back from the parade-ground, and sent word that they will follow as soon as they have groomed their horses, and spend a happy day with you.”“Alas!” sobbed Fatima, “they will never see me alive in this world!”“But what has happened?” asked her sister, amazed.“He—Blue Beard—has returned …. Yes, and in a few minutes he has promised to kill me. But ah! ask me no questions—there is so little time lef. Dear sister, if you love me, run upstairs and still up tothe top of the tower, look if my brothers are coming, and if you see them, give them a signal to make haste!”Her sister Anne lef her and ran up, up, to the roof of the tower; and from time to time as the minutes sped, the unhappy Fatima cried up to her:—“Anne, Sister Anne, do you see any one coming?”And Sister Anne answered her:—“I see nothing but the noon dust a-blowing, and the green grass a-growing.”By and by Blue Beard, who had pulled out his huge sabre, and was trying its edge on the short turf of the terrace, shouted to her:—“Wife, your time is up. Come down, and at once!”24
Then, as she made no answer, he shouted again, and as loudly as he could bawl: “Come down quickly, or I will come up to you!”“A moment—give me a momentlonger!” she answered, and calledsofly to her sister: “Anne, Sister Anne,do you see any one coming?”And Sister Anne answered: “I seenothing but the noon dust a-blowing,and the green grass a-growing.”“Come down quickly,” shouted BlueBeard, “or I will come up to you!”“I am coming,” answered his wife;and again she cried: “Anne, SisterAnne, do you see any one coming?”“I see,” answered Sister Anne,“yonder a great cloud of dust coming.”“Is it my brothers?”“Alas! no, sister. I see a flock ofsheep.”“Will you not come down?” bawledBlue Beard.“Just one moment longer!” entreatedhis wife, and once more she called out:“Anne, Sister Anne, do you see nobody coming?”“I see,” she answered, “yonder two Knights a-riding, but they are yet a great way off …. God be praised,” she cried a moment afer, “they are our brothers! I am waving my handkerchief to them to hasten.”Then Blue Beard stamped his foot and roared out so terribly that he made the whole house tremble. The poor lady came down and, casting herself, all in tears and dishevelled, at his feet, clasped him by the ankles while she besought him for mercy.“This shall not help you,” said Blue Beard. “You must die!” Then, taking hold of her hair and twisting her head back, the better to expose her beautiful throat, he exclaimed: “This be the lesson I teach against curiosity, the peculiar vice of woman-kind, and which above all others I find detestable.To that most fatal habit all the best accredited religions, in whatever else they may differ, unite in attributing the first cause of all misfortunes to which the race is subject ….” In this strain he continued for fully three minutes, still grasping her hair with one hand while with the other he flourished his sabre.
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 73 pages?
- Fall '10
- Gothic fiction, blue beard