


209 



A111Cricall lJIystery Stories 
mounted on his hobby, 1 it was no easy manner to get hiln 
out of the saddle. It was a clear, starlight night when he 
issued out of the portal of the vVebber palace. He wore a 
large flapped hat, tied under the chin with a handkerchief 
of his daughter's, to secure hin1 from the night damp, while 
Dame Webber threw her long red cloak about his shoul- 
ders, and fastened it round his neck. 
The doctor had been no less carefully armed and accou- 
tered by his housekeeper, the vigilant Frau Ilsy, and sal- 
lied forth in his carnlet robe by way of snrcoat,2 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. 
The great church clock struck ten as W oHert and the 
doctor passed by the churchyard, and the watchnlan bawled 
in hoarse voice a long and doleful " All's 'well!" A deep 
sleep had already fallen upon this primitiye little burgh; 
nothing disturbed this a\vful silence excepting now and 
then the bark of some profligate, night-walking dog, or the 
serenade of some romantic cat. It is true W oHert fancied 
more than once that he heard the sound of a stealthy foot- 
fall 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 sa\v a tall figure skulk- 
ing after them, stopping when they stopíJed and moving on 
as they proceeded; but the dim and uncertain lamplight 
threw such vague gleams and shado\vs 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 \vere lying in 
the bottom of the boat, with a dark lantern, and a stone 
bottle of good Dutch courage,3 in which honest Sam no 
1 Hobby, or hobbyhorse, a favorite theme of thought; hence, "to 
mount a hobby" is to follow a favorite pursuit. 
2 Overcoat. 
a Dutch courage is courage that results from indulgence in Dutch 
gin or Hollands; here applied to the gin itself. 
210 



Washington Irving 
doubt put even more faith than Dr. Knipperhausen in his 
'dru gs. 
Thus, then, did these three 'worthies embark in their 
cockleshell of a skiff upon this nocturnal expedition, '\vith 
a '\visdom and valor equaled only by the three wise men of 
Gotham,1 '\vho adventured to sea in a bo\vl. The tide was 
rising and running rapidly up the Sound. The current bore 
them along, almost \vithout the aid of an oar. The profile 
of the to\vn lay all in shadow. Here and there a light 
feebly glimmered from some sick chamber, or from the 
cabin windo\v 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 direc- 
tion they were taking, was interpreted by the doctor into a 
most propitious omen. 
In a little while they glided by the point of Corlear's 
Hook, \vith the rural inn which had been the scene of such 
night adventures. The family had retired to rest, and the 
house ","as dark and still. W oHert felt a chill pass over him 
as they passed the point where the buccaneer had disap- 
peared. He pointed it out to Dr. I(nipperhausen. 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 dis- 
tinctly. They had not proceeded far \vhen 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 follow- 
ers, if such they were, far astern. In a little while they 


1 C C 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. 
Gotham was a village proverbia1 for the blundering simplicity 
of its inhabitants. At first the name referred to an English village. 
Irving applied it to New York City. 
211 



A11terican AI 'j1stcry Stories 
stretched across Turtle Bay and Kip's Bay,1 then shrouded 
themselves in the deep shadows of the 11anhattan shore, 
and glided swiftly along, secure from observation. At 
length the negro shot his skiff into a little cove, darkly em- 
bowered by trees, and made it fast to the \vell-known iron 
ring. They no\v landed, and lighting the lantern gathered 
their various implements and proceeded slo\vly through the 
bushes. Every sound startled them, even that of their o-wn 
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. 
In spite of all \V olfert's caution in taking note of the land- 
marks, it \vas some time before they could find the open 
place among the trees, ,,,here 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 ,vas no\v held by W oHert Webber, while the 
doctor produced the divining rod. It \vas a forked twig, 
one end of \vhich was grasped firmly in each hand, while 
the center, forming the stem, pointed perpendicularly up- 
'ward. The doctor moved his \vand about, within a cer- 
tain distance of the earth, from place to piace, but for some 
time without any effect, ,vhile VV oHert kept the light of the 
lantern turned full upon it, and \vatched it with the most 
breathless interest. At length the rod began slowly to 
turn. The doctor grasped it with greater earnestness, his 
hands trembling \vith the agitation of his mind. The wand 
continued to turn gradually, until at length the stem had 
reversed its position, and pointed perpendicularly down- 
ward, and remained pointing to one spot as fixedly as the 
needle to the pole. 
" This is the spot! " said the doctor, in an almost inaudi- 
ble tone. 
'V olfert's heart ,vas in his throat. 
1! A small bay in the East River below Corlear's Hook. 
212 



Waslzington 11'villg 
"Shall I dig?" said the negro, grasping the spade. 
"Pots tausend,t no!" replied the little doctor hastily. 
He now ordered his companions to keep close by hin1, and 
to maintain the most inflexible silence; that certain precau- 
tions must be taken and ceremonies used to prevent the 
evil spirits 'which kept about buried treasure from doing 
them any harm. He then dre\v a circle about the place, 
enough to include the Vi hole party. He next gathered dry 
t\ovigs and leaves and made a fire, upon which he thre\v 
certain drugs and dried herbs \vhich he had brought in his 
basket. A thick smoke rose, diffusing a potent odor savor- 
ing marvelously of brimstone and asafetida, which, ho\v- 
ever grateful it might be to the olfactory nerves of spirits, 
nearly strangled poor \;\7' olfert, and produced a fit of cough- 
ing and wheezing that made the whole grove resound. Dr. 
Knipperhausen then unclasped the volume \vhich he had 
brought under his arm, \vhich \vas printed in red and black 
characters in German text. \Vhile W oHert held the lantern, 
the doctor, by the aid of his spectacles, read off several 
forms of conjuration in Latin and German. He then or- 
dered Sam to seize the pickax and proceed to \vork. The 
close-bound soil gave obstinate signs of not having been 
disturbed for many a year. After haying picked his ,yay 
through the surface, Sam came to a bed of sand and gravel, 
which he threw briskly to fight and left 'with the spade. 
" Hark!" said 'V olfert, who fancied he heard a tram- 
pling 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 \vhich glared up 
among the trees, flew circling about the flame. In the 
profound stillness of the \voodland 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 
1 A Gennan exclamation of anger, equivalent to the English 
,c zounds! " 


21 3 



Al1zcrÏfan Jflystery Stories 
formulæ every no\v 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 \vitnessing the scene thus lighted up 
by fire, lantern, and the reflection of W oIfert's red mantle, 
might have mistaken the little doctor for sonle foul magi- 
cian, busied in his incantations, and the grizzly-headed 
negro for some swart goblin obedient to his commands. 
At length the spade of the fishernlan struck upon some- 
thing that sounded hoIlo\v. The sound vibrated to W 01- 
fert's heart. He struck his spade again. 
" 'Tis a chest," said Sam. 
"Full of gold, I'll ",
arrant it!" cried W oHert, clasping 
his hands with rapture. 
Scarcely had he uttered the words \vhen 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 
dro\vned buccaneer, grinning hideously down upon him. 
W oHert 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 extin- 
guished. In their hurry-scurry 1 they ran against and con- 
founded 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, gib- 
bering and ramping around them. The doctor ran one 
way, the negro another, and VV olfert 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 for\vard. The footsteps gained upon 
him. I-Ie felt himself grasped by his cloak, \vhen suddenly 
his pursuer \vas attacked in turn; a fierce fight and struggle 
ensued, a pistol was discharged that lit up rock and bush 
for a second, and sho\\Ted t\VO figures grappling together; 
J A swift, disorderly movement. 
21.4- 



Washillgton Irving 
aU 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 \vith curses, in which \Vol- 
fert fancied he could recognize the voice of the buccaneer. 
He \\
ould fain have fled, but he ,vas on the brink of a 
precipice, and could go no farther. 
Again the parties ,vere on their feet, again there \vas a 
tugging and struggling, as if strength alone could decide the 
combat, until one ,vas precipitated from the bro\v of the 
liff, 
and sent headlong into the deep stream that \vhirled below-. 
W oHert heard the plunge, and a kind of strangling, bub- 
bling murmur, but the darkness of the night hid everything 
from him, and the s\viftness of the current swept everything 
instantly out of hearing. One of the combatants was dis- 
posed of, but whether friend or foe W oHert could not teU, 
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 \vas on one 
side, a murderer on the other. The enemy approached- 
he \\Tas close at hand. W oHert attempted to let himself 
down the face of the cliff. His cloak caught in a thorn that 
grew otl 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. W oHert thought his last moment \vas arrived; al- 
ready 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 griev- 
ously battered, and lying in the bottom of a boat. He 
attempted to sit up, but ,vas too sore and stiff to move. A 
voice requested him in a friendly accents to lie still. He 
2I5 



American AJ'jlstcry Stories 
turned his eyes to\yard the speaker; it was Dirk Waldron. 
He had dogged the party, at the earnest request of Danle 
\" ebber and her daughter, ",-ho, \vith the laudable curiosity 
of their sex, had pried into the secret consultations of Wol- 
fert 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 
Ela
k Sam severally found their ,yay back to the Manhat- 
toes, each having some dreadful tale of peril to relate. As 
to poor W oHert, instead of returning in triumph, laden 
with bags of gold, he 'was borne home on a shutter, fol- 
lowed by a rabble-rout 1 of curious urchins. His wife and 
daughter saw the dismal pageant from a distance, and 
alarmed the neighborhood \vith their cries; they thought 
the poor man had suddenly settled the great debt of nature 
in one of his wayward moods. Finding him, ho\vever, 
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 ,vhole to\vn 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 hidåen money, and 
that in the old family vault there ,vere traces of bales and 
boxes; but this is all very dubious. 
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; ,vhether, if so, it were carried off at 
night by those ,vho had buried it; or whether it still re- 
mains there under the guardianship of gnomes anà spirits 
until it shall be properly sought for, is all matter of conjec- 
ture. For my part, I incline to the latter opinion, and make 
no doubt that great sums lie buried, both there and in other 
1 A noisy throng. 
216 



Waskington Irving 
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 n1Y fello\v citizens as are not engaged in any other 
speculations. 
There \vere rnany conjectures formed, also, as to who 
and what was the strange man of the seas, \vho had domi- 
neered 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 !<'idd or Bradish, returned to convey away 
treasures formerly hidden in the vicinity. The only cir- 
cumstance that thro\vs anything like a vague light on this 
mysterious matter is a report \"hich prevailed of a strange, 
foreign-built shallop, with much the look of a picaroon, l 
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. 
I must not omit to mention another report, also, which 
I confess is rather apocryphal, of the buccaneer who is sup- 
posed 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. 
vVhile all the gossip \vorld was thus filled with talk and 
rumor, poor \tVolfert lay sick and sorro\vfully 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 dam'e never stirred 
from his bedside, where she sat knitting from morning tilt 
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 dis. 
1 A piratical vessel. 
21 7 



A,llerican Mystery Stories 
tress, they had no complaint of the kind to make. 
 ot an 
old wife of the neighborhood but abandoned her work to 
crowd to the mansion of Wolfert vVebber, to inquire after 
his health and the particulars of his story. Not one came, 
moreover, \\'ithout her little pipkin of pennyroyal, sage, 
balm, or other herb tea, delighted at an opportunity of sig- 
nalizing her kindness and her doctorship. \Vhat drench- 
ings did not the poor Vv
 oHert undergo, and all in vain! It 
was a moving sight to behold him 'wasting away day by day, 
gro\ving thinner and thinner and ghastlier and ghastlier, and 
staring \vith rueful visage from under an old patdnvork 
counterpane, upon the jury of matrons kindly assembled to 
sigh and groan and look unhappy around him. 
Dirk vValdron 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 \vas all 
in vain. \\Tolfert ,vas 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 neVi 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 fore- 
fathers, was to be laid 'waste, and what then was to become 
of his poor wife and child? 
His eyes filled váth tears as they follo\\1ed the dutiful AnlY 
out of the room one morning. Dirk Waldron \vas seated 
beside him; W oHert 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 
\"hen I am gone, my poor daughter-" 
"Leave her to me, father!" said Dirk manfully; "I'll 
take care of her! " 
'VV oHert looked up in the face of the cheery, strapping 
youngster, and sa\v there ,vas none better able to take care 
of a woman. 


Exhausted. 
218 



Washington Irving 
It Enough," said he, U she is yours! And now fetch me a 
lawyer-let me make my \vill and die." 
The lawyer was brought,-a dapper, bustlirig, round- 
headed little man, Roorback (or Rollebuck, as it was pro- 
nounced) by name. At the sight of him the women broke 
into loud lamentations, for they looked upon the signing 
of a \vill as the signing of a death warrant. WoHert 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 
itseH, however, in a pellucid tear, which trickled silently 
down, and hung at the end of her peaked nose; \vhile 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 
1awyer nib bed 1 his pen, spread out his paper, and prepared 
to write. 
It I give and bequeath," said W oHert 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 W oIfert, with a heavy sigh, and sink- 
ing back upon his pillow. 
"I wish him joy that inherits it! " said the little lawyer, 
chuckling and rubbing his hands involuntarily. 
" \rVhat do you mean?" said W oHert, again opening his 
eyes. 
1 In Irving's time, quills were made into pens by pointing or 
I' nibbing" their ends. 
21 9 



A1nerican Afystery Stories 
lC That he'll be one of the richest men In the place/" 
cried little Rollebuck. 
The expiring W oHert 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. "vY"hy, when that 
great field and that huge meado\v come to be laid out in 
streets and cut up into snug building lots,-\vhy, whoever 
o\vns it need not pull off his hat to the patroon! " 
" Say you so? " cried W oHert, 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 \vould revive the body 
of a spirit-broken man! In a few days \tVolfert left his 
room; in a few days more his table \vas 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 \vill assisted in the more agreeable 
task of making his fortune. In fact W oHert Webber was 
one of those \vorthy Dutch burghers of the Manhattoes 
whose fortunes have been made, in a manner, in spite of 
themselves; \vho have tenaciously held on to their heredi- 
tary 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 a\vakened 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 W oHert had dreamed of finding a treasure. His 
golden dream was accomplished; he did, indeed, find an 
unlooked-for source of wealth, for, \vhen his paternal lands 
220 



Washillgton Ir'ving 
"rere 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 en 
quarter day it \vas a goodly sight to see his tenants knock- 
ing at the door from morning till night, each \vith a little 
round-bellied bag of money, a golden produce of the soil. 
The ancient mansion of his forefathers \vas 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 W oHert enlarged it 
with a wing on each side, and a cupola or tea room on 
top, \vhere 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 W oHert 'waxed old and rich and corpulent he also set 
up a great gingerbread-colored carriage, drawn by a pair 
of black Flanders nlares 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 W oHert Webber succeeded to the leather-bottonled 
armchair in the inn, parlor at CorIear's Hook; where he 
long reigned, greatly honored and respected, insomuch that 
he was never kno\vn to tell a story without its being be- 
lieved, nor to utter a joke without its being laughed at. 


221 



Introduction to "Jl 7 ieland' s Madness," from "Wie- 
land, 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 earlies"t 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 su:stained scenes of terror 
have been surpassed by few 'writers save Edgar Allan Poe. 


