Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> Carl Werner: An Imaginative Story >> Page 127

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription CARL WERNER127
wish for sleep, and hours seemed to pass away like minutes until
the clock struck the midnight hour, and she then grew more than
ever alarmed at the absence of her husband. She was desirous of
putting into use and exercise the advice which the old man had
given her, and would have sallied forth, even then, to look after
him, when the stranger dissuaded her from it.
" `Do you remain,' he said, `while I go forth and seek him.'
"You!'—she said `no, father, you are too old and feeble, and
your limbs are weary with the long day's travel.'
"He rose, as she spoke these words, and as he moved over the
floor, she was answered. Where had those aged limbs acquired that
strength and elasticity which they now exhibited?
" `But you know not where to seek him, my father.'
"He smiled; and she did not doubt, when she beheld that smile,
that the aged man knew better where to find her husband than she
did herself. He paused as he crossed the threshold, and bidding her
be of good cheer, he blessed the house and departed.
"Meanwhile, what of Carl Werner? With a fearful instinct he
proceeded, upon leaving his dwelling, to the place of meeting with
the spectre. Vainly did he strive against the fascination which im-
pelled him to seek the abbey. Why should he so wilfully seek that
which was so full of torture? He had now no wish to hear the
revelations of the dead he had no thought, certainly, to profit by
them, when brought by one whose very presence was so terrific; still
less did he desire to owe his knowledge to a source so foul and fear-
ful. These were his thoughts, nor his thoughts merely. These were
his frequent resolves throughout the day. `I will not go to-night,'
his lips muttered at all hours; yet, with the coming of evening, his
good resolutions failed him. A power which he strove vainly to
resist, drove him onward; ft,nd like the criminal, reluctant yet com-
pelled, he appeared regularly at the appointed hour at the summons
of his tyrant. Carl felt that there was a judgment in all this. He felt
that it was a decree of heaven against him for the unholy feelings
and desires of his heart. Yet, where, and when, and how, was this