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A Strange Bride


that they had never been able to forget the twin sister of this young lady, whose remains had been deposited about a year preceding in the castle chapel. Laura and Hildegarde had been so like one another that they were not to be distinguished except by a small red mark on the neck of the latter. Laura and she had had only one heart and one mind, and the parents could not persuade themselves that they would be long separated, and were harassed by apprehensions that their beloved and beautiful Laura would also be taken from them.

I did what I was able to divert their thoughts, nor was I disappointed in my endeavours.

One evening, while the Count was talking to me of his plans for the future, among other things of his wish to see Laura well married—for although she was only now in her eighteenth year she had attracted many suitors and had rejected all,—the gardener rushed into the room with the intelligence that a spirit had been seen below, which must certainly be that of the old castle chaplain, who, according to tradition, had appeared for the first time as a revenant about a hundred years before. Several other servants followed this man, and with pale ghastly visages confirmed what he had said.

‘You will be terrified ere long at your own shadows,’ said the Count, and sent them from the room with the order that they should spare him the trouble of having to listen to such absurdity for the future. ‘It is awful,’ said he to me, ‘to what absurd lengths the superstition of these poor people leads them, and how impossible it is to eradicate this folly. For about a century the story has been current here of an old priest who is said to walk and even to read prayers in the castle.’ At this moment a