222 



Charles Brockden Brown 


FIRST PART 


I 


lf7ieland) s Madness 


As the story opens, the narratress, Clara "\Vieland, is entering 
upon the happy realization of her love for Henry Pleyel, closest 
friend of her brother "'\Vieland." 
Their woodland home, Mettingen, on the banks of the then re- 
mote Schuylkill, is the abode of music, lett
rs and thorough cul- 
ture. 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 care- 
less and lingering one, and had none of that gracefulness 
and ease which distinguish a person with certain advantages 
of education frolTI a clown. His gait was rustic and awk- 
ward. His form was ungainly and disproportioned. Shoul- 
ders 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 seelned, 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 ten why I gazed upon them, on 
this occasion, with more than ordinary attention, unless it 
223 



AUlcrican 11-1 ystery Stories 
were that such figures \vere seldom seen by me except on 
the road or field. This la\vn was only traversed by men 
\vhose vie'ws \vere directed to the pleasures of the walk or 
the grandeur of the scenery. 
He passed slowly along, frequently pausing, as if to ex- 
amine 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 dis- 
tance, and disappeared. 11y eye follo\ved him while he 
remained in sight. If his image remained for any dura- 
tion in my fancy after his departure, it \vas 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 out\vard appearances those inferences, \vith 
respect to the intellectual history of this person, which ex- 
perience affords us. I reflected on the alliance \vhich com- 
monly subsists between ignorance and the practice of agri- 
culture, and indulged myself in airy speculations as to the 
influence of progressive knowledge in dissolving this alli- 
ance and embodying the dreams of the poets. I asked why 
the plo\v and the hoe might not become the trade of every 
human being, and ho\v this trade might be made conducive 
to, or at least consistent \vith, the acquisition of wisdom and 
eloquence. 
V\T eary with these reflections, I returned to the kitchen to 
perform some household office. I had usually but one serv- 
ant, and she \vas a girl about my o\vn 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, 
" Pry thee, good girl, canst thou supply a thirsty man \\Tith 
a glass of buttermilk?" She answered that there \vas 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 
224 



Charles Brockdc1t Brow11, 
she had none to give. '" Well, then," rejoined the stranger, 
"for charity's s"'eet sake, hand me forth a cup of cold 
water." The girl said she would go to the spring and 
fetch it. "N ay, give me the cup, and suffer me to help 
myself. N either manacled nor lame, I should merit burial 
in the maw of carrion cro\vs 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 ,vords ut- 
tered by the person without affected me as some\vhat 
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 sur- 
passed by none. N ow my mistake ,vas 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 articu- 
lated with a distinctness that was unexampled in my experi- 
ence. But this was not all. The voice ,vas not only mel- 
lifluent 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. 
\Vhen he uttered the words, "for charity's sweet sake," I 
dropped the cloth that I held in my hand; my heart over- 
flowed with sympathy and my eyes with unbidden tears. 
This description will appear to you trifling or incredi- 
ble. The importance of these circumstances will be mani- 
fested 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 
,vere, 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 \vas somewhat inquisi- 
tive 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 "Then I beheld the selfsame figure 
225 



Anwrican Afystery Stories 
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 ,vas, in all visible 
respects, the reverse of this phantom. Strange as it may 
seem, I could not speedily reconcile myself to this disap- 
pointment. Instead of returning to my employment, I 
threw myself in a chair that was placed opposite the door, 
and sunk into a fit of nlusing. 
My attention was in a few minutes recalled by the 
stranger, \vho returned vdth the empty cup in his hand. 
I had not thought of the circumstance, or should cer- 
tainly 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, thre\v me into a 
state of the nlost painful embarrassment. He brought 
with him a placid bro\v; but no sooner had he cast his 
eyes upon me than his face was as glo\vingly 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 coun- 
tenance. The impression that it made was vivid and in- 
delible. 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 \vould 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 be- 
token a mind of the highest order, \vere essential ingre- 
dients in the portrait. This, in the effects which immedi- 
226 



Charles Brockden Brown 
ately flowed from it, I count among the most extraordinary 
incidents of my life. This face, seen for a moment, con- 
tinued 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 inclina- 
tion of forming a sketch upon paper of this memorable 
visage. Whether my hand was aided by any peculiar in- 
spiration, Of' I was deceived by my own fond conceptions, 
this portrait, though hastily executed, appeared unexcep- 
tionable to my own taste. 
I placed it at all distances and in aU lights; my eyes 
,vere riveted upon it. Half the night passed away in wake- 
fulness 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 unalter- 
ably 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 contempla- 
tion of this portrait, whose attractions tin1e had rather 
enhanced than diminished. I laid aside my usual occu- 
pations, 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 inci- 
dent 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 
227 



A1nerican Afystery Stories 
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? 
vVhy did my bosom heave with sighs and nIY eyes over- 
flo\v with tears ? Was the tempest that had just passed 
a signal of the ruin which impended over me? 11y soul 
fondly dwelt upon the images of my brother and his chil- 
dren; yet they only increased the mournfulness of my con- 
templations. The smiles of the charming babes were as 
bland as formerly. The same dignity sat on the bro\v of 
their father, and yet I thought of them with anguish. 
Something whispered that the happiness we at present en- 
joyed was set on mutable foundations. Death must hap- 
pen to all. Whether our felicity was to be subverted by 
it to-morro\v, or whether it \vas ordained that \ve should 
lay down our heads full of years and of honor, was a ques- 
tion 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 
,vas mixed up with images that disrobed it of terror; but 
no\v 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, \ve 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 exist- 
ence 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 enjoy.. 
ment, since they know that it will terminate! 
For some time I indulged myself, without reluctance, 
in these gloomy thoughts; but at length the dejection 
which they produced became insupportably painful. I en- 
deavored to dissipate it with music. I had all my granc1- 
228 



Charles Brockden Brown 
father's melody as wen 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 God- 
frey of Bouillon. My choice was unfortunate; for the scenes 
of violence and carnage which were here wildly but for- 
cibly 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 ac- 
count of its being his workmanship, was regarded by every- 
one of our family with veneration. It had fallen to me 
in the division of his property, and was placed in this asy- 
lum. The sound awakened a series of reflections respect- 
ing 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 habitu- 
ally indifferent to all the causes of fear by which the ma- 
jority 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 pre- 
vent or counterwork their machinations. My tranquillity 
on this occasion was quickly retrieved. The whisper evi- 
dently 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 some- 
what had alarmed her, or she was sick, and had come to 
request my assistance. By whispering in my ear she in- 
tended to rouse without alarming me. 
Full of this persuasion, I called, " Judith, is it you? 
229 



American Mystery Stories 
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 withdre\v 
the curtain, and, leaning my head on my elbow, I listened 
with the deepest attention to catch some new sound. 
Mean\vhile, 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. \Vindows 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, how- 
ever, the doors were usually unfastened. If she had oc- 
casioned 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 
230 



Charles Brockden Brown 


human creature. Satisfied with this solution, I was pre.. 
paring 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 vehe- 
ment 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 
nleans 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 con- 
struction could I put upon them? My heart began to pal- 
pitate 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 busi- 
ness; 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 
23 1 



American Mystery Stories 
as I was, rushed out of the chamber, downstairs, and into 
the open air. I can hardly recollect the process of turn- 
ing keys and withdrawing bolts. My terrors urged file 
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, ,vhom the storm of the preceding day chanced 
to detain here, informing themselves of every particular, 
proceeded \vith lights and weapons to my deserted habi- 
tation. They entered my chamber and my closet, and found 
everything in its proper place and custotpary order. The 
door of the closet was locked, and appeared not to have 
been opened in my absence. They went to Judith's apart- 
ment. They found her asleep and in safety. Pleyel's cau- 
tion 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 ,vere 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 furni- 
ture of the house and the closet remained. 
I revolved every incident and expression that had oc- 
curred. 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 
23 2 



Charles Brockden Brown 


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 mys- 
teriousness of this event. After my recovery, it was ob- 
vious to inquire by what means the attention of the fanlily 
had been drawn to Iny 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, mus- 
ing on some favorite topic. Suddenly the silence, which 
was remarkably profound, ,vas broken by a voice oi 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 dan- 
ger 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. 


233 



American Mystery Stories 


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 Vvith a figure resembling my 
description in the city; but neither his face or garb made 
the saine inlpression upon him that it made upon me. It 
,vas a hint to rally me upon my prepossessions, and to amuse 
us with a thousand ludicrous anecdotes which he had col- 
lected in his travels. He made no scruple to charge me 
with being in love; and threatened to inform the swain, 
when he met hitn, of his good fortune. . 
Pleyel's tenlper nlade him susceptible of no durable im- 
pressions. His conversation was occasionally visited by 
gleams of his ancient vivacity; but, though his impetuosity 
was sometinles inconvenient, there ,vas nothing to dread 
from his nlalice. I had no fear that my character or dignity 
,vould suffer in his hands, and was not heartily displeased 
when he declared his intention of profiting by his first meet- 
ing 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 easi]y descended. In a recess of this declivity, near the 
southern verge of my little demesne, was placed a slight 
building, with seats and lattices. Fronl a crevice of the rock 
to which this edifice was attached there burst forth a stream 
of the purest water, which, leaping fronl ledge to ledge for 
the space of sixty feet, produced a freshness in the air, and 
a qlurmur, the most delicious and soothing imaginable. 
234 



Charles Brockden Brow"11, 
These, adJed to the odors of the cedars which embowered 
· it, and of the honeysuckle which clustered among the lat- 
tices, rendered this my favorite retreat in summer. 
On this occasion I repaired hither. 1\1y 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 \vater- 
fall, 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 \vhich 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 behveen sleep and \vake- 
fulness, and withheld from me the knowledge of my actual 
condition. My first panic ,,,as succeeded by the perturba- 
tions of surprise to find myself alone in the open air and 
immersed in so deep a gloom. I slo,vly recollected the in- 
cidents of the afternoon, and ho\v I came hither. I could 
not estimate the time, but saw the propriety of returning 
with speed to the house. J\Iy faculties were still too con- 
fused, and the darkness too intense, to allow me immedi- 
ately 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 
235 



A1nerican lrfystery Stories 
the rock and the lattice was a chasm not wide enough to 
admit a human body; yet in this chasm he that spoke ap- 
peared to be stationed. "Attend! attend! but be not ter- 
rified." 
I started, and exclaimed, "Good heavens! ,vhat 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 \vas 
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 leagu
d to murder you. I 
repent. 1\1ark 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 ,,,hat has passed escape you, your doom is 
sealed. Remember your father, and be faithfu1." 
Here the accents ceased, and left me over,vhelmed 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 ,vithout hazard of falling to the bot- 
tom of the precipice. The path leading to the summit was 
short, but rugged and intricate. Even starlight was ex- 
cluded by the umbrage, and not the faintest gleam was af- 
forded to guide my steps. What should I do? To depart 
or remain \V:1.S 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 th
y 
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 
23 6 



Charles Brûckden Brown 
desirous, but unable to obey; these gleams \vere 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 af- 
fright and the motive of my unusual absence. He had re- 
turned 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 n1e 
there. He again inquired into the cause of this deten- 
tion, 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 110 more. 
In the present impetuosity of my thoughts, I \vas almost 
dubious whether the pit into which my brother had en- 
deavored to entice me, and the voice that talked through the 
lattice, were not parts of the same dream. I rel11embered, 
likewise, the charge of secrecy, and the penalty denounced 
if I should rashly divulge what I had heard. For these 
reasons I \vas silent on that subject, and, shutting l11yself 
in my chamber, delivered myself up to contemplation. 
237 



American Mystery Stories 
Wñat 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 in- 
stead 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 adillission. For, if to 
me, the immediate \vitness, they were fertile of perplexity 
and doubt, how must they affect another to \vhom they are 
recommended only by my testimony? It was only by sub- 
sequent events that I ,vas fully and incontestably assured of 
the veracity of my senses. 
l\1eanwhile, \vhat 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 
,vas there, with \vhom I had ever maintained intercourse, 
,vho 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 mis- 
fortune. But this sympathy was not a bårren 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 lo\vered at my approach, and no lips 
,vhich uttered imprecations in my hearing. On the con- 
trary, there was none, over whose fate I had exerted any 
influence or to \vhom I was kno\vn 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 de- 
liberative and calm in the midst of peril. I have hazarded 
n1Y 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? 
23 8 



Charles BrockdcrL Brown 
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 enter- 
tained, 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, with- 
out 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 re- 
treat. His voice \vas 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 a warded 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 dis- 
appearance had hindered him from mentioning the night be- 
fore. Early the preceding morning, his occasions called him 
to the city: he had stepped into a coffee-house to while away 
an honr; here he had met a person whose appearance in- 
stantly bespoke him to be the same whose hasty visit I have 
mentioned, and \vhose extraordinary visage and tones had 
so powerfully affected me. On an attentive survey, ho\v- 
ever, 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, mind- 
ful, as Pleyel said, of the footing which this stranger had 
gained in my heart, he had ventured to invite him to Met- 
tingen. 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 circulll- 
stances 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 
239 



American Mystery Stories 
years before, he was a traveler in Spain. He had made an 
excursion from Valencia to Murviedro, with a view to in- 
spect 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 to- 
gether. 
His garb, aspect, and deportment were wholly Spanish. 
A residence of three years in the country, indefatigable at- 
tention 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 him- 
self to the literature and religion of his new country. He 
pursued no profession, but subsisted on remittances from 
England. 
While Pleyel remained in Valencia, Car\vin betrayed no 
aversion to intercourse, and the former found no small at- 
tractions in the society of this new acquaintance. On gen- 
eral 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 o\vn history, previous to 
his transfor11zation 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 neighbor- 
ing countries. 
His character excited considerable curiosity in the ob- 
server. 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 sus- 
picion was sometimes admitted that his belief was counter- 
feited for some political purpose. The most careful ob.. 
240 



Charles Brockden Brown 


servation, 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 ap- 
peared 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 con- 
cerning 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 
n1ight be poverty; perhaps he was swayed by motives which 
it was his interest to conceal, but which were connected \vith 
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 \vas an 
Englishman by birth, and, perhaps, a Protestant by educa- 
tion. He had adopted Spain for his country, and had inti- 
mated 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 for- 
24 1 



An1ericQn }';lystery Stories 
mer conversion was deceitful, and that his conduct had been 
s\vayed by motives which it was prudent to conceal? 
Hours were consumed in revolving these ideas. My medi- 
tations were intense; and, vJhen the series was broken, I 
began to reflect ,vith 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 thun- 
ders muttered. I compared the cause with the effect, and 
they seemed disproportioned to each other. All una ware, 
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 re- 
luctance. 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 
,vhich the passion itself is apt to produce. This would con- 
firm 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 a\vare of its influence upon 
my happiness, his temper 'would not have allowed him to 
persist; but this influence it was my chief endeavor to con- 
ceal. That the belief of my having bestowed my heart 
upon another produced in my friend none but ludicrous sen- 
sations was the true cause of my distress; but if this had 
been discovered by him my distress would have been un- 
speakably aggravated. 


