"Softly, Mr. Pyncheon!" said the carpenter with scornful composure.

"Softly, an' it please your worship, else you will spoil those rich

lace-ruffles at your wrists! Is it my crime if you have sold your

daughter for the mere hope of getting a sheet of yellow parchment into

your clutch? There sits Mistress Alice quietly asleep. Now let Matthew

Maule try whether she be as proud as the carpenter found her awhile

since."

He spoke, and Alice responded, with a soft, subdued, inward

acquiescence, and a bending of her form towards him, like the flame of

a torch when it indicates a gentle draught of air. He beckoned with

Advertisement..

his hand, and, rising from her chair,--blindly, but undoubtingly, as

tending to her sure and inevitable centre,--the proud Alice approached

him. He waved her back, and, retreating, Alice sank again into her

seat.

"She is mine!" said Matthew Maule. "Mine, by the right of the

strongest spirit!"

In the further progress of the legend, there is a long, grotesque, and

occasionally awe-striking account of the carpenter's incantations (if

so they are to be called), with a view of discovering the lost

document. It appears to have been his object to convert the mind of

Alice into a kind of telescopic medium, through which Mr. Pyncheon and

himself might obtain a glimpse into the spiritual world. He succeeded,

accordingly, in holding an imperfect sort of intercourse, at one

remove, with the departed personages in whose custody the so much

valued secret had been carried beyond the precincts of earth. During

her trance, Alice described three figures as being present to her

spiritualized perception. One was an aged, dignified, stern-looking

gentleman, clad as for a solemn festival in grave and costly attire,

but with a great blood-stain on his richly wrought band; the second, an

aged man, meanly dressed, with a dark and malign countenance, and a

broken halter about his neck; the third, a person not so advanced in

life as the former two, but beyond the middle age, wearing a coarse

woollen tunic and leather breeches, and with a carpenter's rule

sticking out of his side pocket. These three visionary characters

possessed a mutual knowledge of the missing document. One of them, in

truth,--it was he with the blood-stain on his band,--seemed, unless his

gestures were misunderstood, to hold the parchment in his immediate

keeping, but was prevented by his two partners in the mystery from

disburdening himself of the trust. Finally, when he showed a purpose

of shouting forth the secret loudly enough to be heard from his own

sphere into that of mortals, his companions struggled with him, and

pressed their hands over his mouth; and forthwith--whether that he were

choked by it, or that the secret itself was of a crimson hue--there was

a fresh flow of blood upon his band. Upon this, the two meanly dressed

figures mocked and jeered at the much-abashed old dignitary, and

pointed their fingers at the stain.