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But, says Fuller, "the frequent firing of abbey
churches confuteth the proud motto. Bells are no
effectual charm against lightning; for whereas
it appears that abbey steeples, though quilted
with bells almost cap-à-pie, were not proof
against the sword of God's lightning."

By the law of the land, churchwardens are
compelled to see that the bells be not rung
superstitiously upon holy days or eves abrogated
by the Book of Common Prayer.


MORE than forty years ago I was a poor
art-student, journeying over Europe, with a
knapsack on my back, having resolved to visit, if
possible, every gallery worth a painter's study.
I started with but a few shillings in my pocket;
but I had colours and brushes, strength of limb,
and determination of heart. It was my practice,
on entering a town, to offer to paint a portrait,
in exchange for so many days' bed and board;
or, when I found no man's vanity to be thus
pliyed upon, I applied at all the likeliest shops,
and I seldom failed of work. Thus I was
enabled to carry out my scheme, while most of
my fellow-students were vegetating where I had
left them, with minds unenlarged by contact
with the men and the arts of other countries.
Though I left England with a heavy heartfor
I was leaving behind me the hope and promise
of my lifeand though I was away on my walk
through Europe more than two years, "in
weariness" . . . . and "in fastings often," yet
I never envied the unambitious routine, the
inglorious repose, of my less enterprising friends.
I was constantly obliged to go without a dinner,
when a turn of ill-luck (some temporary illness,
or the artistic obtuseness of a whole city) had
drained my purse very low; but I seldom lost
couragecourage and a confident hope in the

I was nearly in this plight, however, when I
entered Cologne late one evening in September.
I had been laid up at Dusseldorff for many
days with low fever, and the belt in which I
carried my thalers round my waist had been
much lightened in consequence. My illness
had left me weak; and I crawled into the
town, dusty and footsore. Twilight was gathering
around the many spires and towers as I
crossed the bridge of boats; a dark ruddy light,
alone remained in the calm river, where purple
shadows were fast deepening into black; and the
reflexion of a candle here and there flickered
in long scales of gold upon the water. It was
very hot. I sat down on a stone outside the
cathedral, too exhausted to go from pillar to
post, bargaining for a bed, as was my wont. I
pulled a crust and bunch of grapes from my
wallet. Vespers were going forward, as I knew
from seeing a few devout old women hobbling
up the steps, and disappearing through the
heavy leathern door. In no like spirit it occurred
to me, after a while, to follow them. It
would be pleasanter than outside: the soothing
influence of music, the whiff of incense, the
luxury of a straw-bottomed chairthese were
the attractions, I fear, that drew me in. Heaven
knows, I was properly punished, inasmuch as I
can never again hear Cologne Cathedral named
without a shudder.

There were; but few persons present, and
those were huddled together in one of the
side-chapels, dimly lighted by the flare of half a dozen
candles upon the altar, where a priest was
officiating. The only other light throughout
the great shadowy pile was given forth by a
feeble lamp or votive candle here and there,
burning its little life away before the Mother of
Seven Sorrows, or the presiding saint of some
smaller betinselled shrine, and struggling out
into the great sea of darkness fast gathering
over all. The chairs were piled away in blocks
except a few, left for the use of the devout, near
the altar. I preferred slinking into a confessional
against the wall, where no ray of light
penetrated. I laid my head upon my knapsack.
I heard the priest's monotonous drone, the
tinkle of the little bell, the low heavenly
murmur of the organ, and thenI fell asleep.

Did I dream what follows? As I am telling
you as simply and truthfully as I can all that I
know of the matter, I begin by saying that I have
never been able to satisfy myself entirely upon
this point. Assuredly, the strangeness is no
way lessened, but rather increased twofold, as
the sequel will show, if one can believe that the
strong and painful impression left upon my
brain was produced while I was asleep.

I wokethat is to say, my own distinct
impression is that I wokejust as the service was
finished. In half an hour the cathedral would
be silent and deserted; then it would be locked
up for the night. If possible, why not pass the
night here, instead of seeking and paying for a
bed elsewhere? My legs felt mightily disinclined
to carry me a yard further. At dawn, when the
doors were opened, I should rise up, refreshed,
to seek for work. But, even while I revolved
these things in my mind, I saw a light coming
down the aisle where I wasnearer and nearer.
I slunk as far back as possible into the corner
of the confessional, hoping to escape detection.
But it was not to be. The sacristan was upon
his rounds, to see that there were no loiterers
in the sacred building; his vigilant eye spied
me. He laid a hand on my shoulder; he shook
meI must move off. With a heavy sigh I
rose, and then, for the first time, perceived two
young women standing behind the sacristan,
their eyes fixed upon me. No doubt they were
leaving the cathedral, and had stopped, arrested
at the sight of a young man being unearthed
from a confessional.

It was impossible to mistake that they were
sisters, though one was shorter and much less
well-favoured than the other; but they had the
grey piercing eyes, fair skins, and hair
which was something beyond flaxenit was
almost white. This hair was worn in a strange
fashion, which I cannot describe, though I see it
even now before methe glittering spiral threads