III 


As soon as evening arrived, I performed my visit. Car- 
win made one of the company into which I was ushered. 
242 



Charles Brockdcn Brown 
i\ppearances were the same as "Then I before beheld him'. 
His garb was equally negligent and rustic. I gazed upon 
his countenance with ne\v 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 proper- 
ties. I could not deny my homage to the intelligence ex- 
pressed 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 articu- 
lation and force of emphasis of which I had entertained no 
conception previously to my knowledge of him. N otwith- 
standing 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 gen- 
erous and heroic feeling. They were introduced \vithout 
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 intro- 
duced us to a more intimate acquaintance with his senti- 
ments, 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 copi- 
ously commented on by us than you, perhaps, \vill think the 
circumstances \varranted. Not a gesture, or glance, or ac- 
cent, 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, \ve 
243 



A'1Jzerican Mystery Stories 
'were able for a long time to gather no satisfactory informa- 
tion. 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 \vhich, in an earlier period of their intercourse, po- 
liteness requires the exact observance. Inquiries into our 
condition are allowable when they are prompted by a dis- 
interested 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 incon- 
gruousness between the religion and habits of a Spaniard 
with those of a native of Britain. He expressed his aston- 
ishment 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 ans\ver, or an answer wide of the purpose, \vas gen- 
erally 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 dra\vn from the 
same fountains of literature, and they speak dialects of the 
same tongue; their government and laws have more resem- 
blances 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 muta- 
ble. If not bound to one spot by conjugal or parental ties, 
or by the nature of that employment to which \ve are in- 
debted for subsistence, the inducements to change are far 
more numerous and powerful than opposite inducements. 
244 



Charles Brockden Brown 
He spoke as if desirous of showing that he was not a'ware 
of the tendency of Pleyel's remarks; yet certain tokens were 
apparent that proved him by no means wanting in penetra- 
tion. These tokens were to be read in his countenance, and 
not in his words. When anything was said indicating curi- 
osity in us, the gloom of his countenance \vas deepened, his 
eyes sunk to the ground, and his wonted air was not resumed 
,vithout 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 con- 
cealed, and even that regret which flowed from them labori- 
ously 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 ,vishes. 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 ex- 
tort it. 
Amidst the various topics that were discussed in his pres- 
ence, allusions were, of course, made to the inexplicable 
events that had lately happened. At those times the \vords 
and looks of this man were objects of my particular atten- 
tion. The subject \vas extraordinary; and anyone whose 
experience or reflections could throw any light upon it was 
entitled to my gratitude. As this man \vas enlightened by 
reading and travel, I listened with eagerness to the remarks 
\v hich 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 ,vas doubtful whether the 
245 



A l1wrican Al ystery Stories" 
same impression would not now be made on the mind of 
our guest; but I was n1istaken in my fears. 
He heard them \vith seriousness, and without any marks 
either of surprise 0r incredulity. He pursued with visible 
pleasure that kind of disquisition which was naturally sug- 
gested 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, fronl his own reason- 
ings, that such intercourse was probable, but confessed that, 
though he was acquainted ,vith many instances some'what 
similar to those which had been related by us, none of 
them were perfectly exempted from the suspicion of hu- 
n1an agency. 
On being requested to relate these instances, he amused 
us ,vith many curious details. His narratives were con- 
structed with so much skill, and rehearsed with so much 
energy, that all the effects of a dramatic exhibition were fre- 
quently produced by them. Those that ,vere most coherent 
dnd most minute, and, of consequence, least entitled to credit, 
,vere yet rendered probable by the exquisite art of this 
rhetorician. For every difficulty that was suggested a ready 
and plausible solution was furnished. JY1ysterious voices had 
aI-ways a share in producing the catastrophe; but they were 
ahvays to be eXplained on some kno\vn 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. 
11 y brother was a much more sanguine reasoner than our 
guest. Even in some of the facts which were related by 
Car,vin, he maintained the probability of celestial interfer- 
ence, ,vhen the latter ,vas disposed to deny it, and had found, 
as he imagined, footsteps of a human agent. Plcyel was by 
no means equally credulous. He scrupled not to deny faitli 
to any testimony but that of his senses, and allowed the 
24 6 



Charles Brockdcn Brown 
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 de- 
gree, 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 com- 
municated by beings of a higher order he would believe only 
\vhen his own ears were assailed in a manner ,vhich could 
not be otherwise accounted for. Civility forbade hin1 to 
contradict my brother or myself, but his understanding re- 
fused to acquiesce in our testimony. Besides, he was dis- 
posed 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 \vhen 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 \ve 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 dia- 
logue, he was obliged to adopt one of t\VO suppositions, and 
affirn1 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 plaus- 
ible to the most sagacious minds; but it was insufficient to 
impart conviction to us. As to the treason that \vas medi- 
tated against me, it was doubtless just to conclude that it 
was either real or imaginary; but that it ,\\Tas real was at- 
tested by the mysterious ,varning in the summer-house, the 
secret of which I had hitherto locked up in my o\vn breast. 
A month passed away in this kind of intercourse. As to 
Carwin, our ignorance was in no degree enlightened respect- 
ing his genuine character and views. Appearances were 
247 



Al1
erican Mystery Stories 
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 
fronl the city, he was frequently prevailed upon to pass the 
night \vhere he spent the evening. Two days seldom elapsed 
,vithout a visit fronl him; hence he was regarded as a kind 
of innlate of the house. He entered and departed without 
ceremony. vVhen he arrived he received an unaffected wel
 
come, and 'when he chose to retire no importunities were. 
used to induce him to remain. 
Canvin never parted \vith his gravity. The inscrutable- 
ness of his character, and the uncertainty whether his feI- 
lo\vship tended to good or to evil, were seldom absent from 
our minds. This circumstance powerfully contributed to 
sadden us. 
My heart \vas 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 \vas always a pattern of solemnity. 
1tly sister was clay, molded by the circumstances in which 
she happened to be placed. There ,vas but one whose de- 
portment remains to be described as being of importance to 
our happiness. Had Pleyellike\vise dismissed his vivacity? 
He was as ,vhimsical and jestful as ever, but he was not 
happy. The truth in this respect ,vas of too much inlpor- 
tance to me not to make me a vigilant observer. His mirth 
was easily perceived to be the fruit of exertion. When his 
thoughts ,vandered from the company, an air of dissatis- 
faction and impatience stole across his features. Even the 
punctuality and frequency of his visits were somewhat less- 
ened. It may be supposed that my own uneasiness was 
heightened by these tokens; but, strange as it may seenl, 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 
24 8 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 ex- 
pectations. The exploits of Zisca, the Bohemian hero, w 
woven into a dramatic series and connection. According I 
German custom, it was minute and diffuse, and dictated b) 
an adventurous and lawless fancy. It was a chain of auda- 
cious 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 con- 
solation. His late deportment had given spring to my hopes. 
Was not the hour at hand which should render me the hap- 
piest 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 ,vhat 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. N either 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 
249 



A11'terican J..[ ystery Stories 
that it has not been given to another; he must be supplied 
\vith 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 sepa- 
rate 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 \ve 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 
fhis threshold, will be made the happiest of beings. 
And is this good to be mine? Add \vings to thy speed, 
sweet evening; and thou, moon, I charge thee, shroud thy 
beams at the moment \vhen my Pleyel whispers love. I 
\vould not for the world that the burning blushes and the 
mounting raptures of that mon1ent should be visible. 
But what encouragement is wanting? I must be regard- 
ful of insurmountable limits. Yet, when minds are imbued 
with a genuine sympathy, are not words and looks super- 
fluous? Are not motion and touch sufficient to impart feel- 
ings such as mine? Has he not eyed me at n10ments \vhen 
the pressure of his hand has thro\vn me into tumults, and 
was it impossible that he mistook the in1petuosities 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 inter- 
view that must thus terminate is surely to be wished for by 
me; and yet it is not without its terrors. Would to heaven 
it \vere come and gone! 
I feel no reluctance, my friends, to be thus explicit. Tin1e 
was, when these emotions \vol1ld be hidden with immeasur- 
able solicitude from every human eye. Alas! these airy and 
fleeting impulses of shame are gone. My scruples were pre- 
posterous and criminal. They are bred in all hearts by a 
perverse and vicious education, and they would still have 
25 0 



Charles Brockdcn Bro'lCJ1t 


maintained their place in my heart, had not my portion been 
set in misery. 1Iy errors have taught me thus much \vis- 
dom :-that those sentiments \vhich ,ve ought not to disclose 
it is criminal to harbor. 
I t 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 excruci- 
ating 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 "vas not there. He had not yet come. On ordi- 
nary occasions he was eminent for punctuality. He had 
testified great eagerness to share in the pleasures of this 
rehearsal. He \vas 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 out- 
rageous vehemence of this drama. 
What could detain hin1? Perhaps he lingered through 
forgetfulness. Yet this was incredible. Never had his mem- 
ory been known to fail upon even more trivial occasions. 
Not less impossible was it that the scheme had lost its at- 
tractions, and that he stayed because his coming \vould 
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 pro- 
posed. Perhaps he had conceived that to-morrow, and not 
to-day, had been selected for this purpose; but no. A re- 
view of preceding circumstances demonstrated that such mis- 
apprehension was impossible; for he had himself proposed 
this day, and this hour. This day his attention would not 
other\vise be occupied; but to-morrowan indispensable en- 
gagement ,vas 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. 
25 1 



Anwrican M'j'stery Stories 
Tortured \vith suspense, we sat gazing at each other, arf'd 
at the path \vhich led from the road. Every horseman that 
passed was, for a moment, imagined to be him. Hour suc- 
ceeded 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 af- 
fected my friends in no insupportable degree. They should 
be obliged, they said, to defer this undertaking till the mor- 
row; and perhaps their impatient curiosity would compel 
them to dispense entirely with his presence. No doubt SOlne 
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 con- 
ceal my tears. I fled into solitude, to give vent to my re- 
proaches without interruption or restraint. 1\1 y heart was 
ready to burst with indignation and grief. Pleyel \vas not 
the only object of my keen but unjust upbraiding. Deeply 
did I execrate my o\vn folly. Thus fallen into ruins \vas 
the gay fabric which I had reared! Thus had my golden 
vision melted into air! 
Hovv fondly did I dream that Pleyel was a lover! If he 
were, would he have suffered any obstacle to hinder his com- 
ing? "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 hence- 
forth 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 con- 
25 2 



Charles Brockden Brown 
trolled 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 com- 
mission of injustice. What right had I to expect his attend- 
ance? 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 \vhich 
I considered his absence as a proof that he wanted. He 
came not because the sight of me, the spectacle of my cold- 
ness or aversion, contributed to his despair. Why should 
I prolong, by hypocrisy or silence, his misery as vv-ell as my 
own? Why not deal with him explicitly, and assure hint 
of the truth? 
You \vill hardly believe that, in obedience to this sug- 
gestion, 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 \von- 
dered by \vhat 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 con- 
trolled me. 
I resumed my seat and my musing. To account for the 
absence of Pleyel became once more the scope of my con- 
jectures. How many incidents might occur to raise an in- 
superable impediment in his way! When I was a child, a 
scheme of pleasure, in which he and his sister \vere 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 \vhich he had 
run the n10st imn1inent hazard of being drowned. Here was 
a second disappointment endured by the same persons, and 
produced by his failure. 1Iight it not originate in the same 
cause? Had he not designed to cross the river that morn- 
ing to make some necessary purchases in New Jersey? He 
had preconcerted to return to his own house to dinner. but 
253 



A111crican :Af'j'stery Stories 
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, like,vise, actuated 
by an hereditary dread of ,vater. These circumstances con1- 
bined (0 besto\v considerable plausibility on this conjecture; 
but the consternation with \vhich I began to be seized \vas 
allayed by reflecting that, if this disaster had happened, my 
brother would have received the speediest information of it. 
The consolation 'which this idea in1parted '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 con1municated by the livid corpse which 
the tide may cast, many days hence, upon the shore. 
Thus \vas I distressed by opposite conjectures; thus was 
I tonnented by phantoms of my o\vn creation. It ,vas not 
alvlays thus. I can ascertain the date \vhen my mind be- 
came the victim of this imbecility; perhaps it ,vas coeval 
,vith the inroad of a fatal passion,-a passion that ,vill never 
rank me in the number of its eulogists; it- was alone suffi- 
cient to the extermination of my peace; it was itself a plente- 
ous source of calamity, and needed not the concurrence of 
other evils to take a\vay the attractions of existence and dig 
for me an untimely grave. 
The state of my mind naturally introduced a train of re- 
flections 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 \vith the utmost veneration the memory of this 
man, and every relic connected with his fate \vas preserved 
with the most scrupulous care. Among these 'was to be 
nun1bered a manuscript containing memoirs of his o,vn 
life. The narrative was by no means recommended by its 
eloquence; but neither did all its value flow from my relation- 
ship to the author. Its style had an unaffected and pictur- 
esque simplicity. The great variety and circumstantial dis- 
play 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 
254 



Charles Brockden Brown 
sensible of no inclination to sleep, I resolved to betake my- 
self 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, ,vere 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, leav- 
ing my seat, I approached the closet in which, as I mentioned 
formerly, my books and papers were deposited. 
Suddenly the remembrance of ,,,hat had lately passed in 
this closet occurred. Whether midnight was approaching, 
or had passed, I knew not. I was, as then, alone and de- 
fenseless. The wind was in that direction in which, aided 
by the deathlike repose of nature, it brought to me the mur- 
mur 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 ,vith 
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. 1iotion seemed to 
produce a mechanical influence upon me. I was ashamed of 
my weakness. Besides, what aid could be afforded me by a 
lamp? 
:rvly fears had pictured to themselves no precise object. It 
would be difficult to depict in words the ingredients and 
255 



Anlerican Mystery Stories 
bues of that phantom which haunted me. 1\ hand invisible 
and of preternatural strength, lifted by human passions, and 
selecting my life for its aim, \vere parts of this terrific image. 
All places \vere alike accessible to this foe; or, if his empire 
,vere restricted by local bounds, those bounds were utterly 
inscrutable by me. But had I not been told, by some one 
in league \vith 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. I t appeared to cut asunder the 
fibers of my brain and rack every joint with agony. 
The cry, loud and piercing as it \vas, \vas nevertheless hu- 
man. 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 \vords of this tremendous pro- 
hibition, in \vhose tone the whole soul seemed to be ,vrapped 
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 back\vard to ex- 
amine the mysterious monitor. The moonlight streamed 
into each window, and every corner of the room ,vas con- 
spicuous, and yet I beheld nothing! 
The interval was too brief to be artificially measured, be- 
t\veen 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 
\vhich 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 \vas stationed at my right 
ear; yet my attendant was invisible. 
I cannot describe the state of my thoughts at that mo- 
25 6 



Charles Brockden Brown 
mente 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 th
 room. Up.ward, 
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 occa- 
sionally 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 pres- 
ence; 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 tenninated my dream in the summer-house. 
There are means by which we are able to distinguish a sub- 
stance from a shadow, a reality from the phantom of a 
dream. The pit, my broth
r beckoning me forward, the 
seizure of my arm, and the voice behind, were surely imag- 
inary. 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 contriv- 
ance, I was a\vare of the danger, \vhile my actions and 
sensations were those of one wholly unacquainted with it. 
257 



'A 11tcrican ]vI ystcry Stories 
Now, ,vas it not equally true that my actions and persuasions 
,vere at \var? 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 \vas shut up in this recess? \Vho was it whose suffocating 
grasp I was to feel should I dare to enter it? What mon- 
strous conception is this? 1Iy brother? 
No; protection, and not injury, is his province. Strange 
and terrible chimera ! Yet it would not be suddenly dis- 
missed. It was surely no vulgar agency that gave this form 
to my fears. He to \vhom all parts of time are equally pres- 
ent, \vhom no contingency approaches, was the author of 
that spell which no\v 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 \vhen 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 or- 
pained 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 simili- 
tude 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 \vas to urge me to flight. Such had been the effect 
formerly produced. Had my mind been simply occupied 
,vith this thought at present, no doubt the same impulse 
would have been experienced; but now it \vas my brother 
whom I ,vas irresistibly persuaded to regard as the con- 
triver of that ill of which I had been forewarned. This 
25 8 



Charles Brockden Brow1
 


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, vâthout any effort of mine. This effort, how- 
ever, was bestowed upon the present occasion. It was my 
purpose to open it ,vith 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 ,vas 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 hesi- 
tation taken away. What could be supposed but that I de- 
serted 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? 
1Iy 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 audacious- 
ness of this conduct. Whence, but from a habitual defiance 
of danger, could rny 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 re- 
sistance made to my design was exerted by him, had rooted 
itself in my mind. You ,vill comprehend the height of this 
infatuation, when I teU you that, finding all my exertions 
vain, I betook myself to exclamations. Surely I was ut- 
terly bereft of understanding. 
N ow I had arrived at the crisis of my fate. "Dh, hinder 
not the door to open," I exclaimed, in a tone that had less 
259 



American Mystery Stories 
of fear than of grief in it. "I know you well. Come forth, 
but ham1 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 
,vas shrouded in darkness. A few seconds passed without 
interruption of the silence. I knew not \vhat to expect or 
to fear. My eyes would not stray from the recess. Pres... 
ently, a deep sigh was heard. The quarter from which it 
came heightened the eagerness of my gaze. Some one ap-A 
proached from the farther end. I quickly perceived the out- 
lines 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 my- 
self 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 char- 
acter of Carwin. What motive but atrocious ones could 
guide his steps hither? I was alone. lvI y habit suited the 
hour, and the place, and the warmth of the season. All 
succor ,vas remote. He had placed himself between me and 
the door. My frame shook with the vehemence of my ap- 
prehensions. 
Yet I was not wholly lost to myself; I vigilantly marked 
his demeanor. His looks were grave, but not without per- 
turbation. What species of inquietude it betrayed the light 
was not strong enough to enable me to discover. I-Ie 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:- 


