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bracelet !” exclaimed the student. Surely you must be mad, or mocking me."
“ Whether I be mad or not, concerns you little, so as I can make good my promise. You have my terms."
“Will you give me till to-morrow night to consider whether I will accept them ?"
“No,” replied the stranger, imperatively.
“ Hem !” exclaimed Carl, suddenly, but with a puzzled air, wishing to put the stranger off his guard
so you have but one bracelet. How came you by it! You know, old man, that if I buy it, I must be satisfied that I can keep it.”
“Keep your questions to yourself. Enough for you that I have it,” replied the stranger, sternly.
“Another question, nevertheless, I must put. Where is the other bracelet ?"
“It must be sought for," replied the old man, gloomily, placing his broad-brimmed hat on his head, as if to overshadow his eyes ; " and it is worthy the search, though a prince were the seeker. He who shall have this, has a clew infallible to the discovery of the other."
“ Then why not search for it yourself ?" inquired Carl, quickly. A flush overspread the stranger's face, and he seemed, for a moment, somewhat confused.
“ You are sent hither by the Inquisition,” said Carl, with a cold shudder-at the same time plunging his right hand into his bosom, in search of his poniardhalf resolved to take summary vengeance on the daring and cruel spy. He controlled himself, however, and repeated his question in a calmer tone.
Why do not you seek for the fellow-bracelet, old
“I may not, Carl. . That must be sufficient for you. You need not enter on the search-you need not take this bracelet; but if you will venture, and should suc. coed, 'twill be the greatest day's work you ever did. It will bring you riches and honour ; and, above all, you shall see both these beautiful trinkets glistening on the white arms of her_"
“ Hold! I madden! Speak not !" gasped Carl, springing with sudden emotion from his chair-pressing his hands against his forehead, and gazing fixedly on the bracelet, which the stranger still held his hands.
“'Tis an overwhelming thought, truly! It is !--but -but-I find the fellow to this bracelet ?” he continued, with a bewildered air; “ where, in Heaven's name, am I to search for it?"
“Where you can, and where you dare,” replied the stranger, emphatically. Carl was struck with the tone and manner.
“And how long shall I have to try my- fortune ? Tut!—'tis an idle—a mad question truly, a foolish scheme; but supposing---in a word, how long will you give me?"
“ Two days from this time ; and on the third I will come and see you again.”
Alone ?" inquired Carl, with a searching glance. “Yes--alone," replied the stranger, pointedly. “ And can you give me no clew whatever ?-none ?"
“ No, assuredly. Else the merit of your search would fail. You will not be long in finding one, if you do but set about the search heartily. Ah, Carl, Carl," he added, suddenly, with as much gayety as his extraordinary features could assume, “you have a white hand, and a small wrist!” Carl glanced at them complacently. “I wonder, now, whether it were small enough for this bracelet? Try it on, man—try it on! Your wrist, I think, is but a trifle larger than hers—" The last words brought the blood into Carl's face, even to his temples—and a tempest to his soul. Scarce knowing what he did, he took the glittering bracelet, and with a little difficulty clasped it about his wrist.
“ Aha!-how wondrous well it suits you! In truth, it might have been made for you! Your wrist might have been a lady's !" said the old man, laughing ; and, rising from his seat, he scrutinized the bracelet
narrowly, and adjusted it more nicely. “And now, Carl Koëcker-see you part not with it, in your search! Farewell, Carl !” The stranger stepped towards the door.
“Stay-stay, old man !” exclaimed the student, with surprise. “Whither are you going ? Ha-ha, der teufel!” he continued, almost leaping from the floor with sudden fright. “ Why, thou fiend! I cannot remove the bracelet! It clings to my wrist like adamant! It will cut my hand off! Ah-ah-it is cutting to the bone,” he groaned. He strove violently to wrench it off. “ Take it off! Take it off-I cannot move it!
Help, help!---dear, good old man, for mercy's sake-_-" But his visiter was opening the chamber door, anxious to be gone. Carl followed him, using frantic efforts to dislodge the bracelet from his wrist, which suffered a frightful sense of compression.
“Good sir! Kind old man-whoever you are, whatever you come from-whatever your errand, for God's love, help me to remove this bracelet ! Oh!” he groaned, “ will you not take it off ?"
