Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1821–1834
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vol. V: Literature of the Republic, Part II., 1821–1834
 
Fiction
By Charles Sprague (1791–1875)
 
[From The Poetical and Prose Writings of Charles Sprague. 1876.]

LOOK now, directed by yon candle’s blaze,
Where the false shutter half its trust betrays—
Mark that fair girl, reclining in her bed,
Its curtain round her polished shoulders spread:
Dark midnight reigns, the storm is up in power;        5
What keeps her waking in that dreary hour?
See where the volume on her pillow lies—
Claims Radcliffe or Chapone those frequent sighs?
’T is some wild legend—now her kind eye fills,
And now cold terror every fibre chills;        10
Still she reads on—in fiction’s labyrinth lost,
Of tyrant fathers, and of true love crossed;
Of clanking fetters, low, mysterious groans,
Blood-crusted daggers, and uncoffined bones,
Pale, gliding ghosts, with fingers dropping gore,        15
And blue flames dancing round a dungeon door;—
Still she reads on—even though to read she fears,
And in each key-hole moan strange voices hears,
While every shadow that withdraws her look
Glares in her face, the goblin of her book;        20
Still o’er the leaves her craving eye is cast,
On all she feasts, yet hungers for the last;
Counts what remains, now sighs there are no more,
And now even those half tempted to skip o’er;
At length, the bad all killed, the good all pleased,        25
Her thirsting Curiosity appeased,
She shuts the dear, dear book, that made her weep,
Puts out her light, and turns away to sleep.
 
 
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