Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 101

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNERIQI
was about to undergo. Herman tried his best to console him, and in
the earnestness of their mutual thoughts, they gave no heed to their
wanderings. In the first moment of external consciousness, Carl
looked up, and the ruins of the ancient abbey were before them. It
was a fitting place for their last interview and private conference.
The silence and the gloom of the spot accorded meetly with the sad-
ness in their bosoms, and they at once entered the sanctuary. They
seated themselves upon one of the broken monuments, and sat for
some moments in a moody silence. At length, Carl spoke as follows :
" `I feel cold all over, Herman, as if a breath from that old vault
had breathed upon me. Your contemplated journey affects me
strangely. I know not how I shall bear it. I shall not often ramble
among these ruins —I may have the disposition to do so—I know I
will—but I shall not have the courage.'
" `Pshaw !' exclaimed the bolder Herman `how you talk. I know
you better than you do yourself, and venture to predict that when I
am gone you will be here oftener than ever. You love these ruins.'
"'I do—I confess it ! they are to me sacred, if only for their
recollections,' said Carl.
" `And ghosts!' continued Herman with a gentle laugh. `You love
their ghosts, I think, even more than their recollections.'
" 'Ay, could I see them,' said the other. `But they are shy ghosts,
and—did you not hear a breathing?'
"Carl turned and looked in the direction of the old vault, as he
spoke these words, but Herman only laughed at him. Carl laughed
too, a moment after, when he perceived that his weakness had been
observed by his friend.
"'You have nearly roused them, Carl,' said Herman, after his
quiet chuckle had subsided. `But for my laugh they would have been
about you. You would have conjured the reverend abbot from that
shattered vault, and a pretty story you would have of it.'
"'Perhaps'—said Carl; `and you would have listened to the story,
Herman, without a single interruption. Why is that? Why is it that
you can enjoy a ghost story without believing in the ghost?'
"'Why do we enjoy a puzzle which we know can be undone? a
mystery—when a moment's reflection teaches us that it is no mystery?
It is because the human mind finds a pleasure in that which is in-
genious—in any thing which shows intellectual power. A fairy tale has