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grave with Louis Grayle, and accusing him of the murder of Haroun; the night in
the moonlit pavilion at Derval Court; the baneful influence on Lilian; the
struggle between me and himself in the house by the sea-shore—The strange, All
that is told in this Strange Story.
But warming as I spoke, and in a kind of fierce joy to be enabled thus to free
my own heart of the doubts that had
tortured and weighed on it, now that I was fairly face to face with the
being by whom my reason had been so perplexed and my life so tortured, I
was restrained by none of the fears that my own fancy deceived me, with which in
his absence I had striven to reduce to natural causes the portents of terror and
wonder. I stated plainly, directly, the beliefs, the impressions which I had
never dared even to myself to own without seeking to explain them away. And
coming at last to a close, I said: "Such are the evidences that seem to me to
justify abhorrence of the life that you ask me to aid in prolonging. Your own
tale of last night but confirm them. And why to me—to lengthen the life that has
blighted my own? How did you even learn the home in which I sought unavailing
refuge ? How—as your hint to Faber clearly revealed—were you aware that, in you
house, where the sorrow is veiled, where the groan is suppressed, where the
foot-tread falls ghostlike, there struggles now between life
and death my heart's twin, my world's sunshine? Ah! through my terror for
her, is it a demon that tells you how to bribe my abhorrence into submission,
and supple my reason into use to your ends ?"
Margrave had listened to me throughout with a fixed attention, at times with a
bewildered stare, at times with exclamations of surprise, but not of denial. And
when I had done he remained for some moments silent, seemingly stupefied,
passing his hand repeatedly over his brow, in the gesture so familiar to him in
At length he said, quietly, without evincing any sign either of resentment or
"In much that you tell me I
recognize myself; in much I am as lost in amazement as you in wild doubt or
fierce wrath. Of the effect that you say Philip Derval produced on me I have no
recollection. Of himself I have only this : that he was my foe, that he came to
England intent on schemes to shorten my life or destroy its enjoyments. All my
faculties tend to self-preservation; there they converge as rays in a focus ; in
that focus they illumine and—they
burn. I willed to destroy my intended destroyer. Did my will
enforce itself on the agent to which it was guided?
Likely enough. Be it so. Would you blame me for slaying the tiger or serpent—not
by the naked hand, but by weapons that arm it? But what could tiger and serpent
do more against me than the man who would rob me of life? He had his arts for
assault, I had mine for self-defense. He was to me as the tiger that creeps
through the jungle, or the serpent uncoiling his folds for the spring. Death to
those whose life is destruction to mine, be they serpent, or tiger, or man!
Derval perished. Yes! the spot in which the maniac had buried the casket
was revealed to me—no matter
how; the contents of the casket passed into my hands. I coveted that possession
because I believed that Derval had learned from Haroun of Aleppo the secret by
which the elixir of life is prepared, and I supposed that some stores of the
essence would be found in his casket. I was deceived; not a drop ! What I there
found I knew not how to use or apply, nor did I care to learn. What I sought was
not there. You see a luminous shadow of myself; it haunts, it accosts, it
compels you. Of this I know nothing. Was it the emanation of my intense will
really producing this spectre of myself? or was it the thing of your own
imagination—an imagination which my will impressed and subjugated? I know not.
At the hours when my shadow, real or supposed, was with you, my senses would
have been locked in sleep. It is true, however, that I intensely desired to
learn from races always near to man, but concealed from his everyday vision, the
secret that I believed Philip Derval had carried with him to the tomb ; and from
some cause or another I can not now of myself alone, as I could years ago,
subject those races to my command. I must in that act through or with the mind
of another. It is true that I sought to impress upon your waking thoughts the
images of the circle, the powers of the wand, which, in your trance or
sleep-walking, made you the involuntary agent of my will. I knew by a dream—for
by dreams, more or less vivid, are the results of my waking will sometimes made
known to myself—that the spell had been broken, the discovery I sought not
effected. All my hopes were then transferred from yourself, the dull votary of
science, to the girl whom I charmed to my thralldom through her love for you,
and through her dreams of a realm which the science of schools never enters. In
her imagination was all pure and all potent, and tell me, oh, practical reasoner!
