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The Prussian Dominoor Fatal Effects Of Jealousy






An officer of rank in the service of the late King of Prussia, having
lost an amiable wife whom he tenderly loved, became quite inconsolable.
Deeply wounded with his affliction, his mind was so absorbed in
melancholy, that the transient pleasures of life were no longer a
delight to him; he retired from the court and the field, and at once
secluded himself from all society.

Among the numerous friends who lamented his excessive sorrow, his
Monarch was not the least, who endeavoured to soothe his distracted mind
with sympathetic tenderness. Indeed, his Majesty considered him not only
an agreeable companion, but a valuable friend; and was so much
interested in his behalf, that he was determined, if possible, to
divert his immoderate grief. But neither the promises of promotion, or
the threats of disgrace, could draw him from his retirement. At length,
after many zealous efforts had proved ineffectual, a plan was suggested
by the King himself, which promised success. His Majesty resolved to
give a masquerade, to which, by inviting Lindorf (for that was the
officer's name), an opportunity might be again taken to entice him
within that circle of gaiety, of which he was once the admiration. The
invitation being accompanied with an affectionate and earnest
solicitation from the King, Lindorf could not refuse accepting the
offer; and, on the evening appointed, he was once more seen in the rooms
of splendour and festivity. On his entrance he met the King, who, after
greeting him with great kindness, began to rally him upon his late
weakness. Lindorf thanked his Majesty for the honour he did him, and,
after a short reply, they for some time walked up and down the saloon
together; when at length it was agreed to part, that each might amuse
himself according to his own liking, with the different characters
exhibited that evening. But the King's intention was solely to watch the
movements of Lindorf; for with heartfelt regret he beheld, as they
parted, the fixed melancholy that still brooded on his countenance: and,
when he beheld him pass, with downcast eyes, the saloon, where the
dance and music reigned with such irresistible sway, all hope of
reclaiming the unhappy widower disappeared. For some time he was witness
of his melancholy deportment, and was much affected to find that, where
every face beamed a smile, the countenance of Lindorf alone was sad and
dejected. The King, despairing of his project being successful, was
about to quit the rooms, when he beheld Lindorf suddenly stop and speak
to a lady in a black domino. Rejoiced at this circumstance, hope again
revived, and he stayed his departure, to watch the event.

Lindorf, when he quitted the King, continued to walk up and down the
rooms, nothing attracting his attention but the lady in the black
domino, who, wherever he turned, always appeared before him. At first he
imagined the character intended merely to amuse him, and that her
strange deportment was instigated by his friends; but the unusual
solemnity attending her appearance, after he had in vain desired her to
desist, struck him with astonishment. He suddenly stopped, and demanded
who she was? "I dare not tell you," answered the domino, in a deep and
plaintive tone of voice. Lindorf startled--his blood ran cold; it was
exactly the voice of his deceased wife. "Who are you? for heaven's
sake, tell me, or I die!" exclaimed Lindorf. "You will be more wretched
than you are, if I tell you," replied the mysterious unknown, in accents
that doubly excited his curiosity. "Tell me," said he, "I conjure you;
for I cannot be more wretched than I now am. Tell me all, and do not
leave me in this state of inquietude." "Know then," answered the domino,
"I am your wife." Lindorf started--every nerve was wrung with anguish.
"Impossible," said he in a fright, "it cannot be; yet the voice appears
the same." Here his tongue faltering, he ceased to speak. When he had
somewhat recovered his recollection, he ejaculated, "In the name of God,
do tell me who you are? Is it a trick, or do I dream?" "Neither,"
replied the unknown; and continued, in the same tone of voice, to
describe several particulars relative to his family, and in what manner
many things were placed in the drawers belonging to his deceased wife,
which none but himself and the departed knew of. At length he was
convinced the figure before him must be the apparition of his wife; and,
in the voice of anguish and despair, requested she would unmask and let
him see her face. That the figure refused to do, saying, that would be a
sight he could not bear. "I can bear any thing," he replied, "but the
pain your denial creates. I entreat you, let me see your face; do not
refuse me!" Again she denied him; till at last, by repeated entreaties,
and his promises not to be alarmed, she consented to unmask, and desired
him to follow her into an anti-room, solemnly charging him not to give
way to his feelings. They then proceeded to the adjoining room.

The King, who was an eye-witness of the deep conversation they were
engaged in, beheld, with rapture, their entrance into the anti-chamber,
and saw the door closed. "He is certainly restored," said the Monarch to
his confidential attendant; "Lindorf is most assuredly saved; he has
made an appointment with some pretty woman, and has just retired to
enjoy a private conversation. In her endearments he will, I hope, forget
his sorrows. So we may now partake of the festivities of the evening."
Saying which, he immediately joined the motley group with great
cheerfulness.

