Charles Robert Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Chap 1
Chap 2
Chap 3
Chap 4
Chap 5
Chap 6
Chap 7
Chap 8
Chap 9
Chap 10
Chap 11
Chap 12
Chap 13
Chap 14
Chap 15
Chap 16
Chap 17
Chap 18
Chap 19
Chap 20
Chap 21
Chap 22
Chap 23
Chap 24
Chap 25
Chap 26
Chap 27
Chap 28
Chap 29
Chap 30
Chap 31
Chap 32
Chap 33
Chap 34
Chap 35
Chap 36
Chap 37
Chap 38
Chap 39

CHAPTER XXXVII

Fear not now the fever’s fire,
Fear not now the death-bed groan;
Pangs that torture, pains that tire
Bed-rid age with feeble moan.
                                   MASON

“The first examination of Isidora was conducted with the circumspective formality that has always been known to mark the proceedings of that tribunal. The second and the third were alike strict, penetrating and inoperative, and the holy office began to feel its highest functionaries were no match for the extraordinary prisoner who stood before them, who, combining the extremes of simplicity and magnanimity, uttered every thing that might criminate herself, but evaded with skill that baffled all the arts of inquisitorial examination, every question that referred to Melmoth.

 “In the course of the first examination, they hinted at the torture. Isidora, with something of the free and nature-taught dignity of her early existence, smiled as they spoke of it. An official whispered one of the inquisitors, as he observed the peculiar expression of her countenance, and the torture was mentioned no more.

 “A second—a third examination followed at long intervals—but it was observed, that every time the mode of examination was less severe, and the treatment of the prisoner more and more indulgent—her youth, her beauty, her profound simplicity of character and language, developed strongly on this singular emergency, and the affecting circumstance of her always appearing with her child in her arms, whose feeble cries she tried to hush, while she bent forward to hear and answer the questions addressed to her—all these seemed to have wrought powerfully on the minds of men not accustomed to yield to external impressions. There was also a docility, a submission, about this beautiful and unfortunate being—a contrite and bending spirit—a sense of wretchedness for the misfortunes of her family—a consciousness of her own, that touched the hearts even of inquisitors.

 “After repeated examinations, when nothing could be extorted from the prisoner, a skilful and profound artist in the school of mental anatomy, whispered to the inquisitor something about the infant whom she held in her arms. “She has defied the rack,” was the answer. “Try her on that rack,” was rejoined, and the hint was taken.

 “After the usual formalities were gone through, Isidora’s sentence was read to her. She was condemned, as a suspected heretic, to perpetual confinement in the prison of the Inquisition—her child was to be taken from her, and brought up in a convent, in order to—

 “Here the reading of the sentence was interrupted by the prisoner, who, uttering one dreadful shriek of maternal agony, louder than any other mode of torture had ever before extorted, fell prostrate on the floor. When she was restored to sensation, no authority or terror of the place or the judges, could prevent her pouring forth those wild and piercing supplications, which, from the energy with which they are uttered, appear to the speaker himself like commands,—that the latter part of her sentence might be remitted—the former appeared to make not the least impression on her—eternal solitude, passed in eternal darkness, seemed to give her neither fear or pain, but she wept, and pleaded, and raved, that she might not be separated from her infant.

 “The judges listened with fortified hearts, and in unbroken silence. When she found all was over, she rose from her posture of humiliation and agony—and there was something even of dignity about her as she demanded, in a calm and altered voice, that her child might not be removed from her till the following day. She had also self-possession enough to enforce her petition by the remark, that its life might be the sacrifice if it was too suddenly deprived of the nourishment it was accustomed to receive from her. To this request the judges acceded, and she was remanded to her cell. * * * *

* * * *

“The time elapsed. The person who brought her food departed without uttering a word; nor did she utter a word to him. It was about midnight that the door of her cell was unlocked, and two persons in official habits appeared at it. They seemed to pause, like the heralds at the tent of Achilles, and then, like them, forced themselves to enter. These men had haggard and livid faces—their attitudes were perfectly stony and automaton-like—their movements appeared the result of mere mechanism—yet these men were touched. The miserable light within hardly shewed the pallet on which the prisoner was seated; but a strong red light from the torch the attendant held, flared broadly on the arch of the door under which the figures appeared. They approached with a motion that seemed simultaneous and involuntary—and uttered together, in accents that seemed to issue from one mouth, “Deliver your child to us.” In a voice as hoarse, dry, and natureless, the prisoner answered, “Take it!”