if reason has ever advanced one step into knowledge except through that
imaginative faculty which is strongest in the wisdom of ignorance, and weakest
in the ignorance of the wise. Ponder this, and those marvels that perplex you
will cease to be marvelous. I pass on to the riddle that puzzles you most. By
Philip Derval's account I am, in truth, Louis Grayle restored to youth by the
elixir, and while yet infirm, decrepit, murdered Haroun—a man of a frame as
athletic as yours! By accepting this notion you seem to yourself alone to
unravel the mysteries you
ascribe to my life and my powers. Oh, wise philosopher! oh, profound logician!
you accept that notion, yet hold my belief in the Dervish's tale a chimera! I am
Grayle made young by the elixir, and yet the elixir itself is a fable!"
He paused and laughed, but the laugh was no longer even an echo of its former
playfulness—a sinister and terrible laugh, mocking, threatening, malignant.
Again he swept his hand over his brows and resumed :
"Is it not easier to so accomplished a sage as you to believe that the idlers of
Paris have guessed the true solution of that problem—my place on this earth ?
May I not be the love son of Louis Grayle ? And when Haroun refused the elixir
to him, or he found that his frame was too far exhausted for even the elixir to
repair organic lesions of structure in the worn frame of old age, may he not
have indulged the common illusion of fathers, and soothed his death pangs with
the thought that he should live again in his son? Haroun is found dead on his
carpet—rumor said strangled. What proof of the truth of that rumor? Might he not
have passed away in a fit ? Will it lessen your perplexity if I state
recollections? They are vague—they often perplex myself; but so far from a wish
to deceive you, my desire is to relate them
so truthfully that you may aid me to reduce them into more definite
His face now became very troubled, the tone of his voice very irresolute—the
face and the voice of a man who is either blundering his way
through an intricate falsehood or through obscure reminiscences.
"This Louis Grayle! this Louis Grayle! I remember him well, as one remembers a
nightmare. Whenever I look back, before the illness of which I will presently
speak, the image of Louis Grayle returns to me. I see myself with him in African
wilds, commanding the fierce Abyssinians. I see myself with him in the fair
Persian valley—lofty, snow-covered mountains encircling the garden of roses. I
see myself with him in the hush of the golden noon, reclined by the spray of
cool fountains; now listening to cymbals and lutes; now arguing with gray-beards
on secrets bequeathed by the Chaldees. With him, with him in moonlit nights,
stealing into the sepulchres of mythical kings. I see myself with him in the
aisles of dark caverns, surrounded
by awful shapes, which have no likeness among the creatures of earth.
Louis Grayle! Louis Grayle! all my earlier memories go back to Louis Grayle! All
my arts and powers, all that I have learned of the languages spoken in Europe,
of the sciences taught in her schools, I owe to Louis Grayle. But am I one and
the same with him ? No. I am but a pale reflection of his giant intellect. I
have not even a reflection of his childlike agonies of sorrow. Louis Grayle! He
stands apart from me, as a rock from the tree that grows out from its chasms.
Yes, the gossip was right; I must be his son."
He leaned his face on both hands, rocking himself
to and fro. At length, with a sigh, he resumed:
" I remember, too, a long and oppressive illness, attended with racking pains; a
dismal journey in. a wearisome litter, the light hand of the woman Ayesha, so
sad and so stately, smoothing my pillow or fanning my brows. I remember the
evening on which my nurse drew the folds of the litter aside, and said, 'See
Aleppo! and the star of thy birth shining over its walls!'
"I remember a face inexpressibly solemn and mournful. I remember the chill that
the calm of its ominous eye sent through my veins—the face of Haroun, the Sage
of Aleppo. I remember the vessel of crystal he bore in his hand, and the blessed
relief from my pains that a drop from the essence which flashed through the
crystal bestowed! And then—and then—I remember no more till the night on which
Ayesha came to my couch and said, 'Rise.'
"And I rose, leaning on her, supported by her. We went through dim, narrow
streets, faintly lit by mere stars, disturbing the prowl of the dogs, that slunk
from the look of that woman. We came to a solitary house, small and low, and my
nurse said, 'Wait.'
