en-fr  A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant
Nous parlions de séquestration, faisant allusion à un procès récent. C'était à la fin d'une soirée amicale dans un très vieux manoir de la rue de Grenelle, et chacun des invités avait une histoire à raconter, qu'il nous assurait était vrai.

Alors le vieux marquis de la Tour-Samuel, âgé de quatre-vingt-deux ans, se leva et vint pour s'appuyer à la cheminée. Il raconta l'histoire suivante de sa voix légèrement tremblante.

— Moi aussi, j'ai été témoin d'une chose étrange, tellement étrange qu'elle fut le cauchemar de ma vie. Cela s'est produit il y a cinquante-six ans, et pourtant il n'y a pas un mois où je ne la revois pas dans mes rêves. Depuis de ce jour, j'ai gardé une marque, une empreinte de de peur, le comprenez-vous ?

Oui, pendant dix minutes, je fus la proie de la terreur, d'une telle façon que, depuis une peur constante est restée dans mon âme. Les sons inattendus me glacent jusqu'au cœur, les objets que je peine à distinguer dans la pénombre de la nuit me donnent envie de fuir. J'ai peur la nuit.

Non ! J'ai mis "avoué" par pure logique car je n'ai trouvé rien qui me convenait parmi mes sources pour traduire "owned" Mais maintenant, je peux tout dire. On peut craindre des dangers imaginaires à quatre-vingts deux ans. Mais devant le danger réel, je n'ai jamais reculé, mesdames.

Cette affaire a tellement bouleversé mon esprit, m'a rempli d'un trouble si profond et mystérieux que je n'ai jamais pu la raconter. Je l'ai gardée dans cette partie la plus secrète, ce coin où nous cachons notre chagrin, nos secrets honteux, toutes les faiblesses de notre vie qui ne peuvent être confessées.

— Je vais vous raconter cet étrange évènement juste tel qu'il s'est produit, sans tenter de l'expliquer. À moins d'être devenu fou pendant une petite heure, cela doit être explicable. Mais, je n'étais pas fou, et je vous le prouverai. Imaginez ce que vous voulez. Voici les simples faits : — C'était en 1827, en juillet. J'étais cantonné avec mon régiment à Rouen.

Un jour, alors que je me promenais sur le quai, je rencontrai un homme que je crus reconnaître, mais je ne pouvais pas le situer avec certitude. Je marchai instinctivement plus lentement, prêt à m'arrêter. L'étranger remarqua mon reflexe, me regarda et tomba dans mes bras.

C'était un ami de jeunesse, que j'avais beaucoup aimé. Il semblait être devenu un demi-siècle plus vieux dans les cinq années depuis que je l'avais vu. Ses cheveux étaient blancs et il marchait courbé comme s'il était épuisé. Il comprit mon étonnement et me raconta l'histoire de sa vie.

Un événement terrible l'avait brisé. Il était tombé amoureux follement d'une jeune fille et l'avait épousée dans une sorte d'extase rêveuse. Après une année de bonheur et de passion inébranlable, elle était morte subitement de maladie cardiaque, sans doute tuée par l'amour lui-même.

Il avait quitté le pays le jour même de son enterrement et était venu vivre dans son hôtel à Rouen. Il resta là, solitaire et désespéré, le chagrin l'extrayant lentement, tellement misérable qu'il pensait constamment au suicide.

— Donc lorsque je vous rencontrerai à nouveau, di-il, je vous demanderai une grande faveur. Je veux que vous alliiez dans mon château et que vous preniez quelques papiers dont j'ai un besoin urgent. Ils sont dans le pupitre de ma chambre, de " notre " chambre. Je ne peux pas envoyer un serviteur ou un avocat, car la mission doit être gardée privée. Je veux un silence absolu.

Je vais vous donner la clé de la chambre, que j'avais fermée moi-même soigneusement avant de partir, et la clé du pupitre. Je vais aussi vous donner un mot pour le jardinier , qui vous laissera entrer.

Venez déjeuner avec moi demain, et nous parlerons de la question.

Je promis de lui rendre ce petit service. Ce n'était qu'une plaisante ballade pour moi, sa maison n'étant située qu'à une quarantaine de kilomètres de Rouen. Je pouvais m'y rendre à cheval en moins d'une heure.

