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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
STURGIS LIBRARY, BARNSTABLE
PRINTED BY MACDONALD AND TUGWELL,
A WALK BY MOONLIGHT.
HILE Martha Tansey was telling her grisly
story in the housekeeper's room, and David Arden listening to the oft-told tale, for the sake of the possible new lights which the narration might throw upon his present theory, the little party in the drawing-room had their music and their talk. Mr. Longcluse sang the song which, standing beside Uncle David on the landing, near the great window on the staircase, we have faintly heard; and then he sang that other song, of the goblin wooer, at Alice's desire.
"Was the poor girl fool enough to accept his invitation ?" inquired Miss Maubray.
“That I really can't say,” laughed Mr. Long
"Yes, indeed, poor thing! I so hope she . didn't,” said Lady May.
"It's very likely she did," interposed Sir Reginald, opening his eyes—every one thought he was dozing—“nothing more foolish, and therefore, nothing more likely. Besides, if she didn't, she probably did worse. Better to go straight to the"
“Oh! dear Reginald!" exclaimed Lady May. “Than by a tedious circumbendibus. I suppose her parents highly disapproved of the goblin; wasn't that alone an excellent reason for going away with him?”
And Sir Reginald closed his eyes again.
Perhaps," said Miss Maubray aside to Vivian Darnley, "that romantic young lady may have had a cross papa, and thought that she could not change very much for the worse."
"Shall I tell that to Sir Reginald?—it would amuse him," inquired Darnley.
"Not as my remark; but I make you a present of it."
Thanks; but that, even with your permis
sion, would be a plagiarism, and robbing you of
Vivian Darnley was very inattentive to his He was talking very much at random, for his mind, and occasionally his eyes, were otherwise occupied.
Alice Arden was sitting near the piano, and talking to Mr. Longcluse.
"Is that meant to be a ghost, I wonder, in our sense, like the ghost of Wilhelm in the ballad of Leonora? or is the lover a demon?"
"A demon, surely," answered Longcluse; "a spirit appointed to her destruction. In an old ghostly writer there is a Latin sentence, Unicuique nascenti, adest dæmon vitæ mystagogus, which I will translate, 'There is present at the birth of every human being a demon, who is the conductor of his life.' Be it fortunate, or be it direful, to this supernatural influence he owes it all. So they thought; and to families such a demon is allotted also, and they prosper or wane as his function is ordained. I wonder whether such demons ever enter into human beings, and, in the shape of living men, haunt, plague, and ruin their predestinated victims.”
This sort of mysticism for a time they talked, and then wandered away to other themes, and the talk grew general; and Mr. Longcluse, with a pang, discovered that it was late. He had something on his mind that night. He had an undivulged use, also, to which to apply David Arden. As the hour drew near it weighed more and more heavily at his heart. That hour must be observed; he wished to be away before it arrived. There was still ample time; but Lady May was now talking of going, and he made up his mind to say farewell.
Lingeringly Mr. Longcluse took his leave. But go he must; and so, a last touch of the hand, a last look, and the parting is over. Downstairs he runs; his groom and his brougham are at the door. What a glorious moon! The white light upon all things around is absolutely dazzling. How sharp and black the shadows! How light and filmy rises the old house! How black the nooks of the thick ivy! Every drop of dew that hangs upon its leaves, or on the drooping stalks of the neglected grass, is transmuted into a diamond. As he stands for an instant upon the broad platform of the steps, he