Upon a paper attached to the Narrative which follows, Doctor Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note,
which he ccompanies with a reference to his Essay on the strange subject which the MS illuminates.
This mysterious subject he treats, in that Essay, with his usual learning and acumen, and with remarkable
directness and condensation. It will form but one volume of the series of that extraordinary man's collected
As I publish the case, in these volumes, simply to interest the 'laity', I shall forestall the intelligent lady, who
relates it, in nothing;and, after due consideration, I have determined, therefore, to abstain from presenting any
precis* of the learned Doctor's reasoning, or extract from his statement on a subject which he describes as
'involving, not improbably, some of the [profoundest arcana of our dual existence, and its intermediates'.*
I was anxious, on discovering this paper, to re-open the correspondence commenced by Doctor Hesselius, so
many years before, with a person so clever and careful as his informant seems to have been. Much to my
regret, however, I found that she had died in the interval.
She, probably, could have added little to the Narrative which she communicates in the following pages, with,
so far as I can pronounce, such a conscientious particularity.
AN EARLY FRIGHT
In Styria,* we, though by no means magnificent people inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that
part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours would
have answered among wealthy people at home. My father is English, and I bear an English name, although I
never saw England. But here, in this lonely and primitive place, where everything is so marvellously cheap, I
really don't see how ever so much more money would at all materially add to our comforts, or even luxuries.
My father was in the Austrian service, and retired upon a pension and his patrimony, and purchased this
feudal resi- dence, and the small estate on which it stands, a bargain.
Nothing can be more picturesque or solitary. It stands on a slight eminence in a forest. The road, very old and
narrow, passes in front of its drawbridge, never raised in my time, and its moat, stocked with perch, and sailed
over I;y many swans, and floating on its surface white fleets of water-lilies.
Over all this the schloss shows its many-windowed front; its towers, and its Gothic chapel.
The forest opens in an irregular and very picturesque glade before its gate, and at the right a steep Gothic
bridge carries the
road over a stream that winds in deep shadow through the wood.
I have said that this is a very lonely place. judge whether I say truth. Looking from the hall door towards the
road, the forest in
which our castle stands extends fifteen miles to the right, and twelve to the left. The nearest inhabited villalye
is about seven of
your English miles to the left. The nearest inhabited schloss of any historic associations, is that of old General
twenty miles away to the right.
I have said 'the nearest inhabited village', because there is, only three miles westward, that is to say in the
direction of General
Spielsdorf's schloss, a ruined village, with its quaint little church, now roofless, in the aisle of which are the
mouldering tombs of
the proud family of Karnstein, now extinct, who once owned the equally desolate chateau which, in the thick
of the forest,
overlooks the silent ruins of the town.
Respecting the cause of the desertion of this striking and melancholy spot, there is a legend which I shall relate
to you another
I must tell you now, how very small is the party who constitute the inhabitants of our castle. I don't include
servants, or those
dependants who occupy rooms in the buildings attached to the schloss. Listen, and wonder! My father, who is
the kindest man
on earth, but growing old; and I, at the date of my story, only nineteen. Eight years have passed since then. I
and my father
constituted the family at the schloss. My motlier, a Styrian lady, died in my infancy, but I had a good- natured
had been with me from, I might almost say, my infancy. I could not remember the time when her fat,
benignant face was not a
familiar picture in my memory. This was Madame Perrodon, a native of Berne, whose care and good nature in
part supplied to
me the loss of my mother, whom I do not even remember, so early I lost her. She made a third at our little
dinner party. There
was a fourth, Mademoiselle De Lafontaine, a lady such as you term, I believe, a 'finishing governess'. She
spoke French and
German, Madame Perrodon French and broken English, to which my father and I added English, which, partly
to prevent its
becoming a lost language among us, and partly from patriotic motives, we spoke every day. The consequence
was a Babel, at
which strangers used to laugh , and which I shall make no attempt to reproduce in this narrative. And there
were two or three
young lady friends besides, pretty nearly of my own age, who were occasional visitors, for longer or shorter
terms; and these
visits I sometimes returned.