Le lendemain à dix heures j'étais en sa compagnie. Nous prîmes notre petit-déjeuner seuls et il ne prononça pas plus de vingt mots. Il me demanda l'excuser. La pensée que j'allais pénétrer dans la chambre où gisait son bonheur brisé le troublait, dit-il. En effet, il semblait perturbé, inquiet, comme si se déroulait dans son âme un combat mystérieux.

Enfin, il indiqua clairement ce que j'avais à faire. C'était très simple. Je devais prendre deux paquets de lettres et quelques papiers, enfermés dans le premier tiroir de droite dans le secrétaire dont il avait la clef. Il ajouta : — Inutile de vous demander de ne pas y jeter un coup d’œil.

Je fus plutôt blessé par ses paroles et le lui dis assez vivement. Il balbutia : — Pardonne-moi. Je souffre tant.

Ses yeux s'emplirent de larmes.

Je partis vers une heure pour accomplir ma mission.

La journée était radieuse, et je me précipitais dans les prés, j'écoutais le chant des alouettes et le battement rythmique de mon épée sur mes bottes d'équitation.

Puis j'entrai dans la forêt, et je mis mon cheval au pas. Les branches des arbres caressaient doucement mon visage, et de temps en temps j'attrapais une feuille entre mes dents et la mordais avec avidité, plein de joie de vivre, comme pour te remplir sans raison, d'un bonheur tumultueux presque indéfinissable, une espèce de force magique.

À l'approche de la maison je pris la lettre pour le gardien, et constatai avec surprise qu'elle était cachetée. J'étais si abasourdi et contrarié que je faillis tourner bride sans remplir ma mission. Puis je pensai que je réagissais de façon excessive et déplaisante. Mon ami pouvait l'avoir cachetée sans y penser, soucieux comme il était.

Le manoir semblait avoir été abandonné pendant ces vingt dernières années. La grille, grande ouverte et rouillée, tenait on se demandait comment. L'herbe envahissait les chemins, on ne pouvait plus distinguer les parterres de fleurs des pelouses.

Au bruit que je fis en frappant contre un volet, un vieil homme sortit par une porte latérale et sembla stupéfait de me voir là. Je descendis de cheval et lui remis la lettre. Il la lut une ou deux fois, la retourna, me regarda d'un air suspicieux et demanda : — Eh bien, qu'est-ce que vous voulez ?

Je répondis sèchement : — Vous devez le savoir si vous avez lu les ordres de votre maitre. Je désire entrer dans la maison.

Il semblait bouleversé. Il dit : — Donc... vous allez pénétrer dans... dans sa chambre ?

Je commençai à m'impatienter.

— Parbleu ! Avez-vous l'intention de m'interroger, par hasard ?

Il balbutia : — Non... monsieur... c'est seulement qu'elle n'a pas été ouverte depuis... depuis le décès. Si vous voulez bien attendre cinq minutes, je vais aller voir si... Je l'interrompis avec colère : — Dites donc, vous plaisantez ? Vous ne pouvez entrer dans cette chambre puisque j'en ai la clé.

Il ne sut plus que dire.

— Alors, monsieur, je vais vous montrer le chemin.

— Montrez-moi les escaliers et laissez-moi seul. Je peux le trouver sans votre aide.

—Mais... encore une chose... monsieur. Alors, je perdis mon calme.

— Maintenant taisez-vous ! Sinon, vous allez le regretter !

Je le poussai sans ménagement sur le côté et entrai dans la maison.

Je traversai d'abord la cuisine puis deux petites pièces occupées par l'homme et sa femme. De là, je parvins dans une grande entrée. Je montai les escaliers et reconnu la porte que mon ami m'avait décrite.

Je l'ouvris facilement et rentrai.

La pièce était si sombre que d'abord je ne pus rien distinguer. Je m’arrêtai, stoppé par cette odeur de moisi et de renfermé propre aux chambres inhabitées et condamnées, aux chambres mortuaires. Puis petit à petit mes yeux s'habituèrent à l'obscurité et je pus distinguer une grande chambre en désordre, un lit sans draps mais avec encore les matelas et les oreillers dont l'un portait l'empreinte profonde d'un coude ou d'une tête comme si quelqu'un venait juste de s'y reposer.

Les chaises étaient sens dessus dessous. Je remarquai qu'une porte, probablement celle d'un placard, était restée entrebâillée.

J'allai d'abord vers la fenêtre pour l'ouvrir et avoir un peu de lumière, mais les gonds des volets extérieurs étaient si rouillés que je ne pus les pousser.