 “The men looked about the cell—it seemed as if they knew not where to find the offspring of humanity amid the cells of the Inquisition. The prisoner was silent and motionless during their search. It was not long—the narrow apartment, the scanty furniture, afforded little room for the investigation. When it was concluded, however, the prisoner, bursting into a wild laugh, exclaimed, “Where would you search for a child but in its mother’s bosom? Here—here it is—take it—take it!” And she put it into their hands. “Oh what fools ye were to seek my child any where but on its mother’s bosom! It is your’s now!” she shrieked in a voice that froze the officials.—“Take it—take it from me!”

 “The agents of the holy office advanced; and the technicality of their movements was somewhat suspended when Isidora placed in their hands the corse of her infant daughter. Around the throat of the miserable infant, born amid agony, and nursed in a dungeon, there was a black mark, which the officials made their use of in representing this extraordinary circumstance to the holy office. By some it was deemed as the sign impressed by the evil one at its birth—by others as the fearful effect of maternal despair.

 “It was determined that the prisoner should appear before them within four-and-twenty hours, and account for the death of her child. * * * *

* * * *

“Within less than half that number of hours, a mightier arm than that of the Inquisition was dealing with the prisoner—an arm that seemed to menace, but was indeed stretched out to save, and before whose touch the barriers of the dreaded Inquisition itself were as frail as the fortress of the spider who hung her web on its walls. Isidora was dying of a disease not the less mortal because it makes no appearance in an obituary—she was dying of that internal and incurable wound—a broken heart.

 “When the inquisitors were at last convinced that there was nothing more to be obtained by torture, bodily or mental torture, they suffered her to die unmolested, and granted her last request, that Fra Jose might be permitted to visit her. * * * *

* * * *

“It was midnight, but its approach was unknown in that place, where day and night are the same. A dim lamp was substituted for that weak and struggling beam that counterfeited day-light. The penitent was stretched on her bed of rest—the humane priest sat beside her; and if his presence gave no dignity to the scene, it at least softened it by the touches of humanity. * * * *

* * * *

“My father,” said the dying Isidora, “you pronounced me forgiven.”—“Yes, my daughter,” said the priest, “you have assured me you are innocent of the death of your infant.”—“You never could have believed me guilty,” said Isidora, raising herself on her pallet at the appeal—“the consciousness of its existence alone would have kept me alive, even in my prison. Oh, my father, how was it possible it could live, buried with me in this dreadful place almost as soon as it respired? Even the morbid nourishment it received from me was dried up when my sentence was read. It moaned all night—towards morning its moans grew fainter, and I was glad—at last they ceased, and I was very—happy!” But, as she talked of this fearful happiness, she wept.

 “My daughter, is your heart disengaged from that awful and disastrous tie that bound it to misfortune here, and to perdition hereafter?” It was long before she could answer; at length she said in a broken voice, “My father, I have not now strength to search or to struggle with my heart. Death must very soon break every tie that was twined with it, and it is useless to anticipate my liberation; the effort would be agony—fruitless agony, for, while I live, I must love my destroyer! Alas! in being the enemy of mankind, was not his hostility to me inevitable and fatal? In rejecting his last terrible temptation—in resigning him to his destiny, and preferring submission to my own, I feel my triumph complete, and my salvation assured.”—“Daughter, I do not comprehend you,”—“Melmoth,” said Isidora, with a strong effort, “Melmoth was here last night—within the walls of the Inquisition—within this very cell!” The priest crossed himself with marks of the profoundest horror, and, as the wind swept hollowly through the long passage, almost expected the shaken door would burst open, and disclose the figure of the Wanderer. * * * *