These were our regular social resources; but of course there were chance visits from 'neighbours' of only five
or six leagues
distance. My life was, notwithstanding, rather a solitary one, I can assure you.
My gouvernantes had just so much control over me as yo might conjecture such sage persons would have in
the case of a rather
spoiled girl, whose only parent allowed her pretty nearly her own way in everything.
The first occurrence in my existence, which produced a terrible impression upon my mind, which, in fact,
never has been
effaced, was one of the very earliest incidents of my life which I can recollect. Some people will think it so
trifling that it should
not be recorded here. You will see, however, by-and- by, why I mention it. The nursery, as it was called,
though I had it all to
myself, was a large room in the upper storey of the castle, with a steep oak roof I can't have been more than
six years old, when
one night I awoke, and looking round the room from my bed, failed to see the nursery-maid. Neither was my
nurse there; and I
thought myself alone. I was not frightened, for I was one of those happy children who are studiously kept in
ignorance of ghost
stories, of fairy tales, and of all such lore as makes us cover up our heads when the door creaks suddenly, or
the flicker of an
expiring candle makes the shadow of a bed-post dance upon the wall, nearer to our faces, I was vexed and
insulted at finding
myself, as I conceived, neglected, and I began to whimper, preparatory to a hearty bout of roaring; when to
my surprise, I saw
a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was
kneeling, with her
hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed
me with her
hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully
soothed, and fell
asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep at the same
moment, and I cried
loudly. The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I
thought, hid herself
under the bed.
I was now for the first time frightened, and I yelled with all my might and main. Nurse, nursery-maid,
housekeeper, afl came
running in, and hearing my story, they made light of it, soothing me all they could meanwhile. But, child as I
was, I could
perceive that their faces were pale with an unwonted look of anxiety, and I saw them look under the bed, and
about the room,
and peep under tables and pluck open cupboards; and the housekeeper whispered to the nurse: 'Lay your hand
hollow in the bed; some one did lie there, so sure as you did not; the place is still warm.'
I remember the nursery-maid petting me, and all three exatitining my chest, where I told them I felt the
pronouncing that there was no sign visible that any such thing had happened to me.
The housekeeper and the two other servants who were in charge of the nursery, remained sitting up all night;
and from that time
a servant always sat up in the nursery until I was about fourteen.
I was very nervous for a long time after this. A doctor was called in; he was pallid and elderly. How well I
remember his long
saturnine face, slightly pitted with small-pox, and his chestnut wig. For a good while, every second day, he
came and gave me
medicine, which of course I hated.
The morning after I saw this apparition I was in a state of terror, and could not bear to be left alone, daylight
though it was, for a
I remember my father coming up and standing at the bedside, and talking cheerfully, and asking the nurse a
number of questions,
and laughing very heartily at one of the answers; and patting me on the shoulder, and kissing me, and telling
me not to be
frightened, that it was nothing but a dream and could not hurt me.
But I was not comforted, for I knew the visit of the strange woman was not a dream; and I was awfully
I was a little consoled by the nursery-maid's assuring me that it was she who had come and looked at me, and
lain down beside
me in the bed, and that I must have been half-dreaming not to have known her face. But this, though supported
by the nurse, did
not quite satisfy me.
I remember, in the course of that day, a venerable old man, in a black cassock,* coming into the room with the
housekeeper, and talking a little to them, and very kindly to me; his face was very sweet and gentle, and he
told me they were
going to pray, and joined my hands together, and desired me to say, softly, while they were praying, 'Lord hear
all good prayers
for us, for Jesus' sake.' I think these were the very words, for I often repeated them to myself, and my nurse
used for years to
makc me say them in my prayers.
