Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 97

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNER97
and no obtrusive utilitarian has presumed, as you may see, to take
from their gray loveliness by making them more useful. The charm
of the spot is the same now as then if possible, indeed, the beauty
of the ruins is even greater, for the walls have suffered from subse-
quent tempests, and desolation has made more complete her broken
temple. Time is the ally of romance, and decay takes nothing from
her honors! The source and secret of their beauty have been steadily
increasing; and the domain, loved by the German youth of whom
we speak, is, perhaps, scarcely less attractive now to us. Touched, as
these dismembered and massive fragments at this moment are, by
the mellow hues of the fleeting and flickering sunlight, they are, in
my eyes, immeasurably beautiful; and seem to me as they did to
Carl Werner, a fitting abode for the sleepless and sad spirit doomed
to its midnight vigil of a thousand years.
"The imagination of Carl Werner had peopled these ruins with a
countless host of inmates, with wild traditions, with the most pitiable
and strange narratives. It was the theatre where his invention became
most active, and where he continually exercised it, as much for his
own, as for the pleasure which it gave to Matilda and Herman. He
had explored the many cells which abound among the ruins he had
groped through the ancient chambers, until he had, from conjectures
frequently exercised, come to the belief that he could actually assign
the various uses to which they were put :—and, in some cases, through
the aid of local tradition and domestic history, he even ventured so
far as to say who were their occupants. Though superstitious to the
last degree, and most wilfully credulous, Carl Werner had no idle
fears. The abbey was his favorite resort even at midnight, and with
Herman, who was something of a daredevil, along with him, a
ramble through the old chambers at night, when the rising moon
began to peep through the cracks and fissures, was a favorite mode
with Carl Werner of passing those pleasant hours. It is true, that, at
such times, Matilda never ventured along with the two; but the
warm and spirited fancy of Carl enabled him to embody for her
ears, when they met, the sweet, strange thoughts of his mind, which,
at such periods, formed the topic of conversation between him and
his companion. These were themes upon which Carl never failed to
be eloquent, and Matilda always loved to hear. At other times, the
three would wander while the day lasted, in a sort of mental and