* * * *

“My father, I have had many dreams,” answered the penitent, shaking her head at a suggestion of the priest’s, “many—many wanderings, but this was no dream. I have dreamed of the garden-land where I beheld him first—I have dreamed of the nights when he stood at my casement, and trembled in sleep at the sound of my mother’s step—and I have had holy and hopeful visions, in which celestial forms appeared to me, and promised me his conversion—but this was no dream—I saw him last night. Father, he was here the whole night—he promised—he assured me—he adjured me to accept of liberation and safety, of life and of felicity. He told me, nor could I doubt him, that, by whatever means he effected his entrance, he could also effect my escape. He offered to live with me in that Indian isle—that paradise of ocean, far from human resort or human persecution. He offered to love me alone, and for ever—and then I listened to him. Oh, my father, I am very young, and life and love sounded sweetly in my ears, when I looked at my dungeon, and thought of dying on this floor of stone! But—when he whispered the terrible condition on which the fulfilment of his promise depended—when he told me that”—

 “Her voice failed with her failing strength, and she could utter no more. “Daughter,” said the priest, bending over her bed, “daughter, I adjure you, by the image represented on this cross I hold to your dying lips—by your hopes of that salvation which depends on the truth you utter to me, your priest and your friend—the conditions proposed by your tempter!” “Promise me absolution for repeating the words, for I should wish that my last breath might not be exhaled in uttering—what I must.”—“Te absolvo,” &c. said the priest, and bent his ear to catch the sounds. The moment they were uttered, he started as from the sting of a serpent, and, seating himself at the extremity of the cell, rocked in dumb horror. “My father, you promised me absolution,” said the penitent, “Jam tibi dedi, moribunda,” answered the priest, in the confusion of thoughts using the language appropriated to the service of religion. “Moribunda indeed!” said the sufferer, falling back on her pallet, “Father, let me feel a human hand in mine as I part!”—“Call upon God, daughter!” said the priest, applying the crucifix to her cold lips. “I loved his religion,” said the penitent, kissing it devoutly, “I loved it before I knew it, and God must have been my teacher, for I had no other! Oh!” she exclaimed, with that deep conviction that must thrill every dying heart, and whose echo (would God) might pierce every living one—“Oh that I had loved none but God—how profound would have been my peace—how glorious my departure—now—his image pursues me even to the brink of the grave, into which I plunge to escape it!”

 “My daughter,” said the priest, while the tears rolled fast down his cheeks—“my daughter, you are passing to bliss—the conflict was fierce and short, but the victory is sure—harps are tuned to a new song, even a song of welcome, and wreaths of palm are weaving for you in paradise!”

 “Paradise!” uttered Isidora, with her last breath—“Will he be there!”

CHAPTER XXXVIII

Loud tolled the bell, the priests prayed well,
The tapers they all burned bright,
The monk her son, and her daughter the nun,
They told their beads all night!
* * * *

The second night—
* * * *

The monk and the nun they told their beads
As fast as they could tell,
And aye the louder grew the noise,
The faster went the bell!
* * * *

The third night came—
* * * *
The monk and the nun forgot their beads,
They fell to the ground dismayed,
There was not a single saint in heaven
Whom they did not call to their aid!
                                    SOUTHEY

Monçada here concluded the tale of the Indian,—the victim of Melmoth’s passion, no less than of his destiny, both alike unhallowed and unutterable. And he announced his intention of disclosing to him the fates of the other victims, whose skeletons were preserved in the vault of the Jew Adonijah in Madrid. He added, that the circumstances relating to them, were of a character still darker and more awful than those he had recited, as they were the result of impressions made on masculine minds, without any excitement but that of looking into futurity. He mentioned, too, that the circumstances of his residence in the house of the Jew, his escape from it, and the reasons of his subsequent arrival in Ireland, were scarcely less extraordinary than any thing he had hitherto related. Young Melmoth, (whose name perhaps the reader has forgot), did “seriously incline” to the purpose of having his dangerous curiosity further gratified, nor was he perhaps altogether without the wild hope of seeing the original of that portrait he had destroyed, burst from the walls and take up the fearful tale himself.

