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A STRANGE STORY.

BY THE AUTHOR OF "MY NOVEL," "RIENZI," Etc.

CHAPTER LI.

When we separated for the night, which we
did at eleven o'clock, Margrave said:

"Good night and good-by. I must leave you
to-morrow, Strahan, and before your usual hour
for rising. I took the liberty of requesting one
of your men to order me a chaise from L—— .
Pardon my seeming abruptness, but I always
avoid long leave-takings, and I had fixed the
date of my departure almost as soon as I
accepted your invitation."

"I have no right to complain. The place
must be dull, indeed, to a gay young fellow like
you. It is dull even to me. I am meditating
flight already. Are you going back to L——?"

"Not even for such things as I left at my
lodgings. When I settle somewhere, and can
give an address, I shall direct them to be sent to
me. There are, I hear, beautiful patches of
scenery towards the north, only known to pedestrian
tourists. I am a good walker; and you
know, Fenwick, that I am also a child of Nature.
Adieu to you both; and many thanks to you,
Strahan, for your hospitality."

He left the room.

"I am not sorry he is going," said Strahan,
after a pause, and with a quick breath as if of
relief. "Do you not feel that he exhausts one?
An excess of oxygen, as you would say in a
lecture."

I was alone in my own chamber; I felt indisposed
for bed and for sleep; the curious
conversation I had held with Margrave weighed on
me. In that conversation, we had indirectly
touched upon the prodigies which I had not
brought myself to speak of with frank courage,
and certainly nothing in Margrave's manner had
betrayed consciousness of my suspicions; on the
contrary, the open frankness with which he
evinced his predilection for mystic speculation,
or uttered his more unamiable sentiments, rather
tended to disarm than encourage belief in gloomy
secrets or sinister powers. And he was about to
quit the neighbourhood, he would not again see
Lilian, not even enter the town of L—— . Was
I to ascribe this relief from his presence to the
promise of the Shadow, or was I not rather right
in battling firmly against any grotesque illusion
and accepting his departure as a simple proof
that my jealous fears had been amongst my other
chimeras, and that as he had really only visited
Lilian out of friendship to me, in my peril, so
he might, with his characteristic acuteness, have
guessed my jealousy, and ceased his visits from
a kindly motive delicately concealed? And might
not the same motive now have dictated the words
which were intended to assure me that L——
contained no attractions to tempt him to return to
it? Thus gradually soothed and cheered by the
course to which my reflections led me, I
continued to muse for hours. At length, looking at
my watch, I was surprised to find it was the
second hour after midnight. I was just about
to rise from my chair to undress, and secure some
hours of sleep, when the well-remembered cold
wind passed through the room, stirring the roots
of my hair, and before me stood, against the wall,
the Luminous Shadow.

"Rise, and follow me," said the voice, sounding
much nearer to me than it had ever done
before.

And at those words I rose mechanically, and
like a sleep-walker.

"Take up the light."

I took it.

The Scin-Læca glided along the wall towards
the threshold, and motioned to me to open the
door. I did so. The Shadow flitted on through
the corridor. I followed, with hushed footsteps,
down a small stair into Forman's study.
In all my subsequent proceedings, about to
be narrated, the Shadow guided me, sometimes
by voice, sometimes by sign. I obeyed the
guidance not only unresistingly, but without
a desire to resist. I was unconscious either of
curiosity or of aweonly of a calm and passive
indifference, neither pleasurable nor painful. In
this obedience, from which all will seemed
extracted, I took into my hands the staff which I
had examined the day before, and which lay on
the table, just where Margrave had cast it on
re-entering the house. I unclosed the shutter to
the casement, lifted the sash, and, with the light
in my left hand, the staff in my right, stepped
forth into the garden. The night was still; the
flame of the candle scarcely trembled in the air;
the Shadow moved on before me towards the old
pavilion described in an earlier part of this

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