" She opened the door and went in ; I seated myself on the threshold. And after
a time she came out from the house, and led me, still leaning on her, into a
"A man lay, as in sleep, on the
carpet, and beside him stood another man, whom I recognized as Ayesha's special
attendant—an Indian. 'Haroun is dead!' said Ayesha. 'Search for that which will
give thee new life. Thou hast seen, and wilt know it, not I.'
"And I put my hand on the breast of Haroun —for the dead man was he—and drew
from it the vessel of crystal.
"Having done so, the frown on his marble brow appalled me. I staggered back, and
"I came to my senses, recovered and
rejoicing, miles afar from the city, the dawn red on its distant walls. Ayesha
had tended me; the elixir had already restored me.
"My first thought, when full
consciousness came back to me, rested on Louis Grayle, for he also had been at
Aleppo. I was but one of his numerous train. He too was enfeebled and suffering;
he had sought the known skill of Haroun for himself as for me; and this woman
loved and had tended him as she had loved and tended me. And my nurse told me
that he was dead, and forbade me henceforth to breathe his name.
"We traveled on—she and I, and the Indian, her servant—my strength still renewed
by the wondrous elixir. No longer supported by her; what gazelle ever roved
through its pasture with a bound more elastic than mine ?
"We came to a town, and my nurse placed before me a mirror. I did not recognize
myself. In this town we rested obscure, till the letter there reached me by
which I learned that I was the offspring of love, and enriched by the care of a
father recently dead. Is it not clear that Louis Grayle was this father?"
"If so, was the woman,
Ayesha, your mother?"
"The letter said that 'my mother had died in my infancy.' Nevertheless, the care
with which Ayesha had tended me induced a suspicion
that made me ask her the very question you put. She wept when I asked
her, and said, 'No, only my nurse. And now I needed a nurse no more.' The day
after I received the letter which announced an inheritance that allowed me to
vie with the nobles of Europe, this woman left me, and went back to her tribe."
"Have you never seen her since?"
Margrave hesitated a moment, and then answered, though with seeming reluctance,
"Yes, at Damascus. Not many days after I was borne to that city by the
strangers, who found me half dead on their road, I woke one morning to find her
by my side. And she said, 'In joy and in health you did not need me. I am needed
"Did you then deprive yourself of one so devoted? You have not made this long
voyage—from Egypt to Australia—alone ; you, to whom wealth gave no excuse for
"The woman came with me, and some chosen attendants. I engaged to ourselves the
vessel we sailed in."
"Where have you left your companions?"
"By this hour," answered Margrave, " they
are in reach of my summons; and when you and I have achieved the
discovery—in the results of which we shall share—I will exact no more from your
aid. I trust all that rests for my cure to my nurse and her swarthy attendants.
You will aid me now, as a matter of
course ; the physician whose counsel you needed to guide your own skill
enjoins you to obey my whim—if whim you still call it ; you will obey it, for on
that whim rests your own sole hope
of happiness—you, who can love—I love nothing but life. Has my frank
narrative solved all the doubts that stood between you and me, in the
great meeting-ground of an interest in common?"
