I waited next morning in vain. Nine o'clock came, ten o'clock, and finally eleven, and still no word of him. Then feverish with anxiety, I sought his lodgings.
Judge of my utter consternation to find that Annerly had disappeared. He had vanished as if off the face of the earth. By what awful error in our preparations, by what neglect of some necessary psychic precautions, he had met his fate, I cannot tell. But the evidence was only too clear, that Annerly had been engulfed into the astral world, carrying with him the money for the transfer of which he had risked his mundane existence.
The proof of his disappearance was easy to find. As soon as I dared do so with discretion I ventured upon a few inquiries. The fact that he had been engulfed while still owing four months' rent for his rooms, and that he had vanished without even having time to pay such bills as he had outstanding with local tradesmen, showed that he must have been devisualised at a moment's notice.
The awful fear that I might be held accountable for his death, prevented me from making the affair public.
Till that moment I had not realised the risks that he had incurred in our reckless dealing with the world of spirits. Annerly fell a victim to the great cause of psychic science, and the record of our experiments remains in the face of prejudice as a witness to its truth.
III. – Guido the Gimlet of Ghent: A Romance of Chivalry
IT was in the flood-tide of chivalry. Knighthood was in the pod.
The sun was slowly setting in the east, rising and falling occasionally as it subsided, and illuminating with its dying beams the towers of the grim castle of Buggensberg.
Isolde the Slender stood upon an embattled turret of the castle. Her arms were outstretched to the empty air, and her face, upturned as if in colloquy with heaven, was distraught with yearning.
Anon she murmured, "Guido"—and bewhiles a deep sigh rent her breast.
Sylph-like and ethereal in her beauty, she scarcely seemed to breathe.
In fact she hardly did.
Willowy and slender in form, she was as graceful as a meridian of longitude. Her body seemed almost too frail for motion, while her features were of a mould so delicate as to preclude all thought of intellectual operation.
She was begirt with a flowing kirtle of deep blue, bebound with a belt bebuckled with a silvern clasp, while about her waist a stomacher of point lace ended in the ruffled farthingale at her throat. On her head she bore a sugar-loaf hat shaped like an extinguisher and pointing backward at an angle of 45 degrees.
"Guido," she murmured, "Guido."
And erstwhile she would wring her hands as one distraught and mutter,
"He cometh not."
The sun sank and night fell, enwrapping in shadow the frowning castle of Buggensberg, and the ancient city of Ghent at its foot. And as the darkness gathered, the windows of the castle shone out with fiery red, for it was Yuletide, and it was wassail all in the Great Hall of the castle, and this night the Margrave of Buggensberg made him a feast, and celebrated the betrothal of Isolde, his daughter, with Tancred the Tenspot.
And to the feast he had bidden all his liege lords and vassals— Hubert the Husky, Edward the Earwig, Rollo the Rumbottle, and many others.
In the meantime the Lady Isolde stood upon the battlements and mourned for the absent Guido.
The love of Guido and Isolde was of that pure and almost divine type, found only in the middle ages.
They had never seen one another. Guido had never seen Isolde, Isolde had never seen Guido. They had never heard one another speak. They had never been together. They did not know one another.
Yet they loved.
Their love had sprung into being suddenly and romantically, with all the mystic charm which is love's greatest happiness.
Years before, Guido had seen the name of Isolde the Slender painted on a fence.
He had turned pale, fallen into a swoon and started at once for
On the very same day Isolde in passing through the streets of Ghent had seen the coat of arms of Guido hanging on a clothes line.
She had fallen back into the arms of her tire-women more dead than alive.
Since that day they had loved.
Isolde would wander forth from the castle at earliest morn, with the name of Guido on her lips. She told his name to the trees. She whispered it to the flowers. She breathed it to the birds. Quite a lot of them knew it. At times she would ride her palfrey along the sands of the sea and call "Guido" to the waves! At other times she would tell it to the grass or even to a stick of cordwood or a ton of coal.
Guido and Isolde, though they had never met, cherished each the features of the other. Beneath his coat of mail Guido carried a miniature of Isolde, carven on ivory. He had found it at the bottom of the castle crag, between the castle and the old town of Ghent at its foot.
How did he know that it was Isolde?
There was no need for him to ask.
His heart had spoken.
The eye of love cannot be deceived.
And Isolde? She, too, cherished beneath her stomacher a miniature of Guido the Gimlet. She had it of a travelling chapman in whose pack she had discovered it, and had paid its price in pearls. How had she known that he it was, that is, that it was he? Because of the Coat of Arms emblazoned beneath the miniature. The same heraldic design that had first shaken her to the heart. Sleeping or waking it was ever before her eyes: A lion, proper, quartered in a field of gules, and a dog, improper, three-quarters in a field of buckwheat.
And if the love of Isolde burned thus purely for Guido, the love of
Guido burned for Isolde with a flame no less pure.
No sooner had love entered Guido's heart than he had determined to do some great feat of emprise or adventure, some high achievement of deringdo which should make him worthy to woo her.
He placed himself under a vow that he would eat nothing, save only food, and drink nothing, save only liquor, till such season as he should have performed his feat.
For this cause he had at once set out for Jerusalem to kill a Saracen for her. He killed one, quite a large one. Still under his vow, he set out again at once to the very confines of Pannonia determined to kill a Turk for her. From Pannonia he passed into the Highlands of Britain, where he killed her a Caledonian.
Every year and every month Guido performed for Isolde some new achievement of emprise.
And in the meantime Isolde waited.
It was not that suitors were lacking. Isolde the Slender had suitors in plenty ready to do her lightest hest.
Feats of arms were done daily for her sake. To win her love suitors were willing to vow themselves to perdition. For Isolde's sake, Otto the Otter had cast himself into the sea. Conrad the Cocoanut had hurled himself from the highest battlement СКАЧАТЬ