Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 122

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription I22CARL WERNER
vigil. He must again repair to the place of his trial and his torture;
and this, by a secret conviction of his mind, he felt must be done,
until he had courage to hear, and was willing to believe, all the
horrible intelligence which the spectre might think proper to convey.
He had bound himself solemnly to the meeting, and he could not
shrink from the terms of his pledge. Yet, where and when was it
to end? This was the dreadful question which his soul answered in
utter hopelessness.
" `In my death. Yet it will end soon, for I cannot stand this strife
much longer.'
"Such were his thoughts and words; and their truth would readily
be believed by those who were conscious of the sudden and singular
change which had taken place in his person. All the villagers re-
marked it. He was haggard and listless he saw and heeded nobody
he moved through the streets like a ghost, and Matilda the beloved
wife of his affections no longer filled his heart, and commanded
the devotion of his eye. She strove to find out the secret of his
sorrows, and to soothe them. But vainly would the physician seek
to heal, while he remains ignorant of the cause of the distemper.
We must lay bare the wound to extract the poison; and in the
purity of her soul she did not even imagine the horrible nature of
that secret which was preying upon his. Her efforts were in vain.
Night came on, and though she strove to keep him at home, the spell
was too powerful to permit her to succeed.
" `Where is it you go, dearest Carl? Why, night after night, will
you go forth in so much sorrow, and with features so wild, so full
of apprehension; and when you return so full of horror—so hag-
gard—so dreadful? Tell me, dear husband, whither it is you go, and
why it is you suffer in this manner.'
" `Nay, do not heed me, dearest,' said the unhappy man, with a
gentleness of manner which made his sorrows only the more touch-
ing—'do not trouble ,yourself about me. I have busy and vexing
thoughts, and shall not look well until they are digested into form.
When I resolve them, then will I remain with you, and be at peace.'
" `What thoughts are they?' she demanded; but he smiled, and
answered her evasively.
" ` Ask me not not now,' he replied, and resisting her solicita-
tions to be allowed to go forth with him, he rushed out of the