Chapter 94762105

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Chapter NumberSECOND PERIOD. XXXI
Chapter TitleEUNICE'S DIARY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article94762105
Full Date1888-08-04
Page Number17
Corrections0
Word Count2279
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSouth Australian Weekly Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1881 - 1889)
Trove TitleThe Legacy of Cain
article text

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THE LEGACY OF CAIN.

By WILKIE COLLINS, Author of 'The Woman in White,' 'The Evil GeniuB,1, &o., &c.

Published by special arrangement with the author. ? All rights reserve!.] SECOND PERIOD : 1875. THE GIRLS AND THE JOUKNALS. Chakcee XXXI.— Eunice's Diakt.

My reBtieBa nights axe passed in Seiina a room. Her bed remains near the window. My feed has been placed opposite, near the door. Oar night-light Is hidden in a corner, so that the faint glow of it is all that we see. What trifles these are to write shoot. Bat they mix themselves up with what I am determined to set down in my journal, and then to close the 2-ook for good and all. I had not disturbed my little friend's

enviable repose, either when I left oar bedchamber or when I returned to It. IThe Eight was quiet and the stars were out. Nothing moved bat tine throbbing At my templea. The lights and shadows In our half-darkened Toom, which at other timeB suggest strange resemblances to my fancy, failed to disturb me now. I was in a darkness of my own making, having ixrand a handkerchief, cooled with, water, over my hot eyes. There was nothing to Interfere with the soothing influence of the dose that I had taken, if my father's jnedicine would only help me. I began badly. The clock in the hall Struck the quarter past the hour, the half paat, the three-quarters past, the new Lour. Time was awake — and I was awake with lime.

It was such a trial to my patience that I thought of going back to my father's eoom and taking a second dose of the medicine, no matter what the risk might i-e. On attempting to get np I became aware of a change in me. There was a dull sensation in my limbs which seemed to bind them down on the bed. It was the strangest feeling. My will - said, Get np — and my heavy limbs said, No. I lay quite still, thinking desperate thoughts, and getting nearer and nearer to the end that I have been dreading for so many days past. Having been as well educated as most girls my lessons Is * history had made me acquainted with assassination and murder. Horrors which I had recoiled from reading In past iiappy days now returned to my memory, and this time they interesbed instead of revolting me. I counted the three first ways of killing as I happened to remember 4&em in my books of in struction — a way by stabbing, a way by poison, away in a bed, by suffocation with a, pillow. On that dreadful night I never once called to mind what I find myself remembering now — the harmless past time, when our friends used to say, *' Eunice is a good girl ; we are all fond of Eunice.' Shall I ever be the same lovable creature again ? While I lay thinking a strange thing happened. Philip, who had haunted me for days and nights together, vanished out of my thoughts. My memory of the iove which had begun so brightly and iiad ended bo miserably became a blank. Nothing was left but my own horrid visions of vengeance and death. For awhile the strokes of the clock still reached my ears. Bat it was an effort to count them ; I ended in letting ihem pass unheeded. Soon afterwards the round of my thoughts began to circle slowly and more slowly. The strokes of the clock died out. The round of my thoughts stopped. All this time my eyes were still covered by the handkerchief which I had laid over them. ThedarkneBS began to weigh on my spirits and to fill me with distrust. I found myself suspecting that there was some change — perhaps an unearthly change — passing over the zoom. To remain blindfolded any longer was more than I could endure. I lifted my hand — without being conscious of the heavy sensation 'Which, some time before, had laid my limbs helpless on the bed — I lifted my band and drew the handkerchief away from my eyes. The faint glow of the night light was extinguished.

±sut tne room was not quite aark. Sphere was a ghastly light trembling over It ; like nothing that I have ever seen by day ; like nothing that I have ever seen by night. I dimly discerned Selina'a bed, and the frame of the window, and the curtains on either side of it— but not the starlight, and not the shadowy topB of the trees in the garden. The light grew fainter and fainter, the objects in the room faded slowly away, Parkness came. It may be a' saying hard to believe— but, when I declare that I was not frightened, I am telling the truth. 'Whether the room was lit by awf ol light, or sank in awful dark, I was equally absorbed In the expectation of what might happen next. I listened calmly for what I might hear, I waited calmly for what I might feel. A touch came first. I fait it creeping on my face— like a little fluttering breeze. The sensation pleased me for a while. Soon It grew colder, and colder, and colder, till it froze me. 'Oh, no more,' I cried oub. 'Yon are killing me with an icy death !' The dead-cold touches lingered a mo ment longer — and left me. The first Bound came. It was the sound of a whisper on my pillow -close, to my ear. My strange insensibility to fear remained undisturbed. The whisper was welcome, it kept me company in the dark room. It said to me — ' Do you know who I am?' I answered— 'No.' It said—' Who have you been thinking of this evening?^