J'essayai même de les briser avec mon épée mais sans succès. Comme ces tentatives infructueuses m'agaçaient et que mes yeux s'étaient habitués à la pénombre, j'abandonnai l'espoir d’obtenir plus de clarté et me dirigeai vers le secrétaire.

Je m'assis dans un fauteuil, relevai l'abattant et ouvris le tiroir. Il était plein à ras bord. Il me fallait trouver trois paquets que je savais comment reconnaître, et je me mis à les chercher.

Je plissai les yeux pour déchiffrer les inscriptions quand je pensai avoir entendu ou plutôt ressenti un bruissement derrière moi. Je n'y accordai pas d'attention, pensant qu'un courant d'air avait fait bouger une tenture. Mais une minute plus tard, un autre mouvement presque imperceptible fit courir sur ma peau un frisson désagréable. C'était tellement ridicule d'être impressionné de la sorte même rien qu'un peu que je ne voulus pas me retourner, me sentant honteux. Je venais de découvrir le deuxième paquet dont j'avais besoin, et j'étais sur le point d'atteindre le troisième, quand un grand et triste soupir, près de mon épaule, me fit faire un bond de fou à deux mètres de là. Dans mon élan, je m'étais retourné, la main sur la poignée de mon épée, et certainement que si je ne l'avais pas sentie, je me serais enfui comme un lâche.

Une grande femme, vêtue de blanc, était face à moi, debout derrière la chaise où j'étais assis une seconde plus tôt.

Un tel frisson me traversa que je tombai presque en arrière ! Oh, personne qui ne les a pas ressenti ne peut comprendre ces affreuses et ridicules terreurs ! L'âme se fond ; votre cœur semble s'arrêter ; votre corps entier devient mou comme une éponge, et vos parties les plus profondes semblent s'effondrer.

Je ne crois pas aux fantômes, et pourtant j'ai craqué devant la hideuse peur de la mort, et j'ai souffert, oh, j'ai souffert plus en quelques minutes, dans l'angoisse irrésistible de la terreur surnaturelle, que je n'ai souffert dans tout le reste de ma vie !

Si elle n'avait pas parlé, j'aurais pu mourir. Mais elle parla ; elle parla d'une voix douce et plaintive qui fit vibrer mes nerfs. Je ne pourrais pas dire que je retrouvais mon sang froid. Non, je savais plus ce que je faisais, mais une sorte de fierté personnelle, ainsi qu'une fierté militaire, m'aida à maintenir, presque malgré moi, un visage honorable. Je fis une pose, une pose pour moi et pour elle, pour elle, quelle qu'elle soit, femme ou fantôme. Je le réalisai plus tard, car au moment de l'apparition, je ne pouvais penser à rien. J'avais peur.

Elle dit : — Oh, vous pouvez m'être d'une grande aide, monsieur !

J'essayai de répondre, mais je ne pus pas prononcer un seul mot. Un vague son sortit de ma gorge.

Elle poursuivit : — Voulez-vous ? Vous pouvez me sauver, me guérir. Je souffre terriblement. Je souffre toujours. Je souffre, oh, je souffre !

Et elle s'assit doucement sur ma chaise. Elle me regarda.

Voulez-vous ?

Je hochai de la tête, toujours paralysé.

Puis elle me tendit un peigne de femme en écaille de tortue et murmura : — Peignez-moi les cheveux ! Oh, peignez mes cheveux ! Cela me guérira. Regardez ma tête - comment je souffre ! Et mes cheveux... comme ça fait mal !

Ses cheveux lâchés, très longs, très noirs, il me semblait, pendaient sur l'arrière de la chaise, touchant le sol.

Pourquoi l'ai-je fait ? Pourquoi ai-je, frissonnant, accepté ce peigne, et pourquoi ai-je pris entre mes mains ses longs cheveux, ce qui laissa sur ma peau une horrible impression de froid, comme si j'avais manipulé des serpents ? Je ne sais pas.

Ce ressenti imprégne toujours mes doigts, et je tremble quand je me la rappelle.

Je la peignai, je manipulai, je ne sais pas comment, cette cheveulure de glace. Je la nouai et dénouai ; je la tressai comme on tresse la crinière d'un cheval. Elle soupirait, penchait la tête, semblait heureuse.

Soudain, elle dit : — Merci ! Arracha le peigne de mes mains et s'enfuit par la porte que j'avais remarqué à moitié ouverte. ( j'ai choisi de ne pas mettre le "was" pour alléger)

Laissé seul, j'eus pendant quelques secondes la sensation de brume que l'on ressent en se réveillant d'un cauchemar. Ensuite, je me suis ressaisi. Je courus à la fenêtre et je brisai les volets par mon assaut furieux.

