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At the Ghost Hour The House of the Unbelieving Thomas   By: (1830-1914)

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Transcriber's Notes: 1. Page scan source: http://books.google.com/books?id=m1UpAAAAYAAJ&pg 2. The are approximately 96 decorative images in this book which are not indicated in this text version.

At the Ghost Hour

The House of the UNBELIEVING THOMAS

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF PAUL HEYSE BY FRANCIS A. VAN SANTFORD

WITH DECORATIONS BY ALICE C. MORSE

NEW YORK DODD, MEAD & COMPANY MDCCCXCIV

Copyright, 1894, by DODD, MEAD & COMPANY.

THE HOUSE OF THE UNBELIEVING THOMAS

In a provincial town of northern Germany there is a street in which the ancient, high gabled houses bear, inscribed in Gothic letters, upon the lintels of their doors or upon little sandstone tablets, such honorable or fanciful names as "The Good Shepherd," "Noah's Dove," "The Palms of Peace," "The Rose of Sharon," and underneath, the date of their erection.

In former days this street had been one of the main arteries of the city, whose staid, orthodox inhabitants coveted inward spiritual illumination rather than the light and air which penetrate from without. Since then new generations had arisen, fired with the spirit of aggressive enlightenment, and the importance of these old families, content with the stray sunbeams that made their way over the tall roofs, had declined perceptibly. One by one, they had died off behind their "Palms of Peace" and their "Roses of Sharon," and had made way for the bustling children of the new era, whose light and cheerful dwellings sprang up around the dingy old street.

From one of the houses, which had grown almost black under the storms of three centuries, the street had received its name. Upon a block of stone above the wide entrance there were cut, in letters so weather worn as to be scarcely legible, these words: "The Unbelieving Thomas, 1534." From this, the street had been christened Thomas Lane a title which it still bears, though, only in official documents and on the map of the city. In common parlance it had been known for more than fifty years as "Ghosts' Lane" again because of that same ancient building which was responsible for its correct name. For every one knew that the house of "The Unbelieving Thomas" was haunted; and even the most cold blooded free thinkers of the town could not escape a slight shiver when business forced them to tread the neglected pavement of this street.

Why this old three storied structure, so firm despite its great age, had been inhabited all these years only by poor unabsolved souls, no one could tell. With one man who had had the hardihood to purchase the house, things had turned out badly enough. A Jew, to whom the great, empty rooms seemed suitable for a warehouse, had been established there less than two years, when one morning he was found with a bit of silk stuff twisted about his neck, hanging from the crosspiece of a window in the largest room. And it subsequently became evident that Fortune had turned her back upon this man, once prosperous and well to do, and there was nothing for him but to steal out of the world and leave his accumulation of debts behind him.

Nothing save the house itself and its dusty furnishings remained to the creditors; and as no purchaser appeared, they were forced to vent their chagrin in fierce glances at the gray, weather beaten sign over the door, upon which, in huge black lettering, was the name of the firm: "Commission and Dispatch House of Moritz Feigenbaum."

Now, although the whole house was so securely bolted and barred that it would have been impossible for a thief to carry anything out of it, the court deemed it necessary to provide for some oversight of the place, so that no lovers of darkness, counterfeiters or bands of dynamiters should take refuge there... Continue reading book >>




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