The Spectre by Anonymous

It was a wild and gloomy dream: to think upon it now, My very blood is chill'd with fear; and o'er my aching brow Cold clammy drops are stealing down, I tremble like a child Who listens to a story of the wonderful and wild! And well a stouter heart than mine might quake with dread, I ween;— But who hath ever gazed, like me, on such a fearful scene!

Sleep dropp'd upon my wearied eyes, and down I sank to rest; But no refreshing slumbers upon my senses press'd; Ten thousand lights before my eyes were dancing,—blue and red; Ten thousand hollow voices cried—I knew not what they said. My brain wheel'd round—faint grew my limbs—I cried and scream'd in vain; It seem'd as though some cursed imp had bound me with his chain! My tongue clave to the parched roof,—a raging thirst was mine, As I had drunk for months and months, nought else but saltest brine; Thirst such as parched pilgrims feel who range the desert wide, Or those who lie 'neath scorching skies upon a calmed tide. My temples throbb'd as they would burst; and, raging through my brain, The boiling blood rush'd furiously with sound like a hurricane! I rav'd and foam'd; my eyeballs strain'd, as though the nerves would burst, As by my side appear'd a form—a demon form accurst! And suddenly another came—another and yet more, All clad in dark habiliments;—a dozen—ay, a score! On me they leer'd with savage joy, and seized me, every one, And round and round about me went.—Oh! how my senses spun! I thought the leader of that band of sprites must surely be The Evil One, and I his prey. I vainly strove to flee: I tried to pray,—my tongue was dumb;—then down upon the ground I sank, and felt my every limb with fiery fetters bound. I know not now, how long I lay; my senses all were gone, And I with those infernal ones was left alone, alone. At length I started with affright, and felt, or seemed to feel, The blasts of hot sulphureous air across my forehead steal. A horrid thought, as on we mov'd, upon my senses burst, That they were bearing me away unto the place accurst. Oh! language vainly strives to paint the horrors of that ride! Two demons at my head and feet, and two on either side. The stars above were bloody red—each one seem'd doubly bright, And spectral faces glar'd in mine, with looks of grim delight. Still slowly, slowly on we mov'd, that ghastly troop and I: I questioned, where?—a fiendish laugh was only their reply. On, onward I was borne. At last they stay'd, and in my face A hideous visage peer'd on me with horrible grimace: Then down they threw me (still unbound) upon a bed of stone, And one by one they vanished, and I was left alone!

How long I lay, I may not say. At length I saw a form Beside me, and upon his brow there seem'd a gathering storm. "Where am I?" loud I scream'd, and paus'd. Again I rav'd, and cried, "And who art thou, thou evil one! who standest at my side? What spectre art thou?" "Come," said he, "young feller, hold your peace; You're on the stretcher now, and I'm the 'spector of police!"