The vultures sailing dark clouds overhead conceivably watched me while I ruminated over the neighborhood. I am curious of what they thought. They must have appraised me as being excruciatingly wary and capricious at first, and that gradually I grew rather too undaunted and forward. A peep, and then an adventurous view. And then, a withdrawal from my bower, and a perusing out into the mead; a full pause in front of the castle, and a long inured stare toward it. ‘What pretense of fear was she at first?’ they might have demanded; ‘what idiotic temerity now?’
Have this sample as a survey, reader:
A lover finds his mistress resting peacefully by a mossy riverbed; he wishes to garner up a glance at her fair face without awakening her. He steals tenderly over the grass, weeds like sentinels shining, gingerly caring to make no sudden motions; he stops—fancying she has been roused; he backs out; and yet, not for worlds would he be gotten. All is silent: he again moves toward her; he stoops from above her; a gossamer veil rests upon her character: he removes it, stoops closer to her; and how his eyes entertain him the vision of beauty—blossoming, and swan-like, in her sleep. How rush'd were their first glances! But now, how they fixate! How he then shouts! How he profoundly and abruptly snatches in his arms the still figure he’d dare not, a second since, move with one hand! How he starts asudden and loudly utters her name, and drops his burden, and looks on it ferociously! He thusly grasps, and screams, because he no longer feels afraid to awaken, by any sound he can pronounce—by any move he can make. He thought his love lay sweetly: he finds she is stone dead.
I gazed with shrinking happiness toward a great castle; I saw a blackened ruin.
No need to tuck away and hide from the gateposts, really! —to check at chamber fretwork, assuming life was astir within them! No need to heed for the stately doors to open,—to assume courtesans on the pavement or the pebbled walks! The lawns, the castle-grounds—were stamped and sodden; the portals yawned void. The back was as I had once seen it in a delirious fancy, but a shell-like echo, too high and too oppressed-looking, no roof, no battlements, no chimneys—all had sunk inly.
And so on, there emanated death about it, the waste of a lonely wilderness. No wonder that letters address’d to people here’d never been replied for; as well despatch to a vault in a cathedral aisle. The forbidding blackness of the stones told by what fate the Hall had fallen: thru inferno. But how had it begun? What tales accompanied this rapid atrocity? What disappearances, beside mortar and marble and woodwork had belonged to it? Had life been wrecked as well as property? If within it? Frightful inquiry, and there was no one here to respond—not even dull sign, shoal memorial.
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