Faithful and Unfaithful



Once upon a time there was a couple of humble cottagers who had no children until, at last, the man’s wife was blessed with a boy, which made both of them very happy. They named him Faithful and when he was christened a huldra came to the hut, seated herself beside the child’s cradle, and foretold that he would meet with good fortune. “What is more,” she said, “when he is fifteen years of age, I will make him a present of a horse with many rare qualities, a horse that has the gift of speech!” And with that the huldra turned and went away.

The boy grew up and became strong and powerful. And when he had passed his fifteenth year, a strange old man came up to their hut one day, knocked, and said that the horse he was leading had been sent by his queen, and that henceforward it was to belong to Faithful, as she had promised. Then the ancient man departed; but the beautiful horse was admired by all, and Faithful learned to love it more with every passing day.

At length he grew weary of home. “I must away and try my fortune in the world,” said he, and his parents did not like to object; for there was not much to wish for at home. So he led his dear horse from the stable, swung himself into the saddle, and rode hurriedly into the wood. He rode on and on, and had already covered a good bit of ground, when he saw two lions engaged in a struggle with a tiger, and they were well-nigh overcome. “Make haste to take your bow,” said the horse, “shoot the tiger and deliver the two lions!” “Yes, that’s what I will do,” said the youth, fitted an arrow to the bow-string, and in a moment the tiger lay prone on the ground. The two lions drew nearer, nuzzled their preserver in a friendly and grateful manner, and then hastened back to their cave.

Faithful now rode along for a long time among the great trees until he suddenly spied two terrified white doves fleeing from a hawk who was on the point of catching them. “Make haste to take your bow,” said the horse, “shoot the hawk and save the two doves!” “Yes, that’s what I’ll do,” said the youth. He fitted an arrow to the bow-string, and in a moment the hawk lay prone on the ground. But the two doves flew nearer, fluttered about their deliverer in a tame and grateful manner, and then hurried back to their nest.

The youth pressed on through the wood and by now was far, far from home. But his horse did not tire easily, and ran on with him until they came to a great lake. There he saw a gull rise up from the water, holding a pike in its claws. “Make haste to take your bow,” said the horse, “shoot the gull and save the pike!” “Yes, that’s what I’ll do,” answered the youth, fitted an arrow to his bow-string, and in a moment the gull was threshing the ground with its wings, mortally wounded. But the pike who had been saved swam nearer, gave his deliverer a friendly, grateful glance, and then dove down to join his fellows beneath the waves.

Faithful rode on again, and before evening came to a great castle. He at once had himself announced to the king, and begged that the latter would take him into his service. “What kind of a place do you want?” asked the king, who was inclined to look with favor on the bold horseman.

“I should like to be a groom,” was Faithful’s answer, “but first of all I must have stable-room and fodder for my horse.” “That you shall have,” said the king, and the youth was taken on as a groom, and served so long and so well, that every one in the castle liked him, and the king in particular praised him highly.

But among the other servitors was one named Unfaithful who was jealous of Faithful, and did what he could to harm him; for he thought to himself:

“Then I would be rid of him, and need not see him continue to rise in my lord’s favor.” Now it happened that the king was very sad, for he had lost his queen, whom a troll had stolen from the castle. It is true that the queen had not taken pleasure in the king’s society, and that she did not love him. Still the king longed for her greatly, and often spoke of it to Unfaithful his servant. So one day Unfaithful said: “My lord need distress himself no longer, for Faithful has been boasting to me that he could rescue your beautiful queen from the hands of the troll.” “If he has done so,” replied the king, “then he must keep his word.”

He straightway ordered Faithful to be brought before him, and threatened him with death if he did not at once hurry into the hill and bring back the wife of whom he had been robbed. If he were successful great honor should be his reward. In vain Faithful denied what Unfaithful had said of him, the king stuck to his demand, and the youth withdrew, convinced that he had not long to live. Then he went to the stable to bid farewell to his beautiful horse, and stood beside him and wept. “What grieves you so?” asked the horse. Then the youth told him of all that had happened, and said that this was probably the last time he would be able to visit him. “If it be no more than that,” said the horse, “there is a way to help you. Up in the garret of the castle there is an old fiddle, take it with you and play it when you come to the place where the queen is kept. And fashion for yourself armor of steel wire, and set knives into it everywhere, and then, when you see the troll open his jaws, descend into his maw, and thus slay him. But you must have no fear, and must trust me to show you the way.” These words filled the youth with fresh courage, he went to the king and received permission to leave, secretly fashioned his steel armor, took the old fiddle from the garret of the castle, led his dear horse out of the stable, and without delay set forth for the troll’s hill.

Before long he saw it, and rode directly to the troll’s abode. When he came near, he saw the troll, who had crept out of his castle, lying stretched out at the entrance to his cave, fast asleep, and snoring so powerfully that the whole hill shook. But his mouth was wide open, and his maw was so tremendous that it was easy for the youth to crawl into it. He did so, for he was not afraid, and made his way into the troll’s inwards where he was so active that the troll was soon killed. Then Faithful crept out again, laid aside his armor, and entered the troll’s castle. Within the great golden hall sat the captive queen, fettered with seven strong chains of gold. Faithful could not break the strong chains; but he took up his fiddle and played such tender music on it, that the golden chains were moved, and one after another, fell from the queen, until she was able to rise and was free once more. She looked at the courageous youth with joy and gratitude, and felt very kindly toward him, because he was so handsome and courteous. And the queen was perfectly willing to return with him to the king’s castle.

The return of the queen gave rise to great joy, and Faithful received the promised reward from the king. But now the queen treated her husband with even less consideration than before. She would not exchange a word with him, she did not laugh, and locked herself up in her room with her gloomy thoughts. This greatly vexed the king, and one day he asked the queen why she was so sad: “Well,” said she, “I cannot be happy unless I have the beautiful golden hall which I had in the hill at the troll’s; for a hall like that is to be found nowhere else.”

“It will be no easy matter to obtain it for you,” said the king, “and I cannot promise you that anyone will be able to do it.” But when he complained of his difficulty to his servant Unfaithful, the latter answered: “The chances of success are not so bad, for Faithful said he could easily bring the troll’s golden hall to the castle.” Faithful was at once sent for, and the king commanded him, as he loved his life, to make good his word and bring the golden hall from the troll’s hill. It was in vain that Faithful denied Unfaithful’s assertions: go he must, and bring back the golden hall.

Inconsolable, he went to his beautiful horse, wept and wanted to say farewell to him forever. “What troubles you?” asked the horse. And the youth replied: “Unfaithful has again been telling lies about me, and if I do not bring the troll’s golden hall to the queen, my life will be forfeited.” “Is it nothing more serious than that?” said the horse. “See that you obtain a great ship, take your fiddle with you and play the golden hall out of the hill, then hitch the troll’s horses before it, and you will be able to bring the glistening hall here without trouble.”

Then Faithful felt somewhat better, did as the horse had told him, and was successful in reaching the great hill. And as he stood there playing the fiddle, the golden hall heard him, and was drawn to the sounding music, and it moved slowly, slowly, until it stood outside the hill. It was built of virgin gold, like a house by itself, and under it were many wheels. Then the youth took the troll’s horses, put them to the golden hall, and thus brought it aboard his ship. Soon he had crossed the lake, and brought it along safely so that it reached the castle without damage, to the great joy of the queen. Yet despite the fact, she was as weary of everything as she had been before, never spoke to her husband, the king, and no one ever saw her laugh.

Now the king grew even more vexed than he had been, and again asked her why she seemed so sad. “Ah, how can I be happy unless I have the two colts that used to belong to me, when I stayed at the troll’s! Such handsome steeds are to be seen nowhere else!” “It will be anything but easy to obtain for you what you want,” declared the king, “for they were untamed, and long ago must have run far away into the wild-wood.” Then he left her, sadly, and did not know what to do. But Unfaithful said: “Let my lord give himself no concern, for Faithful has declared he could easily secure both of the troll’s colts.” Faithful was at once sent for, and the king threatened him with death, if he did not show his powers in the matter of the colts. But should he succeed in catching them, then he would be rewarded.

Now Faithful knew quite well that he could not hope to catch the troll’s wild colts, and he once more turned to the stable in order to bid farewell to the huldra’s gift. “Why do you weep over such a trifle?” said the horse. “Hurry to the wood, play your fiddle, and all will be well!” Faithful did as he was told, and after a while the two lions whom he had rescued came leaping toward him, listened to his playing and asked him whether he was in distress. “Yes, indeed,” said Faithful, and told them what he had to do. They at once ran back into the wood, one to one side and the other to the other, and returned quickly, driving the two colts before them. Then Faithful played his fiddle and the colts followed him, so that he soon reached the king’s castle in safety, and could deliver the steeds to the queen.

The king now expected that his wife would be gay and happy. But she did not change, never addressed a word to him, and only seemed a little less sad when she happened to speak to the daring youth.

Then the king asked her to tell him what she lacked, and why she was so discontented. She answered: “I have secured the colts of the troll, and I often sit in the glittering hall of gold; but I can open none of the handsome chests that are filled to the brim with my valuables, because I have no keys. And if I do not get the keys again, how can I be happy?” “And where may the keys be?” asked the king. “In the lake by the troll’s hill,” said the queen, “for that is where I threw them when Faithful brought me here.” “This is a ticklish affair, this business of those keys you want!” said the king. “And I can scarcely promise that you will ever see them again.” In spite of this, however, he was willing to make an attempt, and talked it over with his servant Unfaithful. “Why, that is easily done,” said the latter, “for Faithful boasted to me that he could get the queen’s keys without any difficulty if he wished.” “Then I shall compel him to keep his word,” said the king. And he at once ordered Faithful, on pain of death, to get the queen’s keys out of the lake by the troll’s hill without delay.

This time the youth was not so depressed, for he thought to himself: “My wise horse will be able to help me.” And so he was, for he advised him to go along playing his fiddle, and to wait for what might happen. After the youth had played for a while, the pike he had saved thrust his head out of the water, recognized him, and asked whether he could be of any service to him. “Yes, indeed!” said the youth, and told him what it was he wanted. The pike at once dived, quickly rose to the surface of the water with the golden keys in his mouth, and gave them to his deliverer. The latter hastened back with them, and now the queen could open the great chests in the golden hall to her heart’s content.

Notwithstanding, the king’s wife was as sorrowful as ever, and when the king complained about it to Unfaithful, the latter said: “No doubt it is because she loves Faithful. I would therefore advise that my lord have him beheaded. Then there will be a change.” This advice suited the king well, and he determined to carry it out shortly. But one day Faithful’s horse said to him: “The king is going to have your head chopped off. So hurry to the wood, play your fiddle, and beg the two doves to bring you a bottle of the water of life. Then go to the queen and ask her to set your head on your body and to sprinkle you with the water when you have been beheaded.” Faithful did so. He went to the wood that very day with his fiddle, and before long the two doves were fluttering around him, and shortly after brought back the bottle filled with the water of life. He took it back home with him and gave it to the queen, so that she might sprinkle him with it after he had been beheaded. She did so, and at once Faithful rose again, as full of life as ever; but far better looking. The king was astonished at what he had seen, and told the queen to cut off his own head and then sprinkle him with the water. She at once seized the sword, and in a moment the king’s head rolled to the ground. But she sprinkled none of the water of life upon it, and the king’s body was quickly carried out and buried. Then the queen and Faithful celebrated their wedding with great pomp; but Unfaithful was banished from the land and went away in disgrace. The wise horse dwelt contentedly in a wonderful chamber, and the king and queen kept the magic fiddle, the golden hall, and the troll’s other valuables, and lived in peace and happiness day after day.

mozartskull orig2

The Poor Devil


hfh49Once upon a time there was a peasant, who led his cow to pasture in the spring, and prayed God to have her in His care.

The evil one was sitting in a bush, heard him, and said to himself: “When things turn out well, they thank God for it; but if anything goes wrong, then I am always to blame!”

A few days later the cow strayed into a swamp. And when the peasant came and saw her he said: “Look at that! The devil has had his finger in the pie again!”

“Just what I might have expected,” thought the devil in his bush. Then the peasant went off to fetch people to help drag the cow out. But in the meantime the devil slipped from his bush and helped out the cow, for he thought:

“Now he will have something to thank me for, too.”

But when the peasant came back and saw the cow on dry land, he said: “Thank God, she’s out again!”mozartskull orig2

Móric Jókai ~ The Moonlight Somnambulist




Pozdordy was one of the best known and respected farmers in the province of B——, and the surrounding gentry were accustomed to visit him at his picturesque homestead. The frequency of their visits was, however, due chiefly to the circumstance that he was possessed of a lovely daughter. This maiden, besides being enchantingly beautiful, was as proud as a queen.