I remember so well the thoughtful sweet face of that white-haired old man, in his black cassock, as he stood in
that rude, lofty,
brown room, with the clumsy furniture of a fashion three hundred years old about him, and the scanty light
entering its shadowy
atmosphere through the small lattice. He kneeled, and the three women with him, and he prayed aloud with an
voice for, what appeared to me, a long time. I forget all my life preceeding that event, and for some time after
it is all obscure
also, but the scenes I have just described stand out vivid as the isolated pictures of the phantasmagoria*
I am now going to tell you something so strange that it requires all your faith in my veracity to believe my
story. It not only true,
nevertheless, but truth of which I have been an eye-witness.
It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked me, as he sometimes did, to take a little ramble with him
beautiful forest vista which I have mentioned as lying in front of the schloss.
'General Spielsdorf cannot come to us so soon as I had hoped,' said my father, as we pursued our walk.
He was to have paid us a visit of some weeks, and we had expected his arrival next day. He was to have
brought with him a
young lady, his niece and ward, Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt, whom I had never seen, but whom I had heard
described as a very
charming girl, and in whose society I had promised myself many happy days. I was more disappointed than a
young lady living
in a town, or a bustling neighbourhood can possibly imagine. This visit, and the new acquaintance it promised,
had furnished my
day dream for many weeks.
'And how soon does he come?' I asked.
'Not till autumn. Not for two months, I dare say,' he answered. 'And I am very glad now, dear, that you never
'And why?' I asked, both mortified and curious.
'Because the poor young lady is dead,' he replied. 'I quite forgot I had not told you, but you were not in the
room when I
received the General's letter this evening.'
I was very much shocked. General Spielsdorf had mentioned in his first letter, six or seven weeks before, that
she was not so
well as he would wish her, but there was nothing to suggest the remotest suspicion of danger.
'Here is the General's letter,' he said, handing it to me. 'I am afraid he is in great affliction; the letter appears to
me to have been
written very nearly in distraction.'
We sat down on a rude bench, under a group of magnificent lime-trees. The sun was setting with all its
behind the sylvan horizon, and the stream that flows beside our home, and passes under the steep old bridge I
wound through many a group of noble trees, almost at our feet, reflecting in its current the fading crimson of
the sky. General
Spieldorf's letter was so extraordinary, so vehement, and in some places so self-contradictory, that I read it
second time aloud to my father--and was still unable to account for it, except by supposing that grief had
unsettled his mind. It
'I have lost my darling daughter, for as such I loved her. During the last days of dear Bertha's illness I was not
able to write to
you. Before then I had no idea of her danger. I have lost her, and now learn all, too late. She died in the peace
and in the glorious hope of a blessed futurity. The liend who betrayed our infatuated hospitality has done it all.
I ti~ought I was
receiving into my house innocence, gaiety, a charming companion for my lost Bertha. Heavens! what a fool
have I been! I thank
God my child died without a suspicion of the cause of her sufferings. She is gone without so much as
conjecturing the nature of
her illness, and the accursed passion of the agent of all this misery. I devote my remaining days to tracking and
monster. I am told I may hope to accomplish my righteous and merciful purpose. At present there is scarcely a
gleam of light to
guide me. I curse my conceited incredulity, my despicable affectation of superiority, my blindness, my
obstinacy--all--too late. I
cannot write or talk collectedly now. I am distracted. So soon as I shall have a little recovered, I mean to
devote myself for a
time to enquiry, which may possibly lead me as far as Vienna. Some time in the autumn, two months hence, or
earlier if I live, I
will see you--that is, if you permit me; I will then tell you all that I scarce dare put upon paper now. Farewell.
Pray for me, dear
In these terms ended this strange letter. Though I had never seen Bertha RheinfeIdt my eyes filled with tears at
intelligence; I was startled, as well as profoundly disappointed.
The sun had now set, and it was twilight by the time I had returned the General's letter to my father.
