A Strange Bride
have been practised on me respecting my daughter’s death, yet my own eyes shall convince me whether this coffin holds her remains. I will have proof,’ he added, in a tone so loud and agitated that the sacristan looked round in affright.
I know not if any one of this party has ever stood at midnight before the grated door of a burial vault, beholding the piles of leaden shrines, in which are deposited the mouldering remains of a distinguished train of ancestors. It is certain at such a moment even the rattling of the keys in their locks makes a deep and mysterious impression; that when the door is forced open, one feels at the grating of the rusty hinges as if he were committing a fearful crime, and is glad to linger on the threshold before he enters into the dark abode of the dead. The Count experienced all these emotions as much as any one could. This I perceived by the deep sigh, almost a groan, which he heaved as we stood there. He controlled his agitation, however, by a great effort; did not allow himself to look at the other coffins, but went directly to that of his daughter, of which he lifted up the cover with his own hands. The body had so precisely the features of Laura that I was obliged to withhold my friend from imprinting the kiss of an affectionate parent on her forehead.
‘Nay, touch her not, disturb not the repose of the dead, cried I, and withdrew him as quickly as I could from the frightful vault into the free air of the living world.
For the rest of the night I reflected upon that inexplicable apparition which Marino had doubtless encountered in Paris. In a few days I had other reasons for being anxious and perplexed. The Duke constantly avoided speaking to me of the lady to