Un flot de lumière se répandit. Je me précipitai vers la porte par laquelle cet être était parti. Je la trouvai verrouillée et inamovible.

Alors une fièvre de fuite me saisit, une panique, la véritable panique de la bataille. Je saisis rapidement les trois paquets de lettres dans le bureau ouvert, je traversai la salle en courant, je descendis les marches de l'escalier quatre à quatre. Je me retrouvai dehors, je ne sais pas comment, en voyant mon cheval à proximité, je montais d'un bond et je partis à plein galop.

Je ne m'arrêtai pas avant d'arriver à Rouen et dressé devant ma maison. Après avoir jeté les rênes de mon ordonnance, j'entrai dans ma chambre et je m'enfermai pour réfléchir.

Puis, pendant une heure, je me demandai si je n'avais pas été victime d'une hallucination. Certes, je dus avoir l'un de ces chocs nerveux, l'un de ces troubles du cerveau qui donnent lieu à des miracles, auxquels le surnaturel doit sa force.

Et j'avais presque conclu que c'était une vision, une illusion de mes sens, quand je m'approchai de la fenêtre. Mes yeux par hasard regardèrent vers le bas. Ma vareuse était couverte de cheveux, de longs cheveux de femme qui s'étaient enchevêtrés autour des boutons !

Je les retirai un à un et les jetai par la fenêtre avec des doigts tremblants.

J'appelai alors mon ordonnance. Je me sentais trop perturbé, trop ému, pour aller voir mon ami ce jour-là. D'ailleurs, je voulais réfléchir à ce que je devais lui dire.

Je lui fis remettre ses lettres. Il donna un reçu au soldat. Il s'enquit de moi et fut informé que je n'étais pas bien. J'avais eu une insolation ou quelque chose. Il sembla peiné.

J'allai le voir le lendemain, tôt le matin, résolu à lui dire la vérité. Il était sorti la veille et pas rentré.

Je revins le même jour, mais il n'avait pas été vu. J'attendis une semaine. Il ne revint pas. J'informai la police. Ils le cherchèrent partout, mais personne ne trouva aucune trace de son passage ou de sa retraite.

Une recherche minutieuse fut faite dans le manoir abandonné. Aucun élément suspect ne fut découvert.

Il n'y eut aucun signe qu'une femme eût été cachée là-bas.

L'enquête ne donna aucun résultat, de sorte que la recherche n'alla pas plus loin.

