A Terribly Strange Bed part 9
picture put a kind of constraint upon me to look upward too— at the top of the
bed. It was a gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked back at the
picture. I counted the feathers in the man’s hat— they stood out in
relief—three white, two green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was of a
conical shape, according to the fashion supposed to have been favored by Guido
Fawkes. I wondered what he was looking up at. It couldn’t be at the stars; such
a desperado was neither astrologer nor astronomer. It must be at the high
gallows, and he was going to be hanged presently. Would the executioner come
into possession of his conical crowned hat and plume of feathers? I counted the
feathers again—three white, two green.
I still lingered over this very improving and intellectual employment, my
thoughts insensibly began to wander. The moonlight shining into the room
reminded me of a certain moonlight night in Eng-land—the night after a picnic
party in a Welsh valley. Every incident of the drive homeward, through lovely
scenery, which the moonlight made lovelier than ever, came back to my
remembrance, though I had never given the picnic a thought for years; though,
if I had tried to recollect it, I could certainly have recalled little or
nothing of that scene long past.
all the wonderful faculties that help to tell us we are immortal, which speaks
the sublime truth more eloquently than memory? Here was I, in a strange house
of the most suspicious character, in a situation of uncertainty, and even of
peril, which might seem to make the cool exercise of my recollection almost out
of the question; nevertheless, remembering, quite involuntarily, places,
people, conversations, minute circumstances of every kind, which I had thought
forgotten forever; which I could not possibly have recalled at will, even under
the most favorable auspices. And what cause had produced in a moment the whole
of this strange, complicated, mysterious effect? Nothing but some rays of
moonlight shining in at my bedroom window.
was still thinking of the picnic—of our merriment on the drive home—of the
sentimental young lady who would quote Childe Harold because it was moonlight.
I was absorbed by these past scenes and past amusements, when, in an instant,
the thread on which my memories hung snapped asunder; my attention immediately
came back to present things more vividly than ever, and I found myself, I
neither knew why nor wherefore, looking hard at the picture again.