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"You are very kind," Berene answered, while in her heart she thought how cruel was the expression in the face of the woman before her, and how faded she appeared in the morning light. "But I think I shall be quite well in a little while, I only need to keep quiet for a few hours."
“You are going to the Ruins of Karnstein?” he said. “Yes, it is a lucky coincidence; do you know I was going to ask you to bring me there to inspect them. I have a special object in exploring. There is a ruined chapel, ain’t there, with a great many tombs of that extinct family?”
"Come, Meg," said Eugénie, smoothing the child's hair, "tell me all about the man."
“Let us waive the point. Well, we were suddenly alarmed by a shout on deck, ‘Man over-board!’ We both rushed up the cabin stairs, naturally under the impression that one of our crew had fallen into the sea: an impression shared, I ought to add, by the man at the helm, who had given the alarm.”
The district is dear to the superstitious. Hard by, at the back-gate of Comiston, a belated carter beheld a lady in white, ‘with the most beautiful, clear shoes upon her feet,’ who looked upon him in a very ghastly manner and then vanished; and just in front is the Hunters’ Tryst, once a roadside inn, and not so long ago haunted by the devil in person. Satan led the inhabitants a pitiful existence. He shook the four corners of the building with lamentable outcries, beat at the doors and windows, overthrew crockery in the dead hours of the morning, and danced unholy dances on the roof. Every kind of spiritual disinfectant was put in requisition; chosen ministers were summoned out of Edinburgh and prayed by the hour; pious neighbours sat up all night making a noise of psalmody; but Satan minded them no more than the wind about the hill-tops; and it was only after years of persecution, that he left the Hunters’ Tryst in peace to occupy himself with the remainder of mankind. What with General Kay, and the white lady, and this singular visitation, the neighbourhood offers great facilities to the makers of sun-myths; and without exactly casting in one’s lot with that disenchanting school of writers, one cannot help hearing a good deal of the winter wind in the last story. ‘That nicht,’ says Burns, in one of his happiest moments,-
“But what is there that I can do,” my wife inquired, “which will help to increase our joint estate?”
Then, towards the end of his twenty years' service of the sea, the creative impulse in him demanded an outlet. He wrote, at stray moments of opportunity during several years, a novel, wrote it for his pleasure and diversion, sent it finally to a publisher with all that lack of confidence in posts and publishers that every author, who cares for his creations, will feel to the end of his days. He has said that if Almayer's Folly had been refused he would never have written again, but we may well believe that, let the fate of that book be what it might, the energy and surprise of his discovery of the sea must have been declared to the world. Almayer's Folly, however, was not rejected; its publication caused The Spectator to remark: "The name of Mr Conrad is new to us, but it appears to us as if he might become the Kipling of the Malay Archipelago." He 13had, therefore, encouragement of the most dignified kind from the beginning. He himself, however, may have possibly regarded that day in 1897 when Henley accepted The Nigger of the Narcissus for The New Review as a more important date in his new career. That date may serve for the commencement of the third period of his adventure.
But nothing of this did Mr. King say. With his better light he was trying to penetrate the mystery of the man’s death. That he had not once moved from the corner where he had been stationed; that his posture was that of neither attack nor defense; that he had dropped his weapon; that he had obviously perished of sheer horror of something that he saw — these were circumstances which Mr. King’s disturbed intelligence could not rightly comprehend.
The full story, so far as deciphered, will eventually appear in an official bulletin of Miskatonic University. Here I shall sketch only the salient highlights in a formless, rambling way. Myth or otherwise, the sculptures told of the coming of those star-headed things to the nascent, lifeless earth out of cosmic space — their coming, and the coming of many other alien entities such as at certain times embark upon spatial pioneering. They seemed able to traverse the interstellar ether on their vast membranous wings — thus oddly confirming some curious hill folklore long ago told me by an antiquarian colleague. They had lived under the sea a good deal, building fantastic cities and fighting terrific battles with nameless adversaries by means of intricate devices employing unknown principles of energy. Evidently their scientific and mechanical knowledge far surpassed man’s today, though they made use of its more widespread and elaborate forms only when obliged to. Some of the sculptures suggested that they had passed through a stage of mechanized life on other planets, but had receded upon finding its effects emotionally unsatisfying. Their preternatural toughness of organization and simplicity of natural wants made them peculiarly able to live on a high plane without the more specialized fruits of artificial manufacture, and even without garments, except for occasional protection against the elements.
As he thus communed with himself, Clarence bent and quickly picked up five stones; then rising, he sent one after the other driving at the hollow spot in the tree. The first stone went wild, the second struck the tree, the third nearly entered the hole, the fourth flew wild, and the fifth——!
“I hereby certify that the bearer of these lines, Robert Moody by name, has presented to me the letter with which he was charged, addressed to myself, with the seal intact. I regret to add that there is, to say the least of it, some mistake. The inclosure referred to by the anonymous writer of the letter, who signs ‘a friend in need,’ has not reached me. No five-hundred pound bank-note was in the letter when I opened it. My wife was present when I broke the seal, and can certify to this statement if necessary. Not knowing who my charitable correspondent is (Mr. Moody being forbidden to give me any information), I can only take this means of stating the case exactly as it stands, and hold myself at the disposal of the writer of the letter. My private address is at the head of the page. — Samuel Bradstock, Rector, St. Anne’s, Deansbury, London.”