Lindorf felt his blood chill, as the door of the anti-chamber closed;
but, the warmth of affection returning, he no sooner entered, than he
claimed the dreadful promise. Again, in the most solemn manner, she
advised him not to urge that which might tend to his misery, as she was
certain he had not sufficient fortitude to endure a sight of her. With
horror he heard the remonstrance; and the solemnity of her deportment
only inspired his eager curiosity the more. At length, after many
strict injunctions, she lifted up the mask; when the astonished Lindorf
beheld the most horrid spectacle of a skeleton head. "Oh, God!" he
exclaimed, and, groaning, fell senseless on the floor. In vain the
mysterious domino attempted to recover him. Sorrow had for a long time
preyed upon his existence, and terror had now for ever quieted the
unhappy Lindorf. He breathed no more; he was a lifeless corpse.
Instantly the domino quitted the room, and retired from the masquerade.

The King had just returned to his post of observation, and saw the
domino depart. In vain he waited for Lindorf to follow; an hour expired,
and no Lindorf appeared. This raised the curiosity of the Monarch. The
door was left partly open, and he resolved to enter; when, to his great
surprise and sorrow, he beheld Lindorf stretched on the floor, a corpse.
He instantly alarmed the company; but the mystery of his death in vain
they attempted to develope. No marks of violence appeared on his body,
which was the more astonishing; and, to add to the mystery, the masqued
lady was not to be found in any of the rooms. Messengers were then
dispatched, and advertisements distributed, all over the city of Berlin,
offering large rewards for her apprehension; but no further information
could be gained, than that deposed by two chairmen, who affirmed, they

brought the domino to the rooms, which from their account only added to
the mystery.

Their declaration was as follows--"Having received a letter, enjoining
secrecy, and desiring them to attend in the dusk of the evening, at a
certain church porch, to carry a lady to the masquerade; they, thinking
it was some person who intended to play the character of a hobgoblin, or
sprite, did not hesitate, and made no farther inquiry, but proceeded, at
the hour appointed, to the place mentioned; where they found a person
waiting in a black domino, just as the advertisement described. On their
arrival, without speaking a word, the domino placed the money for hire
in their hands, and instantly entered the chair, which they immediately
conveyed to the masquerade. On their arrival, without uttering a word,
she darted from them into the crowd, and they saw no more of her until
twelve o'clock, when, on passing the door, they discovered the domino
again seated in the chair. They were much surprised at such strange
conduct; but, without reflecting on the event, they conveyed her back
again, as was agreed, to the same church porch, when they received a
further gratuity, and departed." Such was the deposition of the two
chairmen, at once mysterious and incomprehensible. This intelligence
still more astonished the King, who in vain used every method to make
further discovery in this extraordinary and unhappy affair.

Several years elapsed, without any thing occurring that could lead to a
developement of this dreadful catastrophe. All search after the lady was
now given up, and nothing but the remembrance of the unhappy affair
remained. At length the hour arrived, when this dreadful mystery was
explained, which displayed one of the most diabolical and desperate
transactions ever known. The particulars are as follow.

A lady, then at the point of death, requested to see some confidential
friend of the King's; which request was immediately complied with: to
whom she made the following confession. In accents scarcely audible, she
told them, she was the person who appeared in the black domino, in so
mysterious a manner, to Lindorf, and which unhappily caused his death.
That revenge for neglected love instigated her to play the part she did;
but that she had no idea the consequence would have been so fatal: her
intention being merely to assume the appearance of his deceased wife, in
order that she might upbraid him, and gratify her revenge for having
broke his vow in marrying her sister instead of herself; and also that
she might effectually persuade him to desist from his melancholy
intentions of remaining a widower, and prevail on him to marry her--for
although he refused her request personally, yet she imagined the scheme
must be successful, when played off under the appearance of a spirit of
his deceased wife; and, to deceive his imagination, she had endeavoured
to personify her; for which purpose she had procured the head of a
skeleton, and assumed that character which had proved the death of the
man she so ardently loved, and the source of endless misery to herself.
She then related the conversation that had passed between them on that
fatal evening, and fully described the whole particulars of that
mysterious affair. She likewise acknowledged she endeavoured to imitate
the voice of his deceased wife; and declared her intention for having
the chair brought to the church porch was to render the proceeding the
more mysterious and incomprehensible in case of a scrutiny. On
concluding this melancholy tale, she fetched a deep sigh, and instantly
expired.





Next: The Dead Man And Anatomical Professor

Previous: The Female Sprites



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