It was quite natural that the young men from round and about should be helplessly in love with her and willing to hazard life itself in the hope of winning such a prize. But many as were the rival suitors, they all at last had to give way to one upon whom Etelka bestowed her preference, and that preference could not be divided either in two or more parts. As a matter of fact no objection could have been made against her choice, for it fell upon such a man as is generally regarded as the ideal of a woman’s dreams. He was of fine stature, tall, well-proportioned, no longer young, it is true, but far from his decline. He was a retired major, and bore himself with a faultless military carriage. His manners were polished, his education extensive, and his wit by no means inferior. He was good-hearted, patriotic, and keen in business matters; he did not gamble, neither did he run into debt—in fact, from top to toe, you could not find a fault in him.

Of course the various competitors for the hand of Etelka had to bow before her decision, they could not help themselves; but one of them, in his fierce dissatisfaction, vowed inwardly that he would not yield the prize so easily. This rival was a young man who fancied that Etelka had regarded him with a degree of favour which was only second to that which she had bestowed on the victorious Major.

But Mogyorôdy, the malcontent in question, knew that Major Duránczy was very handy with rapier and pistol and did not care to be trifled with. He therefore determined to use diplomacy. He paid a friendly sort of visit to the father of Etelka, and spent the evening with him. Pozdordy had a pretty good suspicion as to why the visitor had come.

In due course the conversation turned upon Duránczy.

“A very nice fellow indeed, isn’t he?” said the farmer.

“Oh, yes,” replied Mogyorôdy, who at the same time made a grimace which betrayed his real opinion.

The farmer, who was evidently uneasy at the young man’s obvious jealousy, exclaimed:

“But you have nothing to say against him?”

“Oh, no, nothing in the world!”

“But you have something on your mind. It is true he’s not so youthful as you, but he is not yet old.”

“Oh, no, he’s in the prime of life.”

“Do you wish to imply that there is anything against his past?”

“No; for who amongst us has not got a past?”

“Perhaps you wish to make out that he is only marrying Etelka for her money?”

“By no means.”

“Do you accuse him of being a gambler?”

“He never touches cards.”

“A spendthrift?”

“He is the very reverse—stares on both sides of every halfpenny before he parts with it.”

“Do you think him lazy?”

“No, a model of plodding industry.”

“Then what is amiss with his character?”

“It is perfect—almost monotonously so; but he has one peculiarity with which you ought to be made acquainted if you are going to marry your daughter to him.”

“What is that?”

“Well, if you want to know, he’s a lunar somnambulist—when the moon is at the full he rises at night from his bed, and, with open eyes, walks about the house in a dream, muttering all kinds of extraordinary things. If swords or pistols were then within his reach he would probably wound or kill any one, and I shouldn’t like to see your daughter murdered in one of these moonlight perambulations.”

“Oh, that is nonsense. I will believe no tale of that kind.”

“Do as you please. I have discharged my duty, and told you. Now, good-night.”

But after Mogyorôdy had departed, the farmer, although he had pretended to be unconcerned, said to himself:

“This might possibly be true; I must investigate the matter further before the marriage takes place.”

His mind being very uneasy, he determined to invite Duránczy to his house on the next occasion, when the moon would be at its full; and when the night in question arrived he entertained the Major at his farm with all the outward demonstration of confidence and friendship.

It so happened that during the evening Mogyorôdy looked in, for although a rejected lover, he was still a recognised visitor, owing to business and family connections with the farmer.

Pozdordy, albeit that he was somewhat alarmed at the appearance of his rival, politely welcomed him, and was relieved to notice, as his two guests conversed together, that the old jealousy seemed to have quite disappeared, and that Mogyorôdy evinced towards the Major every symptom of good fellowship.

The wine circulated freely, and the night wore pleasantly away, until the clock reminded Pozdordy that there was a limit to every festivity. He had already intended to press Duránczy to sleep with him; but, as it was already late, he felt he could not do less than extend the invitation to Mogyorôdy. Wishing, however, to have the alleged somnambulist under his inspection, he assigned to the Major a spare bed in his own dormitory, and gave Mogyorôdy a separate room.

In due course, both host and guests retired. The farmer, as soon as he was between the sheets, lit a massive long-stemmed pipe, and began to smoke, keeping his eye upon Duránczy.

The moonlight was streaming in upon the Major’s pillow. It looked weird. The farmer watched Duránczy as he lay prostrate—watched and watched until he himself dozed off into an involuntary slumber.

Presently he was awoke by a noise. In the moonlight he perceived a figure, robed in a night-shirt. Ah! the Major, who seemed to be gazing around him with an air of mysterious inquiry. Then, step by step, with great circumspection, he advanced towards the farmer’s bedside. Pozdordy held his breath. “Yes,” he said to himself, “this man is a lunar somnambulist!”

Upon tiptoe the figure now went nearer and nearer to the farmer’s couch. Pozdordy, in breathless expectation, grasped his heavy long-stemmed pipe—the only weapon of self-defence within arm’s length—and just as the somnambulist was reaching towards an antique and richly inlaid sword, suspended high up against the wall, he dealt him a blow, so terrific as to produce a howl from the apparition. The farmer leaped out of bed, and, to protect his own life, was proceeding to half-strangle the sleepwalker, when, to his astonishment, he saw that it was not the Major.

“Who are you?” he exclaimed.

There was no answer. The farmer looked towards the Major’s bed—there, in the moonlight, lay the warrior, who was just beginning to be roused from sleep by the noise of the scuffle, and who dreamily exclaimed, “What the devil?”

Pozdordy released his hold of the neck of this unknown man, who hastily escaped from the room; and the report goes that Mogyorôdy travelled home at 2 A.M. in his night-shirt. Anyhow, after hiding under the Major’s bed in order to make him out to be a somnambulist, he never again dared to put his nose into Pozdordy’s household; and the gallant soldier is to-day in peaceful possession of the beautiful Etelka.

DmdJ Neu3

Ossip Schubin ~ Blanche, The Maid of Lille


Detail image of the Goya painting "Time."


In the museum at Lille, somewhat aside from the bewildering mass of pictures, stands, in a glass case, a masterpiece of unknown origin–the “tête de cire,”–a maiden’s bust moulded in coloured wax.

You will smile when you hear of a coloured wax bust and think of Madame Tussaud’s collection, or of a pretty, insignificant doll’s head; but should you ever see the “tête de cire,” instead of laughing you will fold your hands, and, instead of Madame Tussaud’s glass-eyed puppets, will think of a lovely girl cut off in her early bloom, whom you once saw at rest on the hard pillow of her coffin. Pale, with exquisite features, reddish brown hair, eyes slightly blinking, as if afraid of too much sun, a painfully resigned smile about her mouth, and with neck slightly bent forward, as if awaiting her death-stroke, full of touching innocence and of a languid grace, this waxen bust stands out of its dull gold case,–the image of an angel who had lived an earthly life and whose heart was broken by a mortal pain.

Whence came this masterly production? Nobody knows! One ascribes it to Leonardo, another to Raphael, while still others have sought for its origin in antiquity. Upon one point only all agree,–that the bust was made from a cast taken after death.

The painter, Wickar, brought it out of Italy into France. ‘Twas said that he found it in a Tuscan convent.

* * * * *

The lovely girl smiles, pleased at the critical debates of the curious, who wish to attribute this graceful creation to one of the illustrious Heroes of Art: smiles and dreams!


No, it could not be–‘twould be a sacrilege!

He was forty-five and she scarcely seventeen. It could not be!

After a series of adventurous campaigns, after mourning over many defeats and celebrating many victories, and finally losing his left leg in the memorable battle of Marignano, Gottfried de Montalme, finding himself disabled for the rough work of a soldier, had returned to France and to his father’s castle, whose gates his brother, the duke, hospitably opened to him.

He found this brother a widower, and at the point of death; but beside the dying man’s couch was a lovely little maiden who offered her cheeks to be kissed in welcome to the wanderer. She was the Duke of Montalme’s only child–Blanche, a heart’s balm! the light of his eyes!

Leaving no male heir, the entire inheritance of the Duke of Montalme–his castle and lands, with all the feudal rights appertaining thereto,–would devolve upon the returned warrior, Gottfried. The little maiden was badly provided for, and this the duke knew full well, and it made his dying heart sad.

Gottfried sat by the bedside of his brother through the warm May nights. He heard the ticking of the death-watch in the wainscoting of the old walls, heard the dewdrops, as they slowly rustled through the leaves of the giant lindens outside, heard the laboured breath of the dying man–but more distinctly than all did he hear the beating of his own heart.

Toward morning, when the first slant sunbeams shed a rosy glimmer into the gray twilight of the sick man’s room, this beating grew louder, for, with the early sun, Blanche slipped into the chamber, and, leaning compassionately over the sufferer, whispered, “Are you better, my father?”

Ah! for the Duke of Montalme there was no better, and one night he laid his damp, cold hand upon his brother’s warm and powerful one, saying, with the directness his near relationship warranted, “Gottfried, it would be a great comfort to me if you would take Blanche for your wife.”

At this Gottfried blushed up to the roots of his gray hair, and murmured, “What an idea to come into your head–I an old cripple, and this young blossom! It would be a sacrilege!”

“She does not dislike you,” said the duke.

The brave Gottfried blushed deeper, and said, “She is but a child.”

“Oh, these conscientious notions!” grumbled the exhausted man. But notions or not, Gottfried was firm, and of a marriage-bond with the child would not hear; he promised to afford the little maiden loving care and protection–promised to guard her as the apple of his eye–as his own child, until he could, with confidence, lay her hand into that of a worthy lover’s.

And while he promised this, his voice sounded hollow and sad like the tolling of a funeral bell. The duke, with the clear-sightedness of the dying, cast a glance into his brother’s heart, and discovered there a holy secret.

“You’re an angel, Gottfried,” he murmured, “but you make a mistake,” and shortly after breathed his last.

On the day of the funeral Dame Isabella von Auberive, a distant relative whom Gottfried, for propriety’s sake, had summoned hither, arrived at the castle to share with him in the care of the young girl. Beside her father’s bier, surrounded by the dim, flickering candles, he kissed the sweet orphan reverently on the brow, as one kisses the hem of a Madonna’s robe; and promised her his loving care. But when she, in a torrent of childish grief, wound her arms about his neck and pressed her little head against his shoulder, he became almost as white as the dead man in his coffin, and tenderly but firmly released himself from her.

It could not be–‘twould be sacrilege.


During the brilliant period in the reign of King Francis I., it happened that in the marvellously fair, luxuriant Touraine, through whose velvet green meadows ran the “gay-jewel-glistening Loire,–the frolicsome, flippant Loire,”–there arose on its banks, one by one, the stately dwellings of many a proud lord.

Somewhat apart from the others, in a retired spot, where King Francis’s elegant hunters seldom found their way, towered up the Castle of Montalme; large, massive, with gloomy little windows sunk into deep holes in the walls, and with a round turret on either wing. Stern and forbidding, it looked down into the moat in whose waterless bed toads and frogs revelled amid the moist green foliage; for the age was fast drawing to a close in which every nobleman had been a little king, and the simple heroic French feudality, blinded by the nimbus of Francis I., were rapidly being transformed into a mere host of courtiers.

The dull uniformity in the architecture of Montalme stood out in striking contrast to the rest of the castles of sunny, pleasure-loving Touraine. The internal arrangement corresponded to the plain exterior, and to the naïve pretensions of a century when, even in Blois and Amboise, the favourite castles of the king, the doors were so low that Francis himself, who is known to have been of regal stature, had to stoop to enter them. The scantiness of the furniture in this huge Castle of Montalme added to its forlorn aspect; nor was the slightest deference paid to prevailing fashion. The ladies wore sombre-coloured dresses, cut high in the neck, and covering the arms down to the very end of the wrists; skirts hanging in long, heavy folds, allowing only the pointed toe of the leather shoe to peep out. The gentlemen wore the hair long, and their faces smoothly shaved; their doublets reached in folds almost to the knees, as had been the fashion under the simple, economical rule of the late king.

* * * * *

A year had glided by since the death of the duke. Blanche enjoyed the happiness of youth, free from care, and Gottfried the peace of honest, high-souled self-denial. A guardian angel, he limped about modestly at the side of his niece, rejoicing to be able to remove every stone which threatened to mar the smoothness of her path, or to scare away the hawks lurking in ambush to surprise her innocence.

And when considering the charms of his dear little niece, Gottfried thought of the orgies in the Amboise Castle, of the “petite bande” and the merry raids of the king, the real aim of which was nothing higher than some foolish love-adventure, he shuddered. Deeply and often he pondered the matter. Blanche was eighteen–it was time for her to be married–and yet his brave, faithful heart shrank with anguish at the bare thought of it. He would not hesitate (at least he believed this of himself) to part with her if only he could find a true-hearted, honourable man. But in this age of beauty and song–the age of King Francis such an one was hard to find.

