Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 105

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNERI05

ber with a scrutinizing gaze that promised to suffer nothing to escape
them.
"'Look!' said Carl; `look, Herman! dost thou not see!' and he
pointed to a corner of the vault while speaking.
"The eyes of Herman saw nothing, however, or he was not willing
to acknowledge that they did; but Carl was more ready to believe,
and consequently more able to see, for, even while he pointed out
the object of his sight to Herman, he watched it as it glided away
through an aperture of the vault —a pale bluish flame —a fragment,
as it were, of light that seemed first to crawl along the walls of the
chamber, and then suddenly to disappear through one of its many
fissures.
"What is it that you see? I see nothing,' said Herman.
"A light like that of a taper—a small, creeping light, that passed
out of the corner to the east.'
" Some slimy worm,' said Herman, `though I did not see it at all.'
" 'Strange!' exclaimed Carl ; `but you heard the laugh, Herman?'
"Yes,' said the other, `but whether it came from the vault, or
from the opposite wall, I will not pretend to say. Some urchin may
think to frighten us from the other side. We will look in that
quarter.'
"Carl now followed his companion, but he followed him unwill-
ingly. Like all true romancers, he had got just enough of the
mystery. He was unwilling to press the matter farther, lest he
should discover that which might jeopard his prize which might
enable him, indeed, to `point the moral,' but which would spoil,
rather than `adorn, the tale.' This, however, was the desire of Her-
man. He would have given as much to discover that the source of
the laugh was human, as Carl would have bestowed to prevent such
a discovery. The hopes of the latter prevailed. They searched behind
the suspected walls, but found nothing; and the benefit of the laugh
was clearly with the superstitious Carl. After this they left the ruins.
The hour was getting late, and as they had still a great deal to say
of sublunary concerns, it did not need that they should take the
haunted abbey for this purpose. The next morning Herman took
his departure. Carl saw him a little way upon the road; and when
they were about to separate, one of the last words of Carl was to
remind him about his promise. Herman laughed, but freely renewed