It was a soft clear evening, and we loitered, speculating upon the possible meanings of the violent and
which I had just been reading. We had nearly a mile to walk before reaching the road that passes the schloss in
front, and by
that time the moon was shining brilliantly. At the drawbridge we met Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De
had come out, without their bonnets, to enjoy the exquisite moonlight.
We heard their voices gabbling in animated dialogue as we approached. We joined them at the drawbridge,
and turned about to
admire with them the beautiful scene.
The glade through which we had just walked lay before us. At our left the narrow road wound away under
clumps of lordly
trees, and was lost to sight amid the thickening forrest. At the right the same road crosses the steep and
picturesque bridge, near
which stands a ruined tower which once guarded that pass; and beyond the bridge an abrupt eminence rises,
trees, and showing in the shadows some grey ivyclustered rocks.
Over the sward and low grounds a thin film of mist was stealing, like smoke, marking the distances with a
transparent veil; and
here and there we could see the river faintly flashing in the moonlight.
No softer, sweeter scene could be imagined. The news I had just heard made it melancholy; but nothing could
character of profound serenity, and the enchanted glory and vagueness of the prospect.
My father, who enjoyed the picturesque, and I, stood looking in silence over the expanse beneath us. The two
governesses, standing a little way behind us, discoursed upon the scene, and were eloquent upon the moon.
Madame Perrodon was fat, middle-aged, and romantic, and talked and sighed poetically. Mademoiselle De
Lafontaine, in right
of her father, who was a German, assumed to be psychological, metaphysical, and something of a mystic--now
when the moon shone with a light so intense it was well known that it indicated a special spiritual activity. The
effect of the full
moon in such a state of brilliancy was manifold. It acted on dreams, it acted on lunacy, it acted on nervous
people; it had
marvellous physical influences con~ected with life. Mademoiselle related that her cousin, who was mate of a
having taken a nap on deck on such a night, lying on his back, with his face full in the light of the moon, had
wakened, after a
dream of an old woman clawing him by the cheek, with his features horribly drawn to one side; and his
countenance had never
quite recovered its equilibrium.
'The moon, this night,' she said, 'is full of odylic and magnetic infiuence*--and see, when you look behind you
at tthe front of the
schloss, how all its windows flash and twinkle with that silvery splendour, as if unseen hands had lighted up
the rooms to receive
There are indolent states of the spirits in which, indisposed to talk ourselves, the talk of others is pleasant to
our listless ears; and
I gazed on, pleased with the tinkle of the ladies' conversation.
'I have got into one of my moping moods to-night,' said my lilther, after a silence, and quoting Shakespeare,
whom, by way of
keeping up our English, he used to read aloud, he said:
"'In truth I know not why I am so sad:
It wearies me; you say it wearies you;
But how I got it--came by it."*
'I forget the rest. But I feel as if some great misfortune were hanging over us. I suppose the poor General's
afflicted letter has
had something to do with it.'
At this moment the unwonted sound of carriage wheels and many hoofs upon the road, arrested our attention.
They seemed to be approaching from the high overlooking the bridge, and very soon the equipage from that
horsemen first crossed the bridge, came a carriage drawn by four horses, and two men rode behind.
It seemed to be the travelling carriage of a person of rank; and we were all immediately absorbed in watching
spectacle. It became, in a few moments, greatly more interesting, for just as the carriage had passed the
summit of the steep
bridge, one of the leaders, taking fright, communicated his panic to the rest, and after a plunge or two, the
whole team broke
into a wild gallop together, and dashing between the horsemen who rode in front, came thundering along the
road towards us
with the speed of a hurricane.
The excitement of the scene was made more painful by the clear, long-drawn screams of a female voice from
We all advanced in curiosity and horror; my father in silence, the rest with various ejaculations of terror.
Our suspense did not last long. Just before you reach the castle drawbridge, on the route they were coming,
there stands by the
roadside a magnificent lime-tree, on the other side stands an ancient stone cross, at sight of which the horses,
now going at a
pace that was perfectly frightful, swerved so as to bring the wheel over the projecting roots of the tree.