Meanwhile Blanche was contented with her lonely, monotonous life, perhaps, in part, because she knew no other, yet, also, because a fountain of youthful gaiety was still unexhausted in her heart. There were many things to do in the daytime, and she played chess with her uncle in the long winter evenings, while sparks flashed out of the heavy oak logs in the chimney, and the single tallow candle in its artistically wrought iron candlestick wove a little island of light in the Cimmerian darkness of the monstrous hall.

Sometimes Gottfried entertained her with stories–the legend of Tristran and Iseult–or the pathetic tale of the Count of Lusignano and the fair Melusina; often, too, he told her of his own adventures in foreign lands.

But the happier Blanche made herself in this lonely life, the more furious became Dame Isabella. She was a worthy woman, but never could realise that her once distinguished beauty had long been buried under a weight of corpulence, and therefore did not restrain herself from putting on all sorts of ridiculous airs and graces, in order to attract the attention of the whole neighbourhood to her supposed charms. Out of sheer ennui she ogled even her page, Philemon, a boy of twelve years, although he cherished a modest but so much the more glowing adolescent passion for the lovely Blanche.

Whilst winding endless skeins of silk off the hands of the page, she sighed in a heart-breaking way, and made the most pointed remarks about the laziness and unmannerliness of those noblemen who purposely avoided any approach to the kind, chivalrous king.

Gottfried long forbore to respond to such innuendoes. Of what use would it be to try to explain to this silly old person that the court of King Francis was not the proper sphere for such a fat old woman as herself, or for a little maiden like Blanche, who would receive a kind of adulation before which the good, true-hearted warrior shuddered? Once, however, when Dame Isabella, more excited than usual, stormed in upon him and insisted that the young girl’s future should be taken into immediate consideration, he gave her an angry answer. But it did not silence her, and though the worthy woman talked plenty of nonsense, yet she sometimes made a remark that Gottfried could not think wholly unjustifiable. “Blanche is eighteen years old!” stormed Dame Auberive; “if you do not wish her to marry you must resolve to place her in one of the nunneries, which are the only respectable refuge for unmarried women of her position.”

“Who told you that I did not want Blanche to marry?” exclaimed Gottfried, with anger and agitation; “it is only that I have not yet found any one good enough for her.” But Dame Isabella replied with cutting scorn, “No one will ever seem to you good enough for her!” and bounced out of the room the picture of righteous indignation.

Shortly after this it happened that a young knight was brought into the castle badly wounded; he had fallen among thieves, been robbed, and left unconscious by the roadside. He must be a man of rank, the servants thought who brought him in, for his dress, though soiled and torn, was of the finest material, and he wore the full beard with close-shaved hair which most of the courtiers wore in imitation of the king. Gottfried recognised in him a certain Henri de Lancy who, at the battle of Marignano, had fought beside him and won general admiration for his bravery, and had, more than all, dragged him–his old friend Gottfried–out of the thick of the battle after a ball had broken his leg.

As he bent over the handsome youth lying there before him with closed eyes, so pale and helpless, an emotion of deep pity overcame Gottfried, and he exerted himself to the utmost to lavish on De Lancy all the comforts which the poor castle of Montalme could command.

The sight of the wounded knight roused the quiet castle out of its phlegmatic drowsiness, and the heart of Dame Isabella beat so wildly that her orders confused the heads of her servants. Even through the veins of the innocent Blanche thrilled a strange, dreamy unrest.

At that time there prevailed, together with a sultry kind of viciousness, compared with which modern profligacy appears petty and childish, a frank, genial naïveté, which is lost to our age with its prudish, artificial morality. The most delicate maiden did not hesitate, at that time, to lend help in nursing a sick man; and besides, women in that century–thanks to the rarity of doctors–found it necessary to acquire some knowledge of the healing art.

Hence it was that Blanche came to the assistance of Dame Isabella and her Uncle Gottfried in the care of De Lancy, and as her hand was the most delicate, it usually fell to her to loosen the bandages around the ugly wound on his head, and as she had the steadiest nerve, it was she who, with Gottfried’s help, removed the splinter of a broken sword-point from his shoulder.

Quiet and helpful as an angel, she hovered about the unconscious man. But once, as she was bending over his couch to watch the breathing of the sufferer, a great abatement of the wound fever happily set in. De Lancy opened his eyes, which, though at times blue as the heavens above, were at others black as an abyss. The “petite bande” knew these eyes well.

Just now they were very blue and fixed with peculiar pleasure on the tender little maiden. But she drew back embarrassed. The strange, marvellous eyes had driven away his guardian angel, and from that hour she avoided the sick man’s room.

* * * * *

We shall readily imagine that Henri de Lancy would not endure to be nursed like a sick woman, and, as soon as he could lift hand and foot, he dragged himself off his couch–possibly his impatience to see the pretty girl again had also something to do with this haste.

It provoked the young dandy that he could not introduce himself into the presence of the ladies in a more elegant costume; yet his comparatively simple travelling dress was becoming to him, and still more (at least in the eyes of the sweet Blanche) his paleness, his deep-sunk, feverish eyes, and the weakness in all his movements, which he strove to hide; for there is something which appeals to the sympathies of a true woman in seeing a strong, chivalrous man impatient and mortified at his weakness. Under her dropped eyelids Blanche watched all his movements, and was constantly considering how to remove what might interfere with the comfort of the helpless invalid. Yet she did not offer him the slightest service herself, only secretly made Dame Isabella acquainted with the need. Her sympathy and her charming bashfulness did not fail to touch the heart of the convalescent.

The “petite bande” would have laughed in scorn and right heartily, had they seen how modestly the audacious De Lancy exerted himself to please the unpretending little girl with the pale face of a novice.

And Lady Isabella neglected the page Philemon and adorned herself to such a degree that–well–it cost De Lancy all the trouble in the world not to laugh in her face. The finest part of her toilet was her “coiffure,” which in style dated back at least thirty years. It consisted of a towering head-dress that ran up to a point, from which an enormous veil fluttered down to her knees.

* * * * *

The days came and went–the beautiful July days–flooding Touraine with golden sunshine from dawn to dewy eve. The air was heavy with the perfume of roses and linden blossoms. Henri’s hollow face had regained its full, natural contour, and his arm had long been freed from the sling. He was able to travel–yet of his departure spoke never so much as a dying word.

He was only a merry-hearted, heedless fellow, but with a very attractive manner; when it pleased him he could assume toward women at once such a courteous, amiable, respectful manner that no one could long be vexed with him, even were she the proudest of the daughters of earth. He had so completely enchanted Dame Isabella that she spent whole nights pondering over the preparation of the most recherché viands. She served up to him the most skilfully made pies, capons dressed with spices after the Spanish custom, or young peacocks which she knew how to roast so artistically as not to singe a feather on tail or little crown; and when the dame saw with what love-intoxicated gaze he often fastened his eyes on the beautiful girl, she furthered his intercourse with her as only she could. It would have delighted her to win such an aristocratic connection as De Lancy.

But there was one person in Montalme who could not feel friendly toward the gallant young knight–and this was the lord of the castle himself.

“How long is he going to stay?” he growled out one day to Dame Isabella. “He has sent for his clothes and his pages, and next he will be inviting his friends here to display Blanche’s charms to the whole country.”

“Don’t imagine this,” said Isabella, with a shrewd smile; “lovers are miserly, and would, if possible, keep the joy of their heart out of sight of the entire world.”

“The joy of his heart!” exclaimed Gottfried. “Then it is high time that I interfered and obliged him to declare himself!”

“Let nothing of the kind occur to you!” exclaimed Isabella, with a look of horror. “Spare the germ of his young love until it ripens into an earnest desire for the happiness of marriage.”

Gottfried became gloomy. “If I thought that the man would woo the girl honourably! He is a most attractive fellow, but although brave and generous, the best among the young coxcombs of to-day are proud of transgressions which the worst in my day would have been ashamed of, and, in fact, they regard it only as a good joke, an aristocratic pastime, to seduce an innocent girl!” and he struck his brow with his fist.

“Such an idea should never come into your mind,” said Isabella, passionately; “it is shocking in you to insult the man who saved your life, by such scandalous suspicions. You call your suspicions conscientious–they should properly bear quite a different name.”

“What, then?” growled Gottfried. Dame Isabella stood on the tips of her toes, and hissed in his ear, “Jealousy!”

At this he ground his teeth,–his eyebrows contracted with pain;–he turned on his heels and left the room: determined to watch and be silent!


In the cool, lofty rooms of the Castle of Montalme Blanche wandered about all this time like one bewildered by a great joy. Her eyes were half-closed, as if dazzled by too clear a radiance, and her voice was full of plaintive rapture, like that in which the nightingale sobs his love through the warm summer nights, and all her motions had an added grace.

But one day Dame Isabella whispered to her, “He is desperately in love with you!”

And it awakened Blanche out of her sweet, unconscious ecstasy. She began to test it–to doubt! She noticed exactly how often he addressed a word directly to her, was sad if he passed her without seeking response; his glance to her glance–his smile to her smile!


Dreamy afternoon stillness brooded over Montalme, the doves cooed monotonously on the roof. In one of the deep, oak-panelled window niches Blanche stood gazing down into the courtyard, which was full of dark shadows. There stood De Lancy in the picturesque costume Titian has immortalised in the portraits of Francis I., the puffed sleeves and high ruff under which the handsomest man in France was pleased to hide the stoop in his shoulders and the thickness of his neck.

To young De Lancy this costume was wonderfully becoming. With the black velvet bonnet at his ear, he was amusing himself with a falcon, which, perched on his shoulder, he alternately teased and soothed; then a greyhound stretched to full length came bounding forward with light, quick leaps, and sprang upon him. De Lancy slipped his thin, delicate hand behind his ear, and stroked him with all the tenderness which men of our day are accustomed to bestow on their dogs and horses, with a certain pride in their training. At this, however, the falcon became jealous, beat his wings, and pecked the hound with his beak. De Lancy enjoyed teasing the two animals, and when by alternate caresses he had made both positively unhappy, he pressed with one hand the head of the falcon against his cheek, and with the other the head of the hound to his breast. Then the two creatures were contented, and he smiled–his eyes grew darker, and his white teeth glistened.

But the heart of the maiden, who, gazing down into the court, saw the pretty play, was convulsed with pain,–was it a kind of jealousy which agitated her–or simply a wish? Suddenly De Lancy glanced up, and espying the young lady of the castle, greeted her respectfully. Blanche thanked him somewhat bashfully, and drew back trembling from head to foot. When she ventured again to look down into the court, De Lancy was no longer to be seen.

But the wings of the gently moved afternoon air bore to her ear a little song which the gay youth trilled to himself as he strolled away:

“Ha! me chère ennemie
Si tu veux m’apaiser,
Redonne–moy la vie
Par l’esprit d’un baiser.
Ha! j’en ay la douceur
Senti jusque au cœur.
C’est une douce rage
Qui nous poindra doucement
Quand d’un même courage
On s’aime incessament.
Heureux sera le jour
Que je mourrai d’amour!”


This audacious love-song at that time flitted from lip to lip at the court of King Francis, until about a year later the poet Ronsard sang it,–and after he had enriched it with two or three daintily elaborated verses it was incorporated with his works.

De Lancy had often hummed it when hastening through the gray corridors, or walking in the garden under the sombre boughs of the blossoming lindens. But never had Blanche heard it so completely and clearly. Warm and full the tones of his voice rang in her ears. Through this exuberant and frivolous nature passed the agitating sense of an almost pathetic tenderness.

Blanche stared before her into the empty air, and there came into her face a great terror–a mighty longing!


Gottfried watched and suffered–each hour more suspicious and uneasy.

In the castle chapel of Montalme stood a narrow-chested saint with peaked beard,–St. Sebaldus,–who bore on his wooden forefinger an amethyst ring. With this ring was connected a legend,–viz.,–that whoever would have the courage to draw it off the finger at midnight and put it on his own–to him Heaven would grant the fulfilment of his wish, even were it the most presumptuous in the world. But should the one who took off the jewel let it fall from his linger ere returning it on the following night, as in duty bound, to the saint, some terrible misfortune would speedily overtake him.