260 



Charles Brockden Brown 
" What voice was that which lately addressed you? " 
He paused for an answer; but, observing my trepida'Cion, 
he resumed, with undiminished solemnity, " Be not terrified. 
Whoever he \vas, he has done you an in1portant service. I 
need not ask you if it were the voice of a con1panion. That 
sound ,vas 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 kne\v that Car\vin ,vas there. Were you not 'ap- 
prised 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 guardian- 
ship. 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 in- 
terposition. But for him I should long ere now have borne 
a\vay 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 Illy request, but proceeded in a more impassioned 
manner :- 
"\Vhat is it you fear? Have I not told you you are safe? 
Has not one in whom you more reasonably place trust as- 
sured you of it? Even if I execute my purpose, what injury 
is done? \.,. our prejudices will call it by that name, but it 
merits it not. 
" I ,vas impelled by a sentiment that does you honor; a 
sentin1ent 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 n1e drained of 
all courage. Surely, on no other occasion should I have 
been thus pusillanimous. 11y state I regarded as a hopeless 
one. I was wholly at the n1ercy of this being. \Vhichever 
way I turned my eyes, I saw no avenue by which I might 
261 

-;\TY () 
::",x' 
 · 
2' 
 
::, .". 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
escape. The resources of my personal strength, my In- 
genuity, and my eloquence, I estimated at nothing. The 
dignity of virtue and the force of truth I had been accus- 
tomed to celebrate, and had frequently vaunted of the con- 
quests 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 sup- 
plies us with energy which vice can never resist; that it was 
always in our power to obstruct, by his o\vn death, the de- 
signs of an enemy who aimed at less than our life. Ho\v 
was it that a sentiment like despair had now invaded Ine, 
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 sup- 
plied me with slender consolation. There was no security 
but in his absence. When 1 looked at myself, when I re- 
flected 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 \vas confident that reason in this con- 
test \vould be impotent. I must o\ve my safety to his o\vn 
suggestions. Whatever purpose brought him hither, he had 
changed it. \Vhy then did he remain? His resolutions 
might fluctuate, and the pause of a fe\v minutes restore to 
him his first resolutions. 
Yet ,vas not this the man \vhom we had treated with un- 
wearied kindness? whose society \vas endeared to us by his 
intellectual elevation and accomplishments? who had a thou- 
sand times expatiated on the usefulness and beauty of vir- 
tue? 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. Pres- 
ently, he resumed:- 
" Fear me not: the space that severs us is small, and all 
visible succor is distant. You believe yourself completely in 
262 ' 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 111on1ent, 
if I were to harbor a thought hostile to your safety. 
" Thus are appearances at length solved. Little did I ex- 
pect that they originated hence. What a portion is assigned 
to you! Scanned by the eyes of this intelligence, your path 
\vill 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 \vay to a ne\v expres- 
sion. All nOVor was trepidation and anxiety. 
" I must be gone," said he, in a faltering accent. "\Vhy 
do I linger here? I will not ask your forgiveness. I see 
that your terrors are invincible. Your pardon will be ex- 
torted by fear, and not dictated by compassion. I must fly 
from you forever. He that could plot against your honor 
tTIust 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, 
\vent forth. I did not follow him with my eyes, as the moon- 
light would have enabled me to do. Relieved by his ab- 
sence, and exhausted by the conflict of my fears, I thre\v 
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 ,va:; 
uttered by Carwin was fresh in my remembrance. His un- 
welcome approach, the recognition of his person, his hasty 
26 3 



Anzerican Mystery Stories 
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 
nlY eyes with my hand, and sat, I know not how long, with- 
out power to arrange or utter my conceptions. 
I had remained for hours, as I believed, in absolute soli- 
tude. 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 anå 
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 un- 
conscious 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 \vas forewarned. Daily I had seen 
him and conversed with him. Nothing could be discerned 
through the impßnetrable veil of his duplicity. When busied 
in conj ectures as to the author of the evil that was threat- 
ened, my mind did not light for a moment upon his image. 
Yet has he not avowed himself nry enemy? vVhy should he 
be here if he had not meditated evil? 
He confesses that this has been his second attempt. 
vVhat 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 col1eague 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! 
26 4 



Charles Brockden Bro'Wn 
That power is invisible. It is subject to the cognizance 
{)f 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, \vho had menaced de- 
struction 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 preduded him from the bene- 
.fits 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 render- 
ing 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 pro- 
ceed? 
" 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 \vill take suitable care of 
my future safety. Thus to yield to my fears is to deserve 
that they should be rea1." 
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 cham- 
ber door. Having done this, I threw myself on a seat; 
for I trembled to a degree which disabled me from stand- 
ing, 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 
26 5 



American Mystery Stories 
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 with- 
drew, and bolting after him the outer door! :I\light he not 
conceive this omission to be a proof that my angel had de- 
serted 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. 
Ho\v 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 sug- 
gested the same course of action, and that I should have 
unhesitatingly resorted to the best means of personal de- 
fense 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 imme- 
diately supposed that I meant it for my last refuge, and 
that, if all other means should fail, I shóuld 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 abhor- 
rence than that \vhich prompted an injured female to de- 
stroy, not her injurer ere the injury was perpetrated, but 
herself when it was without remedy. Yet now this pen- 
knife 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 \vas 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 foot- 
fall accelerated the completion without augmenting the cer- 
tainty 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. 
266 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 to-ward 
the window. Carwin's frame might be said to be all 
muscle. His strength and activity had appeared, in vari- 
ous 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. l\1y senses were still bound to this object. I 
gazed at the door in momentary expectation that the as- 
sault 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 thi
 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 
26 7 



A1nerican Afystery Stories 
to rise; but my joy ,vas 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 vio- 
lence that shook the house. 
Ho\v was' I to interpret this circumstance? For what 
end could he have entered this chamber? Did the vio- 
lence 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 \vere no means in my power to frus- 
trate 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? 
Utter1y 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 ,vas 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 oi 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 d\velling! 
Minute lingered after minute, but no token was given 
that Carwin had returned to the passage. \Vhat, I again 
asked, could detain him in this room ? Was it possible that 
he had returned, and glided unperceived a,vay? I was 
speedily aware of the difficulty that attended an enterprise 
268 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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. F rom 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 
reënter. Was it not wise to bar the low
r 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 de- 
scended as if I were afraid that Carwin had been still im- 
mured 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 com- 
pelled to acquiesce in the first conjecture that Carwin had 

scaped through the entry. 
My heart was now somewhat eased of the load of ap- 
prehension. I returned once more to my chamber, the 
door of wbich 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 
26g 



Al1zerican Mystery Stories 
betokened by the usual signals. I mused upon the events 
of this night, and determined to take up my abode hence- 
forth at my brother's. Whether I should inform him of 
what had happened was a question which seemed to de- 
mand some consideration. My safety unquestionably re- 
quired 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 endeav- 
ored 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; foot- 
steps 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 ans\ver was immediately given. The voice, 
to my inexpressible astonishment, was Pleyel's. 
27 0 



Charles Brockden Brown 
"It is 1. Have you risen? If you have not, make haste; 
1 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 de- 
parture? Some tidings he, perhaps, bears of mysterious 
and unwelcome import. 
My impatience would not allow me to consume much 
time in deliberation; I hastened do\vn. Pleyel I found 
standing at a window, \vith eyes cast down as in medi- 
tation, and arms folded on his breast. Every line in his 
countenance was pregnant with sorrow. To this \vas 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 ,vas to ques- 
tion 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 percepti- 
ble, share in creating this impulse. I was silent. 
Presently he raised his eyes and fixed them upon me. 
I read in them an anguish altogether ineffable. N ever had 
I witnessed a like demeanor in Pleyel. Never, indeed, had 
I observed a human countenance in \vhich grief was more 
legibly inscribed. He seemed struggling for utterance; but, 
27 1 



'.American Mystery Stories 
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 fdend,-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! 0 wretch I-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 un- 
heard 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 wili 
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 resent- 
ment 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 I By 
no other way could detestable conviction be imparted. 
"Why do I summon. thee to this conference? Why ex- 
pose myself to thy derision? Here admonition and en- 
treaty 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 kno\v you will disappear to- 
gether. In thy ruin, ho,v will the felicity and honor of 
multitudes be involved! But it must come. This scene 
27 2 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 ,vhat I would say. I have done 
what I purposed. To stay longer, to expostulate, to be- 
seech, to enumerate the consequences of thy act,-\vhat 
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 
\vhom 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 cal- 
culated 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 I-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 sac- 
rificed for him my purity, my spotless name, my friendships, 
273 



American Mystery Stories 
and my fortune! That even madness could engender accu- 
sations 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? \Vas it not more ra- 
tional 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 rob- 
ber? 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? Pre- 
viously 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 deplor- 
able 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 admis- 
sion to no other thoughts. Surprise is an emotion that 
enfeebles, not invigorates. All my meditations were ac- 
companied with wonder. I rambled with vagueness, or 
274 



Charles Brockden Brown 
clung to one image with an obstinacy which sufficiently 
testified the maddening influence of late transactions. 
GradualIy 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 n1istake 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 be- 
come my character to testify resentment for language and 
treatment so opprobrious? Wrapped up in the conscious- 
ness 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 some- 
what advanced, I took the way to his house. My sister was 
engaged in her customary occupations. As soon as I ap- 
peared, she remarked a change in my looks. I was not 
willing to alarm her by the information which I had to com- 
municate. 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 Wie- 
land. 
II Why," said she, II 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 
tilí the breakfast hour was passed, and returned alone. His 
disturbance was excessive; but he would not listen to my 
itnportunities, or tell me what had happened. I gathered, 
275 



A,nerican Mystery Stories 
irom 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 informa- 
tion. 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 cor- 
rect judgment of Wieland perceive and expose the fallacy 
of his conclusions? Perhaps his uneasiness 
ight arise 
from some insight into the character of Carwin, and fronl 
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 Carv/in. 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 ,vas 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 men- 
tioned it to her. She joyfully acceded to this proposal, 
and suffered me with less reluctance to depart when I told 
her that it ,vas 'with a view to collect anJ 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. 
27 6 



Charles Brockdcn Brown 


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 circunlstance. 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 im- 
portant 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 ,vith 
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 ,vhich he justly merits; nlean- 
while, I am fearful that he has prejudiced my brother 
against me. That is an evil which I most anxiously depre- 
cate, and \vhich 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 tender- 
ness and whose welfare is nearer my heart. Judge, then, 
with \vhat 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 1. 
" From what you kno,v, do you deem a formal vindication 
necessary? Can you harbor for a moment the belief oi 
my guilt?" 
He shook his head with an air of acute anguish. "I have 
struggled," said he, " to dismiss that belief. You speak be- 
277 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
fore 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 oÍ your belief. Pleyel loaded me with in- 
decent 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. Per- 
haps 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 reiation of the inci- 
dents of the last night. Wieland listened with deep atten- 
tion. Having finished, "This," continued I, "is the truth. 
You see in what circumstances an interview took place 
bet\veen Carwin and me. He remained for hours in nlY 
closet, and for some minutes in my chambet. He departed 
without haste or interruption. If Pleyel marked him as 
he left the house, (and it is not impossible that he did,) in- 
ferences injurious to my character might suggest them- 
selves to him. In adtnitting them, he gave proofs of less 
discernment and less candor than lance ascribed to him." 
"His proofs:
 said \ì\Tieland, 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 per- 
sisting, notwithstanding that prohibition, your belief that 
I was the ruffian, and your subsequent conduct, are be- 
27 8 



Charles Brockden Brown 
lieved 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 be- 
tween my sister and this man." 
I made \Vieland 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 hap- 
piness at his mercy. How shall I counterwork his plots 
or detect his coadjutor? He has taught some vile and aban- 
doned 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, ac- 
counted for. He supposed me absent, and meant, perhaps, 
had my apartment been accessible, to leave in it some accus- 
ing memorial. 


R'Q 



American Mystery Stories 


SECOND PART 


I 


As this part opens, the unhappy Clara is describing her hurried 
return to the same ill-fated abode at 
Iettingen. Hence kind 
friends had borne her after the catastrophe of her brother Wie- 
land's Utransformation." This was the crowning horror of all: 
the morbid fanatic, prepared by gloomy anticipations of some ter- 
rible 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; in- 
sists 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 
\vhich my uncle had caused to be made on the tombs of 
Catharine and her children; but no\v my heart faltered as I 
approached, and I hastened forward that distance might 
conceal it froE1 my view. 
vVhen I approached the recess, my heart again sunk. I 
averted my eyes, and left it behind me as quickly as pos- 
sible. Silence reigned through my habitation, and a dark... 
ness which closed doors and shutters produced. Every 
object \vas 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 mov
ments 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 \vere in their accustomed 
280 



Charles Brockdcn Brown 
order. I sought and found the manuscript where I ,vas 
used to deposit it. This being secured, there was nothing 
to detain me; yet I ,stood and contemplated a\vhile the 
furniture and walls of my chamber. I remembered ho,v 
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 Car- 
win was witnessed; this the stage on which that enemy of 
n1an showed himself for a mOl11ent unmasked. Here the 
menaces of murder were wafted to my ear; and here these 
menaces \vere executed. 
These thoughts had a tendency to take from me n1Y self- 
command. My feeble limbs refused to support me, and I 
sunk upon a chair. Incoherent and half-articulate exclama- 
tions escaped my lips. The name of Carwin was uttered, 
and eternal woes-woes like that which his malice had en- 
tailed 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 hvilight 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 sick- 
ened at the remembrance of the past. The prospect of the 
future excited my loathing. I muttered, in a lo\v voice, 
" Why should I live longer? Why should I drag a miser- 
able 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 . ftt ' 
 
long been deadened, were revived. My bosom w 
a sudden energy, and the conviction darted 
281 



A '1nerican Mystery Stories 
mind, that to end Iny torments was, at once, practicable 
and wise. 
I knew how to find way to th
 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 IllY feebleness was gone, and 
hasted to the closet. A lancet and other snlall instrulllents 
were preserved in a case which I had deposited here. In- 
attentive 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. 11y 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 entran
e, who possibly 
had overheard my exclamations. 
]\tly 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 some- 
thing 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 for\vard; 
a form advanced from its conceabllent, and stalked into 
the room. It was Carwin I 
While I had breath, I shrieked. While I had power over 
my muscles, I motioned with n1Y hand that he should van- 
ish. 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 fort11 
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. 
282 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 IllY eyes lighted upon Carwin. 
He was seated on the floor, his back rested against the 
wall; his knees were drawn up, and his face "vas 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 vio- 
lent 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 aln 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 dislnantled ! You die away at the sight of me! 
My fear whispers that some deed of horror has been per- 
petrated; 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 dOIJ.e? 
I think I know the extent of nlY offenses. I have acted, 
but my actions have possibly effected Illore than I designed. 
This fear has brought me back froln my retreat. I come 
to repair the evil of which my rashness was the cause, and 
to prevent n:Dre evil. I corne to confess 
l1Y errors." 
" Wretch! " I cried, when IllY suffocating emotions would 
permit me to speak, " the ghosts of my sister and her chiI- 
dren,-do they not rise to accuse thee? Who was it that 
28 3 



American Jv!ystery Stories 
blasted the intellect of vVieland? \Vho 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 \vords a new spirit pervaded his countenance_ 
His eyes once more appealed to heaven. "If I have mem- 
ory-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 I " 
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 Iny o\yn. 
Then I remembered that the voice exerted ,vas to save n1e 
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." 
Carvvin stood for a time musing and mournful. At 
length he said, "What has happened? I came to expiate 
n1Y crilnes: let me know them in their full extent. I have 
horrible forebodings! What has happened?" 
I was silent; but, recollecting the intÏ1nation given by 
this man when he was detected in my closet, which implied 
some knowledge of that power ,vhich interfered in my 
favor, I eagerly inquired, "What was that voice ,vhich 
caned upon me to hold when I attempted to open the closet? 
What face ,vas that which I saw at the bottom of the stairs? 
Answer me truly." 
"I can1e to confess the truth. Your allusions are hor- 
rible and strange. Perhaps I have but faint conceptions 
of the evils which my infatuation has produced; but what 
remains I will perform. It \vas 11tY voice that you heard! 
It was my face that you saw!" 
For a moment I doubted whether my remembrance of 
284 