Et depuis cinquante-six ans, je n'ai rien appris. Je n'ai jamais découvert la vérité.
unit 1
We were speaking of sequestration, alluding to a recent lawsuit.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 4 months, 2 weeks ago
unit 4
He told the following story in his slightly quavering voice.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 5
"I, also, have witnessed a strange thing--so strange that it has been the nightmare of my life.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 6
unit 7
From that day I have borne a mark, a stamp of fear,--do you understand?
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 10
I am afraid at night.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 11
"No!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 12
I would not have owned such a thing before reaching my present age.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 13
But now I may tell everything.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 14
One may fear imaginary dangers at eighty-two years old.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 15
But before actual danger I have never turned back, _mesdames_.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 18
"I will tell you that strange happening just as it took place, with no attempt to explain it.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 19
Unless I went mad for one short hour it must be explainable, though.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 20
Yet I was not mad, and I will prove it to you.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 21
Imagine what you will.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 22
Here are the simple facts: "It was in 1827, in July.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 23
I was quartered with my regiment in Rouen.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 25
I instinctively went more slowly, ready to pause.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 26
The stranger saw my impulse, looked at me, and fell into my arms.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 27
"It was a friend of my younger days, of whom I had been very fond.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 28
He seemed to have become half a century older in the five years since I had seen him.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 29
His hair was white, and he stooped in his walk, as if he were exhausted.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 30
He understood my amazement and told me the story of his life.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 31
"A terrible event had broken him down.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 32
He had fallen madly in love with a young girl and married her in a kind of dreamlike ecstasy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
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unit 36
"'As I thus came across you again,' he said, 'I shall ask a great favor of you.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 37
I want you to go to my chteau and get some papers I urgently need.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 38
They are in the writing-desk of my room, of _our_ room.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 39
I cannot send a servant or a lawyer, as the errand must be kept private.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 40
I want absolute silence.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 42
I shall also give you a note for the gardener, who will let you in.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 43
"'Come to breakfast with me to-morrow, and we'll talk the matter over.'
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 44
"I promised to render him that slight service.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 46
I could go there in an hour on horseback.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 47
"At ten o'clock the next day I was with him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 48
We breakfasted alone together, yet he did not utter more than twenty words.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 49
He asked me to excuse him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 50
unit 51
Indeed, he seemed perturbed, worried, as if some mysterious struggle were taking place in his soul.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 52
"At last he explained exactly what I was to do.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 53
It was very simple.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 55
He added: "'I need not ask you not to glance at them.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 56
"I was almost hurt by his words, and told him so, rather sharply.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 57
He stammered: "'Forgive me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 58
I suffer so much!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 59
"And tears came to his eyes.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 60
"I left about one o'clock to accomplish my errand.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 62
"Then I entered the forest, and I set my horse to walking.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 65
I was so amazed and so annoyed that I almost turned back without fulfilling my mission.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 66
Then I thought that I should thus display over-sensitiveness and bad taste.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 67
My friend might have sealed it unconsciously, worried as he was.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 68
"The manor looked as though it had been deserted the last twenty years.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 69
The gate, wide-open and rotten, held, one wondered how.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 70
Grass filled the paths; you could not tell the flower-beds from the lawn.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 72
I dismounted from my horse and gave him the letter.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 74
"I answered sharply: "'You must know it as you have read your master's orders.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 75
I want to get in the house.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 76
"He appeared overwhelmed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 77
He said: "'So--you are going in--in his room?'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 78
"I was getting impatient.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 79
"'_Parbleu!_ Do you intend to question me, by chance?'
3 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 80
"He stammered: "'No--monsieur--only--it has not been opened since--since the death.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 82
You can't go in that room, as I have the key!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 83
"He no longer knew what to say.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 84
"'Then, monsieur, I will show you the way.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 85
"'Show me the stairs and leave me alone.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 86
I can find it without your help.'
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 87
"'But--still--monsieur----' "Then I lost my temper.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 88
"'Now be quiet!
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 89
Else you'll be sorry!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 90
"I roughly pushed him aside and went into the house.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 91
"I first went through the kitchen, then crossed two small rooms occupied by the man and his wife.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 92
From there I stepped into a large hall.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 93
I went up the stairs, and I recognized the door my friend had described to me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 94
"I opened it with ease and went in.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 95
"The room was so dark that at first I could not distinguish anything.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 98
"The chairs seemed all in confusion.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 99
I noticed that a door, probably that of a closet, had remained ajar.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 101
"I even tried to break them with my sword, but did not succeed.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 103
"I sat down in an arm-chair, folded back the top, and opened the drawer.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 104
It was full to the edge.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 105
I needed but three packages, which I knew how to distinguish, and I started looking for them.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 107
I took no notice, thinking a draft had lifted some curtain.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 108
unit 109
It was so ridiculous to be moved thus even so slightly, that I would not turn round, being ashamed.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 113
"Such a shudder ran through me that I almost fell back!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 114
Oh, no one who has not felt them can understand those gruesome and ridiculous terrors!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 117
"If she had not spoken, I might have died.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 118
But she did speak; she spoke in a soft and plaintive voice which set my nerves vibrating.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 119
I could not say that I regained my self-control.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 121
I was making a pose, a pose for myself, and for her, for her, whatever she was, woman, or phantom.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 122
I realized this later, for at the time of the apparition, I could think of nothing.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 123
I was afraid.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 124
"She said: "'Oh, you can be of great help to me, monsieur!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 125
"I tried to answer, but I was unable to utter one word.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 126
A vague sound came from my throat.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 127
"She continued: "'Will you?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 128
You can save me, cure me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 129
I suffer terribly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 130
I always suffer.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 131
I suffer, oh, I suffer!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 132
"And she sat down gently in my chair.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 133
She looked at me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 134
"'Will you?'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 135
"I nodded my head, being still paralyzed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 136
"Then she handed me a woman's comb of tortoise-shell, and murmured: "'Comb my hair!
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 137
Oh, comb my hair!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 138
That will cure me.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 139
Look at my head--how I suffer!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 140
And my hair--how it hurts!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 142
"Why did I do it?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 144
I do not know.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 145
"That feeling still clings about my fingers, and I shiver when I recall it.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 146
"I combed her, I handled, I know not how, that hair of ice.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 147
I bound and unbound it; I plaited it as one plaits a horse's mane.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 148
She sighed, bent her head, seemed happy.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 149
"Suddenly she said, 'Thank you!'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 150
tore the comb from my hands, and fled through the door which I had noticed was half opened.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 151
"Left alone, I had for a few seconds the hazy feeling one feels in waking up from a nightmare.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 152
Then I recovered myself.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 153
I ran to the window and broke the shutters by my furious assault.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 154
"A stream of light poured in.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 155
I rushed to the door through which that being had gone.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 156
I found it locked and immovable.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 157
"Then a fever of flight seized on me, a panic, the true panic of battle.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 160
"I didn't stop till I reached Rouen and drew up in front of my house.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 161
Having thrown the reins to my orderly, I flew to my room and locked myself in to think.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 162
"Then for an hour I asked myself whether I had not been the victim of an hallucination.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 165
My eyes by chance looked down.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 166
unit 167
"I took them off one by one and threw them out of the window with trembling fingers.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 168
"I then called my orderly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 169
I felt too perturbed, too moved, to go and see my friend on that day.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 170
Besides, I needed to think over what I should tell him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 171
"I had his letters delivered to him.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 172
He gave a receipt to the soldier.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 173
He inquired after me and was told that I was not well.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 174
I had had a sunstroke, or something.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 175
He seemed distressed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 176
"I went to see him the next day, early in the morning, bent on telling him the truth.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 177
He had gone out the evening before and had not come back.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 178
"I returned the same day, but he had not been seen.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 5 months ago
unit 179
I waited a week.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 180
He did not come back.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 181
I notified the police.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 182
They searched for him everywhere, but no one could find any trace of his passing or of his retreat.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 183
"A careful search was made in the deserted manor.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 184
No suspicious clue was discovered.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 185
"There was no sign that a woman had been concealed there.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 186
"The inquest gave no result, and so the search went no further.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 187
"And in fifty-six years I have learned nothing more.
2 Translations, 6 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
unit 188
I never found out the truth."
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 3 months, 4 weeks ago
Gabrielle • 13871  translated  unit 11  1 year, 5 months ago