I knew what was coming. I covered my eyes, unable to see it out, and turned my head away; at the same
moment I heard a cry
from my lady-friends, who had gone on a little.
Curiosity opened my eyes, and I saw a scene of utter confusion. Two of the horses were on the ground, the
carriage lay upon
its side with two wheels in the air; the men were busy removing the traces, and a lady, with a commanding air
and figure, had
got out, and stood with clasped hands, raising the handkerchief that was in them every now and then to her
eyes. Through the
carriage door was now lifted a young lady, who appeared to be lifeless. My dear old father was already beside
the eider lady,
with his hat in his hand, evidently tendering his aid and the resources of his schloss. The lady did not appear to
hear him, or to
have eyes for anything but the slender girl who was being placed against the slope of the bank.
I approached; the young lady was apparently stunned, but she was certainly not dead. My father, who piqued
himself on being
something of a physician, had just had his fingers to her wrist and assured the lady, who declared herself her
mother, that her
pulse, though faint and irregular, was undoubtedly still distinguishable. The lady clasped her hands and looked
upward, as if in a
momentary transport of gratitude; but immediately she broke out again in that theatrical way which is, I
believe, natural to some
She was what is called a fine-looking woman for her time of life, and must have been handsome; she was mil,
but not thin, and
dressed in black velvet, and looked rather pale, but with a pround and commanding countenance, though now
'Was ever being so born to calamity?' I heard her say, with clasped hands, as I came up. 'Here am I, on a
journey of life and
death, in prosecuting which to lose an hour is possibly to lose all. My child will not have recovered sufficiently
to resume her
route for who can say how long. I must leave her; I cannot, dare not, delay. How far on, sir, can you tell, is the
nearest village? I
must leave her there; and shall not see my darling, or even hear of her till my return, three months hence.'
I plucked my father by the coat, and whispered earnestly in his ear: 'Oh! papa, pray ask her to let her stay with
us--it would be
so delightful. Do, pray.' 'If Madame will entrust her child to the care of my daughter, aad of her good
Perrodon, and permit her to remain as our guest, under my charge, until her return, it will confer a distinction
and an obligation
upon us, and we shall treat her with all the care and devotion which so sacred a trust deserves.'
'I cannot do that, sir, it would be to task your kindness and chivalry too cruelly,' said the lady, distractedly.
'It would, on the contrary, be to confer on us a very great kindness at the moment when we most need it. My
daughter has just
been disappointed by a cruel misfortune, in a visit from which she had long anticipated a great deal of
happiness. If you confide
this young lady to our care it will be her best consolation. The nearest village on your route is distant, and
affords no such inn as
you could think of placing your daughter at; you cannot allow her to continue her journey for any considerable
danger. If, as you say, you cannot suspend your journey, you must part with her to-night, and nowhere could
you do so with
more honest assurances of care and tenderness than here.'
There was something in this lady's air and appearance so distinguished, and even imposing, and in her manner
so engaging, as to
impress one, quite apart from the dignity of her equipage, with a conviction that she was a person of
By this time the carriage was replaced in its upright position, and the horses, quite tractable, in the traces*
The lady threw on her daughter a glance which I fancied was not quite so affectionate as one might have
anticipated from the
beginning of the scene; then she beckoned slightly to my father, and withdrew two or three steps with him out
of hearing; and
talked to him with a fixed and stern countenance, not at all like that with which she had hitherto spoken.