Charles Brockden Brown 
events were not confused. How could he be at once sta- 
tioned at my shoulder and shut up in my closet? How 
could he stand near me and yet be invisible? But if Car- 
win'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 im- 
placable 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 de- 
ceived 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 con- 
fession, and then denounce punishment. All I ask is a 
patient audience." 
" What!" I replied; "was not thine the voice that com- 
manded 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 con- 
signed 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 guilt- 
less 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 de- 
gree 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 wonder- 
28. 1 



American Mystery Stories 
ful efficacy without malignant intentions, but without cau- 
tion. Ample will be the punishment of my temerity, if my 
conduct has contributed to this evi1." He paused. 
I likewise was silent. I struggled to command myself 
so far as to listen to the tale which he should tell. Observ- 
ing 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.! It enables 
me to mimic exactly the voice of another, and to modify 
the sound so that it shall appear to come from \vhat quarter 
and be uttered at what distance I please. 
"I know not that everyone possesses this power. Per- 
haps, 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! I t 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 Abbé de la Chap- 
pelle, 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. Ex- 
perience 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. 
286 



Charles Brockden Brown 


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 un- 
happy 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 mys- 
terious agent. You charge me with the guilt of this agency; 
but I repeat that the alTIOunt of nlY guilt has been truly 
stated. The perpetrator of Catharine's death was unknown 
to me till no,v; nay, it is still unknown to me." 
At that moment, the closing of a door in the kitchen 
was distinctly heard by us. Car\vin started and paused. 
" There is some one con1ing. I n1ust not be found here by 
my enemies, and need not, since my purpose is answered. O ' 
I had drunk in, \vith 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 ,vas hitherto unkno\vn to me; its existence was 
incredible; it was susceptible of no direct proof. 
He o\vns that his were the voice anù face which I heard 
and sa\v. He atten1pts 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 
28 7 



Al1lerican M:ystery Stories 
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 
n1enace and abhorrence, \vere all that I could bestow. 
He did not depart. He seel11ed dubious whether by pass- 
ing out of the house, or by remaining son1ewhat longer 
\vhere he ,vas, he should most endanger his safety. His 
confusion increased "when steps of one barefoot ,vere heard 
upon the stairs. He threw anxious glances sometilnes at 
the closet, sometimes at the ,vindow, and sometimes at the 
chamber door; yet he was detained by some inexplicable 
fascination. lie stood as if rooted to the spot. 
As to me, my soul was bursting wi
h detestation and 
revenge. I had no room for surmises and fears respect- 
ing 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 ,vas. 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 ,vith a firn1 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 deport- 
ment of Wieland! Such, in his fallen state, were the aspect 
and guise of my brother! 


288 



Charles Brockden Brown 
Carwin did not fail to recognize the visitant. Care for 
his own safety ,vas apparently swallowed up in the amaze- 
ment which this spectacle produced. His station was con- 
spicuous, 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 n1ight perform thy will. Yet let me not err; 
Jet me hear again thy messenger! " 
He stood for a minute as if listening; but, recovering 
from his attitude, he continued, "It is not needed. Das- 
tardly wretch! thus eternally questioning the behests of thy 
Maker! weak in resolution, way,vard 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 
remelnbered. 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 inde- 
scribable 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 Car-win'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 \\--ho 
seduced him. To hesitate a moment was to perish. These 
28 9 



A11lerica1t Mystery Stories 
thoughts gave strength to my lin1bs 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 con- 
fesses 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 
\vhich he had used to me, H 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:- 
II Thou faIterest. 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 \vas to be heaped upon another. The tale that I heard 
from him, and his present trepidations, \vere abundant tes- 
timonies of his guilt. But what if Wieland should be un- 
deceived! 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 tea'r 
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 lnisconstrue his answers into a confession 
of guilt. Wieland knows not that mysterious voices and 
appearances were likewise witnessed by me. Carwin may 
29 0 



Charles Brockden Brown 
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 precipita- 
tion, 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 trem- 
bling. 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. 
29 1 



Al1zcrkan Afystery Stories 


II 


A FE\V words more and I lay aside the pen forever . Yet 
,vhy should I not relinquish it now? All that I have said 
is preparatory to this scene, and t;l1y fingers, tremulous and 
cold as n1Y heart, refuse any further exertion. This lTIUst 
not be. Let my last energies support me in the finishing 
of this task. Then will I lay do\vn my head in the lap of 
death. Hushed will be all my murmurs in the sleep of the 
gra ve. 
Every sentiment has perished in my bosom. Even friend- 
ship 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 calcu- 
lated upon my remnant of strength. When I lay down the 
pen the taper of life will expire; my existence will terminate 
,vi th my tale. 
N ow that I was left alone with vVieland, the perils of 
my situation presented themselves to my mind. That this 
paroxysm should terminate in havoc and rage it \vas rea- 
sonable to predict. The first suggestion of my fears had 
been disproved by my experience. Carwin had ackno\vl- 
edged 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 ,vas tormented \vith an insatiable appetite 
for his destruction; but my brother \vas unmoved, and had 
dismissed hin1 in safety. Surely thou wast more than n1an, 
\vhile I am sunk belo\v the beasts. 
Did I place a right construction on the conduct of Wie- 
land? Was the error that misled him so easily rectified? 
Were views so vivid and faith so strenuous thus liable to 
fading and to change? \Vas 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. 


29 2 



Charles Brockden Brown 
I saw his lips move and his eyes cast up to heaven. Then 
would he listen and look back, as if in expectation of S01ne 
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 \vas 
employed in summoning the messenger who had formerly 
communed with him, to attest the value of those ne\v 
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 pillo\v 
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 \vas I 
now tried, and found to be cowardly and rash. Men can 
deliberately untie the thread of life, and of this I had 
dee1ned 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 b
ar 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 de- 
spair 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 \vere my hopes of 
rescue? 
1iethinks it is too much. I stand aside, as it were, fronl 
myself; I estimate my own deservings; a hatred, immortal 
and inexorable, is my due. I listen to my o\vn pleas, and 
find them enlpty and false: yes, I acknowledge that nlY 
guilt surpasses that of mankind; I confess that the curses 
of a world and the frowns of a Deity are inadequate to my 
293 



A1nerica1l l1fystery Stories 
I 
demerits. Is there a tiling 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 no\v 
see that my state of mind would have rendered the deed 
inevitable if my brother had lifted his hand. This instru- 
ment 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 su- 
preme in misery; thus towering in virtue! 
He was probably unconscious of my design, but pres- 
ently drew back. This interval was suffiçient to restore me 
to myself. The madness, the iniquity, of that act which I 
had purposed rushed upon my apprehension. For a mo- 
ment I \vas breathless with agony. At the next moment 
I recovered my strength, and threw the knife with violence 
on the floor. 
The sound a woke 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 lofti- 
ness 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 lÚs deportment 
in silence. At length he spoke:- 
294 



Charles Brockden Broulu 


"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 aston- 
ished and encouraged me. I continued to regard hil11 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. Stretch- 
ing toward me his hand, with an air of increasing n1ildness, 
"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, \vas my belief. Thinkest thou that 
thy death ,vas sought to gratify malevolence? No. I am 
pure from all stain. I believed that n1Y 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 an1 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 kne\v 
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 mad- 
29_1 



A11U'rican Mystery Stories 
ness into a ne\v 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 o\vn 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, "0 Carwin! Carwin! what hast 
thou to ans\ver for?" 
11y brother immediately noticed the involuntary exclama- 
tion. "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 il.1umination! 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 perfonner 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 
,vhat brought about thy interview \vith 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 n1Y 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 
29 6 



Charles Brockden Brown 
personates a hun1an 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 frotTI 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 ,vhich was threatened, ,vas 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 \veight of these accumulated thoughts could not 
be borne. J\1y sight became confused; my limbs were 
seized with convulsion; I spoke, but my words \vere 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 \vere cast 
upward; but when my prayer was breathed I once more 
wildly gazed at the door. A form met my sight; I shud- 
297 



AI11crican l.fysfcry Stories 
dered as if the God w hon1 I invoked were present. It 
,vas Carwin that again intt"uded, and \vho stood before me, 
erect in attitude and steadtast 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 po\ver and no need 
to decide. \Vhether 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 mad- 
ness of vVieland has assigned to heaven, and extinguish 
forever this passion for blood! 
11y 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 uþ. The improba- 
bility that the influence which governed \Vieland was ex- 
ternal 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 
vVieland, might, at a second glance, have been discovered; 
but no second glance ,vas allowed. J\1y first thought hur- 
ried me to action, and, fixing my eyes upon Carwin, I 
exclaimed,- 
"0 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 ! " 
29 8 



Cha1'Zcs Brockden Brown 
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 \vere 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 no\v it seized 
again my attention, and I grasped it with force. 
He seemed to notice not the entrance or exit of Carwin. 
l\Iy 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 \vay to an expression supernatural and tremendous. 
I felt my left arm within his grasp. 
Even no\v 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 be- 
yond 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 n1e to madness; still I consent to live! 
Yes I I will rise above the sphere of mortal passions; I 
\vill spurn at the cowardly remorse that bids me seek im- 
punity in silence, or comfort in forgetfulness. My nerves 
shall be new-strung to the task. Have I not resolved? I 
\vill 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 dis- 
engaged. It was lifted to strike. All my strength was 
exhausted but what was sufficient to the performance of this 
299 



A11U?rican Mystery Stories 
deed. Already was the energy awakened and the impulse 
given that should bear the fatal steel to his heart, \vhen- 
Wieland shrunk back; his hand was withdrawn. Breath- 
less 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 pur- 
poses. 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 vVieland. 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 be- 
sought 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 cro\vn the scene, 
and conduct his inscrutable plots to this consulnmation? 
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, Car- 
win 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 wer
 
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." 
_,00 



Charles Brockden Brown 
My brother opened his lips to speak. His tone was ter- 
rific 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 effspring and 
wife,-a loss for which he was indebted to his own mis- 
guided hand,-vVieland was transformed at once into the 
1nan of sorrows! 
He reflected not that credit should be as reasonably de- 
nied 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 prefer- 
ence 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 couqtenance. 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 telnpestuous but undesigning activity 
seized hin1. He rose from his place and strode across the 
floor, tottering and at randol11. His eyes were without 
moisture, and gleamed with the fire that consumed his 
vitals. The muscles of his face were agitated by convul- 
sions. 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 
3 01 



..Al1tCrican 
I :yslc1'Y Storics 
frenzy had never been cured! that thy madness, with its 
blissful visions, ,vould return! or, if that lTIUSt not be, that 
thy scene would hasten to a close I-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. 
I f he walked; if he turned; if his fingers were entwined 
,vith each other; if his hands were pressed against oppo- 
site sides of his head with a force sufficient to crush it into 
pieces; it was to tear his mind from self-contemplation; 
to \vaste his thoughts on external objects. 
Speedily this train ,vas 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 hinl. 'VVhen 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 monlent forsaken me. Till I am 
breathless and cold, they must continue to hover in my 
sight. 
Car\vin, as I said, had left the room; but he still lin- 
gered in the house. My voice summoned him to n1Y aid; 
3 02 



Charles Brockden Brown 
but I scarcely noticed his reëntrance, 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 up- 
braid 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 froi11 the ruin that was 
spread at my feet. 
When he left me, I was scarcely conscious of any varia- 
tion 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 infort11 my friends 
of my condition. 
My uncle speedily arrived at the house. The body of 
Wieland \vas removed froi11 my presence, and they sup- 
posed that I would follow it; but no, my home is ascer- 
tained; 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 re- 
move 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 re- 
pugnance 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 Hit11 that made me and 
with my fellow-men-in vain. While I live I will not go 
hence. Ha ve I not fulfilled my destiny? 
Why will ye torment me with your reasonings and re- 
proofs? 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-l will lie down and rise up-at 
your bidding; all I ask is the choice of my abode. What 
3 0 3 



Atnerican Mystery Stories 
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, 0 my reverend friend! of Carwin. He 
has told thee his tale, and thou exculpatest him fronl 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 po,ver, to rescue me 
and to banish his illusions from n1Y brother. Such is his 
tale, concerning the truth of which I care not. Hence- 
forth 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 con- 
science 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! 


3 0 4 



Fitzjames O'Brien 
The Golden Ingot 


I HAD just retired to rest, \vith my eyes almost blind with 
the study of a ne\v work on physiology by M. Bro\vn- 
Séquard, 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 
 
\vho 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 \vas 
too young in my profession, ho\vever, to neglect oppor- 
tunities. It is only when a physician rises to a very large 
practice that he can afford to be inconsiderate. I \vas on 
the first step of the ladder, so I hutnbly opened my door. 
A woman \vas 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 \vith raiment. 
" Come in, come in, my good won1an," I said hastily, for 
the \vind 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." 
3 0 5 



Anz.erican ]"Iystcry Stories 
She- slipped in like a ghost, and I closed the door. \Vhile 
I ,vas striking a light in my office, I could hear her teeth 
still clicking) out in the dark hall, till it seemed as if son1e 
skeleton was chattering. As soon as I obtained a light I 
begged her to enter the room, and, \vithout occupying my- 
self particularly about her appearance, asked her abruptly 
\vhat her business \vas. 
"l\fIy father has met \vith 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 nonde- 
script species of shawl in which her head was "Tapped, 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 \vhere 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 \vith mud. 
Her shoes-which were but half concealed by this scanty 
garment - ,vere 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 
:rvIonti. 
" In \\That manner was your father hurt?" I asked, in a 
tone considerably softened from the one in which I put my 
first question. 
" I-Ie blew himself up, sir, and is terribly wounded." 
" Ah! He is in some factory, then?" 
" No, sir, he is a chemist." 
" A chemist? \Vh)', he is a brother professional. Wait 
an instant, and I \yill slip on my coat and go with you. Do 
you live far from here?" 


3 06 



Fitzja1nes Q'Brie'r. 
" In the Seventh Avenue, not more than 1\vo blocks from 
the end of this street." 
" So much the better. We will be with him in a few min- 
utes. 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, per- 
haps? I have known such cases." 
We were passing under a lamp-post, and the woman sud- 
denly 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, ,vas menacing us both. 
" Don't-don't ask me any questions," she said breath- 
lessly. "He will tell you all. But do, oh, do hasten! Good 
God! he may be dead by this time!" 
I made no reply, but allo\ved her to grasp my hand, 
which she did with a bony, nervous clutch, and endeavored 
\vith some difficulty to keep pace with the long strides-I 
might well call them bounds, for they seemed the springs 
of a \vild 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 
T\venty-third Street. She pushed the door open \vith 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 nloment more I found myself in a mod- 
erate-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 number- 
less dilapidated chemical instruments with \\lhich the room 
was littered. A French chafing dish supported on an iron 
3 0 7 



American Mystery Stories 
tripod had been overturne6, and was lying across the floor, 
\v hile the charcoal, still warm, was scattered around in 
yarious directions. Crucibles, alembics, and retorts were 
confusedly piled in various corners, and on a small table I 
sa\v 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 ex- 
quisitely 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 \:vere used instead of 
crucibles. The colored tests were not in the usual trans- 
parent 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 vic- 
tim of chemistry was lying. He breathed heavily, and had 
his head turned to\vard the wall. I lifted his arm gently 
to arouse his attention. "Ho\v goes it, my poor friend? " 
I asked him. "\Vhere 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. "\Vho 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. 1. 
am Dr. Luxor, and here is my card." 
The old man took the card, and scanned it eagerly. "Y oú' 
are a physician? " he inquired distrustfully. 
" And surgeon also." 


