Read CHAPTER XIV of Wagner‚ the Wehr-Wolf , free online book, by George W. M. Reynolds, on


While all nature was wrapped in the listening stillness of admiration at the rising sun, Fernand Wagner dragged himself painfully toward his home.

His garments were besmeared with mud and dirt; they were torn, too, in many places; and here and there were stains of blood, still wet, upon them.

In fact, had he been dragged by a wild horse through a thicket of brambles, he could scarcely have appeared in a more wretched plight.

His countenance was ghastly pale; terror still flashed from his eyes, and despair sat on his lofty brow.

Stealing through the most concealed part of his garden, he was approaching his own mansion with the air of a man who returns home in the morning after having perpetrated some dreadful deed of turpitude under cover of the night.

But the watchful eyes of a woman have marked his coming from the lattice of her window; and in a few minutes Agnes, light as a fawn, came bounding toward him, exclaiming, “Oh! what a night of uneasiness have I passed, Fernand! But at length thou art restored to me thou whom I have ever loved so fondly; although,” she added, mournfully, “I abandoned thee for so long a time!”

And she embraced him tenderly.

“Agnes!” cried Fernand, repulsing her with an impatience which she had never experienced at his hands before: “wherefore thus act the spy upon me? Believe me, that although we pass ourselves off as brother and sister, yet I do not renounce that authority which the real nature of those ties that bind us together ”

“Fernand! Fernand! this to me!” exclaimed Agnes, bursting into tears. “Oh! how have I deserved such reproaches?”

“My dearest girl, pardon me, forgive me!” cried Wagner, in a tone of bitter anguish. “My God! I ought not to upbraid thee for that watchfulness during my absence, and that joy at my return, which prove that you love me! Again I say, pardon me, dearest Agnes.”

“You need not ask me, Fernand,” was the reply. “Only speak kindly to me ”

“I do, I will, Agnes,” interrupted Wagner. “But leave me now! Let me regain my own chamber alone; I have reasons, urgent reasons for so doing; and this afternoon, Agnes, I shall be composed collected again. Do you proceed by that path; I will take this.”

And, hastily pressing her hand, Wagner broke abruptly away.

For a few moments Agnes stood looking after him in vacant astonishment at his extraordinary manner, and also at his alarming appearance, but concerning which latter she had not dared to question him.

When he had entered the mansion by a private door, Agnes turned and pursued her way along a circuitous path shaded on each side by dark evergreens, and which was the one he had directed her to take so as to regain the front gate of the dwelling.

But scarcely had she advanced a dozen paces, when a sudden rustling among the trees alarmed her; and in an instant a female form tall, majestic, and with a dark veil thrown over her head, stood before her.

Agnes uttered a faint shriek: for, although the lady’s countenance was concealed by the veil, she had no difficulty in recognizing the stranger who had already terrified her on three previous occasions, and who seemed to haunt her.

And, as if to dispel all doubt as to the identity, the majestic lady suddenly tore aside her veil, and disclosed to the trembling, shrinking Agnes, features already too well known.

But, if the lightning of those brilliant, burning, black eyes had seemed terrible on former occasions, they were now absolutely blasting, and Agnes fell upon her knees, exclaiming, “Mercy! mercy! how have I offended you?”

For a few moments those basilisk-eyes darted forth shafts of fire and flame, and the red lips quivered violently, and the haughty brow contracted menacingly, and Agnes was stupefied, stunned, fascinated, terribly fascinated by that tremendous rage, the vengeance of which seemed ready to explode against her.

But only a few moments lasted that dreadful scene; for the lady, whose entire appearance was that of an avenging fiend in the guise of a beauteous woman, suddenly drew a sharp poniard from its sheath in her bodice, and plunged it into the bosom of the hapless Agnes.

The victim fell back; but not a shriek not a sound escaped her lips. The blow was well aimed, the poniard was sharp and went deep, and death followed instantaneously.

For nearly a minute did the murderess stand gazing on the corpse the corpse of one erst so beautiful; and her countenance, gradually relaxing from its stern, implacable expression, assumed an air of deep remorse of bitter, bitter compunction.

But probably yielding to the sudden thought that she must provide for her own safety, the murderess drew forth the dagger from the white bosom in which it was buried: hastily wiped it upon a leaf; returned it to the sheath; and, replacing the veil over her countenance, hurried rapidly away from the scene of her fearful crime.