was entirely bare. Not a blade of grass, not a shrub grew on it--or, as the story went, would grow. It was on this spot that the appearance, the Shadow, would sometimes be seen. Whence the Shadow came, whether it was ghostly or earthly, whether those learned in science could account for it by Nature's laws, I am unable to say. If you ask me to explain it, I cannot. If you ask me, why then do I write about it, I can only answer, because I have sat and seen it. I have seen it with my own unprejudiced eyes; I have sat and watched it, in its strange stillness; I have looked about and around it--low down, high up--for some substance ever so infinitesimal that might cast its shade and enable me to account for it; and I have looked in vain. Had the moon been behind the archway, instead of behind me, that might have furnished a loophole of explanation.
No; there was nothing whatever, so far as human eyes--and I can tell you that keen ones and sceptical ones have looked at it--to cast the shade, or to account for it. There, as you sat and watched, stretched out the plain, in the moonlight, with its low, trunklike bushes, its clear space of bare land, the archway rising beyond it. But on the spot of bare land, before the archway, would rise the Shadow, not looking as if it were a Shadow cast on the ground, but a palpable fact; as if a bier, with its two bending mourners, actually stood there in the substance. I say that I cannot explain it, or attempt to explain it; but I do say that there is it to be seen. Not often; sometimes not for years together. It is called the Shadow of Ashlydiat; and superstition told that its appearance foreshadowed the approach of calamity, whether of death or of other evil, to the Godolphins. The greater the evil that was coming upon them, the plainer and more distinct would be the appearance of the Shadow. Rumour went that once, on the approach of some terrible misfortune, it had been seen for months and months before, whenever the moon was sufficiently bright.