“ Off!--never!" shouted the old man, with an unearthly laugh, and an eye of horrible derision. The student dropped his hands, fell back aghast a pace or two, and stared at the stranger, with eyes that seemed bursting from their sockets. The perspiration started from every pore.
“ Never--oh, never did you say?" gasped Carl, renewing his desperate efforts to remove the bracelet. He grew desperate. “ Villain! fiend ! You have played a hell trick against me! Will you yet say .
“Ay-never, till you find its fellow,” replied the old man, shaking his shrivelled finger at the s:udent.
“ Accursed wretch! Deceiving devil! Then will we struggle for it.' Ho! have at you!” aloud shrieked Carl, springing forward to grapple with his tormentor; who, however, at that moment slipped through the open door, shutting it in Carl's face; and as the old man went rapidly down stairs, Carl heard him exclaiming in tones of wild and echoing laughter-fainter and fainter as the distance increased, “Never, Carl-never, never !
Carl staggered stupified to a seat, and sat for some moments the image of despair. He would have rushed out after the old man, but that a deadly faintness seized him. He could not bring his scattered senses to bear for an instant on any one point of the preceding interview. He felt like a man suddenly roused at midnight from a frightful dream. Had he been asleep and dreaming? Alas, no! There was fearful evidence, palpable and visible, of waking reality. His eye happened to alight on the bracelet glistening with now abhorred splendour on his wrist. With frantic effort, he once more-strove to disengage it, but in vain. He could not move it; it seemed to have grown into him! He rose from his chair, and paced his room an écstasy of alternate fear and fury. What had come to him? Was he under the spell of witchcraft? Was he the sport of diabolical agency ? Or, worse than either—the sealed victim of the Inquisition? Had they sent their emissary to probe him, and leave this cunningly framed bracelet as an irremoveable evidence of their man-even as sheep are marked for the slaughter? As this latter suspicion flashed across his mind with increasing probability, he sunk in his chair, overwhelmed with anguish and horror; and from his chair to the floor. What was to become of him? What could he do? Whither was he to fly? How ascertain the criminatory extent of the information on which they acted ? He knew not! He closed his eyes, for everything about him seemed turning round, and assuming grotesque images and positions. After lying for some minutes on the floor, he suddenly sprang to his feet, convinced that the extraordinary occurrences of the evening could have no other foundation than fancy—that he must have been suffering from the nightmare. · He stepped into his sleeping
room, and plunged his head and face into a bowl of cold spring water. The shock for a few moments revived and recollected his wandering faculties ; but in wiping his face, the accursed bracelet scratched his cheek—the delusions of hope vanished in an instant, and flinging aside his towel, he rushed from the room in despair. The silence and solitude of his apartment were horrible. Whither should he go, that the Inquisition's hounds could not follow, find, and seize him? He began to imagine that they had pressed the arts of sorcery into their assistance. He felt, in a word, that his fears were maddening him. He could bear his rooms no longer : so putting his cap on his head, and throwing a cloak over his shoulders, he went out hoping to see, or at least hear tidings of, his dreadful visiter.
The night, far advanced, was cold and gloomy--the winds blew chilly, and the snows were fluttering fast. He spoke to one or two of the drowsy shivering watch, and asked whether they had seen any one answering to the description of his visiter. One of them told him, with a yawn, that only a quarter of an hour before, he had seen an old man pass by, that stooped, and wore, he thought, a broad hat and drab coat ; that he walked at a great rate down the main street, followed by two men in dark dresses ! Carl fell into the arms of the Watchman, deprived of sense and motion. The last clause of the man's intelligence had confirmed his worst fears—THE INQUISITION WERE AFTER HIM!
After a while, the attentions of the humane night guardian, backed by a little hot ale which he carried in a leathern botile, sufficed to revive Carl, who was able, soon after, to proceed, after giving the watchman some small coin. What was Carl now to do? To return to his rooms was impossible. He hurried on through the street, why, or whither, he know not. He felt a sort of drowsiness or stupor creeping over him. Suddenly he nearly overthrew what proved to be a female figure muffled in a long dark dress. His hair stood on end for at the first moment, he mistook her