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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 6
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Pelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 6 Post by :donben2002 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1237

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Pelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 6

VOLUME I CHAPTER VI

Why sleeps he not, when others are at rest?--Byron.

According to the explanation I had received, the road I was now to pursue was somewhat longer, but much better, than that which I generally took. It was to lead me home through the churchyard of--, the same, by the by, which Lord Vincent had particularized in his anecdote of the mysterious stranger. The night was clear, but windy: there were a few light clouds passing rapidly over the moon, which was at her full, and shone through the frosty air, with all that cold and transparent brightness so peculiar to our northern winters. I walked briskly on till I came to the churchyard; I could not then help pausing (notwithstanding my total deficiency in all romance) to look for a few moments at the exceeding beauty of the scene around me. The church itself was extremely old, and stood alone and grey, in the rude simplicity of the earliest form of gothic architecture: two large dark yew-trees drooped on each side over tombs, which from their size and decorations, appeared to be the last possession of some quondam lords of the soil. To the left, the ground was skirted by a thick and luxuriant copse of evergreens, in the front of which stood one tall, naked oak, stern and leafless, a very token of desolation and decay; there were but few grave stones scattered about, and these were, for the most part, hidden by the long wild grass which wreathed and climbed round them. Over all, the blue skies and still moon shed that solemn light, the effect of which, either on the scene or the feelings, it is so impossible to describe.

I was just about to renew my walk, when a tall, dark figure, wrapped up, like myself, in a large French cloak, passed slowly along from the other side of the church, and paused by the copse I have before mentioned. I was shrouded at that moment from his sight by one of the yew trees; he stood still only for a few moments; he then flung himself upon the earth, and sobbed, audibly even at the spot where I was standing. I was in doubt whether to wait longer or to proceed; my way lay just by him, and it might be dangerous to interrupt so substantial an apparition. However, my curiosity was excited, and my feet were half frozen, two cogent reasons for proceeding; and, to say truth, I was never very much frightened by any thing dead or alive.

Accordingly I left my obscurity, and walked slowly onwards. I had not got above three paces before the figure rose, and stood erect and motionless before me. His hat had fallen off, and the moon shone full upon his countenance; it was not the wild expression of intense anguish which dwelt on those hueless and sunken features; nor their quick change to ferocity and defiance, as his eyes fell upon me, which made me start back and feel my heart stand still! Notwithstanding the fearful ravages graven in that countenance, then so brilliant with the graces of boyhood, I recognized, at one glance, those still noble and chiselled features. It was Reginald Glanville who stood before me! I recovered myself instantly; I threw myself towards him, and called him by his name. He turned hastily; but I would not suffer him to escape; I put my hand upon his arm, and drew him towards me. "Glanville!" I exclaimed, "it is I! it is your old--old friend, Henry Pelham. Good God! have I met you at last, and in such a scene?"

Glanville shook me from him in an instant, covered his face with his hands, and sunk down with one wild cry, which went fearfully through that still place, upon the spot from which he had but just risen. I knelt beside him; I took his hand; I spoke to him in every endearing term that I could think of; and roused and excited as my feelings were, by so strange and sudden a meeting, I felt my tears involuntarily falling over the hand which I held in my own. Glanville turned; he looked at me for one moment, as if fully to recognize me: and then throwing himself in my arms, wept like a child.

It was but for a few minutes that this weakness lasted; he rose suddenly--the whole expression of his countenance was changed--the tears still rolled in large drops down his cheeks, but the proud, stern character which the features had assumed, seemed to deny the feelings which that feminine weakness had betrayed.

"Pelham," he said, "you have seen me thus; I had hoped that no living eye would--this is the last time in which I shall indulge this folly. God bless you--we shall meet again--and this night shall then seem to you like a dream."

I would have answered, but he turned swiftly, passed in one moment through the copse, and in the next had utterly disappeared.

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