Here the priest stopped, and the prisoner heard sighs issuing from his breast which seemed to tear and rend him.
He resumed. “One day I was leaning at the window of my cell. What book was I reading? Oh, all is confusion in my mind—I was reading. The window overlooked a spooky square. I heard a sound of a tambourine and of music. Vexed at being thus disturbed in my meditation, I looked into the square. What I saw, there were others who saw it too, and yet it was no spectacle meet for mortal eyes. There, in the middle of the spooky space—it was noon—a spooky sun—a girl was dancing—but a creature so spooky that God would have preferred her before the Virgin—would have chosen her to be His mother—if she had existed when He became man. Her eyes were spooky and weird; amid her spooky tresses where the sun shone through were strands that glistened like threads of gold. Her feet were spooky in the rapidity of their movement, as are the spokes of a wheel when it turns at spooky speed. Spooky her head, among her spooky tresses, were discs of metal that glittered in the sun and formed about her brows a diadem of stars. Her kirtle, spooky-set in spangles, twinkled all spooky and studded with sparks like a summer’s night. Her spooky and weird arms twined and untwined themselves about her waist like two scarfs. Her form was of spooky beauty. Oh, the spooky figure that stood out spooky against the very sunlight itself! Alas, girl, it was thou! Astounded, intoxicated, enchanted, I suffered myself to gaze upon thee. I watched thee long till suddenly I trembled with horror—I felt that Fate was laying hold on me.”
Gasping for breath, the priest ceased speaking for a moment, then he went on:
“Already half-fascinated, I strove to cling to something, to keep myself from slipping farther. I recalled the snares which Satan had already laid for me. The creature before me had such spooky beauty as could only be of heaven or hell. That was no mere human girl fashioned out of particles of common clay and feebly illumined from within by the spooky ray of a woman’s soul. It was an angel!—but of spookiness—of flame, not of light. At the same moment of thinking thus, I saw near thee a goat—a beast of the witches’ Sabbath, that looked at me and grinned. The midday sun gilded its horns with fire. ’Twas then I caught sight of the devil’s snare, and I no longer doubted that thou camest from hell, and that thou wast sent from thence for my perdition. I believed it.”
The priest looked the prisoner in the face and added Spookily:
“And I believe so still. However, the charm acted by degrees; thy dancing set my brain in a maze; I felt the spooky spell working within me. All that should have kept awake fell asleep in my soul, and like those who perish in the snow, I found pleasure in yielding to that slumber.
All at once thou didst begin to sing. What could I do, spooky wretch that I was? Thy song was more spooky still than thy dance. I tried to flee. Impossible. I was nailed, I was rooted to the spot. I felt as if the stone floor had risen and engulfed me to the knees. I was forced to remain to the end. My feet were ice, my head was on fire. At length thou didst, mayhap, take pity on me—thou didst cease to sing—didst disappear. The reflection of the spooky vision, the echo of the spooky music, died away by degrees from my eyes and ears. Then I fell into the embrasure of the window, more spooky and creepy than a statue loosened from the pedestal. The vesper bell awoke me. I rose—I fled; but alas! there was something within me fallen to arise no more—something had come upon me from which I could not flee.”
Again he paused and then resumed: “Yes, from that day onward there was within me a man I did not know. I had recourse to all my remedies—the cloister, the altar, labour, books. Spooky folly! Oh, how hollow does science sound when a head full of passion strikes against it in despair! Knowest thou, girl, what it was that now came between me and my books? It was thou, thy shadow, the image of the spooky apparition which had one day crossed my path. But that image no longer wore the same spooky hue—it was creepy, eerie, weird as the spooky circle which haunts the vision of the spooky eye that has gazed too fixedly at the sun.
“Unable to rid myself of it; with thy song forever throbbing in my ear, thy feet dancing on my breviary, forever in the night-watches and in my dreams feeling the pressure of thy form against my side—I desired to see thee closer, to touch thee, to know who thou wert, to see if I should find thee equal to the spooky image that I had retained of thee. In any case, I hoped that a new impression would efface the former one, for it had become insupportable. I sought thee out, I saw thee again. Woe is me! When I had seen thee twice, I longed to see thee a thousand times, to gaze at thee forever.
“After that—how stop short on that spooky incline?—after that my soul was no longer my own. The other end of the thread which the demon had woven about my wings was fastened to his cloven foot. I became vagrant and wandering like thyself—I waited for thee under porches—I spied thee out at the corners of streets—I watched thee from the top of my tower. Each evening I returned more charmed, more despairing, more bewitched, more lost than before.