I was filled with wonder that my father did not seem to perceive the change, and also unspeakably curious to
learn what it could
be that she was speaking, almost in his ear, with so much earnestness and rapidity. Two or three minutes at
most I think she
remained thus employed, then she turned, and a few steps brought her to where her daughter lay, supported by
Perrodon. She kneeled beside her for a moment and whispered, as Madame supposed, a little benediction in
her ear; then
hastily kissing her she stepped into her carriage, the door was closed, the footmen in stately liveries jumped up
outriders spurred on, the postillions cracked their whips, the horses plunged and broke suddenly into a furious
threatened soon again to become a gallop, and the carriage whirled away, followed at the same rapid pace by
horsemen in the rear.
WE COMPARE NOTES
We followed the cortege* with our eyes until it was swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very sound
of the hoofs and
the wheels died away in the silent night air.
Nothing remained to assure us that the adventure had not been an illusion of a moment but the young lady,
who just at that
moment opened her eyes. I could not see, for her face was turned from me, but she raised her head, evidently
her, and I heard a very sweet voice ask complainingly, 'Where is mamma?'
Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and added some comfortable assurances. I then heard her ask:
'Where am I? What is this place?' and after that she said, 'I don't see the carriage; and Matska,* where is she?'
Madame answered all her questions in so far as she understood them; and gradually the young lady
remembered how the
misadventure came about, and was glad to hear that no one in, or in attendance on, the carriage was hurt; and
on learning that
her mamma had left her here, till her return in about three months, she wept.
I was going to add my consolations to those of Madame l'crrodon when Mademoiselle De Lafontaine placed
her hand on my
'Don't approach, one at a time is as much as she can at present converse with; a very little excitement would
overpower her now.'
As soon as she is comfortably in bed, I thought, I will run up to her room and see her.
My father in the meantime had sent a servant on horseback for the physician, who lived about two leagues
away; and a
bed-room was being prepared for the young lady's reception.
The stranger now rose, and leaning on Madame's arm walked slowly over the drawbridge and into the castle
In the hall, servants waited to receive her, and she was conducted forthwith to her room.
The room we usually sat in as our drawing-room is long, having four windows, that looked over the moat and
the forest scene I have just described.
It is furnished in old carved oak, with large carved cabinets, and the chairs are cushioned with crimson Utrecht
velvet. The walls
are covered with tapestry, and surrounded with great' gold frames, the figures being as large as life, in ancient
and very curious
costume, and the subjects represented are hun ing, hawking, and generally festive. It is not too stately to
and here we had our tea, for with usual patriotic leanings my father insisted that the beverage should make its
regularly with our and chocolate.
We sat here this night, and with candles lighted, were talking over the adventure of the evening.
Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine were both of our party. The young stranger had hardly
lain down in her
bed when she sank into a deep sleep; and those ladies had left her in the care of a servant.
'How do you like our guest?' I asked, as soon as Madam entered. 'Tell me all about her.'
'I like her extremely,' answered Madame, 'she is,I almost think, the prettiest creature I ever saw; about your
age, and so gentle
'She is absolutely beautiful,' threw in Mademoiselle, who had peeped for a moment into the stranger's room.
'And such a sweet voice!' added Madame Perrodon.
'Did you remark a woman in the carriage, after it was set up again, who did not get out,' inquired
Mademoiselle, 'but only
looked from the window?' 'No, we had not seen her.'
Then she described a hideous black woman, with a sort of coloured turban on her head, who was gazing all
the time from the
carriage window, nodding and grinning derisively towards the ladies, with gleaming eyes and large white
eye-balls, and her teeth
set as if in fury.
'Did you remark what an iII-looking pack of men the servants were?' asked Madame.
'Yes,' said my father, who had just come in, 'ugly, hang-dog looking fellows, as ever I beheld in my life. I hope
they mayn't rob
the poor lady in the forest. They are clever rogues, however; they got everything to rights in a minute.'
'I dare say they are worn out with too long travelling,' said Madame. 'Besides looking wicked, their faces were
lean, and dark, and sullen. I am very curious, I own; but I dare say the young lady will tell us all about it
to-morrow, if she is
'I don't think she will,' said my father, with a mysterious smile, and a little nod of his head, as if he knew more