"Solved all the doubts ! Your wild story but makes some the darker, leaving
others untouched; the occult powers of which you boast, and some of which I have
witnessed-your very insight into my own household sorrows, into the interest I
have, with yourself, in the truth of a faith so repugnant to reason—"
"Pardon me," interrupted Margrave, with that slight curve of the lip which is
half smile and half sneer, " if, in my account of myself, I omitted what I can
not explain and you can not conceive: let me first ask how many of the commonest
actions of the commonest men are purely involuntary and wholly
inexplicable? When, for instance,
you open your lips and utter a sentence, you have not the faintest idea
beforehand what word will follow another: when you move a
muscle can you tell me the thought that prompts to the movement? And,
wholly unable thus to account for
your own simple sympathies between impulse and act, do you believe that
there exists a man upon earth who can read all the riddles in the heart and
brain of another? Is it not true that not one drop of water, one atom of matter,
ever really touches another? Between each and each there is always a space,
however infinitesimally small. How, then, could the world go on if every man
asked another to make his whole history and being as lucid as daylight before he
would buy and sell with him? All interchange and alliance rests but on this—an
interest in common—you and I have established that interest. All the rest, all
you ask more, is superfluous. Could I answer each doubt you would raise, still,
whether the answer should please or revolt you, your reason would come back to
the same starting-point, viz., In one definite proposal have we two an interest
And again Margrave laughed, not in mirth but in mockery. The laugh and the words
that preceded it were not the laugh and the words of the young. Could it be
possible that Louis Grayle had indeed revived to false youth in the person of
Margrave, such might have been his laugh and such his words. The whole mind of
Margrave seemed to have undergone change since I last saw him; more rich in
idea, more crafty even in candor, more powerful, more concentred. As we see in
our ordinary experience that some infirmity, threatening dissolution, brings
forth more vividly the reminiscences of early years, when impressions were
vigorously stamped, so I might have thought that, as Margrave neared the tomb,
the memories he had retained from his former existence in a being more amply
endowed, more formidably potent, struggled back to the brain, and the mind that
had lived in Louis Grayle moved the lips of the dying Margrave.
"For the powers and the arts that it equally puzzles your reason to assign or
deny to me," resumed my terrible guest, "I will say briefly but this: they come
from faculties stored within myself, and doubtless conduce to my
self-preservation—faculties more or less, perhaps, given to all men, though
dormant in most—vivid and active in me, because in me self-preservation
has been and yet is the strong master-passion or instinct; and because I
have been taught how to use and direct such faculties by disciplined teachers;
some by Louis Grayle, the enchanter; some by my nurse, the singer of charmed
songs. But in much that I will to have done I know no
more than yourself how the agency acts. Enough for me to will what I
wished, and sink calmly in slumber, sure that the will would work somehow its
way. But when I have willed to know what, when known, should shape my own
courses, I could see, without aid from your pitiful telescopes, all objects
however afar. What wonder in that? Have you no learned, puzzle-brain
metaphysicians, who tell you that space is but an idea, all this palpable
universe an idea in the mind, and no more ! Why am I an enigma as
dark as the Sibyl's, and your metaphysicians as plain as a horn-book?" Again the
sardonic laugh." Enough: let what I have said obscure or enlighten your guesses,
we come back to the same point of union, which binds man to man, bids states
arise from the desert, and foe-men embrace as brothers. I need you, and you need
me ; without your aid my life is doomed; without my secret the breath will have
gone front the lips of your Lilian before the sun of tomorrow is red on yon
"Fiend or juggler!" I cried, in rage, "you shall not so enslave or enthrall me
by this mystic farrago and jargon! Make your fantastic experiment on yourself,
if you will: trust to your arts and your powers. My Lilian's life shall not hang
on your fiat. I trust it—to—"
"To what—to man's skill? Hear what the sage of the college shall tell you,
before I ask you again for your aid. Do you trust to God's saving mercy? Ah, of
course you believe in a God? Who except a philosopher can reason a Maker away ?
But that the Maker will alter His courses to hear you; that, whether or not you
trust in Him or in your doctor, it will change by a hair-breadth the thing that
must be—do you believe this, Allen Fenwick?"
And there sat this reader of hearts! a boy in his aspect, mocking me and the
gray-beards of schools.
I could listen no more; I turned to the door and fled down the stairs, and heard
as I fled a low chant; feeble and faint, it was still the old barbaric chant by
which the serpent is drawn from its hole by the charmer.
THE "NASHVILLE" AND "TUSCARORA" AT SOUTHAMPTON.
page 97 to an illustration of the position of the pirate Nashville,
and the United States steamer Tuscarora, in the harbor of Southampton, England. The correspondent of
the London Times says :
The new screw sloop of war Tuscarora, whose arrival
was reported yesterday, is moored at the entrance of the
Itchen creek, just at its confluence with the Southampton
water, about a mile from the dock mouth. She has her
fires banked up, and lies with two springs to her cable,
ready to slip anchor and start at a moment's notice. The
Nashville, which vessel the Tuscarora has come over to
take specially under her watchful care and protection, still
remains quietly berthed in dock, and no signs of getting
up steam have betrayed themselves, although it was openly
stated last night that she intended to venture out and put
to sea this morning. However, the probability is, that, as
the Nashville would not be able to cope with such a formidable
competitor, both vessels will remain here looking
at each other till the war is over. The Tuscarora is armed
with nine heavy guns, while the Nashville is stated to
have only two guns of somewhat inferior calibre. The
former is a bran-new ship, just built at Philadelphia.