I answered — ' My mother.' The whisper said— 'I am your mother.' 'Oh, mother, command the light to come back. Show yourself to me !' ' No.' 'Why not ?' ' My face was hidden when I passed from life to death. My face no mortal cieature may see.' ' Oh, mother, touch me ! Kiss me ! ' 'No.' ' Why not V ' My touch is poison. My kiss is death.' The sense of fear began to come to me now. I moved my head aV.ay-on the pillow. The whisper followed my* move ment. ' Leave me,' I said -, 'you are an evil ; spirit.' | The whisper answered — 'I am your j moiher.' 1 ' You come to tempt me.' ' I come to harden your heart, j Daughter of mine, whose blood is cool ; | daughter of mine, who tamely submits — you have loved. Is it true ?' j 'It Is true.' ] ' The man you loved has deserted you. i Ls ifc true 2' 'It is true.' ' A woman has lured him away to her self. A woman has had no mercy on 70a, ?, or on him. Is it true ?' 'It is true.' ^ i 'If she lives what crime towards you will she commit se xt -' ' If she lives she will mirry him.1' ' Will you let her live : 'Never.' 'Have I hardened your heart n'iinst 'Yes.' ' Will you kill her ?'' 1 f Show me how.' There was a sudden silence.' I was still

leic in uie aarKne3B, reeung iiutuj«sj »««? ing nothing. Even the consciousness that I was lying on my bed deserted me. I had no idea that I was In the bedroom ; I had no knowledge of where I was. The ghastly light that I had seen already dawned on me once more. I was no longer In my bed, no longer in my room, no longer in the house. Without wonder, without even a feeling of surprise, I looked round. The place was familiar to me. I was alone in the museum of our town. The light flowed along in front of me. I followed, from room to room in the museum, where the light led. First through the picture gallery, hung with the works of modern masters. Then through the room filled with specimens of Btuffed animals. The lion and the tiger, the vulture of the Alps and the great albatross, looked like living creatures threatening me in the supernatural light. I entered the third room, devoted to the exhibition of ancient armor and the weapons of all nations. Here the light rose higher, and, leaving me in darkness where I stood, showed a collection of swords, daggers, and knives arranged on the wall in imitation of the form of a star. The whisper Bounded again, close at my ear. . It echoed my own thought when I had called to mind the ways of HlHng which history had taught me. It said —

' Kill her with the knife.' No. My heart failed me when I thought of the blood. I hid the dreadful weapons from my view. I cried out — ' Let me go ! let me go !' Again, I was lost in darkness. Again, I had no knowledge in me of where I was. Again, after an Interval, the light showed me the new place in which I stood. I was alone in the burial ground of oar parish church. The light led me on, among the graves, to the lonely corner ia which the great yew tree stood ; and,

rising xugner, reveaiea xne solemn foliage, brightened by the fatal red fruit which hideB in itself the seeds of death. The whisper tempted me again. It followed again the train of my own thought. It said—' Kill her by poison.' No. Revenge by poison steals Its way to its end. The base deceitfulness of Helena's crime against me seemed to call for a day of reckoning that hid Itself under no disguise. I raised my cry to be delivered from the sight of the deadly tree. The changes which I have tried to describe, followed once more the confes sion of what I felt ; the darkness was dis pelled for the third time. I was standing in Helena'stoom, look ing at her as she lay asleep in her bed. She was quite BtUl now ; but she must have been restless at some earlier tune. The bedclothes were disordered, her head had suck so low that the pillow rose high and vacant above her. There, colored by a tender flush of sleep, was the face whose beauty put my poor face to shame. There was the sister who had committed the worst of murders — the wretch who had killed in me all that made life worth having. While that thought was in my mind I heard the whisper again. 'Kill her openly,' the tempting mother said. ' £111 her daringly. Faint heart, do you still want courage ? Boose your spirit ; look ! see yourself is the act !' The temptation took a form which now tried me for the first tune. As if a mirror had reflected the scene, I saw myself standing by the bedside with the pillow that was to smother the Bteeper la my hands. I heard the whispering voice telliagme how to speak the wordsthat warned and condemned her — ' Wake ! you who have taken him from me. Wake ! and meet your doom.' I saw her start np in the bed. The sudden movement disordered the night dress over her bosom, and showed the miniature portrait of a man hung round her neck. The man was Philip. The likeness was looking at me. So dear, so lovely, bo true, those eyes that had once been the light of my heart, mourned for me and judged me now. They saw the guilty thoughts that polluted me ; they brought me to my knees, im ploring him to help me back to my better self — ' One last mercy, dear, to comfort me under the loss of you. Let the love that was once my life be my good angel still. Save me, Philip, even though you forsake me — save me from myself 1' There was a sudden cry. The agony of it pierced my brain —

drove away the ghastly light — silenced the tempting whispers. I came to myself. I saw — and not in a dream. Helena had started up in her bed; That cry of terror at the sight of me In her room at night had burst from her lips. The miniature of Philip hung round her neck a visible reality. Though my head was dizzy, though my heart was Binking, I had not lost my senses yet. All that the night lamp could show me I still saw ; and 1 heard the sound faintly when the door of the bed-chamber was opened. Alarmed by that piercing cry, my father came hurrying into the room. Not a word passed between us three. The whispers that I had heard were wicked ; the thoughts that had been in my mind were vile. Had they left some poison In the air of the room which killed the words on our lips ? My father looked at Helena. With a trembling hand she pointed to me. He pnt his arm round me and held me np. I remember his leading me away — and I remember nothing more. My last words are written. I lock up this journal of misery — never, I hope and pray, to open it again.