It was midnight, and deathly stillness reigned; the moonlight played about the pointed roof and glittered in the deeply set windows of the old castle. Black and heavy, almost as a bier-cloth, the shadow of this gigantic old building spread over the ground. In the garden below, the nightingales sobbed their sweet songs in the flowering lindens, sometimes interrupted by the weird screech of an owl. Then a slender figure glided softly through the echoing corridors of the castle–the figure of a love-sick girl. At times she paused and listened and laid her hand upon her breast. A vague, ghostly fear chilled the blood in her veins. Now she stepped through the high hall adjoining the chapel. She opened the door heavily weighted with its ornamental iron bands and rosettes. The moonlight glanced through the coloured windows and painted fantastic images on the brown church pews. Two long, brilliant streaks of light cut through the shadows which broadened out over the marble floor.

Above the altar hung a Madonna with attenuated arms and too long a neck, as the “Primitives” in their naïve awkwardness like to picture her. Blanche knelt before her and lisped an Ave and the Lord’s Prayer; then turning to the saint who, stiff and complacent, gazed down from his pedestal, she drew the ring off his finger and put it on her own.

Just at this moment she heard a slight rustle outside, a confused feeling of dread and fear suddenly came over her,–a vague, painful fear of all the mysterious powers of night and darkness. Quite beside herself, she was hurrying out of the chapel when, in her confusion, she almost rushed into the arms of a man who stepped toward her in the adjacent hall.

Although she had passed so softly through the house, one ear had recognised her step,–Henri de Lancy,–by whose chamber she was obliged to go in her way to the chapel.

And now he stood before her, and his blue eyes shone in the clear moonlight, and he bent over her smiling. She started back, but did not fly–only remained standing as if spellbound. When he seized her hand and she tried to free herself, however, he held her fast, whispering, “Stay only a little while, I pray you; I’ve so much to say to you!”

“Leave me! leave me!” she cried, timidly.

“Only a minute!” he begged of her. “You have always avoided me, I could never say it to you, but indeed you must long have known how infinitely I love you!”

He stooped over her–she trembled like a delicate rose-bud with which the spring wind plays. She thought of the saint’s ring which she had on her finger for the purpose of conjuring Heaven to grant her Henri de Lancy’s love. Had the conjuration then worked so speedily? Oh, measureless joy! Oh, never-anticipated blessedness!

And yet–

It was so still–so late! “Leave me! leave me!” she whispered. “Wait, I must ask Gottfried.”

“And do you believe he will know better than yourself whether you love me?”

He laid his arm round her–his kiss hovered over her lips–when–the door was torn open, and, with drawn dagger and face distorted with rage, Gottfried rushed upon De Lancy. “Cowardly traitor!” he yelled, and stopped, for Blanche, uttering a hoarse shriek of anguish, stretched out her arms before the beloved man to protect him.

Woe! woe! in this moment the enchanted ring slipped from her finger!


Angry men’s voices echoed through the halls and galleries–then stillness reigned again.

Without, the dewdrops rustled in the leaves, but the nightingales were hushed. In her lonely chamber sat a pale, sad girl, tearless and comfortless. When the gray morning came a gloomy rider stormed out of the castle.


At that time,–in the beginning of the sixteenth century,–shortly after the battle of Marignano, and the great awakening at Wittenberg, there brooded over creation a sultry atmosphere, in which the thoughts and feelings of men frothed and raved with unbridled wantonness, stimulated by the storm-ridden air.

King Francis had brought back with him to his native land, after his sojourn in Italy and his conference with Pope Leo, a highly cultivated artistic taste, united with a certain subtle depravity of morals. Henceforth his court became an open field for the fine arts, and an arena for the most debauched, sensual orgies. And not merely owing to his high position, but also because he maintained in the midst of his wildest excesses the prestige of a magnanimous chivalry, his example influenced all the young people of France directly and irresistibly.

It was in the zenith of this regal frivolity and regal favour that Henri’s voluptuous life was interrupted by the above-related intermezzo of sincere, honest love for this child of Montalme. But it was at the very time when King Francis, basely deserting his noble wife, the good Queen Claude, at the head of a jolly troupe of knights, accompanied by the most beautiful women of France, was roving from city to city, from castle to castle, from forest to forest, making the air resound with the clang of cymbals, the blowing of horns, and the baying of dogs; in summer dropping down on the fairest flower-strewn meadows, or near mossy-green woods to hold their revels, and in winter pelting each other with snowballs and filling the various castles with shouts and laughter.

Now here–now there–he appeared as in a fairy tale–like a vision–the impersonation of joy. Where one hoped to find him he had just vanished, and where he was not expected he came. This constant change of residence frequently embarrassed his ministers or those immediately responsible for affairs of state, as well as the foreign ambassadors. And whilst the most serious problems were perplexing their heads, he, with his knights and the “petite bande,” was ranging all over the country in search of adventure, and when needed was never to be found.

It was as difficult to prevent one’s self from being infected with the frivolity of the king’s court–if living in the midst of it–as to keep one’s health intact in a plague lazaretto. To have done it, one must have been peculiarly organised, and Henri de Lancy was not peculiarly organised.


Weeks passed. Ever slower the time dragged on amid the aching stillness of Montalme. Blanche’s trembling hope, which resolved itself at first into hot, feverish unrest, changed by degrees to stony despair.

She grew paler and paler–her languid steps ever more feeble–her talk abstracted and disconnected. With head slightly bent forward, her lips half-open, and her eyes fixed on vacancy, she watched and listened–in vain! He came not, and nobody came who could give her any knowledge of him. Once when Gottfried, who did not allow her to be out of his sight in this sad, sad time, sought for her in vain in castle and garden, led by a jealous suspicion, he climbed up into the tower chamber which De Lancy had occupied. Through the half-open door he espied Blanche. She was sitting at the foot of the bed upon which De Lancy had been laid when wounded. She smiled, and on her innocent lips trembled the words of his daring love-song:

“Si tu veux m’apaiser
Redonne–moi la vie
Par l’esprit d’un baiser.”

She was dreaming!

Whole nights she sat up sleepless in her bed and murmured or sang softly to herself. And now many times through the stillness of night she heard the beat of a horse’s hoof at full speed passing her window. Who could the rider be who thus hurried by Montalme at the dead of night?

There was one person in the castle whose faith was firm as a rock in De Lancy’s truth. This was Dame Isabella. Daily she invented fresh excuses for his remaining away–daily arrayed herself in expectation of his return. For hours together she would grin and curtsey before the mirror, preparing for her advent at court.

* * * * *

One day when Blanche, with her hands in her lap, sat brooding, Dame Isabella rushed to her, exclaiming, “Blanche! Blanche! quick, the royal hunting party is coming by the castle!”

Blanche trembled, for she knew that he must be among the king’s retinue. She stepped to the window.

Like a gold embroidered thundercloud, the hunting-party whirled out of the distance and drew nearer. Horns sounded and rapid hoof-beats vibrated on the air. As they approached, a good chance was afforded to see the costly apparel of the ladies, and also of the gentlemen, of whom an old chronicler of the times avers, not without point, that some among them wore their lands and castles on their shoulders.

They fluttered by like a glittering swarm of birds of paradise. Blanche stretched her little head forward–there he was–one of the first!

He did not even look up–but rushed by like a storm-wind, his face turned to a blonde, regal lady, and looking proud and imposing indeed. Blanche staggered back. What could there have been in that brilliant throng of further interest to her? Dame Isabella, however, lingered at the window, and grinned and bowed with might and main, while her huge head-gear rocked comically back and forth.

And now the king approached on a milk-white steed with scarlet velvet, gold-embroidered housings. He looked up, and was reminded of an amusing picture which De Lancy, on his return to court, when questioned by the ladies as to the adventure which had detained him so long away, had drawn of a worthy old scarecrow who tended his wounds in Montalme. The existence of the lovely maiden Blanche he had deemed it wisest to conceal. Stifling a laugh, Francis returned Dame Isabella’s greeting with roguish exaggeration, then turning, whispered to those nearest him, whereupon they also looked up, and being greeted by her, the entire retinue stopped a minute to inspect the self-satisfied old monstrosity. But they did not all possess the amiable courtesy which distinguished the king even in his unrestrained naughtiness. One of the ladies smiled, another laughed, and, like a spark in a ton of powder, this laugh was enough to set off the kindling stuff of repressed hilarity which at once exploded.

So pointed were the looks–so hearty the laughter of the party–that even the self-admiring Isabella could not in the slightest degree be deceived as to the cause of their merriment. Mortified, she drew back out of sight, and the hunting party passed on. Yet at a distance the sound of the continued laughter was audible. Dame Isabella was furious. “They laughed at me, they pointed at me with their fingers!” she repeated, over and over again, her corpulent figure, and especially her double chin, trembling in a remarkable way; and utterly forgetting her former admiration of the court, she added, “The disorderly mob! the base women!”

Blanche, who, with her elbows in her hands, was staring straight before her like one stunned, thought, “Perhaps he is laughing at me too!” and thought these words aloud; since she had been so absorbed in sorrow and longing she had often uttered whole sentences like one in a feverish dream.

“That you may be sure of!” said Dame Isabella, in a huff, and rustled out of the room to lay aside once and for all the ugly headgear which she had had a chance to observe was in appalling contradiction to the prevailing style. She distinctly recalled Henri de Lancy’s expressed admiration for this same head ornament. Now she knew that he had been making fun of her, and anger and resentment gnawed at her heart.

It chanced that on the following day two mendicant friars sought admission to the castle. Dame Isabella asked to have these bare-footed martyrs conducted to her room, welcomed them hospitably and in the most respectful manner; in the first place because she was pious, but in the second because these wandering monks served as a kind of peripatetic newspaper; for which their roving life afforded them sufficient variety of material. Thus the lady obtained the most precise information about the frivolities of the king and his rollicking companions, especially the handsome De Lancy, who, she was told, among all these lawless revellers was the worst. He was not only following the royal example to the last extent (the monks exaggerated perhaps a trifle, seeing how much it pleased their listener), but of late he had actually formed a liaison with a married woman, the Countess de Sologne, whom, as she was carefully guarded by her husband’s jealousy, he visited secretly at night. And they ended by saying, “It would not surprise us if the castle lady heard the reckless knight ride by, since it was the shortest way to Laemort, the hereditary seat of the Solognes.”

We may rest assured that Dame Isabella gave the monks for this precious communication plenty of money to spend on their way. Possessed of her glorious bit of knowledge, she was dying to tell it, and seeing Blanche at the chess-board, opposite her uncle, who exerted himself all the time to try to distract her thoughts, she began immediately to relate what she had heard. They were not prudish in those days, and if here and there one cared to preserve the innocence of a young girl, that blissful ignorance was by no means maintained which to-day is held peculiarly sacred and inviolate.

Dame Isabella repeated word for word all she had heard of the shameful proceedings which hourly went on in the Castle of Amboise, and of the startling depravity of Henri de Lancy. In vain Gottfried attempted, by his displeased looks, to silence her; she went on further, and advised Blanche to rejoice that she had escaped the danger of becoming the wife of this vicious fellow. Blanche sat stiff and straight, not uttering a word, and continued to shove the little ivory figures slowly over the board–that she made the castle execute the peculiar leaps of the knight, Isabella did not notice. But when she finished by saying that they might hear Henri de Lancy ride by nightly, since the nearest way to his beloved duchess led by Montalme, they suddenly heard a painful quiver like the dropping of a little bird which had been shot through the heart. Blanche had fainted and fallen.

“Cruel woman!” exclaimed Gottfried, furiously, “must you tell? I could be silent!”

He had long known of Henri’s infidelity.

Consciousness soon returned to the poor girl, and with it the recollection of her sorrow. Blanche longed to lose herself again, but the blessing was denied her. Not even the repose of sleep did Heaven grant her. She would lie awake, listening feverishly the whole night; but no sound disturbed the deathlike stillness either the first or the second night. During the day Blanche dragged herself from room to room, as if her once flying feet were weighted with lead, but most of the time she sat stiffly erect with her hands lying helplessly in her lap, staring before her with glazed eyes.

The third day was drawing to a close. Gottfried came in, and, seating himself beside her, inquired after her health. She replied there was nothing the matter with her, but at the same time crept close to him like a very sick child, and he, who had usually repulsed her innocent caresses, now put his arm around her slender body and laid her little head tenderly on his shoulder; he no longer thought of his own pain, but of hers.

She begged him to tell her a story, as a sick child begs for a cradle-song.

He had told her many a tale in bygone days, yet of all she liked best to hear of his own adventures and what he himself had seen. Therefore he asked now, “A true story, my jewel?” She shuddered, “Oh, no! no! a fiction, my uncle, pray!”

