“Alas!” said Samuel, drying his tears, which had burst forth at these sad recollections, “the Lord did not at last remove our child, until the task which our family has accomplished faithfully for a century and a half was nearly at an end. Of what use will our race be henceforth upon earth?” added Samuel, most bitterly. “Our duty is performed. This casket contains a royal fortune—and yonder house, walled up for a hundred and fifty years, will be opened to-morrow to the descendants of my ancestor’s benefactor.” So saying, Samuel turned his face sorrowfully towards the house, which he could see through the window. The dawn was just about to appear. The moon had set; belvedere, roof, and chimneys formed a black mass upon the dark blue of the starry firmament.
Suddenly, Samuel grew pale, and, rising abruptly, said to his wife in a tremulous tone, whilst he still pointed to the house: “Bathsheba! the seven points of light—just as it was thirty years ago. Look! look:”
Indeed, the seven round holes, bored in the form of a cross in the leaden plates which covered the window of the belvedere, sparkled like so many luminous points, as if some one in the house ascended with a light to the roof.
Debit and credit.
For some seconds, Samuel and Bathsheba remained motionless, with their eyes fixed in fear and uneasiness on the seven luminous points, which shone through the darkness of the night from the summit of the belvedere; while, on the horizon, behind the house, a pale, rosy hue announced the dawn of day.
Samuel was the first to break silence, and he said to his wife, as he drew his hand across his brow: “The grief caused by the remembrance of our poor child has prevented us from reflecting that, after all, there should be nothing to alarm us in what we see.”
“How so, Samuel?”
“My father always told me that he, and my grandfather before him, had seen such lights at long intervals.”
“Yes, Samuel—but without being able, any more than ourselves, to explain the cause.”
“Like my father and grandfather, we can only suppose that some secret passage gives admittance to persons who, like us, have some mysterious duty to fulfil in this dwelling. Besides, my father warned me not to be uneasy at these appearances, foretold by him, and now visible for the second time in thirty years.”
“No matter for that, Samuel, it does strike one as if it was something supernatural.”
“The days of miracles are over.” said the Jew, shaking his head sorrowfully: “many of the old houses in this quarter have subterraneous communications with distant places—some extending even to the Seine and the Catacombs. Doubtless, this house is so situated, and the persons who make these rare visits enter by some such means.”
“But that the belvedere should be thus lighted up?”