图书图片
PDF
ePub

shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard.”

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement, - for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound, - the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up as the sound of the dragon's unnatural shriek, as described by the romancer.

Oppressed as I certainly was upon the occurrence of this second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting by any observation the sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question ; although, assuredly, a strange alteration had during the last few mi. nutes taken place in his demeanour. From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber, and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast; yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at variance with this idea ; for he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this, I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded:

“And now the champion, having escaped from the terrible fury of the dragon, bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and of the breaking up of the enchantment which was upon it, removed the carcass from out of the way before him, and approached valorously over the silver pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the wall; which in sooth tarried not for his full coming, but fell down at his feet upon the silver floor with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound.”

No sooner had these syllables passed my lips than, as if a shield of brass had indeed at the moment fallen heavily upon a floor of silver, I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled, reverberation. Completely unnerved, I started convulsively to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a more than stony rigidity. But, as I laid my hand upon his shoulder, there came a strong shudder over his frame, a sickly smile quivered about his lips, and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over his person, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.

“Not hear it? Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long-longlong-many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it-yet I dared not-oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am !-1 dared not -I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb! Said I

VOL. VIII.

not my senses were acute ? I now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them—many, many days ago- yet I dared not-I dared not speak! And now-to-night

-Ethelred-ha! ha!--the breaking of the hermit's door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield,-say rather the rending of the coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh! whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footsteps on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart ? Madman!” — here he sprung violently to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul_“ Madman! I tell you that she non stands without the door!

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell, the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back upon the instant their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust; but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the Lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her horrible, and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had dreaded.

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath, as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued, for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure, of which I have before spoken, as extending from the roof of the building in a zigzag direction to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened,—there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind,- the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight, — my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder, there was a long tumultuous shouting sound, like the voice of a thousand waters, – and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “ House of Usher."

A PROPOS TO THE DOCTOR'S LAMENTED DEATH.

What's the news ?- Why, they say, Death has kill'd Doctor Morrison. The Pill-maker!-Yes. Then Death will be sorry soon.

[From the French :

Quoi de nouveau ? La Mort vient d'enlever Bois rude.
Ce fameux medecin ?-Qu.- Quelle ingratitude!]

J. A. J.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

No. I.
Bloudie Jacke of Shrewsberrie,

THE SHROPSHIRE BLUEBEARD.
A LEGEND OF « THE PROUD SALOPIANS.”

Hisce ferè temporibus, in agro Salopiensi, Quidam, cui nomen Johannes, Le Sanglaunt deinde nuncupatus, uxores quamplurimas ducit, enecat et (ita referunt) manducat ; ossa solùm cani miræ magnitudinis relinquens. Tùm demùm in flagrante delicto, vel “ manu rubrâ,” ut dicunt Jurisconsulti, deprensus, carnifice vix opprimitur.-RADULPHUS DE DICETO.

[merged small][ocr errors]

On! why doth thine eye gleam so bright,

Bloudie Jacke?
Oh! why doth thine eye gleam so bright ?-

The Mother's at home,

The Maid may not roam,
She never will meet thee to-night!

By the light
Of the moon—it's impossible-quite 1
Yet thine eye is still brilliant and bright,

Bloudie Jacke!
It gleams with a fiendish delight-

« 'Tis done

She is won !
Nothing under the sun
Can loose the charm'd ring, though it's slight!

Ho! ho !
It fits so remarkably tight!"-
The wire is as thin as a thread,

Bloudie Jacke!
The wire is as thin as a thread -

“ Though slight be the chain,

Again might and main
Cannot rend it in twain-She is wed!

She is wed!
She is mine, be she living or dead !

Haw! haw!!”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Chere we are

sand wates 1 mly and sec

DEATE

Nay, laugh not, I pray thee, so loud,

Bloudie Jacke!
Oh! laugh not so loud and so clear!

Though sweet is thy smile

The heart to beguile,
Yet thy laugh is quite shocking to hear,

Oh dear!
It makes the blood curdle with fear !

rude

The Maiden is gone by the glen,

Bloudie Jacke ! She is gone by the glen and the wood

It's a very odd thing

She should wear such a ring, While her tresses are bound with a snood.

By the rood ! It's a thing that's not well understood ! The Maiden is stately and tall,

Bloudie Jacke ! And stately she walks in her pride ;

But the Young Mary-Anne

Runs as fast as she can,
To o'ertake her, and walk by her side :

Though she chideShe deems not her sister a bride !

But the Maiden is gone by the glen,

Bloudie Jacke ! Mary-Anne, she is gone by the lea;

She o'ertakes not her sister,

It's clear she has miss'd her, And cannot think where she can be !

Dear me ! “ Ho! ho !-- We shall see-we shall see I" —

Mary-Anne is gone over the lea,

Bloudie Jacke! Mary-Anne, she is come to the Tower;

But it makes her heart quail,

For it looks like a jail
A deal more than a fair Lady's bower,

So sour
Its ugly grey walls seem to lour.
For the Barbican's massy and high,

Bloudie Jacke! And the oak-door is heavy and brown,

And with iron it's plated,

And machecollated
To pour boiling oil and lead down ;

How you'd frown Should a ladle-full fall on your crown!

The rock that it stands on is steep,

Bloudit Jackt! To gain it one's forced for to creep;

The Portcullis is strong,

And the Drawbridge is long,
And the water runs all round the Keep;

At a peep
You can see that the Moat is very deep !

The Drawbridge is long, but it's down,

Bloudie Jacke! And the Portcullis hangs in the air ;

And no Warder is near,

With his horn, and his spear,
To give notice when people come there.-

I declare
Mary-Anne has run into the Square !
The oak-door is heavy and brown,

Bloudie Jacke! But the oak-door is standing ajar,

And no one is there

To say, “ Pray take a chair,
You seem tired, Miss, with running so far-

So you are
With grown people you 're scarce on a par 1"
But the Young Mary-Anne is not tired,

Bloudie Jacke !
She roams o'er your Tower by herself;

She runs through, very soon,

Each boudoir and saloon,
And examines each closet and shelf,

Your pelf,
All your plate, and your china,—and delf.
She looks at your Arras so fine,

Bloudie Jacke!
So rich, all description it mocks ;

And she now and then pauses

To gaze at your vases,
Your pictures, and or-molu clocks ;

Every box,
Every cupboard and drawer she unlocks.
She looks at the paintings so rare,

Bloudie Jacke! That adorn every wall in your house ;

Your impayable pieces,

Your Paul Veroneses,
Your Rembrandts, your Guidos, and Dows,

Morland's Cows, Claude's Landscapes, -and Landseer's Bow-wows.

She looks at your Statues so fine,

Bloudie Jacke! And mighty great notice she takes

Of your Niobe crying,

Your Mirmillo dying,
Your Hercules strangling the snakes,

How he shakes
The nasty great things as he wakes !

« 上一页继续 »