He passed his hand thoughtfully over his brow. Nothing occurred to him but a little legend which had been told him by a half-crazy monk who was crouching on the steps of the Milan Cathedral, and with a somewhat tremulous voice he began:

“It happens occasionally that in the midst of the blessedness of heaven an angel looking down yearns for earth, which seems attractive in the enchantment of distance. Then St. Peter, at the Almighty’s command, grudgingly opens the gates of heaven a little, and the angel slips through. But however much he exerts himself and beats his wings, the little fluttering things carry him up, and he cannot escape from the spheres of sinless purity which float around Paradise. St. Peter rattles his bunch of keys and again the gates of heaven open, and now on the threshold stands Jesus Christ, well-beloved Son of the Father, and infinitely compassionate Son of Man, who knows the earth thoroughly. And when the lovely, unwise rebel turns his gold-encircled little head to question him concerning it, he beckons him to come nearer, and smiling lays a warm beating weight on his breast. Then he says, ‘Try it!’

“And lo! when now the angel attempts to lift his wings the little weight which Jesus Christ has laid on his breast draws him down to earth–for the weight is a human heart. Slowly, slowly he descends from the spheres until he lands on a green meadow. There he sinks into a deep, dreamless sleep, and when he awakes he has lost his wings, forgotten his heavenly origin, and has become a man–only with an intense longing in his soul for virtue and purity, which he is not himself aware is homesickness; holiness, happiness, heaven, and home being to him unconsciously one and the same thing. Yet but now howe’er much his yearning may hurry him upward again, his heart chains him fast to the earth and he cannot return to his radiant home until a great human grief has broken the heart which was laid on his breast. Then our Lord Jesus Christ glides downward to earth–takes the poor rebel in his arms and carries him back to Paradise.”

Gottfried paused. Blanche was silent a moment, then she sighed, “Your story is sad, almost as sad as if it were a true one!”

To which Gottfried replied, “But it has a lovely ending!”

The sad maiden, however, was perfectly silent, and looking into her melancholy eyes he discerned a doubt in them if even the joy of heaven could compensate for that which we suffer and are deprived of on earth.

After a little while Blanche began, “Is the dear God then displeased if an angel looking down yearns for the earth?”

“No,” murmured Gottfried, “but he is sad, very sad!”


For two nights she had had no sleep; on the third she was exhausted and slept soundly, and dreamed a sweet–wonderfully sweet dream.

It seemed to her that she met her beloved in the garden. A delicious perfume was wafted from the crown of the lindens, soft greenish shadows spread twilight over the earth, and all nature, as in measureless rapture, held its breath, no lightest touch of air stirred–she lay in his arms, love-enchanted and his lips closed her mouth.

Thus she dreamed–when suddenly she sprang up as if one had struck her heart with an iron hammer.

Was not that the sound of a horse’s hoof which broke on the stillness of night? In her long white nightdress she flew to the window.

She recognised him, notwithstanding the speed of his horse, and in spite of the curtain of darkness with which midnight sought to veil his figure. She bent far over the window-breasting and stretched out her arms; a frightful longing confused her senses, and she sang–poor child!–without knowing what the words meant:

“Si tu veux m’apaiser
Redonne–moi la vie
Par l’esprit d’un baiser.

Heureux sera le jour
Quand je mourrai d’amour!”

Louder and louder the voice swelled out, piercing as a cry of anguish; yet full of a powerful sweetness the song echoed through the sultry stillness of night. It struck the ear of the rider. He checked his horse, looked around him, and then spurred the animal anew until he leaped wildly on.

She bent forward–farther forward,–“Plus d’espoir!” she groaned. Her heart was so heavy, so heavy! Beneath, the dew glistened like a silver sheen over the azure fields, out of which an angel seemed calling her to “Cool rest–cool rest!”

She bent forward–forward! and then fell many, many fathoms deep into the moat below.

* * * * *

The heavy fall was heard in the castle, and soon the servants with torches hurried forth to see what had happened.

There, below, glimmered something white as a blossom broken off by the storm. They climbed down. The light of the torches played over a pale, lovely face which smiled in death. She was not disfigured, not a particle of dust, not a speck of mud or soil of earth, adhered to her white garment, although she had fallen among plants growing in the mud. In spotless purity the white folds wound about her beautiful limbs. And when the people saw this, they marvelled, and said, “A miracle!” Then one pressed through the throng, deathly pale with distorted face–Henri de Lancy!

But Gottfried coldly turned him away from the dead maiden.

Right tenderly the old soldier lifted the lovely body in his arms, murmuring:

“Her heart was broken–she is released!”


It was an age full of horrors, when the noblest blood of illustrious Hellenism rose up to face a background of battles, orgies, and pulpit harangues. It was not only a period in which Lorenzo de’ Medici, in disguise and at the head of a bacchanalian troop tore through the streets of Florence; Benvenuto Cellini stabbed his enemies at the street corners; Pope Leo at a cardinal’s supper presented a sacrifice of doves to the Goddess of Love upon a white marble altar, and offered to his favourite, Raphael, a cardinal’s hat in payment of his bills–but a time also when Savonarola preached the loftiest asceticism; Rabelais, in the midst of his obscene rhapsodies, created the wonderful idyl of l’Abbaye de Telesme; Fra Angelico on his knees painted his picture of Christ, and the triumphal procession of an emperor ended in a monastery!

A time full of enigmas! and among the many enigmas which lived in it, was one of a sad, silent monk, of whom his cloister-brethren asserted that he once had led a very dissolute life, but now was the most absorbed dèvoté.

And whilst King Francis, at variance with himself and the world, tried to maintain, even to the end, the appearance of ostentatious levity, and to win fresh renown as a patron of art, and to console himself for his lost self-respect with the flatteries of the Duchess d’Etampes, this monk devoted every single hour which remained to him, after the barest satisfaction of his physical needs, and the fulfilment of his religious duties, to one and the same work,–a sweet girl’s head,–which he, with his slender, effeminate, courtier’s hand, formed out of wax after a death mask, and ever again re-formed, and could never finish to his own satisfaction. Discouraged, disappointed, he destroyed each day the work of the preceding until finally, in the very last year of his life he became more tranquil, and then under his never-weary hands arose an exquisite maiden’s head with a sweet, thoughtful expression of face,–the little head bent forward as if listening to a great joy, yet weighed down by the presentiment of a terrible pain!

And he worked at the head on his knees, like Fra Angelico at his ecstatic pictures of saints, and he coloured it most beautifully–but still, not as if it were the head of a living maiden, but as of one who had died in the freshness of youth. When he succeeded, he smiled and closed his eyes for ever.


After long wanderings, the bust has found a resting-place in the museum at Lille. Full of a dreamy pathos, it stands in its glass case–an atonement for Love betrayed–in memory of the bitterest repentance.

As the embodiment of an old legend, it interests us and seems to say: “A tear for Blanche of Montalme; for Henri de Lancy–a prayer!”

DMdJ Neu2



01May 8th. What a lovely day! I have spent all the morning lying in the grass in front of my house, under the enormous plantain tree which covers it, and shades and shelters the whole of it. I like this part of the country and I am fond of living here because I am attached to it by deep roots, profound and delicate roots which attach a man to the soil on which his ancestors were born and died, which attach him to what people think and what they eat, to the usages as well as to the food, local expressions, the peculiar language of the peasants, to the smell of the soil, of the villages and of the atmosphere itself.

I love my house in which I grew up. From my windows I can see the Seine which flows by the side of my garden, on the other side of the road, almost through my grounds, the great and wide Seine, which goes to Rouen and Havre, and which is covered with boats passing to and fro.

On the left, down yonder, lies Rouen, that large town with its blue roofs, under its pointed Gothic towers. They are innumerable, delicate or broad, dominated by the spire of the cathedral, and full of bells which sound through the blue air on fine mornings, sending their sweet and distant iron clang to me; their metallic sound which the breeze wafts in my direction, now stronger and now weaker, according as the wind is stronger or lighter.

What a delicious morning it was!

About eleven o’clock, a long line of boats drawn by a steam tug, as big as a fly, and which scarcely puffed while emitting its thick smoke, passed my gate.

After two English schooners, whose red flag fluttered toward the sky, there came a magnificent Brazilian three-master; it was perfectly white and wonderfully clean and shining. I saluted it, I hardly know why, except that the sight of the vessel gave me great pleasure.

May 12th. I have had a slight feverish attack for the last few days, and I feel ill, or rather I feel low-spirited.

Whence do these mysterious influences come, which change our happiness into discouragement, and our self-confidence into diffidence? One might almost say that the air, the invisible air is full of unknowable Forces, whose mysterious presence we have to endure. I wake up in the best spirits, with an inclination to sing in my throat. Why? I go down by the side of the water, and suddenly, after walking a short distance, I return home wretched, as if some misfortune were awaiting me there. Why? Is it a cold shiver which, passing over my skin, has upset my nerves and given me low spirits? Is it the form of the clouds, or the color of the sky, or the color of the surrounding objects which is so changeable, which have troubled my thoughts as they passed before my eyes? Who can tell? Everything that surrounds us, everything that we see without looking at it, everything that we touch without knowing it, everything that we handle without feeling it, all that we meet without clearly distinguishing it, has a rapid, surprising and inexplicable effect upon us and upon our organs, and through them on our ideas and on our heart itself.

How profound that mystery of the Invisible is! We cannot fathom it with our miserable senses, with our eyes which are unable to perceive what is either too small or too great, too near to, or too far from us; neither the inhabitants of a star nor of a drop of water … with our ears that deceive us, for they transmit to us the vibrations of the air in sonorous notes. They are fairies who work the miracle of changing that movement into noise, and by that metamorphosis give birth to music, which makes the mute agitation of nature musical … with our sense of smell which is smaller than that of a dog … with our sense of taste which can scarcely distinguish the age of a wine!

Oh! If we only had other organs which would work other miracles in our favor, what a number of fresh things we might discover around us!

May 16th. I am ill, decidedly! I was so well last month! I am feverish, horribly feverish, or rather I am in a state of feverish enervation, which makes my mind suffer as much as my body. I have without ceasing that horrible sensation of some danger threatening me, that apprehension of some coming misfortune or of approaching death, that presentiment which is, no doubt, an attack of some illness which is still unknown, which germinates in the flesh and in the blood.

May 18th. I have just come from consulting my medical man, for I could no longer get any sleep. He found that my pulse was high, my eyes dilated, my nerves highly strung, but no alarming symptoms. I must have a course of shower-baths and of bromide of potassium.

May 25th. No change! My state is really very peculiar. As the evening comes on, an incomprehensible feeling of disquietude seizes me, just as if night concealed some terrible menace toward me. I dine quickly, and then try to read, but I do not understand the words, and can scarcely distinguish the letters. Then I walk up and down my drawing-room, oppressed by a feeling of confused and irresistible fear, the fear of sleep and fear of my bed.

About ten o’clock I go up to my room. As soon as I have got in I double lock, and bolt it: I am frightened—of what? Up till the present time I have been frightened of nothing—I open my cupboards, and look under my bed; I listen—I listen—to what? How strange it is that a simple feeling of discomfort, impeded or heightened circulation, perhaps the irritation of a nervous thread, a slight congestion, a small disturbance in the imperfect and delicate functions of our living machinery, can turn the most lighthearted of men into a melancholy one, and make a coward of the bravest! Then, I go to bed, and I wait for sleep as a man might wait for the executioner. I wait for its coming with dread, and my heart beats and my legs tremble, while my whole body shivers beneath the warmth of the bedclothes, until the moment when I suddenly fall asleep, as one would throw oneself into a pool of stagnant water in order to drown oneself. I do not feel coming over me, as I used to do formerly, this perfidious sleep which is close to me and watching me, which is going to seize me by the head, to close my eyes and annihilate me.

I sleep—a long time—two or three hours perhaps—then a dream—no—a nightmare lays hold on me. I feel that I am in bed and asleep—I feel it and I know it—and I feel also that somebody is coming close to me, is looking at me, touching me, is getting on to my bed, is kneeling on my chest, is taking my neck between his hands and squeezing it—squeezing it with all his might in order to strangle me.

I struggle, bound by that terrible powerlessness which paralyzes us in our dreams; I try to cry out—but I cannot; I want to move—I cannot; I try, with the most violent efforts and out of breath, to turn over and throw off this being which is crushing and suffocating me—I cannot!

And then, suddenly, I wake up, shaken and bathed in perspiration; I light a candle and find that I am alone, and after that crisis, which occurs every night, I at length fall asleep and slumber tranquilly till morning.

June 2d. My state has grown worse. What is the matter with me? The bromide does me no good, and the shower-baths have no effect whatever. Sometimes, in order to tire myself out, though I am fatigued enough already, I go for a walk in the forest of Roumare. I used to think at first that the fresh light and soft air, impregnated with the odor of herbs and leaves, would instill new blood into my veins and impart fresh energy to my heart. I turned into a broad ride in the wood, and then I turned toward La Bouille, through a narrow path, between two rows of exceedingly tall trees, which placed a thick, green, almost black roof between the sky and me.