We were speaking of sequestration, alluding to a recent lawsuit. It was at the close of a friendly evening in a very old mansion in the Rue de Grenelle, and each of the guests had a story to tell, which he assured us was true.

Then the old Marquis de la Tour-Samuel, eighty-two years of age, rose and came forward to lean on the mantelpiece. He told the following story in his slightly quavering voice.

"I, also, have witnessed a strange thing--so strange that it has been the nightmare of my life. It happened fifty-six years ago, and yet there is not a month when I do not see it again in my dreams. From that day I have borne a mark, a stamp of fear,--do you understand?

"Yes, for ten minutes I was a prey to terror, in such a way that ever since a constant dread has remained in my soul. Unexpected sounds chill me to the heart; objects which I can ill distinguish in the evening shadows make me long to flee. I am afraid at night.

"No! I would not have owned such a thing before reaching my present age. But now I may tell everything. One may fear imaginary dangers at eighty-two years old. But before actual danger I have never turned back, _mesdames_.

"That affair so upset my mind, filled me with such a deep, mysterious unrest that I never could tell it. I kept it in that inmost part, that corner where we conceal our sad, our shameful secrets, all the weaknesses of our life which cannot be confessed.

"I will tell you that strange happening just as it took place, with no attempt to explain it. Unless I went mad for one short hour it must be explainable, though. Yet I was not mad, and I will prove it to you. Imagine what you will. Here are the simple facts:

"It was in 1827, in July. I was quartered with my regiment in Rouen.

"One day, as I was strolling on the quay, I came across a man I believed I recognized, though I could not place him with certainty. I instinctively went more slowly, ready to pause. The stranger saw my impulse, looked at me, and fell into my arms.

"It was a friend of my younger days, of whom I had been very fond. He seemed to have become half a century older in the five years since I had seen him. His hair was white, and he stooped in his walk, as if he were exhausted. He understood my amazement and told me the story of his life.

"A terrible event had broken him down. He had fallen madly in love with a young girl and married her in a kind of dreamlike ecstasy. After a year of unalloyed bliss and unexhausted passion, she had died suddenly of heart disease, no doubt killed by love itself.

"He had left the country on the very day of her funeral, and had come to live in his hotel at Rouen. He remained there, solitary and desperate, grief slowly mining him, so wretched that he constantly thought of suicide.