3 08 



Fitzjanzes O'Brien 
" 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 \\-Tere terribly scorched; but it seemed to 
me that there "vas 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 
\vas applying a soothing ointment to the burns. " You will 
promise me." 
I nodded assent. 
" Then I ","ill trust you. Cure me-I will pay you well.'
 
I could scarce help smiling. If Lorenzo de' Medici, con- 
scious of millions of ducats in his coffers, had been ad- 
dressing 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 ir- 
ritate you. I will leave a composing draught with your 
daughter, \vhich 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. 
" 1\1: y daughter! " screamed the old Inan, once more leap- 
ing 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 her- 
self 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 Pro- 
metheus gna\ved by the vulture since the birth of time. 
309 



Alncrican klystery Storfes 
The fables yet live. There is my rock, foreyer crushing me 
back! there is my eternal vulture, feeding upon my heart! 
There! there! there!" And, with an a\vful gesture of male- 
diction and hatred, he pointed with his wounded hand, 
swathed and shapeless \vith bandages, at the cowering, sob- 
bing, wordless \voman 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 un- 
fold 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 ,vater-such has 
been my sublime aim, such has been the splendid feat that 
I have accomplished." 
I recognized at a glance, in this incomprehensible far- 
rago, 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. 
"T","o years since," continued the poor man, growing 
more and more excited \vith every \vord that he uttered- 
"two years since, I succeeded in solving the great prob- 
lem-in transmuting the baser metals into gold. None but 
myself, that girl, and God knows the privations I had suf- 
fered up to that time. Food, clothing, air, exercise, every- 
thing but shelter, ,vas sacrificed toward the one great end. 
Success at last cro,vned my labors. That which Nicholas 
Flamel did in 1382, that which George Ripley did at Rhodes 
in 1460, that which Alexander Sethon and Michael Scudi- 
vogius did in the seventeenth century, I did in 1856. I 
made gold! I said to myself, 'I "viII astonish New York 
more than Flamel did Paris.' He was a poor copyist, and 
suddenly launched into magnificence. I had scarce a rag 
3 10 



Fitzja11'lCS O'Brien 
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 \vealth 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 
ll\Vay after supplying our necessities. I was astonished to 
perceive that we lived as poorly as ever. I reflected, ho\v- 
ever, that it \vas perhaps a commendable piece of prudence 
on the part of my daughter. Doubtless, I said, she argues 
that the less ,ve spend the sooner we shall accumulate a 
capital ,vherewith 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 \vhich 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 
sun1 of fifteen thousand dollars. After deducting our slight 
expenses for two years, we ought to have had nearly four- 
teen thousand dollars left. It was time, I thought, to in- 
demnify myself for my years of suffering, and surround my 
child and myself \vith 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 
ne\v 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. 


3 11 



Au/;crican JJlystery Stories 
It It was a bitter blow, doctor, but n
l desþerand1l1n was 
my motto, so I \vent to work at my crucible again, with 
redoubled energy, and made an ingot nearly every second 
<lay. 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 girl1farion-that is my daugh- 
ter's name-came weeping to me and implored me to allow 
her to take care of our treasure. I refused decisively, say- 
ing that, having found her already incapable of filling the 
trust, I could place no faith in her again. But she per- 
sisted, 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 \ve live. Our food is insufficient and 
of bad quality; we never buy clothes; th
 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? 0 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 emo.. 
tions. I glanced at the girl l\Iarion, 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 \vas mad-\:vhat 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. 


3 12 



Fitzjal1
es O'Brien 
"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. 
" 
1ay 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. Théodore 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 experi- 
ments 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 be- 
came very pale, clasped her hands convulsively, but neither 
moved nor made any reply. 
" Get me an ingot, I say! " reiterated the alchemist pas- 
sionately. 
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 agi- 
tated 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 suffer- 
ing; but a po\:verful curiosity to see how this strange scene 
would terminate withheld me. 
The last threat of her father, uttered as it was with a 
3 1 3 



Anzerican Mystery Stories 
terrible vehemence, seemed to appall Marion. She rose 
with a sudden leap, as if a serpent had stung her, and, rush- 
ing 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 nlan sarcastically, 
"how reluctantly she parts with it. Take it, sir; it is 
yours. " 
It \vas a small bar of metal. I examined it carefully, 
poised it in my hand-the color, weight, everything, an- 
nounced that it really ,vas gold. 
" You doubt its genuineness, perhaps," continued the al- 
chemist. "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 sus- 
picion was rendered impossible. It was gold of the highest 
purity. I \vas astounded. \Vas 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 be\vildered. I had never met \vith anything so in- 
comprehensible. I looked from father to daughter in the 
blankest amazelnent. I suppose that my countenance be- 
trayed my astonishment, for the old man said: " I perceive 
that you are surprised. \Vell, that is natural. You had a 
right to think me mad until I proved myself sane." 
" But, 
Ir. 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 ,veIl. 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. 

1y 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." 


3 1 4 



Fitzjanzes O'Brien 
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 direc- 
tions 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 lvlarion 
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 '\vretch?" 
" 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 '\vith 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 in- 
sists on going on with his alchemy. V\Till it kill him? " 
3 1 5 



AlIlcrican l.-lystery Stories 
" N"ot exactly," I answered coldly. "It were better that 
be 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." 
U Thank God! thank God!" she cried, in the most im- 
passioned accents; and, before I ,vas aware of what she was 
doing, she seized my hand and kissed it. 
U There, that will do," I said, withdrawing my hand; 
"you are under no obligations to me. You had better go 
back to your father." 
U I can't go," she answered. U You despise me-is it 
not so?" 
I made no reply. 
U You think me a monster-a criminal. When you went 
home last night, you were wonders truck 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 unple
sant position." 
" Wait. I cannot bear that you should think ill of me. 
You are good and kind, and I desire to possess your es- 
teem. You little know how I love l11Y father." 
I could not restrain a bitter smile. 
U 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. vVill 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. 
T,vo years ago he was on the verge of the grave, working 
every day at his mad pursuit, and every day growing 
,veaker 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 daugh- 
ter never loved a father before. During all these years of 
3 16 



F it::jal1lcs O'Brien 
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 dis- 
appointment. 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 
\vhich he was making one of his vain attempts at transmu- 
tation. God, I aln sure, will pardon the deception. I never 
anticipated the misery it would lead to. 
U I never beheld anything like the joy of my poor father, 
when, after en1ptying 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 hitn. I-Ie gave me the ingot to keep, and went to 
work at his alchemy with renewed vigor. The sal11e thing 
occurred. He ahvays found the same quantity of gold in 
his crucible. I alone knew the secret. He was happy, poor 
n1an, for nearly two years, in the belief that he was amass- 
ing 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. 
l\fy heart was nearly broken when I found that he had 
conceived the n10st injurious suspicions against me. Yet 
I could not blame him. I could give no account of the 
treasure I had permitted hit11 to believe was in my pos- 
session. I must suffer the penalty of Iny fault, for to un- 
deceive hitn vlould be, I felt, to kill him. I remained silent 
then, and suffered. 
"You know the rest. You now know \vhy it was that 
I ,vas reluctant to give you that ingot-why it was that I 
degraded 111yself 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 dis- 
pelled. I can live this life of hypocrisy no longer. I can- 
3 1 7 



Al1lcrican J.1fystery Stories 
not 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 en- 
feebled frame?" 
" Willingly," I answered, taking her by the hand; "and 
I think that no absolute danger need be apprehended. Now, 
l\Iarion," 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." 
U 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." 
vVhen we reached the old alchemist's room, we found 
him busily engaged over a crucible which ,vas placed on a 
small furnace, and in which some indescribable mixture 
was boiling. He looked up as ,ve entered. 
"No fear of me, doctor," he said, with a ghastly smile, 
"no fear; I must not allow a little physical pain to inter- 
rupt 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 acconlplished, 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 h'ands. 
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 forgive- 
ness." 
" Ah, hypocrite! for what? Are you going to give me 
back my gold? " 
uNo, father, but for the deception that I have been prac- 
ticing on you for two years-" 
"I kne\v it! I knew it!" shouted the old man, with a 
radiant countenance. "She has concealed my fourteen 
3 18 



Fitzjan
es 0' Brien 
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 disap- 
pointment. 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 \vill 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 \vill convince me," I answered. By a gesture I 
imposed silence on lVlarion, who \-vas about to speak. I 
thought it better to allow the old man to be his own unde- 
ceiver-and \ve 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. ":r
ow," 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 
3 1 9 



Al1lerican lvlystery Stories 
that tells of the end attained! Ah! now the golden-red is 
coming-slowly-slowly! It deepens, it shines, it is daz- 
zling! Ah, I have it!" So saying, he caught up his cru- 
cible in a chemist's tongs, and bore it slowly toward the 
table on which stood a brass vessel. 
" N o\v, 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 an- 
swered, 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 Ma.rion, dra wing 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. :rvIarion 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 
<lead! ,
 


3 20 



Fitzjal1zcs 0' Brien 


My lI7íJè' s Temþter 


I 


A PREDESTINED MARRIAGE 


ELSIE and I were to be married in less than a \veek. 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 rej ected 
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 gro\v 
pale, after the manner of poetical lovers. No such thing. 
I \vent 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-ho\v a 
woman in Elsie's situation could have mortified a man in 
mine I-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 
3 21 



Al1lcrican Mystery Stories 
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 
\vait and hope for some change in her feelings. She had 
an esteem for me, she would say, but could not marry nle. 
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 co'r- 
dial and polite as ever, I never for one, moment doubting 
that the day would come when my roof tree would shelter 
her, and \ve 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 com- 
pany. 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 
hinl in corners, or in secluded nooks of the forest, when 
we an 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 opin- 
ion, 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 Ham- 
3 22 



Fit:Jja111cs O'Brien 
mond Brake ,vere purely intellectual. Shè i'eyerenced his 
talents and acquirements, but she did not love hin1. His 
influence over her, nevertheless, \vas 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 \vere n10st anxious to have 111e 
for a son-in-Ia\v. I was good-looking and \vell 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 tinle \vith a strange per"" 
sistence-all the more strange because she never alleged 
the slightest personal dislike to me; but after a vigorous 
cannonading from her o\vn garrison (in \v hich, I am proud 
to say, I did not in any way join), she hoisted the white flag: 
and surrendered. 
I \vas very happy. I had no fear about being able to gain' 
Elsie's heart. I think-indeed I kno\\T-that she had Eked. 
me all along, and that her refusals were dictated by other- 
feelings than those of a personal nature. I only guessed a
 
much then. It \vas some time before I knew all. 
As the day approached for our \vedding Elsie did not 
appear at all stricken with \\-oe. The village gossips had 
not the smaIIest opportunity for establishing a romance', 
\vith a compulsory bride for the hero1!1e. Yet to 1TIe it 
seemed as if there was something strange about her. A 
vague terror appeared to beset her. Even in her most lov- 
ing moments, when resting in my arms, she would shrink 
away fron1 me, and shudder as if some cold \vind had sud- 
denly struck upon her. That it ,vas 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 s\veeter than all others. 
Once only did she show any emotion. When the solemn 
question \vas put to her, the answer to \vhich was to decide 
her destiny, I felt her hand-\vhich was in mine-tren1ble. 
As she gasped out a convulsive " Yes," she gave one brief, 
Í111ploring glance at the gallery on the right. I placed the 
ring upon her finger, and looked in the direc60n in which 
3 2 3 



A1nerican ]vfystery Stories 
she gazed. Hammond Brake's dark countenance was vis- 
ible 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 wi fee I f 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. N or 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 par- 
ticularly remarked: she spent hours at, a tÏ1ne ga:;ing at the 
west. There was a small room in our house whose win- 
dows, every evening, flamed with the red light of the set- 
ting 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 \víth 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 friv- 
olous 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 
3 2 4 



Fit:JjalllCS O'Brien 
some favorite author, or conversing on sOlne novel literary 
topic; but there was no disposition to avoid my scrutiny. 
Brake seemed to come as a nlatter of right; and the perfect 
unconsciousness of furnishing any grounds for suspicion 
with \vhich he acted was a sufficient answer to my nlind 
for any wild doubts that my heart may have suggested. 
Still I could not but remark that Brake's visits \vere in 
sonle manner connected with Elsie's melancholy. On the 
days \vhen 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 \vindo\v, 
silently gazing at the cleft in the hills through \vhich the 
sun passed to his repose. 
At last I made up my mind to speak to her. It seelned 
to me to be my duty, if she had a sorrow, to partake of it. 
I approached her on the matter \vith the most perfect con- 
fidence that I had nothing to learn beyond the existence 
of some girlish grief, which a confession and a fe\v loving 
kisses \vould 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 \vith eyes 
\vide open and face filled \vith 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 
,vas given, I felt convinced that she had something to tel1. 
and instantly fornled 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 tnlst me with a petty secret. 
I believed I understood. I was tolerably rich. I kne\v 
it could not be any secret over mininers' bins or 
women's usual nloney troubles. God help me! I felt 
3 2 5 



A111crican Afystery StoYles 
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 de- 
ceived, even in trifles, by those \ve love. I left her sitting 
at her favorite \vindow, and walked out into the fields. I 
,vanted to think. 
I remained out until I sa\v lights in the parlor shining 
through the dusky evening; then I returned slowly. As I 
passed the 'windo\vs - \vhich 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 \vas talking to her very earnestly, and she \vas 
listening to him \vith an expression I had never before 
seen on her countenance. A \ve, fear, and admiration were 
all blent together in those dilating eyes. She seemed ab- 
sorbed, 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 \vide pockets. As she did so, 
a loose leaf escaped from the volunle and slo\vly fluttered 
to the floor unobserved by either her or her companion. 
But I had my eye upon it. I felt that it was a cle\v. 
" \Vhat new novel or philosophical \vonder have you both 
been poring over?" I asked quite gayly, stealthily watch- 
ing at the same time the telltale embarrassment under \vhich 
Elsie \vas 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 any- 
one except your wife." 
" Ha! " cried I, " I know what it is. It is your volume 
of poems that Ticknor is publishing. vVell, I can \vait until 
it is regularly for sale." 
I knew that Brake had a volume in the hands of the pub- 
lishing house I mentioned, \vith a vague promise of publica- 
tion some time in the present century. I-Ianlmond smiled 
3 26 



Fitzjanlcs O'Brien 
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 \vith 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 \vas alone I picked up the book leaf from 
the floor. It 'vas 11.ot the leaf of a volume of poems. Be- 
yond that, ho\vever, 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 in- 
famous Popish publication. Fool that I was not to see it 
all before! But there was yet time. I \vould forbid him 
the house. 
I had just formed this resolution when my ,vife entered. 
I put the strange leaf in my pocket and took my hat. 
" Why, you are not going out, surely?" cried Elsie, sur- 
prised. 
"I have a headache," I answered. "I will take a short 
,valko " 
Elsie looked at me 'with a peculiar air of distrust. Her 
\voman'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 sa,v his figure, black against 
the sky, stop and peer back through the dusk to see who 
,vas following him. 


3 2 7 



A111erican Afyster'j' Stories 
" It is I, Brake," I called out. "Stop; I \vish to speak 
with you." 
He stopped, and in a minute or so \ve \vere walking side 
by side along the road. My fingers itched at that moment 
to be on his throat. I commenced the conversation. 
"Brak
," 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 \vith 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 ordi- 
nary 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 Catho- 
lic, and of trying to convert my wife." 
A smile shot across his face, and I sa\v 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 
\vere 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. 


3 28 



Fitzjantes O'Brien 


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 SOlne 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 appar- 
ently 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 \vhite ,vater- 
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 fe\v seconds enabled me 
to ascertain that Hammond Brake and my wife were in 
the copse talking together. She still followed him, then; 
3 2 9 



Al1zerican Afystery Stortes 
and he, scoundrel that he \vas, had broken his protnise. Þ;. 
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 po\verful effort I restrained myself. 
It \vas necessary that I should overhear what \vas 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. 