A sudden shiver ran through me, not a cold shiver, but a shiver of agony, and so I hastened my steps, uneasy at being alone in the wood, frightened stupidly and without reason, at the profound solitude. Suddenly it seemed to me as if I were being followed, that somebody was walking at my heels, close, quite close to me, near enough to touch me.

I turned round suddenly, but I was alone. I saw nothing behind me except the straight, broad ride, empty and bordered by high trees, horribly empty; on the other side it also extended until it was lost in the distance, and looked just the same, terrible.

I closed my eyes. Why? And then I began to turn round on one heel very quickly, just like a top. I nearly fell down, and opened my eyes; the trees were dancing round me and the earth heaved; I was obliged to sit down. Then, ah! I no longer remembered how I had come! What a strange idea! What a strange, strange idea! I did not the least know. I started off to the right, and got back into the avenue which had led me into the middle of the forest.

June 3d. I have had a terrible night. I shall go away for a few weeks, for no doubt a journey will set me up again.

July 2d. I have come back, quite cured, and have had a most delightful trip into the bargain. I have been to Mont Saint-Michel, which I had not seen before.

What a sight, when one arrives as I did, at Avranches toward the end of the day! The town stands on a hill, and I was taken into the public garden at the extremity of the town. I uttered a cry of astonishment. An extraordinarily large bay lay extended before me, as far as my eyes could reach, between two hills which were lost to sight in the mist; and in the middle of this immense yellow bay, under a clear, golden sky, a peculiar hill rose up, somber and pointed in the midst of the sand. The sun had just disappeared, and under the still flaming sky the outline of that fantastic rock stood out, which bears on its summit a fantastic monument.

At daybreak I went to it. The tide was low as it had been the night before, and I saw that wonderful abbey rise up before me as I approached it. After several hours’ walking, I reached the enormous mass of rocks which supports the little town, dominated by the great church. Having climbed the steep and narrow street, I entered the most wonderful Gothic building that has ever been built to God on earth, as large as a town, full of low rooms which seem buried beneath vaulted roofs, and lofty galleries supported by delicate columns.

I entered this gigantic granite jewel which is as light as a bit of lace, covered with towers, with slender belfries to which spiral staircases ascend, and which raise their strange heads that bristle with chimeras, with devils, with fantastic animals, with monstrous flowers, and which are joined together by finely carved arches, to the blue sky by day, and to the black sky by night.

When I had reached the summit, I said to the monk who accompanied me: “Father, how happy you must be here!” And he replied: “It is very windy, Monsieur;” and so we began to talk while watching the rising tide, which ran over the sand and covered it with a steel cuirass.

And then the monk told me stories, all the old stories belonging to the place, legends, nothing but legends.

One of them struck me forcibly. The country people, those belonging to the Mornet, declare that at night one can hear talking going on in the sand, and then that one hears two goats bleat, one with a strong, the other with a weak voice. Incredulous people declare that it is nothing but the cry of the sea birds, which occasionally resembles bleatings, and occasionally human lamentations; but belated fishermen swear that they have met an old shepherd, whose head, which is covered by his cloak, they can never see, wandering on the downs, between two tides, round the little town placed so far out of the world, and who is guiding and walking before them, a he-goat with a man’s face, and a she-goat with a woman’s face, and both of them with white hair; and talking incessantly, quarreling in a strange language, and then suddenly ceasing to talk in order to bleat with all their might.

“Do you believe it?” I asked the monk. “I scarcely know,” he replied, and I continued: “If there are other beings besides ourselves on this earth, how comes it that we have not known it for so long a time, or why have you not seen them? How is it that I have not seen them?” He replied: “Do we see the hundred thousandth part of what exists? Look here; there is the wind, which is the strongest force in nature, which knocks down men, and blows down buildings, uproots trees, raises the sea into mountains of water, destroys cliffs and casts great ships onto the breakers; the wind which kills, which whistles, which sighs, which roars—have you ever seen it, and can you see it? It exists for all that, however.”

I was silent before this simple reasoning. That man was a philosopher, or perhaps a fool; I could not say which exactly, so I held my tongue. What he had said, had often been in my own thoughts.

July 3d. I have slept badly; certainly there is some feverish influence here, for my coachman is suffering in the same way as I am. When I went back home yesterday, I noticed his singular paleness, and I asked him: “What is the matter with you, Jean?” “The matter is that I never get any rest, and my nights devour my days. Since your departure, monsieur, there has been a spell over me.”

However, the other servants are all well, but I am very frightened of having another attack, myself.

July 4th. I am decidedly taken again; for my old nightmares have returned. Last night I felt somebody leaning on me who was sucking my life from between my lips with his mouth. Yes, he was sucking it out of my neck, like a leech would have done. Then he got up, satiated, and I woke up, so beaten, crushed and annihilated that I could not move. If this continues for a few days, I shall certainly go away again.

July 5th. Have I lost my reason? What has happened, what I saw last night, is so strange, that my head wanders when I think of it!

As I do now every evening, I had locked my door, and then, being thirsty, I drank half a glass of water, and I accidentally noticed that the water bottle was full up to the cut-glass stopper.

Then I went to bed and fell into one of my terrible sleeps, from which I was aroused in about two hours by a still more terrible shock.

Picture to yourself a sleeping man who is being murdered and who wakes up with a knife in his chest, and who is rattling in his throat, covered with blood, and who can no longer breathe, and is going to die, and does not understand anything at all about it—there it is.

Having recovered my senses, I was thirsty again, so I lit a candle and went to the table on which my water bottle was. I lifted it up and tilted it over my glass, but nothing came out. It was empty! It was completely empty! At first I could not understand it at all, and then suddenly I was seized by such a terrible feeling that I had to sit down, or rather I fell into a chair! Then I sprang up with a bound to look about me, and then I sat down again, overcome by astonishment and fear, in front of the transparent crystal bottle! I looked at it with fixed eyes, trying to conjecture, and my hands trembled! Somebody had drunk the water, but who? I? I without any doubt. It could surely only be I? In that case I was a somnambulist. I lived, without knowing it, that double mysterious life which makes us doubt whether there are not two beings in us, or whether a strange, unknowable and invisible being does not at such moments, when our soul is in a state of torpor, animate our captive body which obeys this other being, as it does us ourselves, and more than it does ourselves.

Oh! Who will understand my horrible agony? Who will understand the emotion of a man who is sound in mind, wide awake, full of sound sense, and who looks in horror at the remains of a little water that has disappeared while he was asleep, through the glass of a water bottle? And I remained there until it was daylight, without venturing to go to bed again.

July 6th. I am going mad. Again all the contents of my water bottle have been drunk during the night—or rather, I have drunk it!

But is it I? Is it I? Who could it be? Who? Oh! God! Am I going mad? Who will save me?

July 10th. I have just been through some surprising ordeals. Decidedly I am mad! And yet!—

On July 6th, before going to bed, I put some wine, milk, water, bread and strawberries on my table. Somebody drank—I drank—all the water and a little of the milk, but neither the wine, bread nor the strawberries were touched.

On the seventh of July I renewed the same experiment, with the same results, and on July 8th, I left out the water and the milk and nothing was touched.

Lastly, on July 9th I put only water and milk on my table, taking care to wrap up the bottles in white muslin and to tie down the stoppers. Then I rubbed my lips, my beard and my hands with pencil lead, and went to bed.

Irresistible sleep seized me, which was soon followed by a terrible awakening. I had not moved, and my sheets were not marked. I rushed to the table. The muslin round the bottles remained intact; I undid the string, trembling with fear. All the water had been drunk, and so had the milk! Ah! Great God!—

I must start for Paris immediately.

July 12th. Paris. I must have lost my head during the last few days! I must be the plaything of my enervated imagination, unless I am really a somnambulist, or that I have been brought under the power of one of those influences which have been proved to exist, but which have hitherto been inexplicable, which are called suggestions. In any case, my mental state bordered on madness, and twenty-four hours of Paris sufficed to restore me to my equilibrium.

Yesterday after doing some business and paying some visits which instilled fresh and invigorating mental air into me, I wound up my evening at the Théâtre Français. A play by Alexandre Dumas the Younger was being acted, and his active and powerful mind completed my cure. Certainly solitude is dangerous for active minds. We require men who can think and can talk, around us. When we are alone for a long time we people space with phantoms.

I returned along the boulevards to my hotel in excellent spirits. Amid the jostling of the crowd I thought, not without irony, of my terrors and surmises of the previous week, because I believed, yes, I believed, that an invisible being lived beneath my roof. How weak our head is, and how quickly it is terrified and goes astray, as soon, as we are struck by a small, incomprehensible fact.

Instead of concluding with these simple words: “I do not understand because the cause escapes me,” we immediately imagine terrible mysteries and supernatural powers.

July 14th. Fête of the Republic. I walked through the streets, and the crackers and flags amused me like a child. Still it is very foolish to be merry on a fixed date, by a Government decree. The populace is an imbecile flock of sheep, now steadily patient, and now in ferocious revolt. Say to it: “Amuse yourself,” and it amuses itself. Say to it: “Go and fight with your neighbor,” and it goes and fights. Say to it: “Vote for the Emperor,” and it votes for the Emperor, and then say to it: “Vote for the Republic,” and it votes for the Republic.

Those who direct it are also stupid; but instead of obeying men they obey principles, which can only be stupid, sterile, and false, for the very reason that they are principles, that is to say, ideas which are considered as certain and unchangeable, in this world where one is certain of nothing, since light is an illusion and noise is an illusion.

July 16th. I saw some things yesterday that troubled me very much.

I was dining at my cousin’s Madame Sablé, whose husband is colonel of the 76th Chasseurs at Limoges. There were two young women there, one of whom had married a medical man, Dr. Parent, who devotes himself a great deal to nervous diseases and the extraordinary manifestations to which at this moment experiments in hypnotism and suggestion give rise.

He related to us at some length, the enormous results obtained by English scientists and the doctors of the medical school at Nancy, and the facts which he adduced appeared to me so strange, that I declared that I was altogether incredulous.

“We are,” he declared, “on the point of discovering one of the most important secrets of nature, I mean to say, one of its most important secrets on this earth, for there are certainly some which are of a different kind of importance up in the stars, yonder. Ever since man has thought, since he has been able to express and write down his thoughts, he has felt himself close to a mystery which is impenetrable to his coarse and imperfect senses, and he endeavors to supplement the want of power of his organs by the efforts of his intellect. As long as that intellect still remained in its elementary stage, this intercourse with invisible spirits assumed forms which were commonplace though terrifying. Thence sprang the popular belief in the supernatural, the legends of wandering spirits, of fairies, of gnomes, ghosts, I might even say the legend of God, for our conceptions of the workman-creator, from whatever religion they may have come down to us, are certainly the most mediocre, the stupidest and the most unacceptable inventions that ever sprang from the frightened brain of any human creatures. Nothing is truer than what Voltaire says: ‘God made man in His own image, but man has certainly paid Him back again.’

“But for rather more than a century, men seem to have had a presentiment of something new. Mesmer and some others have put us on an unexpected track, and especially within the last two or three years, we have arrived at really surprising results.”

My cousin, who is also very incredulous, smiled, and Dr. Parent said to her: “Would you like me to try and send you to sleep, Madame?” “Yes, certainly.”

She sat down in an easy-chair, and he began to look at her fixedly, so as to fascinate her. I suddenly felt myself somewhat uncomfortable, with a beating heart and a choking feeling in my throat. I saw that Madame Sablé’s eyes were growing heavy, her mouth twitched and her bosom heaved, and at the end of ten minutes she was asleep.

“Stand behind her,” the doctor said to me, and so I took a seat behind her. He put a visiting card into her hands, and said to her: “This is a looking-glass; what do you see in it?” And she replied: “I see my cousin.” “What is he doing?” “He is twisting his mustache.” “And now?” “He is taking a photograph out of his pocket.” “Whose photograph is it?” “His own.”

That was true, and that photograph had been given me that same evening at the hotel.

“What is his attitude in this portrait?” “He is standing up with his hat in his hand.”

So she saw on that card, on that piece of white pasteboard, as if she had seen it in a looking glass.

The young women were frightened, and exclaimed: “That is quite enough! Quite, quite enough!”

But the doctor said to her authoritatively: “You will get up at eight o’clock to-morrow morning; then you will go and call on your cousin at his hotel and ask him to lend you five thousand francs which your husband demands of you, and which he will ask for when he sets out on his coming journey.”

Then he woke her up.