"'As I thus came across you again,' he said, 'I shall ask a great favor of you. I want you to go to my chteau and get some papers I urgently need. They are in the writing-desk of my room, of _our_ room. I cannot send a servant or a lawyer, as the errand must be kept private. I want absolute silence.

"'I shall give you the key of the room, which I locked carefully myself before leaving, and the key to the writing-desk. I shall also give you a note for the gardener, who will let you in.

"'Come to breakfast with me to-morrow, and we'll talk the matter over.'

"I promised to render him that slight service. It would mean but a pleasant excursion for me, his home not being more than twenty-five miles from Rouen. I could go there in an hour on horseback.

"At ten o'clock the next day I was with him. We breakfasted alone together, yet he did not utter more than twenty words. He asked me to excuse him. The thought that I was going to visit the room where his happiness lay shattered, upset him, he said. Indeed, he seemed perturbed, worried, as if some mysterious struggle were taking place in his soul.

"At last he explained exactly what I was to do. It was very simple. I was to take two packages of letters and some papers, locked in the first drawer at the right of the desk of which I had the key. He added:

"'I need not ask you not to glance at them.'

"I was almost hurt by his words, and told him so, rather sharply. He stammered:

"'Forgive me. I suffer so much!'

"And tears came to his eyes.

"I left about one o'clock to accomplish my errand.

"The day was radiant, and I rushed through the meadows, listening to the song of the larks, and the rhythmical beat of my sword on my riding-boots.

"Then I entered the forest, and I set my horse to walking. Branches of the trees softly caressed my face, and now and then I would catch a leaf between my teeth and bite it with avidity, full of the joy of life, such as fills you without reason, with a tumultuous happiness almost indefinable, a kind of magical strength.

"As I neared the house I took out the letter for the gardener, and noted with surprise that it was sealed. I was so amazed and so annoyed that I almost turned back without fulfilling my mission. Then I thought that I should thus display over-sensitiveness and bad taste. My friend might have sealed it unconsciously, worried as he was.

"The manor looked as though it had been deserted the last twenty years. The gate, wide-open and rotten, held, one wondered how. Grass filled the paths; you could not tell the flower-beds from the lawn.

"At the noise I made kicking a shutter, an old man came out from a side-door and was apparently amazed to see me there. I dismounted from my horse and gave him the letter. He read it once or twice, turned it over, looked at me with suspicion, and asked:

"'Well, what do you want?'

"I answered sharply:

"'You must know it as you have read your master's orders. I want to get in the house.'

"He appeared overwhelmed. He said:

"'So--you are going in--in his room?'

"I was getting impatient.

"'_Parbleu!_ Do you intend to question me, by chance?'

"He stammered:

"'No--monsieur--only--it has not been opened since--since the death. If you will wait five minutes, I will go in to see whether----'

"I interrupted angrily:

"'See here, are you joking? You can't go in that room, as I have the key!'

"He no longer knew what to say.

"'Then, monsieur, I will show you the way.'

"'Show me the stairs and leave me alone. I can find it without your help.'

"'But--still--monsieur----'

"Then I lost my temper.

"'Now be quiet! Else you'll be sorry!'

"I roughly pushed him aside and went into the house.

"I first went through the kitchen, then crossed two small rooms occupied by the man and his wife. From there I stepped into a large hall. I went up the stairs, and I recognized the door my friend had described to me.

"I opened it with ease and went in.

"The room was so dark that at first I could not distinguish anything. I paused, arrested by that moldy and stale odor peculiar to deserted and condemned rooms, of dead rooms. Then gradually my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom, and I saw rather clearly a great room in disorder, a bed without sheets having still its mattresses and pillows, one of which bore the deep print of an elbow or a head, as if someone had just been resting on it.

"The chairs seemed all in confusion. I noticed that a door, probably that of a closet, had remained ajar.

"I first went to the window and opened it to get some light, but the hinges of the outside shutters were so rusted that I could not loosen them.

"I even tried to break them with my sword, but did not succeed. As those fruitless attempts irritated me, and as my eyes were by now adjusted to the dim light, I gave up hope of getting more light and went toward the writing-desk.

"I sat down in an arm-chair, folded back the top, and opened the drawer. It was full to the edge. I needed but three packages, which I knew how to distinguish, and I started looking for them.