 The narrative of the Spaniard had occupied many days; at their termination, young Melmoth signified to his guest that he was prepared to hear the sequel.

 A night was fixed for the continuation of the recital. Young Melmoth and his guest met in the usual apartment—it was a dreary, stormy night—the rain that had fallen all day, seemed now to have yielded to the wind, that came in strong and sudden bursts, suddenly hushed, as if collecting strength for the tempest of the night. Monçada and Melmoth drew their chairs closer to the fire, looking at each other with the aspect of men who wish to inspire each other with courage to listen, and to tell, and are the more eager to inspire it, because neither feels it himself.

 At length Monçada collected his voice and resolution to proceed, but as he went on, he perceived he could not fix his hearer’s attention, and he paused.

 “I thought,” said Melmoth, answering his silence, “I thought I heard a noise—as of a person walking in the passage.” “Hush! and listen,” said Monçada, “I would not wish to be overheard.” They paused and held their breath—the sound was renewed—it was evidently that of steps approaching the door, and then retiring from it. “We are watched,” said Melmoth, half-rising from his chair, but at that moment the door opened, and a figure appeared at it, which Monçada recognized for the subject of his narrative, and his mysterious visitor in the prison of the Inquisition, and Melmoth for the original of the picture, and the being whose unaccountable appearance had filled him with consternation, as he sat beside his dying uncle’s bed.

 The figure stood at the door for some time, and then advancing slowly till it gained the centre of the room, it remained there fixed for some time, but without looking at them. It then approached the table where they sat, in a slow but distinctly heard step, and stood before them as a living being. The profound horror that was equally felt by both, was differently expressed by each. Monçada crossed himself repeatedly, and attempted to utter many prayers. Melmoth, nailed to his chair, fixed his sightless eyes on the form that stood before him—it was indeed Melmoth the Wanderer—the same as he was in the past century—the same as he may be in centuries to come, should the fearful terms of his existence be renewed. His “natural force was not abated,” but “his eye was dim,”—that appalling and supernatural lustre of the visual organ, that beacon lit by an infernal fire, to tempt or to warn the adventurers of despair from that coast on which many struck, and some sunk—that portentous light was no longer visible—the form and figure were those of a living man, of the age indicated in the portrait which the young Melmoth had destroyed, but the eyes were as the eyes of the dead. * * * *

* * * *

As the Wanderer advanced still nearer till his figure touched the table, Monçada and Melmoth started up in irrepressible horror, and stood in attitudes of defence, though conscious at the moment that all defence was hopeless against a being that withered and mocked at human power. The Wanderer waved his arm with an action that spoke defiance without hostility—and the strange and solemn accents of the only human voice that had respired mortal air beyond the period of mortal life, and never spoken but to the ear of guilt or suffering, and never uttered to that ear aught but despair, rolled slowly on their hearing like a peal of distant thunder.

 “Mortals—you are here to talk of my destiny, and of the events which it has involved. That destiny is accomplished, I believe, and with it terminate those events that have stimulated your wild and wretched curiosity. I am here to tell you of both!—I—I—of whom you speak, am here!—Who can tell so well of Melmoth the Wanderer as himself, now that he is about to resign that existence which has been the object of terror and wonder to the world?—Melmoth, you behold your ancestor—the being on whose portrait is inscribed the date of a century and a half, is before you.—Monçada, you see an acquaintance of a later date.”—(A grim smile of recognition wandered over his features as he spoke).—“Fear nothing,” he added, observing the agony and terror of his involuntary hearers—“What have you to fear?” he continued, while a flash of derisive malignity once more lit up the sockets of his dead eyes—“You, Senhor, are armed with your beads—and you, Melmoth, are fortified by that vain and desperate inquisitiveness, which might, at a former period, have made you my victim,”—(and his features underwent a short but horrible convulsion)—“but now makes you only my mockery. * * * *

