PublicBookshelf Book Club
Weekly tips on great novels to read.
The dead monk was clad, as when alive, in the brown woollen frock of
the Capuchins, with the hood drawn over his head, but so as to leave the
features and a portion of the beard uncovered. His rosary and cross hung
at his side; his hands were folded over his breast; his feet (he was of
a barefooted order in his lifetime, and continued so in death) protruded
from beneath his habit, stiff and stark, with a more waxen look than
even his face. They were tied together at the ankles with a black
The countenance, as we have already said, was fully displayed. It had a
purplish hue upon it, unlike the paleness of an ordinary corpse, but
as little resembling the flush of natural life. The eyelids were
but partially drawn down, and showed the eyeballs beneath; as if the
deceased friar were stealing a glimpse at the bystanders, to watch
whether they were duly impressed with the solemnity of his obsequies.
The shaggy eyebrows gave sternness to the look. Miriam passed between
two of the lighted candles, and stood close beside the bier.
"My God!" murmured she. "What is this?"
She grasped Donatello's hand, and, at the same instant, felt him give a
convulsive shudder, which she knew to have been caused by a sudden
and terrible throb of the heart. His hand, by an instantaneous change,
became like ice within hers, which likewise grew so icy that their
insensible fingers might have rattled, one against the other. No wonder
that their blood curdled; no wonder that their hearts leaped and paused!
The dead face of the monk, gazing at them beneath its half-closed
eyelids, was the same visage that had glared upon their naked souls, the
past midnight, as Donatello flung him over the precipice.