to Olaus, stood of old before the heathen temple of Upsal, and which I affirmed was a yew - but no, nothing that I said could induce my entertainer to relax his taciturnity.
It grew dark, and I became uncomfortable. I must presently be going, I at last exclaimed.
At these words he gave a sudden start; Going, said he, are you not my guest, and an honoured one?
You know best, said I; but I was apprehensive I was an intruder; to several of my questions you have returned no answer.
Ten thousand pardons! he exclaimed, seizing me by the hand; but you cannot go now, I have much to talk to you about - there is one thing in particular -
If it be the evergreen tree at Upsal, said I, interrupting him, I hold it to have been a yew - what else? The evergreens of the south, as the old bishop observes, will not grow in the north, and a pine was unfitted for such a locality, being a vulgar tree. What else could it have been but the yew - the sacred yew which our ancestors were in the habit of planting in their churchyards? Moreover, I affirm it to have been the yew for the honour of the tree; for I love the yew, and had I home and land, I would have one growing before my front windows.
You would do right, the yew is indeed a venerable tree, but it is not about the yew.
The star Jupiter, perhaps?
Nor the star Jupiter, nor its moons; an observation which escaped you at the inn has made a considerable impression upon me.
But I really must take my departure, said I; the dark hour is at hand.
And as I uttered these latter words the stranger touched rapidly something which lay near him - I forget what it was. It was the first action of the kind which I had observed on his part since we sat down to table.
You allude to the evil chance, said I; but it is getting both dark and late.
I believe we are going to have a storm, said my friend, but I really hope that you will give me your company for a day or two; I have, as I said before, much to talk to you about.
Well, said I, I shall be most happy to be your guest for this night; I am ignorant of the country, and it is not pleasant to travel unknown paths by night - dear me, what a flash of lightning.
It had become very dark; suddenly a blaze of sheet lightning illumed the room. By the momentary light I distinctly saw my host touch another object upon the table.
Will you allow me to ask you a question or two? said he at last.
As many as you please, said I; but shall we not have lights?
Not unless you particularly wish it, said my entertainer; I rather like the dark, and though a storm is evidently at hand, neither thunder nor lightning has any terrors for me. It is other things I quake at - I should rather say ideas. Now permit me to ask you -
And then my entertainer asked me various questions, to all of which I answered unreservedly; he was then silent for some time, at last he exclaimed, I should wish to tell you the history of my life - though not an adventurous one, I think it contains some things which will interest you.