+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

house, but a better knowledge of his situation
and character was not to his advantage.
Ashamed of being only a bourgeois, he was
squandering his fortune at Paris under an
assumed title. His temper was severe and
gloomy: he knew mankind too well, he said,
not to despise and avoid them. He wished to
see no one but me, and desired from me, in
return, a similar sacrifice of the world. I
saw, from this time, the necessity, for his own
sake as well as mine, of destroying his hopes
by reducing our intercourse to terms of less
intimacy. My behaviour brought upon him
a violent illness, during which I showed him
every mark of friendly interest, but firmly
refused to deviate from the course I had
adopted. My steadiness only deepened his
wound; and unhappily, at this time, a
treacherous relative, to whom he had
intrusted the management of his affairs, took
advantage of his helpless condition by robbing
him, and leaving him so destitute that he was
obliged to accept the little money I had, for
his subsistence, and the attendance which his
condition required. You must feel, my dear
friend, the importance of never revealing this
secret. I respect his memory, and I would
not expose him to the insulting pity of the
world. Preserve, then, the religious silence
which after many years I now break for the
first time.

' At length he recovered his property, but
never his health; and thinking I was doing
him a service by keeping him at a distance
from me, I constantly refused to receive either
his letters or his visits.

' Two years and a half elapsed between this
period and that of his death. He sent to beg
me to see him once more in his last moments,
but I thought it necessary not to comply with
his wish. He died, having with him only his
domestics, and an old lady, his sole companion
for a long time. He lodged at that time on
the Rempart, near the Chaussée d'Antin; I
resided in the Rue de Bussy, near the Abbaye
St. Germain. My mother lived with me;
and that night we had a little party to supper.
We were very gay, and I was singing a lively
air, when the clock struck eleven, and the
sound was succeeded by a long and piercing
cry of unearthly horror. The company looked
aghast; I fainted, and remained for a quarter
of an hour totally insensible. We then began
to reason about the nature of so frightful a
sound, and it was agreed to set a watch in
the street in case it were repeated.

'It was repeated very often. All our
servants, my friends, my neighbours, even the
police, heard the same cry, always at the
same hour, always proceeding from under my
windows, and appearing to come from the
empty air. I could not doubt that it was
meant entirely for me. I rarely supped
abroad; but the nights I did so, nothing was
heard; and several times, when I came home,
and was asking my mother and servants if
they had heard anything, it suddenly burst
forth, as if in the midst of us. One night,
the President de B—, at whose house I had
supped, desired to see me safe home. While
he was bidding me " good night " at my door,
the cry broke out seemingly from something
between him and me. He, like all Paris, was
aware of the story; but he was so horrified,
that his servants lifted him into his carriage
more dead than alive.

' Another time, I asked my comrade Rosely
to accompany me to the Rue St. Honoré, to
choose some stuffs, and then to pay a visit to
Mademoiselle de St. P—, who lived near
the Porte Saint-Denis. My ghost story (as it
was called) was the subject of our whole
conversation. This intelligent young man was
struck by my adventure, though he did not
believe there was anything supernatural in
it. He pressed me to evoke the phantom,
promising to believe if it answered my call.
With weak audacity I complied, and suddenly
the cry was heard three times with fearful
loudness and rapidity. When we arrived at
our friend's door both of us were found
senseless in the carriage.

'After this scene, I remained for some
months without hearing anything. I thought
it was all over; but I was mistaken.

'All the public performances had been
transferred to Versailles on account of the
marriage of the Dauphin. We were to pass
three days there, but sufficient lodgings were
not provided for us. Madame Grandval had
no apartment; and I offered to share with
her the room with two beds which had been
assigned to me in the avenue of St. Cloud. I
gave her one of the beds and took the other.
While my maid was undressing to lie down
beside me, I said to her, " We are at the
world's end here, and it is dreadful weather;
the cry would be somewhat puzzled to get at
us." In a moment it rang through the room.
Madame Grandval ran in her night-dress from
top to bottom of the house, in which nobody
closed an eye for the rest of the night. This,
however, was the last time the cry was heard.

'Seven or eight days afterwards, while I
was chatting with my usual evening circle,
the sound of the clock striking eleven was
followed by the report of a gun fired at one
of the windows. We all heard the noise, we all
saw the fire, yet the window was undamaged.
We concluded that some one sought my life,
and that it was necessary to take precautions
against another attempt. The Intendant des
Menus Plaisirs, who was present, flew to the
house of his friend, M. de Marville, the
Lieutenant of Police. The houses opposite mine
were instantly searched, and for several days
were guarded from top to bottom. My house
was closely examined; the street was filled
with spies in all possible disguises. But,
notwithstanding all this vigilance, the same
explosion was heard and seen for three whole
months always at the same hour, and at the
same window-pane, without any one being
able to discover from whence it proceeded.