* * * *

“Have you aught to quench my thirst?” he added, seating himself. The senses of Monçada and his companion reeled in delirious terror, and the former, in a kind of wild confidence, filled a glass of water, and offered it to the Wanderer with a hand as steady, but somewhat colder, as he would have presented it to one who sat beside him in human companionship. The Wanderer raised it to his lips, and tasted a few drops, then replacing it on the table, said with a laugh, wild indeed, but no longer ferocious—“Have you seen,” said he to Monçada and Melmoth, who gazed with dim and troubled sight on this vision, and wist not what to think—“Have you seen the fate of Don Juan, not as he is pantomimed on your paltry stage, but as he is represented in the real horrors of his destiny by the Spanish writer?1 There the spectre returns the hospitality of his inviter, and summons him in turn to a feast.—The banquet-hall is a church—he arrives—it is illuminated with a mysterious light—invisible hands hold lamps fed by no earthly substance, to light the apostate to his doom!—He enters the church, and is greeted by a numerous company—the spirits of those whom he has wronged and murdered, uprisen from their charnel, and swathed in shrouds, stand there to welcome him!—As he passes among them, they call on him in hollow sounds to pledge them in goblets of blood which they present to him—and beneath the altar, by which stands the spirit of him whom the parricide has murdered, the gulph of perdition is yawning to receive him!—Through such a band I must soon prepare to pass!—Isidora! thy form will be the last I must encounter—and—the most terrible! Now for the last drop I must taste of earth’s produce—the last that shall wet my mortal lips!” He slowly finished the draught of water. Neither of his companions had the power to speak. He sat down in a posture of heavy musing, and neither ventured to interrupt him.

1 Vide the original play, of which there is a curious and very obsolete translation.

They kept silence till the morning was dawning, and a faint light streamed through the closed shutters. Then the Wanderer raised his heavy eyes, and fixed them on Melmoth. “Your ancestor has come home,” he said; “his wanderings are over!—What has been told or believed of me is now of light avail to me. The secret of my destiny rests with myself. If all that fear has invented, and credulity believed of me be true, to what does it amount? That if my crimes have exceeded those of mortality, so will my punishment. I have been on earth a terror, but not an evil to its inhabitants. None can participate in my destiny but with his own consent—none have consented—none can be involved in its tremendous penalties, but by participation. I alone must sustain the penalty. If I have put forth my hand, and eaten of the fruit of the interdicted tree, am I not driven from the presence of God and the region of paradise, and sent to wander amid worlds of barrenness and curse for ever and ever?

 “It has been reported of me, that I obtained from the enemy of souls a range of existence beyond the period allotted to mortality—a power to pass over space without disturbance or delay, and visit remote regions with the swiftness of thought—to encounter tempests without the hope of their blasting me, and penetrate into dungeons, whose bolts were as flax and tow at my touch. It has been said that this power was accorded to me, that I might be enabled to tempt wretches in their fearful hour of extremity, with the promise of deliverance and immunity, on condition of their exchanging situations with me. If this be true, it bears attestation to a truth uttered by the lips of one I may not name, and echoed by every human heart in the habitable world.

 “No one has ever exchanged destinies with Melmoth the Wanderer. I have traversed the world in the search, and no one, to gain that world, would lose his own soul!—Not Stanton in his cell—nor you, Monçada, in the prison of the Inquisition—nor Walberg, who saw his children perishing with want—nor—another”—

 He paused, and though on the verge of his dark and doubtful voyage, he seemed to cast one look of bitter and retrospective anguish on the receding shore of life, and see, through the mists of memory, one form that stood there to bid him farewell. He rose—“Let me, if possible, obtain an hour’s repose. Aye, repose—sleep!” he repeated, answering the silent astonishment of his hearers” looks, “my existence is still human!”—and a ghastly and derisive smile wandered over his features for the last time, as he spoke. How often had that smile frozen the blood of his victims! Melmoth and Monçada quitted the apartment; and the Wanderer, sinking back in his chair, slept profoundly. He slept, but what were the visions of his last earthly slumber?

