Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 123

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNERI23
house. She followed him to the door, and looked after him in the
street; and her own apprehensions were greatly increased as she
beheld the erratic impulse of his movement, and the feebleness of
his step—the one betokening the disorder of his mind, the other the
debility of his body. While she looked and trembled, with the big
tear gathering slowly in her eye and stealing silently to her cheek,
the accents of a mild but strange voice met her ears at a small dis-
tance, and, turning, she beheld an old man standing before her.
He was a stranger to her, and evidently a stranger in the place, since
his air and costume were very different from any that she had
ever before seen. His beard was long and white like silver, and hung
down neatly smooth and clean upon his bosom; his hair, equally
long, and not less white, streamed with similar smoothness down
his back and shoulders. It was evident that he was a person of very
great age, yet his skin was clear, of a pure white and red, and un-
marked by a single wrinkle. His mouth was small, and wore a sweet
expression, and his eyes were full of benevolence. He carried a little
staff, and a bundle which probably contained a single change of
raiment it certainly could not have held more; and he seemed
like some venerable traveller, who had an unconquerable desire for
travel, and had learned to narrow his wants to the smallest possible
limits, consistent with the superior claims of an intellectual nature.
" `Daughter,' he said, `Peace be with you. Can you give me shelter
and food for the night? I am a stranger, and would abide with you.'
"The heart of Matilda, like that of Carl, was open as day, and
the stranger most probably had seen in her countenance that he
would not be refused; for, even as he spoke, he prepared to enter.
He was not deceived in the person he addressed. With a sweet voice,
full of respect for his venerable white hairs had impressed Matilda
with a proper and gentle awe she bade him welcome, and having
closed the door after giving a long lingering look to the form of
her husband, who was rapidly passing from her sight she led the
way for her aged guest, into an inner apartment. There she spread
before him the simple repast from which the unhappy Carl had
fled. The old man blessed the bread ere he broke it, and blessed the
giver. He then ate heartily, and at intervals conversed with Matilda,
who sat with him at the table, though she ate nothing. Her heart
was too full of doubt and sorrow to suffer her to eat, and while her