"I was straining my eyes to decipher the inscriptions, when I thought I heard, or rather felt a rustle behind me. I took no notice, thinking a draft had lifted some curtain. But a minute later, another movement, almost indistinct, sent a disagreeable little shiver over my skin. It was so ridiculous to be moved thus even so slightly, that I would not turn round, being ashamed. I had just discovered the second package I needed, and was on the point of reaching for the third, when a great and sorrowful sigh, close to my shoulder, made me give a mad leap two yards away. In my spring I had turned round, my hand on the hilt of my sword, and surely had I not felt that, I should have fled like a coward.

"A tall woman, dressed in white, was facing me, standing behind the chair in which I had sat a second before.

"Such a shudder ran through me that I almost fell back! Oh, no one who has not felt them can understand those gruesome and ridiculous terrors! The soul melts; your heart seems to stop; your whole body becomes limp as a sponge, and your innermost parts seem collapsing.

"I do not believe in ghosts; and yet I broke down before the hideous fear of the dead; and I suffered, oh, I suffered more in a few minutes, in the irresistible anguish of supernatural dread, than I have suffered in all the rest of my life!

"If she had not spoken, I might have died. But she did speak; she spoke in a soft and plaintive voice which set my nerves vibrating. I could not say that I regained my self-control. No, I was past knowing what I did; but the kind of pride I have in me, as well as a military pride, helped me to maintain, almost in spite of myself, an honorable countenance. I was making a pose, a pose for myself, and for her, for her, whatever she was, woman, or phantom. I realized this later, for at the time of the apparition, I could think of nothing. I was afraid.

"She said:

"'Oh, you can be of great help to me, monsieur!'

"I tried to answer, but I was unable to utter one word. A vague sound came from my throat.

"She continued:

"'Will you? You can save me, cure me. I suffer terribly. I always suffer. I suffer, oh, I suffer!'

"And she sat down gently in my chair. She looked at me.

"'Will you?'

"I nodded my head, being still paralyzed.

"Then she handed me a woman's comb of tortoise-shell, and murmured:

"'Comb my hair! Oh, comb my hair! That will cure me. Look at my head--how I suffer! And my hair--how it hurts!'

"Her loose hair, very long, very black, it seemed to me, hung over the back of the chair, touching the floor.

"Why did I do it? Why did I, shivering, accept that comb, and why did I take between my hands her long hair, which left on my skin a ghastly impression of cold, as if I had handled serpents? I do not know.

"That feeling still clings about my fingers, and I shiver when I recall it.

"I combed her, I handled, I know not how, that hair of ice. I bound and unbound it; I plaited it as one plaits a horse's mane. She sighed, bent her head, seemed happy.

"Suddenly she said, 'Thank you!' tore the comb from my hands, and fled through the door which I had noticed was half opened.

"Left alone, I had for a few seconds the hazy feeling one feels in waking up from a nightmare. Then I recovered myself. I ran to the window and broke the shutters by my furious assault.

"A stream of light poured in. I rushed to the door through which that being had gone. I found it locked and immovable.

"Then a fever of flight seized on me, a panic, the true panic of battle. I quickly grasped the three packages of letters from the open desk; I crossed the room running, I took the steps of the stairway four at a time. I found myself outside, I don't know how, and seeing my horse close by, I mounted in one leap and left at a full gallop.

"I didn't stop till I reached Rouen and drew up in front of my house. Having thrown the reins to my orderly, I flew to my room and locked myself in to think.

"Then for an hour I asked myself whether I had not been the victim of an hallucination. Certainly I must have had one of those nervous shocks, one of those brain disorders such as give rise to miracles, to which the supernatural owes its strength.

"And I had almost concluded that it was a vision, an illusion of my senses, when I came near to the window. My eyes by chance looked down. My tunic was covered with hairs, long woman's hairs which had entangled themselves around the buttons!

"I took them off one by one and threw them out of the window with trembling fingers.

"I then called my orderly. I felt too perturbed, too moved, to go and see my friend on that day. Besides, I needed to think over what I should tell him.

"I had his letters delivered to him. He gave a receipt to the soldier. He inquired after me and was told that I was not well. I had had a sunstroke, or something. He seemed distressed.

"I went to see him the next day, early in the morning, bent on telling him the truth. He had gone out the evening before and had not come back.

"I returned the same day, but he had not been seen. I waited a week. He did not come back. I notified the police. They searched for him everywhere, but no one could find any trace of his passing or of his retreat.

"A careful search was made in the deserted manor. No suspicious clue was discovered.

"There was no sign that a woman had been concealed there.

"The inquest gave no result, and so the search went no further.

"And in fifty-six years I have learned nothing more. I never found out the truth."