The Wanderer’s Dream

He dreamed that he stood on the summit of a precipice, whose downward height no eye could have measured, but for the fearful waves of a fiery ocean that lashed, and blazed, and roared at its bottom, sending its burning spray far up, so as to drench the dreamer with its sulphurous rain. The whole glowing ocean below was alive—every billow bore an agonizing soul, that rose like a wreck or a putrid corse on the waves of earth’s oceans—uttered a shriek as it burst against that adamantine precipice—sunk—and rose again to repeat the tremendous experiment! Every billow of fire was thus instinct with immortal and agonizing existence,—each was freighted with a soul, that rose on the burning wave in torturing hope, burst on the rock in despair, added its eternal shriek to the roar of that fiery ocean, and sunk to rise again—in vain, and—for ever!

 Suddenly the Wanderer felt himself flung half-way down the precipice. He stood, in his dream, tottering on a crag midway down the precipice—he looked upward, but the upper air (for there was no heaven) showed only blackness unshadowed and impenetrable—but, blacker than that blackness, he could distinguish a gigantic outstretched arm, that held him as in sport on the ridge of that infernal precipice, while another, that seemed in its motions to hold fearful and invisible conjunction with the arm that grasped him, as if both belonged to some being too vast and horrible even for the imagery of a dream to shape, pointed upwards to a dial-plate fixed on the top of that precipice, and which the flashes of that ocean of fire made fearfully conspicuous. He saw the mysterious single hand revolve—he saw it reach the appointed period of 150 years—(for in this mystic plate centuries were marked, not hours)—he shrieked in his dream, and, with that strong impulse often felt in sleep, burst from the arm that held him, to arrest the motion of the hand.

 In the effort he fell, and falling grasped at aught that might save him. His fall seemed perpendicular—there was nought to save him—the rock was as smooth as ice—the ocean of fire broke at its foot! Suddenly a groupe of figures appeared, ascending as he fell. He grasped at them successively;—first Stanton—then Walberg—Elinor Mortimer—Isidora—Monçada—all passed him,—to each he seemed in his slumber to cling in order to break his fall—all ascended the precipice. He caught at each in his downward flight, but all forsook him and ascended.

 His last despairing reverted glance was fixed on the clock of eternity—the upraised black arm seemed to push forward the hand—it arrived at its period—he fell—he sunk—he blazed—he shrieked! The burning waves boomed over his sinking head, and the clock of eternity rung out its awful chime—“Room for the soul of the Wanderer!”—and the waves of the burning ocean answered, as they lashed the adamantine rock—“There is room for more!”—The Wanderer awoke.

CHAPTER XXXIX

And in he came with eyes of flame,
The fiend to fetch the dead.
                    SOUTHEY’S Old Woman of Berkeley

Melmoth and Monçada did not dare to approach the door till about noon. They then knocked gently at the door, and finding the summons unanswered, they entered slowly and irresolutely. The apartment was in the same state in which they had left it the preceding night, or rather morning; it was dusky and silent, the shutters had not been opened, and the Wanderer still seemed sleeping in his chair.

 At the sound of their approach he half-started up, and demanded what was the hour. They told him. “My hour is come,” said the Wanderer, “it is an hour you must neither partake or witness—the clock of eternity is about to strike, but its knell must be unheard by mortal ears!” As he spoke they approached nearer, and saw with horror the change the last few hours had wrought on him. The fearful lustre of his eyes had been deadened before their late interview, but now the lines of extreme age were visible in every feature. His hairs were as white as snow, his mouth had fallen in, the muscles of his face were relaxed and withered—he was the very image of hoary decrepid debility. He started himself at the impression which his appearance visibly made on the intruders. “You see what I feel,” he exclaimed, “the hour then is come. I am summoned, and I must obey the summons—my master has other work for me! When a meteor blazes in your atmosphere—when a comet pursues its burning path towards the sun—look up, and perhaps you may think of the spirit condemned to guide the blazing and erratic orb.”

