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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Ghost-seer (or The Apparitionist) - Letter 9
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The Ghost-seer (or The Apparitionist) - Letter 9 Post by :chris26 Category :Long Stories Author :Frederich Schiller Date :May 2012 Read :2267

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The Ghost-seer (or The Apparitionist) - Letter 9

LETTER IX

BARON F------ TO COUNT O-------.
August.


The prince is revelling in love and bliss. He has recovered his fair Greek. I must relate to you how this happened.

A traveller, who had crossed from Chiozza, gave the prince so animated an account of the beauty of this place, which is charmingly situated on the shores of the gulf, that he became very anxious to see it. Yesterday was fixed upon for the excursion; and, in order to avoid all restraint and display, no one was to accompany him but Z------- and myself, together with Biondello, as my master wished to remain unknown. We found a vessel ready to start, and engaged our passage at once. The company was very mixed but not numerous, and the passage was made without the occurrence of any circumstance worthy of notice.

Chiozza is built, like Venice, on a foundation of wooden piles, and is said to contain about forty thousand inhabitants. There are but few of the higher classes resident there, but one meets sailors and fishermen at every step. Whoever appears in a peruke, or a cloak, is regarded as an aristocrat--a rich man; the cap and overcoat are here the insignia of the poor. The situation is certainly very lovely, but it will not bear a comparison with Venice.

We did not remain long, for the captain, who had more passengers for the return voyage, was obliged to be in Venice at an early hour, and there was nothing at Chiozza to make the prince desirous of remaining. All the passengers were on board when we reached the vessel. As we had found it so difficult to place ourselves on a social footing with the company on the outward passage, we determined on this occasion to secure a cabin to ourselves. The prince inquired who the new-comers were, and was informed that they were a Dominican and some ladies, who were returning to Venice. My master evincing no curiosity to see them, we immediately betook ourselves to our cabin.

The Greek was the subject of our conversation throughout the whole passage, as she had been during our former transit. The prince dwelt with ardor on her appearance in the church; and whilst numerous plans were in turn devised and rejected, hours passed like a moment of time, and we were already in sight of Venice. Some of the passengers now disembarked, the Dominican amongst the number. The captain went to the ladies, who, as we now first learned, had been separated from us by only a thin wooden partition, and asked them where they wished to land. The island of Murano was named in reply to his inquiry, and the house indicated. "The island of Murano!" exclaimed the prince, who seemed suddenly struck by a startling presentiment. Before I could reply to his exclamation, Biondello rushed into the cabin. "Do you know," asked he eagerly, "who is on board with us?" The prince started to his feet, as Biondello continued, "She is here! she herself! I have just spoken to her companion!"

The prince hurried out. He felt as if he could not breathe in our narrow cabin, and I believe at that moment as if the whole world would have been too narrow for him. A thousand conflicting feelings struggled for the mastery in his heart; his knees trembled, and his countenance was alternately flushed and pallid. I sympathized and participated in his emotion, but I cannot by words convey to your mind any idea of the state in which he was.

When we stopped at Murano, the prince sprang on shore. She advanced from her cabin. I read in the face of the prince that it was indeed the Greek. One glance was sufficient to dispel all doubt on that point. A more lovely creature I have never seen. Even the prince's glowing descriptions fell far short of the reality. A radiant blush suffused her face when she saw my master. She must have heard all we said, and could not fail to know that she herself had been the subject of our conversation. She exchanged a significant glance with her companion, which seemed to say, "That is he;" and then cast her eyes to the ground with diffident confusion. On placing her foot on the narrow plank, which had been thrown from the vessel to the shore, she seemed anxiously to hesitate, less, as it seemed to me, from the fear of falling than from her inability to cross the board without assistance, which was proffered her by the outstretched arm of the prince. Necessity overcame her reluctance, and, accepting the aid of his hand, she stepped on shore. Excessive mental agitation had rendered the prince uncourteous, and he wholly forgot to offer his services to the other lady--but what was there that he would not have forgotten at this moment? My attention in atoning for the remissness of the prince prevented my hearing the commencement of a conversation which had begun between him and the young Greek, while I had been helping the other lady on shore.

He was still holding her hand in his, probably from absence of mind, and without being conscious of the fact.

"This is not the first time, Signora, that--that"--he stopped short, unable to finish the sentence.

"I think I remember" she faltered.

"We met in the church of ---------," said he, quickly.

"Yes, it was in the church of ---------," she rejoined.

"And could I have supposed that this day would have brought me--"

Here she gently withdrew her hand from his--he was evidently embarrassed; but Biondello, who had in the meantime been speaking to the servant, now came to his aid.

"Si-nor," said he, "the ladies had ordered sedans to be in readiness for them; they have not yet come, for we are here before the expected time. But there is a garden close by in which you may remain until the crowd has dispersed."

The proposal was accepted; you may conceive with what alacrity on the part of the prince! We remained in the garden till late in the evening; and, fortunately, Z-------- and myself so effectually succeeded in occupying the attention of the elder lady that the prince was enabled, undisturbed, to carry on his conversation with the fair Greek. You will easily believe that he made good use of his time, when I tell you that he obtained permission to visit her. At the very moment that I am now writing he is with her; on his return I shall be able to give you further particulars regarding her.

When we got home yesterday we found that the long-expected remittances had arrived from our court; but at the same time the prince received a letter which excited his indignation to the highest pitch. He has been recalled, and that in a tone and manner to which he is wholly unaccustomed. He immediately wrote a reply in a similar spirit, and intends remaining. The remittances are only just sufficient to pay the interest on the capital which he owes. We are looking with impatience for a reply from his sister.

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