Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 111

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

which overlooks the time, and lives for God, and for the species—to
disregard nice affections, and the tender blossoms which decay.
" `Herman, Herman!' he exclaimed, `I have been unworthy of
thee. Thou hast loved me with the love of a brother, while I have
thought of thee even as the ancient augur of the victim, which he
slaughtered for unholy wisdom! I have prayed in my secret soul
I have prayed for thy death that I might have improper knowledge.'
"Again did a slight laugh come to his ears. He looked up with a
shudder. A small blue light crawled along upon the opposite wall,
like some slimy reptile, and while Carl watched its progress with
solemn interest, the laugh was repeated almost beside him. He
started, and almost at the same moment he felt one side of him
grow chill. A breath of ice seemed to penetrate him from the east.
He turned his eyes in that quarter, and the spectacle that then met
his gaze paralyzed every faculty of his body. The form of Herman
Ottfried was there, sitting beside him on the other end of the grave
stone. He could not speak he could not move. His eyes were
riveted upon the spectre, and the glare which was sent back from
those of the unearthly visitant, was that of hell. A scornful leer was
in it—a giggling hate —a venomous but laughing malice.
" `Ha, ha, ha!' The vaulted abbey rang with the echoes of that
infernal laugh.
" 'Her—Her—Herman!' Carl tried to speak, but a monosyllable
was all that he could utter.
" 'Mercy! mercy!' screamed the unhappy Carl, as he lifted his
hands and strove to close his eyes against the dreadful presence. But
the elbows refused to bend he could not raise them. His knees in the
mean time gave way, and he sank senselessly upon the damp ground
of the abbey.
XI.
"When he unclosed his eyes, which he did in the fullest con-
sciousness of his situation, and consequently in the extremest terror,
he was rejoiced to find himself alone. The grave stone, at the foot
of which he lay, was untenanted. The abbey was silent, and though
he dreaded, at every step which he took while making his way out,
to hear the dreadful laugh, and to behold the hellish visage, he yet