screams are yet heard there on stormy nights. Probably Monsieur would rest here several days——."
I essayed to silence the fellow, for I was in no mood to listen to his chatter. Yet there was something in his eulogy of the locality, which he gave as a hawker crying his wares, that fixed my unwilling attention.
"And, Monsieur, perchance you may see old mad Michel. What! you know naught of him? Country folk do say his grandam witnessed the murder of the Count, and that it sent her feeble mind a-wandering. Her child through all her life did fancy herself the Count, and made strange speeches to the people's fear. And now this grandson of hers has grown old in frenzy like his mother and grandam, possessed of an evil spirit which speaks through him betimes—it is a curse of the blood, Monsieur, a grievous curse of the blood."
It aroused something of a curiosity within me, yet I was loath to pause upon my journey. Forced, though, to wait an hour, I thought to walk over to the Chateau a couple of hundred yards distant. Taking a lad who lounged about the inn, to show me the way, I sauntered up the path, pausing a while at a long-disused spring, and idly plucked an apple from a branch which over-hung it. A little further up, and mounting the steep acclivity, I stood within the ancient fortress.
This castle, since rebuilded, you, my children, are of course familiar with, for you were all born here. At that date the great central tower alone stood erect amid the universal destruction. A black wolf's head