Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 107

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNERI07

the fears of another, have decreed for worship, and declared no less
holy than the true. The spirituelle held a large place in her composi-
tion; and if her imagination lacked the activity of Carl's, her yield-
ing weakness rendered her susceptible to the full influence of his.
This weakness increased the activity of a faculty to which it was
constantly appealing; and though the terrible forms and fancies to
which the mind of Carl frequently gave birth and performance, only
drove the timorous wife more earnestly to her prayerful devotions,
she did not seek to discourage him in a practice which had so bene-
ficial an effect. Unconsciously he practised upon her fears, moving
her to devoutness through an unseemly influence; and with equal
unconsciousness on her part, her fears stimulated his superstitious
tendencies even to error, by giving continual employment to an
imagination which daily became more and more morbidly active,
and consequently dangerous.
"Herman had now been gone for some months. At first he wrote
to them freely and frequently, but after a while his letters grew
fewer and less satisfactory, and at length months went by without
bringing them any intelligence of their neglectful brother. Matilda
sometimes complained of this, and thought unkindly of Herman;
but Carl, like a true friend, always found some excuse for his neglect,
in the pressure of business, and the accumulation of other duties and
friends.
"'Besides, he need not write, Matilda, when he has nothing par-
ticular to say. No news is good news commonly; and when a letter
comes, Matilda, you know you always dread to open it, for fear of
hearing evil. Herman will not forget us, be sure.'
" `But he may be sick, Carl.'
"That was always a suggestion which silenced her husband, and
he felt doubly unhappy on such occasions, as, in addition to the fear
with which such a suggestion seemed to inspire Matilda, there was
an unpleasant consciousness in his own mind which dreadfully trou-
bled him. At such times, strive as he might, he could not help
thinking upon the promise which Herman had given him, and he
felt that, however he might regret the death of his brother-in-law,
such an event would be lessened of much of its evil, if that promise
could be kept. Such thoughts he felt were criminal, and to do Carl
all justice, we should add, that he strove manfully to resist them.