Iy wife was sobbing. "So soon-so soon? I-Ham- 
mond, give me a little time! " 
" I cannot, Elsie. l\Iy 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-ho\\T can I rob him of our 
un born babe?" 
"Another sheep for our flock," answered Brake sol- 
emnly. "Elsie, do you forget your oath?, Are you one of 
us, or are you a common hypocrite, \vho 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 VO\V 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 \vorthy of you. 
Go home and prepare for your journey. You know where 
to meet me. I will have everything ready, and by day- 
break there shall be no trace of us left. Beware of per- 
mitting your husband to suspect anything. He is not very 
shrewd at such things-he thought I was a Jesuit in dis- 
guise-but we had better be careful. N O\V go. You have 
been too long here already. Bless you, sister." 
33 0 



Fitzjal1les O'Brien 
A fe\v faint sobs, a rustling of leaves, and I kne\v that 
Brake was alone. I rose, and stepped silently into the 
open space in which he stood. His back \vas toward 
me. His arnlS \vere lifted high over his head with an 
exultant gesture, and I could see his profile, as it slightly 
turned to,vard nle, illuminated \vith a smile of scornful 
triumph. I put my hand suddenly on his throat from be- 
hind, and flung hirD on the ground before he could utter 
a cry. 
"Not a ,vord," 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 \von't answer. \Ve'll see." 
I pressed the knife slovdy against his throat. His face 
contracted spasmodically, but although a thin red thread 
()f blood sprang out along the edge of the blade, Brake re- 
mained mute. An idea suddenly seized me. This sort of 
death had no terrors for him. I would try another. There 
was the precipice. I ,vas Ì\,,-ice 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 \vas garnished with the tough stems of the wild 
vine. He seemed to feel it was useless to struggle \vith 
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 
()f eighty feet, \vith 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 hvo 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. 
33 1 



A1nerican Mystery Stories 
II 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 cut- 
ting 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 in- 
fernal 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 
hin1 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 
trÐuble 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 ,vest. 
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 de- 
ceived me. You are a Mormon. I know all. You have 
become a convert to that apostle of hell, Brighan1 Young, 
and you cannot live with me. I love you still, Elsie, 
dearly; but-you must go and live \vith your father." 


33 2 



Nathaniel Hawthorne 


The Minister's Black Veil 


A PARABLE * 


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 11r. 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 to\vards the n1eeting-house. With one accord they 
started, expressing more wonder than if some strange min- 
ister were coming to dust the cushions of Mr. Hooper's 
pulpit. 
"Are you sure it is our parson?" inquired Goodman 
Gray of the sexton. 
* Another clergyman in New England, Mr. Joseph !\Ioody, 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. 


333 



Al1lcrican M 'j'sfery Stories 
" Of a certainty it is good 1Ir. Hooper," replied the sex- 
ton. "He was to have exchanged pulpits \vith Parson 
Shute, of Westbury; but Parson Shute sent to eXCuse him- 
self yesterday, being to preach a funeral sermon." 
The cause of so lTIuch amaZelTIent nlay appear sufficiently 
slight. 1Ir. Hooper, a gentlemanly person, of about thirty, 
though still a bachelor, was dressed with due clerical neat- 
ness, as if a careful \vife had starched his band and brusheù 
the weekly dust from his Sunday's garb. There was but 
one thing remarkable in his appearance. S\vathed about his 
forehead, and hanging do\vn over his face, so low as to 
be shaken by his breath, 1ir. 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 1fr. Hooper 
walked onward, at a slo\v and quiet pace; stooping sonle- 
what, and looking on the ground, as is custolnary \vith ab- 
stracted men, yet nodding kindly to those of his parishioners 
who stil1 \vaited on the meeting-house steps. But so \vonder- 
struck were they, that his greeting hardly met \vith a return. 
"I can't real1y 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 Inad! " cried Goodman Gray, fol- 
lowing him across the threshold. 
A runlor of some unaccountable phenomenon had pre- 
ceded ]Vlr. tIooper into the meeting-house, and set aU the 
congregation astir. Few could refrain from Ì\visting their 
heads towards the door; nlany stood upright, and turned di- 
rectly about; while several little boys clambered upon the 
seats, and caIne do\vn again \vith a terrible racket. There 
was a general bustle, a rustling of the women's go\vns and 
shuffling of the men's feet, greatly at variance with that 
hushed repose which should attend the entrance of the min- 
334 



Nathaniel H a'lvthorne 
ister. But 
1r. Hooper appeared not to notice the perturba- 
tion of his people. He entered \vith an ahnost noiseless 
step, bent his head mildly to the pews on each side, and 
bo\ved as he passed his oldest parishioner, a white-haired 
great-grandsire, who occupied an arm-chair in the center 
of the aisle. It was strange to observe how slowly this ven- 
erable U1an became conscious of sonlething singular in the 
appearance of his pastor. He seenled not fully to partake of 
the prevailing wonder, till 1\1r. Hooper had ascended the 
stairs, and sho\\"ed hinlself in the pulpit, face to face \vith 
his congregation, except for the black veil. That mysterious 
en1blem was never once withdrawn. It shook \vith his 
measured breath as he gave out the psalm; it threw its 
obscurity between hinl and the holy page, as he read the 
Scriptures; and \vhile he prayed, the veil lay heavily on his 
upli fted countenance. Did he seek to hide it from the dread 
Being whom he was addressing? 
Such was the effect of this sinlple piece of crape, that 
more than one \voman of delicate nerves was forced to leave 
the meeting-house. Yet perhaps the pale-faced congregation 
,vas alnlost as fearful a sight to the minister as his black 
veil to them. 
l\Ir. Hooper had the reputation of a good preacher, but 
not an energetic one: he strove to win his people heaven- 
ward by mild, persuasive influences, rather than to drive 
them thither by the thunders of the '-IV ord. The sermon 
which he now delivered \vas tnarked by the same charac- 
teristics of style and nlanner as the general series of his 
pulpit oratory. But there was something, either in the sen- 
tinlent of the discourse itself, or in the imagination of the 
auditors, \vhich made it greatly the n10st po\verful effort 
they had ever heard frrnl their pastor's lips. It was tinged 
rather more darkly than usual with the gentle gloom of l\lr. 
Hooper's temperament. The subject had reference to secret 
sin, and those saù mysteries \vhich \ve hide from our near- 
est -and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own 
consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can de- 
tect them. A subtile po\ver was breathed into his \vords. 
335 



Anterican M }'sfcry Stories 
Each men1ber of the congregation, the most innocent girl 
and the man of hardened breast, felt as if the preacher had 
crept upon thein, behind his awful veil, and discovered their 
hoarded iniquity of deed or thought. Many spread their 
clasped hands on their bosoms. There was nothing terri- 
ble in \vhat 1Ir. Hooper said; at least, no violence; and yet, 
with every tremor of his melancholy voice, the hearers 
quaked. An unsought pathos can1C hand in hand \vith awe. 
So sensible \vere the audience of some un\vonted attribute 
in their minister, that they longed for a breath of wind to 
blo\v aside the veil, almost believing that a stranger's visage 
\vould 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 n10n1ent they 
lost sight of the black veil. Some gathered in little circles, 
huddled closely together, vvith their mouths all \vhispering 
in the center; some went h0111e\Vard alone, \vrapt in silent 
nleditation; some talked loudly, and profaned the Sabbath 
day with ostentatious laughter. A fe\v shook their sa- 
gacious heads, intin1ating that they could penetrate the Inys- 
tery; while one or Ì\vo affirmed that there was no nlystery 
at all, but only that 1\lr. Hooper's eyes \vere so weakened 
by the midnight lan1p, as to require a shade. After a brief 
interval, forth can1e good 1Ir. 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 n1id- 
dIe-aged with kind dignity, as their friend and spiritual 
guide, greeted the young \vith 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. 
N one, as on former occasions, aspired to the honor of walk- 
ing by their pastor's side. Old Squire Saunders, doubtless 
by an accidental lapse of metTIory, neglected to invite 
lr. 
Hooper to his table, where the good clergyman had been 
wont to bless the food, almost every Sunday since his settle- 
33 6 



Nathaniel Hawthorne 
mente I-Ie returned, therefore, to the parsonage, and, at the 
moment of closing the door, \vas observed to look back upon 
the people, all of whom had their eyes fixed upon the min- 
ister. A sad smile gleamed faintly from beneath the black 
veil, and flickered about his mouth, glimmering as he disap- 
peared. 
" Ho\v strange," said a lady, "that a simple black veil, 
such as any ,von1an might \vear on her bonnet, should be- 
come such a terrible thing on 1\1r. Hooper's face! " 
"Something must surely be amiss with 1fr. I-Iooper's 
intellects," observed her husband, the physician of the vil- 
lage. "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 ghost-like 
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 \vorld. I \vonder he is not afraid to 
be alone \vith hilTIself! " 
" l\fen sometimes are so," said her husband. 
The afternoon service was attended with similar cir- 
cumstances. At its conclusion, the bell tolled for the fu- 
neral of a young lady. The relatives and friends \vere as- 
sembled in the house, and the more distant acquaintances 
stood about the door, speaking of the good qualities of the 
deceased, \vhen their talk was interrupted by the appearance 
of Mr. Hooper, still covered with his black veil. It was now 
an appropriate en1blem. The clergYlnan stepped into the 
room where the corpse \vas laid, and bent over the coffin, 
to take a last fare\vell 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 viho \vatched 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, 
337 



Al1zerican 11I}'stcry Stories 
though the countenance retained the conlposure of death.. 
A superstitious old wonlan was the only ,vitness of this. 
prodigy. Froln the coffin 1\1:r. Hooper passed into the chanl-' 
ber of the mourners, and thence to the head of the staircase,. 
to lnake the funeral prayer. It \vas a tender and heart- 
dissolving prayer, full of sorro\v, yet so imbued \vith celes- 
tial hopes, that the music of a heavenly harp, s,vept by the 
fingers of the dead, seeined faintly to be heard ainong the 
saddest accents of the minister. The people trenlbled, 
though they but darkly understood hiin \vhen 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 froin their faces. 
The bearers went heavily forth, and the mourners followed,. 
saddening all the street, \vith the dead before theIn, and 
1\1r. 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 11ilford village were 
to be joined in wedlock. Though reckoned a nlelancholy 
man, 1\1r. Hooper had a placid cheerfulness for such occa- 
sions, \vhich often excited a sytnpathetic smile, ,vhere live- 
lier nlerriment would have been thrown a,vay. There ,vas 
no quality of his disposition which made hiln more beloved 
than this. The company at the \vedding a\\'aited his arrival 
\vith impatience, trusting that the strange a,ve, ,vhich had 
gathered over him throughout the day, would no\v be dis- 
pelled. But such ,vas not the result. vVhen l\Ir. Hooper 
caIne, the first thing that their eyes rested on \vas the sanle 
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 froin 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 quiv- 
33 8 



Nathaniel H awthor11,-c 
ered in the tremulous hand of the bridegroom, and her 
death-like 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 \vedding were so 
dismal, it was that famous one where they tolled the wed- 
ding knell. After performing the ceremony, Mr. Hooper 
raised a glass of wine to his lips, wishing happiness to the 
ne\v-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 \vith \vhich it over- 
,vhelmed all others. His frame shuddered,-his lips grew 
\vhite,-he spilt the untasted \vine 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 
nlystery concealed behind it, supplied a topic for discussion 
between acquaintances l11eeting in the street and good women 
gossiping at their open \vindows. It was the first item of 
news that the tavern-keeper told to his guests. The chil- 
dren babbled of it on their way to school. One imitative lit- 
tle 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, of all the busybodies and im- 
pertinent people in the parish, not one ventured to put the 
plain question to 1v1r. 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 judgn1ent. If he 
erred at all, it was by so painful a degree of self-distrust, 
that even the l11ildest censure would lead him to consider 
an indifferent action as a crime. Yet, though so well ac- 
quainted with this amiable weakness, no individual anlong 
his parishioners chose to make the black veil a subject of 
339 



Anle1'Ícan Mystery Stories 
friendly renlonstrance. 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 nlystery, before it should 
gro\v into a scandal. N ever did an embassy so ill discharge 
its duties. The minister received them with friendly 
courtesy, but became silent, after they \-"ere seated, leaving 
to his visitors the ,vhole burden of introducing their Ï1n- 
portant business. The topic, it might be supposed, was ob- 
vious enough. There ,vas the black veil, swathed round 
Mr. Hooper's forehead, and concealing every feature above 
his placid mouth, on which, at tinles, they could perceive 
the glinlmering of a nlelancholy 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 tinle 
speechless, confused, and shrinking uneasily from 1fr. 
Hooper's eye, which they felt to be fixed upon them \vith 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, in- 
deed, it might not require a general synod. 
But there \vas one person in the village, unappalled by 
the awe \vith which the black veil had impressed all beside 
herself. When the deputies returned without an explana- 
tion, 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 en- 
tered 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 \vas but a double fold of crape, 
34 0 



Nathaniel H a.wthorne 
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." 

1r. 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 1 " 
"What grievous affliction hath befallen you," she ear- 
nestly inquired, " that you should thus darken your eyes for- 
ever? " 
" 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 na- 
ture of the rumors that were already abroad in the village. 
But 11r. Hooper's mildness did not forsake him. He even 
smiled again,-that same sad smile, which always appeared 
like a faint glimnlering of light, proceeding from the ob- 
scurity beneath the veil. 
" If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough,'" 
34 1 



Alnerican Mystery Stories 
be 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 ne\v methods nlight be tried to withdra\v her 
lover from so dark a fantasy, which, if it had no other 
meaning, was perhaps a symptonl of mental disease. Though 
of a firnler 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 be- 
fore him. 
" And do you feel it then at last?" said he, mournfully. 
She made no reply, but covered her eyes \vith her hand, 
.and turned to leave the room. He rushed forward and 
caught her arm. 
"Have patience with me, Elizabeth!" cried he, passion- 
-ately. "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! 0, you know 
not how lonely I am, and how frightened, to be alone be- 
hind 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 \vithdrew her arm from his grasp, and slowly de- 
parted, 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 sll1iled to 
think that only a material emblenl 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. 
34 2 



Nathaniel Hawthorne 
Hooper's black veil, or, by direct appeal, to discover the 
secret \vhich it was supposed to hide. By persons \vho 
claimed a superiority to popular prejudice, it was reckoned 
n1erely an eccentric whim, such as often mingles \vith the 
sober actions of men other\vise rational, and tinges them 
all with its own semblance of insanity. But \vith the multi- 
tude, good lVIr. Hooper \vas irreparably a bugbear. He 
could not walk the street with any peace of mind, so con- 
scious \vas he that the gentle and tilllid would turn aside 
to avoid him, and that others \vould make it a point of hardi- 
hood to throw themselves in his way. The impertinence of 
the latter class compelled him to give up his cust0111ary walk, 
at sunset, to the burial-ground; for when he leaned pen- 
sively 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 hil11, to the very depth of his kind heart, 
to observe how the children fled from his approach, break- 
ing up their merriest sports, while his l11elancholy 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 nlirror, 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 con- 
science tortured him for some great crÎ1ne too horrible to 
be entirely concealed, or otherwise than so obscurely inti- 
n1ated. 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 sYlnpathy 
could never reach him. It was said, that ghost and fiend 
consorted with hinl there. \Vith self-shudderings and out- 
ward 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 la\vless wind, it 
was believed, respected his dreadful secret, and never blew 
343 



Arnerican Mystery Stories 
élside the veil. But still good Mr. tIooper sadly smiled at 
the pale visages of the worldly throng as he passed by. 
.A.mong all its bad influences, the black veil had the one 
desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient clergy- 
man. 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, affirm- 
ing, though but figuratively, that, before he brought them 
to celestial light, they had been \vith 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 ter- 
rors 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, dur- 
ing Governor Belcher's administration, Mr. Hooper was ap- 
pointed 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 impres- 
sion, that the legislative measures of that year were charac- 
terized by all the gloom and piety of our earliest ancestral 
sway. 
In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproach- 
able in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; 
kind and loving, though unloved, and dimly feared; a llian 
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 
344 



Nathaniel Hawthorn,e 
wrought so late into the evening, and clone 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 connec- 
tions 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 lVIr. 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- 
piIIow, with the black veil stiU swathed about his brow, and 
reaching down over his face, so that each more difficult gasp 
of his faint breath caused it to stir, AU through life that 
piece of crape had hung between him and the \vorld: it had 
separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman's love, 
and kept him in that saddest of aU prisons, his own heart; 
and stil1 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 doubtfuIIy between the past and the present, and 
hovering forward, as it were, at intervals, into the indis- 
tinctness of the world to come. There had been feverish 
turns, which tossed hin1 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 for- 
gotten, there was a faithful woman at his pillow, who, with 
averted eyes, would have covered that aged face, which 
she had last beheld in the comeliness of manhood. At length 
345 



A1tzerican Mystery Stories 
the death-stricken old man lay quietly in the torpor of 
:nental 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 ve
l, that shuts in time from eternity?" 
Father Hooper at first replied merely by a feeble mo- 
tion of b
s head; then, apprehensive, perhaps, that his mean- 
ing might be doubtful, he exerted hinlself to speak. 
" Yea," said he, in faint accents, "my soul hath a pa- 
tient 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 blanleless ex- 
ample, holy in deed and thought, so far as mortal judgment 
may pronounce,-is it fitting that a fath
r 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 
triunlphant 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, reso- 
lute to struggle, if the minister of Westbury would con- 
tend 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, 
34 6 



Nathaniel H au,thorne 
he caught hold of life, and held it back till he should speak. 
He even raised himself in bed; and there he sat, shivering 
\vith the arms of death around hinl, \vhile the black veil 
hung down, awful, at th1.t last moment, in the gathered 
terrors of a lifetime. And yet the faint, sad smile, so often 
there, no\v seenled to glimmer fronl its obscurity, and linger 
on Father Hooper's lips. 
"Why do you tremble at nle alone?" cried he, turning 
his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Trem- 
ble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women 
sho\vn no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my 
black veil? vVhat, but the mystery which it obscurely typi- 
fies, has made this piece of crape so awful? \Vhcn the 
friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his 
best beloved; \vhen nlan does not vainly shrink fronl 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 fronl 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 \vithered on that grave, the burial stone is moss- 
v;rown, and good J\1r. IIooper's face is dust; but a\vful is 
;till the thought, that it moldered beneath the Black Veil. 