On returning to my hotel, I thought over this curious séance and I was assailed by doubts, not as to my cousin’s absolute and undoubted good faith, for I had known her as well as if she had been my own sister ever since she was a child, but as to a possible trick on the doctor’s part. Had not he, perhaps, kept a glass hidden in his hand, which he showed to the young woman in her sleep, at the same time as he did the card? Professional conjurers do things which are just as singular.

So I went home and to bed, and this morning, at about half-past eight, I was awakened by my footman, who said to me: “Madame Sablé has asked to see you immediately, Monsieur,” so I dressed hastily and went to her.

She sat down in some agitation, with her eyes on the floor, and without raising her veil she said to me: “My dear cousin, I am going to ask a great favor of you.” “What is it, cousin?” “I do not like to tell you, and yet I must. I am in absolute want of five thousand francs.” “What, you?” “Yes, I, or rather my husband, who has asked me to procure them for him.”

I was so stupefied that I stammered out my answers. I asked myself whether she had not really been making fun of me with Doctor Parent, if it were not merely a very well-acted farce which had been got up beforehand. On looking at her attentively, however, my doubts disappeared. She was trembling with grief, so painful was this step to her, and I was sure that her throat was full of sobs.

I knew that she was very rich and so I continued: “What! Has not your husband five thousand francs at his disposal! Come, think. Are you sure that he commissioned you to ask me for them?”

She hesitated for a few seconds, as if she were making a great effort to search her memory, and then she replied: “Yes … yes, I am quite sure of it.” “He has written to you?”

She hesitated again and reflected, and I guessed the torture of her thoughts. She did not know. She only knew that she was to borrow five thousand francs of me for her husband. So she told a lie. “Yes, he has written to me.” “When, pray? You did not mention it to me yesterday.” “I received his letter this morning.” “Can you show it me?” “No; no … no … it contained private matters … things too personal to ourselves…. I burnt it.” “So your husband runs into debt?”

She hesitated again, and then murmured: “I do not know.” Thereupon I said bluntly: “I have not five thousand francs at my disposal at this moment, my dear cousin.”

She uttered a kind of cry as if she were in pain and said: “Oh! oh! I beseech you, I beseech you to get them for me….”

She got excited and clasped her hands as if she were praying to me! I heard her voice change its tone; she wept and stammered, harassed and dominated by the irresistible order that she had received.

“Oh! oh! I beg you to … if you knew what I am suffering…. I want them to-day.”

I had pity on her: “You shall have them by and by, I swear to you.” “Oh! thank you! thank you! How kind you are!”

I continued: “Do you remember what took place at your house last night?” “Yes.” “Do you remember that Doctor Parent sent you to sleep?” “Yes.” “Oh! Very well then; he ordered you to come to me this morning to borrow five thousand francs, and at this moment you are obeying that suggestion.”

She considered for a few moments, and then replied:

“But as it is my husband who wants them….”

For a whole hour I tried to convince her, but could not succeed, and when she had gone I went to the doctor. He was just going out, and he listened to me with a smile, and said: “Do you believe now?” “Yes, I cannot help it.” “Let us go to your cousin’s.”

She was already dozing on a couch, overcome with fatigue. The doctor felt her pulse, looked at her for some time with one hand raised toward her eyes which she closed by degrees under the irresistible power of this magnetic influence, and when she was asleep, he said:

“Your husband does not require the five thousand francs any longer! You must, therefore, forget that you asked your cousin to lend them to you, and, if he speaks to you about it, you will not understand him.”

Then he woke her up, and I took out a pocketbook and said: “Here is what you asked me for this morning, my dear cousin.” But she was so surprised that I did not venture to persist; nevertheless, I tried to recall the circumstance to her, but she denied it vigorously, thought that I was making fun of her, and in the end very nearly lost her temper.

There! I have just come back, and I have not been able to eat any lunch, for this experiment has altogether upset me.

July 19th. Many people to whom I have told the adventure have laughed at me. I no longer know what to think. The wise man says: Perhaps?

July 21st. I dined at Bougival, and then I spent the evening at a boatmen’s ball. Decidedly everything depends on place and surroundings. It would be the height of folly to believe in the supernatural on the île de la Grenouillière[2] … but on the top of Mont Saint-Michel? … and in India? We are terribly under the influence of our surroundings. I shall return home next week.

July 30th. I came back to my own house yesterday. Everything is going on well.

August 2d. Nothing fresh; it is splendid weather, and I spend my days in watching the Seine flow past.

August 4th. Quarrels among my servants. They declare that the glasses are broken in the cupboards at night. The footman accuses the cook, who accuses the needlewoman, who accuses the other two. Who is the culprit? A clever person, to be able to tell.

August 6th. This time I am not mad. I have seen … I have seen … I have seen!… I can doubt no longer … I have seen it!…

I was walking at two o’clock among my rose trees, in the full sunlight … in the walk bordered by autumn roses which are beginning to fall. As I stopped to look at a Géant de Bataille, which had three splendid blooms, I distinctly saw the stalk of one of the roses bend, close to me, as if an invisible hand had bent it, and then break, as if that hand had picked it! Then the flower raised itself, following the curve which a hand would have described in carrying it toward a mouth, and it remained suspended in the transparent air, all alone and motionless, a terrible red spot, three yards from my eyes. In desperation I rushed at it to take it! I found nothing; it had disappeared. Then I was seized with furious rage against myself, for it is not allowable for a reasonable and serious man to have such hallucinations.

But was it a hallucination? I turned round to look for the stalk, and I found it immediately under the bush, freshly broken, between two other roses which remained on the branch, and I returned home then, with a much disturbed mind; for I am certain now, as certain as I am of the alternation of day and night, that there exists close to me an invisible being that lives on milk and on water, which can touch objects, take them and change their places; which is, consequently, endowed with a material nature, although it is imperceptible to our senses, and which lives as I do, under my roof….

August 7th. I slept tranquilly. He drank the water out of my decanter, but did not disturb my sleep.

I ask myself whether I am mad. As I was walking just now in the sun by the riverside, doubts as to my own sanity arose in me; not vague doubts such as I have had hitherto, but precise and absolute doubts. I have seen mad people, and I have known some who have been quite intelligent, lucid, even clear-sighted in every concern of life, except on one point. They spoke clearly, readily, profoundly on everything, when suddenly their thoughts struck upon the breakers of their madness and broke to pieces there, and were dispersed and foundered in that furious and terrible sea, full of bounding waves, fogs and squalls, which is called madness.

I certainly should think that I was mad, absolutely mad, if I were not conscious, did not perfectly know my state, if I did fathom it by analyzing it with the most complete lucidity. I should, in fact, be a reasonable man who was laboring under a hallucination. Some unknown disturbance must have been excited in my brain, one of those disturbances which physiologists of the present day try to note and to fix precisely, and that disturbance must have caused a profound gulf in my mind and in the order and logic of my ideas. Similar phenomena occur in the dreams which lead us through the most unlikely phantasmagoria, without causing us any surprise, because our verifying apparatus and our sense of control has gone to sleep, while our imaginative faculty wakes and works. Is it not possible that one of the imperceptible keys of the cerebral finger-board has been paralyzed in me? Some men lose the recollection of proper names, or of verbs or of numbers or merely of dates, in consequence of an accident. The localization of all the particles of thought has been proved nowadays; what then would there be surprising in the fact that my faculty of controlling the unreality of certain hallucinations should be destroyed for the time being!

I thought of all this as I walked by the side of the water. The sun was shining brightly on the river and made earth delightful, while it filled my looks with love for life, for the swallows, whose agility is always delightful in my eyes, for the plants by the riverside, whose rustling is a pleasure to my ears.

By degrees, however, an inexplicable feeling of discomfort seized me. It seemed to me as if some unknown force were numbing and stopping me, were preventing me from going farther and were calling me back. I felt that painful wish to return which oppresses you when you have left a beloved invalid at home, and when you are seized by a presentiment that he is worse.

I, therefore, returned in spite of myself, feeling certain that I should find some bad news awaiting me, a letter or a telegram. There was nothing, however, and I was more surprised and uneasy than if I had had another fantastic vision.

August 8th. I spent a terrible evening yesterday. He does not show himself any more, but I feel that he is near me, watching me, looking at me, penetrating me, dominating me and more redoubtable when he hides himself thus, than if he were to manifest his constant and invisible presence by supernatural phenomena. However, I slept.

August 9th. Nothing, but I am afraid.

August 10th. Nothing; what will happen to-morrow?

August 11th. Still nothing; I cannot stop at home with this fear hanging over me and these thoughts in my mind; I shall go away.

August 12th. Ten o’clock at night. All day long I have been trying to get away, and have not been able. I wished to accomplish this simple and easy act of liberty—go out—get into my carriage in order to go to Rouen—and I have not been able to do it. What is the reason?

August 13th. When one is attacked by certain maladies, all the springs of our physical being appear to be broken, all our energies destroyed, all our muscles relaxed, our bones to have become as soft as our flesh, and our blood as liquid as water. I am experiencing that in my moral being in a strange and distressing manner. I have no longer any strength, any courage, any self-control, nor even any power to set my own will in motion. I have no power left to will anything, but some one does it for me and I obey.

August 14th. I am lost! Somebody possesses my soul and governs it! Somebody orders all my acts, all my movements, all my thoughts. I am no longer anything in myself, nothing except an enslaved and terrified spectator of all the things which I do. I wish to go out; I cannot. He does not wish to, and so I remain, trembling and distracted in the armchair in which he keeps me sitting. I merely wish to get up and to rouse myself, so as to think that I am still master of myself: I cannot! I am riveted to my chair, and my chair adheres to the ground in such a manner that no force could move us.

Then suddenly, I must, I must go to the bottom of my garden to pick some strawberries and eat them, and I go there. I pick the strawberries and I eat them! Oh! my God! my God! Is there a God? If there be one, deliver me! save me! succor me! Pardon! Pity! Mercy! Save me! Oh! what sufferings! what torture! what horror!

August 15th. Certainly this is the way in which my poor cousin was possessed and swayed, when she came to borrow five thousand francs of me. She was under the power of a strange will which had entered into her, like another soul, like another parasitic and ruling soul. Is the world coming to an end?

But who is he, this invisible being that rules me? This unknowable being, this rover of a supernatural race?

Invisible beings exist, then! How is it then that since the beginning of the world they have never manifested themselves in such a manner precisely as they do to me? I have never read anything which resembles what goes on in my house. Oh! If I could only leave it, if I could only go away and flee, so as never to return, I should be saved; but I cannot.

August 16th. I managed to escape to-day for two hours, like a prisoner who finds the door of his dungeon accidentally open. I suddenly felt that I was free and that he was far away, and so I gave orders to put the horses in as quickly as possible, and I drove to Rouen. Oh! How delightful to be able to say to a man who obeyed you: “Go to Rouen!”

I made him pull up before the library, and I begged them to lend me Dr. Herrmann Herestauss’s treatise on the unknown inhabitants of the ancient and modern world.

Then, as I was getting into my carriage, I intended to say: “To the railway station!” but instead of this I shouted—I did not say, but I shouted—in such a loud voice that all the passers-by turned round: “Home!” and I fell back onto the cushion of my carriage, overcome by mental agony. He had found me out and regained possession of me.

August 17th. Oh! What a night! what a night! And yet it seems to me that I ought to rejoice. I read until one o’clock in the morning! Herestauss, Doctor of Philosophy and Theogony, wrote the history and the manifestation of all those invisible beings which hover around man, or of whom he dreams. He describes their origin, their domains, their power; but none of them resembles the one which haunts me. One might say that man, ever since he has thought, has had a foreboding of, and feared a new being, stronger than himself, his successor in this world, and that, feeling him near, and not being able to foretell the nature of that master, he has, in his terror, created the whole race of hidden beings, of vague phantoms born of fear.

Having, therefore, read until one o’clock in the morning, I went and sat down at the open window, in order to cool my forehead and my thoughts, in the calm night air. It was very pleasant and warm! How I should have enjoyed such a night formerly!

There was no moon, but the stars darted out their rays in the dark heavens. Who inhabits those worlds? What forms, what living beings, what animals are there yonder? What do those who are thinkers in those distant worlds know more than we do? What can they do more than we can? What do they see which we do not know? Will not one of them, some day or other, traversing space, appear on our earth to conquer it, just as the Norsemen formerly crossed the sea in order to subjugate nations more feeble than themselves?

We are so weak, so unarmed, so ignorant, so small, we who live on this particle of mud which turns round in a drop of water.

