BLTC Press Titles

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The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

Faggots for the fireside, or Tales of fact and fancy

by Peter Parley (pseud.)


At this period, there dwelt at the foot of the White Owl a man of middle age, celebrated alike for his bodily strength, his courage, and his various adventures. He was one of those persons who are always meeting with something extraordinary; and such was his peculiar character, that he had acquired the familiar title of Hardhead. He was of a restless temper, and not even the severity of the season, already mentioned, could keep him quiet. In midwinter, and while the earth lay buried in snow, he sallied forth, and took his way up the rocky slope of the mountain.

It appears that he had not been gone long, before his foot slipped upon the snow, which had now become covered over with a hard, glassy crust. Sliding down the mountain a considerable distance, he was at last thrown against the trunk of a large tree. The force of the shock was such as to deprive him at once of all signs of life. How long he lay in this condition is not known; but four persons chanced to be passing near the spot, and found him stretched upon the snow. He appeared to be dead, and no doubt entered the minds of the individuals who discovered him, but that he was frozen to death.

They were at a distance of more than two miles from any house, and they were therefore embarrassed to know how to proceed in disposing of the body of their unfortunate neighbor. After some consultation, they concluded to deposit it in a cavern near by, which one of the party had previously discovered while hunting among the mountains. This was accordingly done, and, as a defence against wild beasts, the mouth of the cave was closed by rolling into it an enormous stone.

Having accomplished this, the men went their way, intending, as soon as possible, to return with assistance from the neighboring village, in order to bestow upon the remains of the huntsman the rites of burial. This design, however, was baffled by the augmented severity of the winter. Day by day, the snow increased, and the cold grew more and more intense. All communication with the mountain was soon cut off, and every individual was occupied in taking care of himself and his family, or in assisting his neighbors.

Several weeks passed away, and the body of the huntsman that had been left in the cavern, was almost forgotten. The cold weather continued till late in the following spring. It was not till the early part of May that the immense masses of snow and ice, which had been amassed in the ravines of the mountains, were wholly melted away. Three months had now elapsed since the four men had placed the body of the huntsman in the cave. It became a question in the village whether they should permit it to remain, and consider the cavern as its final tomb, or whether it should be taken out, and placed in the burial ground.

The latter opinion at last prevailed. About a dozen persons accordingly proceeded to the mountain for the purpose of carrying this design into effect. With considerable effort they rolled away the stone from the mouth of the cave. They then paused for a few moments, feeling a kind of horror at the idea of entering what they deemed the house of death. It is not possible to describe their amazement at seeing something, bearing the image of a man, now crawling forth upon its hands and knees from the cavern! The apparition bore a countenance pale and haggard; the beard was long, and the hair, standing in all directions, was white as the driven snow. The spectacle was too awful to be withstood. Most of the party fled at first sight. A few lingered to take a more deliberate view of the seeming monster; but as the image came more fully into the light, and seemed to fix its glaring eyes on those around, they too were seized with terror, and fled.

The story of an awful adventure in the mountains was soon spread through the village. At an early hour in the evening, every family was gathered in, and the door shut; no one dared to venture abroad that night. Two or three persons, who had the hardihood to look out of their windows, declared that they saw the ghost of Jacob Hardhead passing along in the moonlight. On the morrow, sitting upon the steps of the meeting-house, there was found a man, who seemed to be on the verge of threescore years and ten. The minister of the parish, with the two deacons and selectmen, approached and questioned the stranger. He pointed to the mountnin, then shook his head, and was silent. It was no other than Jacob Hardhead! He retired to his dwelling, and months passed away ere he was able to tell his story. His tongue was then loosed, and he gave an account of his adventures.

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