347 



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! 
bow many and many a \veary 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 wonlan, 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 i
 was 110 natural 
progress of decay \vhich 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 nle 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 brovvn once, and 
has known no gradual change from dark to gray, from 
gray to white, as with those happy ones who were the com- 
panions 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 \vith want of memory-I retnetnber 
but too well. But as I take my pen l11Y hand trembles, my 
34 8 



H arrar: A True Tale 
head swims, the old rushing faintness and Horror comes 
over nle 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 tllY hot eyeballs 
had not a tear to shed, and even to "veep 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 neighbor- 
hood was thinly peopled and primitive, and the people round 
us were ignorant, and tenacious of ancient ideas and tradi- 
tions. Thus it was a superstitious atmosphere that we 
349 



An-terican Mystery Stories 
children \vere reared in, and \ve 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 ghost1y tales partiaIIy lost their effects, and our un- 
disciplined minds were turned more to\vards balls, dress, 
and partners, and other matters airy and trivial, nlore wel- 
come to our riper age. It was at a county assembly that 
Reginald and I first met-l11et and loved. Yes, I am sure 
that he loved me with all his heart. It was not as deep a 
heart as sonle, 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 \vas so happy then, that I look back upon 
those fleeting moments as on some delicious dream. I no\v 
come to the change. I have lingered on my childish remi- 
niscences, my bright and happy youth, and now I must tell 
the rest-the blight and the sorrow. 
It ,vas Christmas, ahvays a joyful and a hospitable time 
in the country, especially in such an old hall as our home, 
,vhere quaint custonlS and frolics were much clung to, as 
part and parcel of the very dwelling itself. The hall 
\vas 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 Eliza- 
beth's reign-were now allotted to bachelor visitors, after 
having been empty for a century. AU the spare rooms in 
the body and wings of the hali were occupied, of course; 
and the servants who had been brou
ht down were lodged 
at the fann and at the keeper's1 so great was the demand 
35 0 



Horror: A True Tale 
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 unfor- 
tunate! 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, \varm room at her own unlimited dis- 
posal-and Christmas, of all times in the year!" What 
was to be done? My aunts could not resign their o\vn 
chambers to Lady Speldhurst, because they had already 
given them up to some of the married guests. l\ly father 
was the n10st hospitable of men, but he was rheumatic, 
gouty, and methodical. His sisters-in-Ia\v 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 Inaking the offer, \vhich surprised 
myself. Was it a boding of evil to come? I cannot say. 
We are strangely and wonderfully made. It l1zay have 
been. At any rate, I do not think it was any selfish un\viIl- 
ingness 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 \vas a 
dark, moist Yule-not a snowy one, though snow brooded 
overhead in the darkling clouds. I did nlake the offer, 
which became me, I said \vith a laugh, as the youngest. 
35 1 



A1nerican M)'stery Stories 
l\Iy sisters laughed too, and made a jest of my evident wish 
to propitiate my godmother. "She is a fairy godn10ther, 
Rosa," said 1Tinnie; "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 \vith 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 mys- 
teriously. But since then I have wondered whether, had 
I then sho\ved myself peevish or obstinate-had I refused 
to give up my room for the expected kins\voman-it would 
not have altered the whole of my life? But then Lucy or 
11innie 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 tri- 
angular 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 upvvard 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 fe\v nights \vas 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 ne\v; 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 \vore 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 
35 2 



Horror: A True Tale 
articles of attire for the evening (when there was to be a 
great dinn
r-party) when the rumble of a carriage an- 
nounced that Lady Speldhurst had arrived. The short 
",,'inter's day drew to a close, and a large nunlber of guests 
\vere gathered together in the anlple dra\ving-rool11, around 
the blaze of the \vood-fire, after dinner. My father, I 
recollect, was not with us at first. There were some squires 
of the old, hard-riding, hard-drinking stanlp 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 \vho slept under our roof, and those 
\vho \vould have a dozen l11iles of fog and mire to encounter 
on their road home-\vere all together. Need I say that 
Reginald was there? He sat near nle-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 v,ras 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 wain- 
scoted and ceiled with polished black oak of a great age. 
There \vere mirrors, and there were pictures on the walls, 
and handsome furniture, and marble chil11ney-pieces, and 
a gay Tournay carpet; but these merely appeared as bright 
spots on the dark background of the Elizabethan woodwork. 
Many lights "vere burning, but the blackness of the walls and 
roof seemed absolutely to swallo\v up their rays, like the mouth 
of a cavern. A hundred candles could not have given that 
apartn1ent the cheerful lightness of a modern drawing- 
room. But the gloomy richness of the panels matched well 
with the ruddy gleam from the enornlOUS wood-fire, in 
which, crackling and glowing, no\v 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 
353 



Al1zerican AI 'j'stery Stories 
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 ho\v tall and manly and handsolne 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 \vas my mirth 
that gradually gained the rest, for I recollect what a blithe, 
joyous company we seemed. All save one. Lady Speld- 
hurst, dressed in gray silk and wearing a quaint head-dress, 
sat in her armchair, facing the fire, very silent, \vith 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 \vornan, 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 \vell 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 \vas 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 \vas called on in turn to con- 
tribute to the public entertainment, and story after story, 
354 



Horror: A True Tale 
always relating to demonology and witchcraft, succeeded. 
It was Christmas, the season for such tales; and the old 
room, with its dusky \valls and pictures, and vaulted roof, 
drinking up the tight 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 nar- 
rator, on the portraits, and the ho11y 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 chin and curdled, that their flesh crept, that their hearts 
beat irregularly, and the girls peeped fearfu11y 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 im- 
pression 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 an- 
other 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 no\v a stir and 
bustle. 


355 



Al1zerican Mystery Stories 
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 rell1ember 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 lVIinnie. But Reginald whispered 
some soft, fond words in nlY 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 \vere 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 \vith 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." 
lVIost 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 ",.ork 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." 
35 6 



Horror: A True Tale 


" How strange! " cried several voices. Then some of tbe 
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 Speld- 
hurst 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 neigh- 
bors?" 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. 
357 



Anzerican Mystery Stories 
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 
nluch 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-10ft of the turrets, eh? or in a lumber-room 
-a regular ghost-trap? I can hear your heart beating with 
fear this mOlnent. 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 \vell 
enough before she treated me so shamefully about the 
christening dinner. Now, I kno\v you are frightened and 
fearful, and if an owl should but flap your \vindow 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 \vitch's pro- 
tection, 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 ,vhat 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 impen- 
etrable to our gaze. 
I left her door. As I crossed the landing a bright gleam 
-came from another room, whose door \vas 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, \vho 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 
\vhispered, " Minnie and I can't bear the idea of your sleep- 
35 8 



Horror: A True Tale 
ing 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 ,vould rather 
pass the night in the churchyard itself than accept a pro- 
posal 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 \vent on my way laugh- 
ing, to show my light heart. Yet, as I looked back in the 
dark corridor, and saw the friendly door still ajar, the 
yello\v 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 \vaved a 
gay adieu. I turned the corner, and peeping over my 
shoulder, I saw the door close; the bar of yellow light ,vas. 
there no longer in the darkness of the passage. I thought 
at that instant that I heard a heavy sigh. I looked sharply 
round. Noone 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 dis- 
tinguishable 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 \vas not over- 
composed or very fitted for judicial analysis. I had to go 
through the picture-gallery. I had never entered this apart- 
ment 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 
359 



Anterican M yst.ery Stories 
the blast as it swept howling by. 1Iany 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 con- 
tinued 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 repug- 
nance 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, 
3 60 



-Horror: A True Tale 
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 ,vas, after all, now that the green damask curtains 
were dra\vn, the fire burning bright and clear, candles burn- 
ing on the mantel-piece, and the various familiar articles of 
toilet arranged as usual. The bed, too, looked peaceful 
and inviting-a pretty little \\rhite 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 hal f an hour longer to get 
through than usual. At last, however, she had done all 
that could be done, and all my questions were ans\\rered, 
and my orders for the morrow reiterated and vowed obe- 
dience 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 h 
y (}.< 
3 61 i Q " 

 "t, 
. ' 
. '. . ... 



A111erican lv[ ystery Stories 
heart. I extinguished the candles, and \vas just about to 
lay nlY head on my pillow, \vhen the idea seized me that 
I \vould fasten the door. The candles were extinguished, 
but the firelight \vas amply sufficient to guide me. I gained 
the door. There \\raS a lock, but it \vas rusty or hanlpered; 
my utnlost strength could not turn the key. The bolt wa$ 
broken and worthless. Balked of my intention, I consoled 
myself by remembering that I had never had need of fasten- 
ings yet, and returned to my bed. I lay awake for a good 
\vhile, \vatching 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 \vas 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 \ving I occupied. A Iong-dra\vn, 
lugubrious howling was this latter, and much such a note 
as the vulgar declare to herald a death in the family. This 
,vas a fancy I had never shared; but yet I could not help 
feeling that the dog's mournful moans were sad, and ex- 
pressive of terror, not at all like his fierce, honest bark of 
anger, but rather as if something evil and unwonted \vere 
abroad. But soon I fell asleep. 
How long I slept I never knew. I awoke at once with 
that abrupt start \vhich we all know well, and which carries 
us in a second from utter unconsciousness to the full use 
()f our faculties. The fire was still burning, but was very 
10\v, and half the room or more \vas in deep shado\v. 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 kne\v, 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 \vas audible, except the faint murmur of the fire- 
3 62 



Horror: A True Tale 
the dropping of a cinder from the bars-the loud, irregular 
beatings of my o\vn heart. N ohvithstanding 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. 
lVIy heart beat on; quicker, more sudden gre\v its pulsations, 
as a bird in a cage n1Ïght 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 sa\v 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 tinle 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 chanlber 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 \vas 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 re- 
sults? And then a new idea, with some ray of comfort in 
it, suggested itself. There was a fine young dog of the 
N e\vfoundland breed, a favorite of my father's, which was 
usually chained by night in an outhouse. Neptune might 
bave 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 interpre- 
tation 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-" N ep- 
tune, 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 behveen the 
curtains on the opposite side to \vhere I was lying. How 
3 6 3 



Al1tCrican Mystery Stories 
I 10nged 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 ,vas 
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; n1Y 
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 so1itary chamber, with no living neighbor, 
and the picture-gallery between me and any aid that even 
the loudest, most piercing shriek could SUmtl1on. And the 
storm that howled without would have drow"ned my voice, 
even if help had been at hand. To call aloud-to demand 
who was there-alas! how useless, how perilous! I f 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, steal- 
ing 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 fe1t that something malignant was 
near. 


3 6 4 



Horror: A True Tale 
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 per- 
suasions, my terror in the gallery, the remark that" this was 
the room nurse Sherrard used to talk of." And then mem- 
ory, 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 
3 6 5 



American Mystery Stories 
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 motion- 
less. 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 benumb- 
ing 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 \vas 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 \vas 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 
3 66 



Horror: A True Tale 
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 a\vaiting the demon that animated it? 
There it lay-a gaunt, gigantic form, wasted to a skeleton, 
half-clad, foul ,vith dust and clotted gore, its huge limbs 
flung upon the couch as if at random, its shaggy hair stream- 
ing 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 
bet\veen the parted lips, in a malignant grin; the tangled 
hair and beard ,vere mixed in ieonine confusion, and there 
were scars disfiguring the bro\v. 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. 'Vith a 
second glance I noted that part of the chain ,vas \vrapped 
in stra\v to prevent its galling the \vearer. The creature- 
I cannot call it a man-had the nlarks of fetters on its 
wrists, the bony arm that protruded through one tattered 
sleeve was scarred and bruised; the feet ,vere bare, and 
lacerated by pebbles and briers, and one of them ,vas 
wounded, and wrapped in a morsel of rag. And the lean 
hands, one of \vhich held my sleeve, ,vere 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 
3 6 7 



American M )'stery Stories 
tnat scares tne 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 \vhose 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 \vere ex- 
plained; 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 severities, cruel and foolish, with \vhich 
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 \vas 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 \vore 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, \vhen 
weary and gorged with his horrid orgy; and he had flung 
himself down to sleep \vithout a suspicion that he was not 
alone. Even his grasping my sleeve was doubtless an act 
3 68 



Horror: A True Tale 
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 \vould be astir, that my maid would come to call 
TIle 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 them- 
selves. 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 in- 
sanity 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 
36<) 



Alnerican. M ysf.ery Stories 
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; the:-e 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, r could trace nothing 
of myoId 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 Ii fe was blighted, that my lover shrank 
from me, so sad a \vreck was I? 
I am old now--old and alone. My sisters \vould 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! 


37 0 



..... 


(Þ 



'<+ 


J 


r 
-t- 


 


(- . 



 fJ 


 


I .. 
, 


u 


 


.. 
... 
o .1 - : - I <J 


L' 

 


C\f




 13' t 


 I: . 

 
 II 1 " 
.... - 
P 1 [;J 
/
 .. 
of ST. "- _EJ 
 

 ,. 
:? 
""1 0 
- 'ICJ 
" 

 
, 
 


tl 
. 




 



, 
.) ,
 


I 

 


, 


<- '+ 



 


-/ 


ì / t1L 
, ./ 
\.J 
 .. 
.c. 
 
 
\J 
, r . )1 . ..... 
9'+ 

 


, 


 


PN 6071 .D45 L63 1909 
v.9 SMC 


THE LOCK AND KEY LIBRARY 
: THE MOST INTERESTING 
AJX-1052 (AB) 


j 



\CHAEL 'ft 
c}. u
 

 C?: 

 
 
t: LIBRARY 
 

 

\ 
 

 
 
7 O\.
t5 



, 1111 


II 
II 


II 


II 


II I 
I Ii' I 
I 


II 
I} 


II 
I 111, 
I II 


It 


II 


If,,
 


t 


( . 
t 


( 
 .