I fell asleep, dreaming thus in the cool night air, and then, having slept for about three quarters of an hour, I opened my eyes without moving, awakened by I know not what confused and strange sensation. At first I saw nothing, and then suddenly it appeared to me as if a page of a book which had remained open on my table, turned over of its own accord. Not a breath of air had come in at my window, and I was surprised and waited. In about four minutes, I saw, I saw, yes I saw with my own eyes another page lift itself up and fall down on the others, as if a finger had turned it over. My armchair was empty, appeared empty, but I knew that he was there, he, and sitting in my place, and that he was reading. With a furious bound, the bound of an enraged wild beast that wishes to disembowel its tamer, I crossed my room to seize him, to strangle him, to kill him!… But before I could reach it, my chair fell over as if somebody had run away from me … my table rocked, my lamp fell and went out, and my window closed as if some thief had been surprised and had fled out into the night, shutting it behind him.

So he had run away: he had been afraid; he, afraid of me!

So … so … to-morrow … or later … some day or other … I should be able to hold him in my clutches and crush him against the ground! Do not dogs occasionally bite and strangle their masters?

August 18th. I have been thinking the whole day long. Oh! yes, I will obey him, follow his impulses, fulfill all his wishes, show myself humble, submissive, a coward. He is the stronger; but an hour will come….

August 19th. I know, … I know … I know all! I have just read the following in the Revue du Monde Scientifique: “A curious piece of news comes to us from Rio de Janeiro. Madness, an epidemic of madness, which may be compared to that contagious madness which attacked the people of Europe in the Middle Ages, is at this moment raging in the Province of San-Paulo. The frightened inhabitants are leaving their houses, deserting their villages, abandoning their land, saying that they are pursued, possessed, governed like human cattle by invisible, though tangible beings, a species of vampire, which feed on their life while they are asleep, and who, besides, drink water and milk without appearing to touch any other nourishment.

“Professor Dom Pedro Henriques, accompanied by several medical savants, has gone to the Province of San-Paulo, in order to study the origin and the manifestations of this surprising madness on the spot, and to propose such measures to the Emperor as may appear to him to be most fitted to restore the mad population to reason.”

Ah! Ah! I remember now that fine Brazilian three-master which passed in front of my windows as it was going up the Seine, on the 8th of last May! I thought it looked so pretty, so white and bright! That Being was on board of her, coming from there, where its race sprang from. And it saw me! It saw my house which was also white, and it sprang from the ship onto the land. Oh! Good heavens!

Now I know, I can divine. The reign of man is over, and he has come. He whom disquieted priests exorcised, whom sorcerers evoked on dark nights, without yet seeing him appear, to whom the presentiments of the transient masters of the world lent all the monstrous or graceful forms of gnomes, spirits, genii, fairies, and familiar spirits. After the coarse conceptions of primitive fear, more clear-sighted men foresaw it more clearly. Mesmer divined him, and ten years ago physicians accurately discovered the nature of his power, even before he exercised it himself. They played with that weapon of their new Lord, the sway of a mysterious will over the human soul, which had become enslaved. They called it magnetism, hypnotism, suggestion … what do I know? I have seen them amusing themselves like impudent children with this horrible power! Woe to us! Woe to man! He has come, the … the … what does he call himself … the … I fancy that he is shouting out his name to me and I do not hear him … the … yes … he is shouting it out … I am listening … I cannot … repeat … it … Horla … I have heard … the Horla … it is he … the Horla … he has come!…

Ah! the vulture has eaten the pigeon, the wolf has eaten the lamb; the lion has devoured the buffalo with sharp horns; man has killed the lion with an arrow, with a sword, with gunpowder; but the Horla will make of man what we have made of the horse and of the ox: his chattel, his slave and his food, by the mere power of his will. Woe to us!

But, nevertheless, the animal sometimes revolts and kills the man who has subjugated it…. I should also like … I shall be able to … but I must know him, touch him, see him! Learned men say that beasts’ eyes, as they differ from ours, do not distinguish like ours do … And my eye cannot distinguish this newcomer who is oppressing me.

Why? Oh! Now I remember the words of the monk at Mont Saint-Michel: “Can we see the hundred-thousandth part of what exists? Look here; there is the wind which is the strongest force in nature, which knocks men, and blows down buildings, uproots trees, raises the sea into mountains of water, destroys cliffs and casts great ships onto the breakers; the wind which kills, which whistles, which sighs, which roars—have you ever seen it, and can you see it? It exists for all that, however!”

And I went on thinking: my eyes are so weak, so imperfect, that they do not even distinguish hard bodies, if they are as transparent as glass!… If a glass without tinfoil behind it were to bar my way, I should run into it, just as a bird which has flown into a room breaks its head against the window panes. A thousand things, moreover, deceive him and lead him astray. How should it then be surprising that he cannot perceive a fresh body which is traversed by the light?

A new being! Why not? It was assuredly bound to come! Why should we be the last? We do not distinguish it, like all the others created before us. The reason is, that its nature is more perfect, its body finer and more finished than ours, that ours is so weak, so awkwardly conceived, encumbered with organs that are always tired, always on the strain like locks that are too complicated, which lives like a plant and like a beast, nourishing itself with difficulty on air, herbs and flesh, an animal machine which is a prey to maladies, to malformations, to decay; broken-winded, badly regulated, simple and eccentric, ingeniously badly made, a coarse and a delicate work, the outline of a being which might become intelligent and grand.

We are only a few, so few in this world, from the oyster up to man. Why should there not be one more, when once that period is accomplished which separates the successive apparitions from all the different species?

Why not one more? Why not, also, other trees with immense, splendid flowers, perfuming whole regions? Why not other elements besides fire, air, earth and water? There are four, only four, those nursing fathers of various beings! What a pity! Why are they not forty, four hundred, four thousand! How poor everything is, how mean and wretched! grudgingly given, dryly invented, clumsily made! Ah! the elephant and the hippopotamus, what grace! And the camel, what elegance!

But, the butterfly you will say, a flying flower! I dream of one that should be as large as a hundred worlds, with wings whose shape, beauty, colors, and motion I cannot even express. But I see it … it flutters from star to star, refreshing them and perfuming them with the light and harmonious breath of its flight!… And the people up there look at it as it passes in an ecstasy of delight!…

What is the matter with me? It is he, the Horla who haunts me, and who makes me think of these foolish things! He is within me, he is becoming my soul; I shall kill him!

August 19th. I shall kill him. I have seen him! Yesterday I sat down at my table and pretended to write very assiduously. I knew quite well that he would come prowling round me, quite close to me, so close that I might perhaps be able to touch him, to seize him. And then!… then I should have the strength of desperation; I should have my hands, my knees, my chest, my forehead, my teeth to strangle him, to crush him, to bite him, to tear him to pieces. And I watched for him with all my overexcited organs.

I had lighted my two lamps and the eight wax candles on my mantelpiece, as if by this light I could have discovered him.

My bed, my old oak bed with its columns, was opposite to me; on my right was the fireplace; on my left the door which was carefully closed, after I had left it open for some time, in order to attract him; behind me was a very high wardrobe with a looking-glass in it, which served me to make my toilet every day, and in which I was in the habit of looking at myself from head to foot every time I passed it.

So I pretended to be writing in order to deceive him, for he also was watching me, and suddenly I felt, I was certain that he was reading over my shoulder, that he was there, almost touching my ear.

I got up so quickly, with my hands extended, that I almost fell. Eh! well?… It was as bright as at midday, but I did not see myself in the glass!… It was empty, clear, profound, full of light! But my figure was not reflected in it … and I, I was opposite to it! I saw the large, clear glass from top to bottom, and I looked at it with unsteady eyes; and I did not dare to advance; I did not venture to make a movement, nevertheless, feeling perfectly that he was there, but that he would escape me again, he whose imperceptible body had absorbed my reflection.

How frightened I was! And then suddenly I began to see myself through a mist in the depths of the looking-glass, in a mist as it were through a sheet of water; and it seemed to me as if this water were flowing slowly from left to right, and making my figure clearer every moment. It was like the end of an eclipse. Whatever it was that hid me, did not appear to possess any clearly defined outlines, but a sort of opaque transparency, which gradually grew clearer.

At last I was able to distinguish myself completely, as I do every day when I look at myself.

I had seen it! And the horror of it remained with me and makes me shudder even now.

August 20th. How could I kill it, as I could not get hold of it? Poison? But it would see me mix it with the water; and then, would our poisons have any effect on its impalpable body? No … no … no doubt about the matter…. Then?… then?…

August 21st. I sent for a blacksmith from Rouen, and ordered iron shutters of him for my room, such as some private hotels in Paris have on the ground floor, for fear of thieves, and he is going to make me a similar door as well. I have made myself out as a coward, but I do not care about that!…

September 10th. Rouen, Hotel Continental. It is done; … it is done … but is he dead? My mind is thoroughly upset by what I have seen.

Well, then, yesterday the locksmith having put on the iron shutters and door, I left everything open until midnight, although it was getting cold.

Suddenly I felt that he was there, and joy, mad joy, took possession of me. I got up softly, and I walked to the right and left for some time, so that he might not guess anything; then I took off my boots and put on my slippers carelessly; then I fastened the iron shutters and going back to the door quickly I double-locked it with a padlock, putting the key into my pocket.

Suddenly I noticed that he was moving restlessly round me, that in his turn he was frightened and was ordering me to let him out. I nearly yielded, though I did not yet, but putting my back to the door I half opened it, just enough to allow me to go out backward, and as I am very tall, my head touched the lintel. I was sure that he had not been able to escape, and I shut him up quite alone, quite alone. What happiness! I had him fast. Then I ran downstairs; in the drawing-room, which was under my bedroom, I took the two lamps and I poured all the oil onto the carpet, the furniture, everywhere; then I set fire to it and made my escape, after having carefully double-locked the door.

I went and hid myself at the bottom of the garden in a clump of laurel bushes. How long it was! how long it was! Everything was dark, silent, motionless, not a breath of air and not a star, but heavy banks of clouds which one could not see, but which weighed, oh! so heavily on my soul.

I looked at my house and waited. How long it was! I already began to think that the fire had gone out of its own accord, or that he had extinguished it, when one of the lower windows gave way under the violence of the flames, and a long, soft, caressing sheet of red flame mounted up the white wall and kissed it as high as the roof. The light fell onto the trees, the branches, and the leaves, and a shiver of fear pervaded them also! The birds awoke; a dog began to howl, and it seemed to me as if the day were breaking! Almost immediately two other windows flew into fragments, and I saw that the whole of the lower part of my house was nothing but a terrible furnace. But a cry, a horrible, shrill, heartrending cry, a woman’s cry, sounded through the night, and two garret windows were opened! I had forgotten the servants! I saw the terrorstruck faces, and their frantically waving arms!…

Then, overwhelmed with horror, I set off to run to the village, shouting: “Help! help! fire! fire!” I met some people who were already coming onto the scene, and I went back with them to see!

By this time the house was nothing but a horrible and magnificent funeral pile, a monstrous funeral pile which lit up the whole country, a funeral pile where men were burning, and where he was burning also, He, He, my prisoner, that new Being, the new master, the Horla!

Suddenly the whole roof fell in between the walls, and a volcano of flames darted up to the sky. Through all the windows which opened onto that furnace I saw the flames darting, and I thought that he was there, in that kiln, dead.

Dead? perhaps?… His body? Was not his body, which was transparent, indestructible by such means as would kill ours?

If he was not dead?… Perhaps time alone has power over that Invisible and Redoubtable Being. Why this transparent, unrecognizable body, this body belonging to a spirit, if it also had to fear ills, infirmities and premature destruction?

Premature destruction? All human terror springs from that! After man the Horla. After him who can die every day, at any hour, at any moment, by any accident, he came who was only to die at his own proper hour and minute, because he had touched the limits of his existence!

No … no … without any doubt … he is not dead. Then … then … I suppose I must kill myself!

DmdJ Neu3



Frühlingsstimmen is another amazing entry in the Hammer & Anvil Books’ Danse Macabre catalogue. I love these anthologies because the erudite and witty editor Adam Henry Carriere manages to combine cutting edge work from modern day writers with selections from the past that may have been forgotten but definitely deserve to be read and appreciated. Along with wonderful forgotten classics such as “A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf, “A Ghoul’s Accountant” by Stephen Crane, and “The Thing at Ghent” by Balzac, we are treated to works by modern day writers such as “Grace” by Marc Vincenz, Bill Mayer’s “We had Great Beauty and sadness”, and “Bodysnatchers” by Peter Weltner. Mr. Carriere is doing a great service by keeping readers in tune with the new and paying homage to the past – all wonderful treats!”


Frühlingsstimmen celebrates the abundance of voices from around the world and beyond the grave that spring forth with coloratura brio, whether through drama, humour, or poetic music. Drawn from the pages of Danse Macabre – An Online Literary Magazine, connoisseurs of multihued letters will be enchanted by the ample selection of literary entertainments awaiting them in this e-anthology of the macabrely.