 The spirits, that had risen to a kind of wild elation, as suddenly subsided, and he added, “Leave me, I must be alone for the few last hours of my mortal existence—if indeed they are to be the last.” He spoke this with an inward shuddering, that was felt by his hearers. “In this apartment,” he continued, “I first drew breath, in this I must perhaps resign it,—would—would I had never been born! * * * *

* * * *

“Men—retire—leave me alone. Whatever noises you hear in the course of the awful night that is approaching, come not near this apartment, at peril of your lives. Remember,” raising his voice, which still retained all its powers, “remember your lives will be the forfeit of your desperate curiosity. For the same stake I risked more than life—and lost it!—Be warned—retire!”

 They retired, and passed the remainder of that day without even thinking of food, from that intense and burning anxiety that seemed to prey on their very vitals. At night they retired, and though each lay down, it was without a thought of repose. Repose indeed would have been impossible. The sounds that soon after midnight began to issue from the apartment of the Wanderer, were at first of a description not to alarm, but they were soon exchanged for others of such indescribable horror, that Melmoth, though he had taken the precaution of dismissing the servants to sleep in the adjacent offices, began to fear that those sounds might reach them, and, restless himself from insupportable inquietude, rose and walked up and down the passage that led to that room of horror. As he was thus occupied, he thought he saw a figure at the lower end of the passage. So disturbed was his vision, that he did not at first recognize Monçada. Neither asked the other the reason of his being there—they walked up and down together silently.

 In a short time the sounds became so terrible, that scarcely had the awful warning of the Wanderer power to withhold them from attempting to burst into the room. These noises were of the most mixed and indescribable kind. They could not distinguish whether they were the shrieks of supplication, or the yell of blasphemy—they hoped inwardly they might be the former.

 Towards morning the sounds suddenly ceased—they were stilled as in a moment. The silence that succeeded seemed to them for a few moments more terrible than all that preceded. After consulting each other by a glance, they hastened together to the apartment. They entered—it was empty—not a vestige of its last inhabitant was to be traced within.

 After looking around in fruitless amazement, they perceived a small door opposite to that by which they had entered. It communicated with a back staircase, and was open. As they approached it, they discovered the traces of footsteps that appeared to be those of a person who had been walking in damp sand or clay. These traces were exceedingly plain—they followed them to a door that opened on the garden—that door was open also. They traced the foot-marks distinctly through the narrow gravel walk, which was terminated by a broken fence, and opened on a heathy field which spread half-way up a rock whose summit overlooked the sea. The weather had been rainy, and they could trace the steps distinctly through that heathy field. They ascended the rock together.

 Early as it was, the cottagers, who were poor fishermen residing on the shore, were all up, and assuring Melmoth and his companion that they had been disturbed and terrified the preceding night by sounds which they could not describe. It was singular that these men, accustomed by nature and habit alike to exaggeration and superstition, used not the language of either on this occasion.

 There is an overwhelming mass of conviction that falls on the mind, that annihilates idiom and peculiarities, and crushes out truth from the heart. Melmoth waved back all who offered to accompany him to the precipice which over-hung the sea. Monçada alone followed him.

 Through the furze that clothed this rock, almost to its summit, there was a kind of tract as if a person had dragged, or been dragged, his way through it—a down-trodden track, over which no footsteps but those of one impelled by force had ever passed. Melmoth and Monçada gained at last the summit of the rock. The ocean was beneath—the wide, waste, engulphing ocean! On a crag beneath them, something hung as floating to the blast. Melmoth clambered down and caught it. It was the handkerchief which the Wanderer had worn about his neck the preceding night—that was the last trace of the Wanderer!

 Melmoth and Monçada exchanged looks of silent and unutterable horror, and returned slowly home.

FINIS


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