As soon as the Tuscarora arrived here yesterday, Captain
Craven communicated with the captain of the frigate
Dauntless, which lies off Netley, expressing the regret he
felt at hearing of the death of his late Royal Highness
Prince Albert, and asking if there would be any objection
to his firing a salute of twenty-one minute guns, at twelve
o'clock to-day, in respect to his memory. Captain Heath
replied that in consequence of her Majesty having requested
that no guns should be fired in the vicinity of Osborne, the
compliment, which he fully appreciated, could not be accepted.
Yesterday evening Captain Britton, the American Consul
at this port, went off to pay his respects to Captain
Craven, on board the Tuscarora, and, it may be presumed,
made such arrangements as will render it a matter of impossibility
for the Nashville to make her escape.
The same writer says on the 10th :
About ten o'clock masses of smoke pouring out from the
Nashville's funnel clearly betokened that her fires were
lighted and steam getting up, and the Tuscarora, which,
as stated yesterday, is moored in the stream, immediately
had full steam on, which was blowing off from her steam-pipe
in volumes. A boat left the latter vessel about ten
o'clock, and made her way toward the dock entrance, as
if reconnoitring, and then hoisted sail and put back to the
ship as fast as possible. Whatever may be the reason of
the fires being lighted in the Nashville, certain it is that
as the morning advanced the smoke gradually disappeared,
no attempt was made to move her from her berth, and at
this time (six P.M.) all things remain as they were, as regards
the relative positions of the two vessels. Captain
Craven still remains on board his ship, and has not yet
The correspondence of the Post says:
Captain Craven, the commander of the Tuscarora, has
been officially informed that he will not be allowed to make
any hostile movement ; that the neutrality of the port will
be strictly enforced; and that, should the Nashville take
her departure first, the Tuscarora will not be permitted
to leave her moorings until twenty-four hours afterward.
Captain Craven has, it is said, intimated to Captain Patey,
the Admiralty agent here, his intentions to abide by these
orders of the Government ; and the same instructions have
been communicated to Captain Pegram with regard to the
Nashville, who has likewise assented to the same. To prevent
any attempt on the part of the Tuscarora to evade
the demands made by the Government, the Dauntless,
which lies off Netley Abbey, about three miles lower down
the river, has been fully manned and equipped. She has
orders to keep steam up, and is brought to by a spring-cable,
ready to prevent any act of aggression on the part
of the Federal vessel. It is also arranged that, should necessity
require it, the Dauntless can signal the Warrior,
which vessel is lying off Osborne with her fires banked up.
A gun-boat has also been ordered here from Portsmouth.
It is not supposed now that there will be any more visits
to the docks by the crew of the Tuscarora, or of a continuance
of the excitement which has prevailed here during
the last few days.
It is said that the Tuscarora is very badly built; that
her guns are too large and heavy for a vessel of her size
and class, there not being room to work them properly.
She is very leaky, and the men are obliged to be kept at
the pumps; and it is the opinion of those who have visited
her, competent to form an opinion, that she will not be able
to stand the shock from such heavy metal as she carries.
The Sumter is hourly expected from Cadiz and Gibraltar to aid the Nashville, and
more Federal steamers are likewise on the way to the British Channel. The
correspondent of the New York Times says:
But if the two Confederate steamers should happen to
take or sink the Tuscarora, I need not tell you that all
England would celebrate the victory. Of course, under
these neutrality regulations, the Tuscarora can never
take the Nashville, unless by a chance meeting at sea.
There can be no pursuit after twenty-four hours. That
rule gave some chance with sailing vessels, but there is
none whatever with steam. Captain Pegram dined yesterday with his friends
in London, when they celebrated
the release of the rebel Commissioners.
Mr. Weed says that the people of Southampton,
who have grown rich by trade with the United States, are now almost to a man