The main character, the protagonist is in the wilderness on her way back home when she is attacked by a creature in which later she is saved by her husband. Both her and her husband view and conquer nature in many different ways. For the woman coming back from a sick neighbor she is taken by a vicious beast, instead of falling for the stereotypes she fights back in the only way possible and sings which in the end saves her. As for her husband being seen as very masculine he finds his wife and kills the beast also known as the indian devil.
|Genre:||Health and Food|
|Published (Last):||20 March 2004|
|PDF File Size:||12.32 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||8.67 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
Eliot, T. Frost, R. Hopkins, G. Keats, J. Lawrence, D. Masters, E. Sandburg, C. Sassoon, S. Whitman, W. Wordsworth, W. Yeats, W. Roosevelt, T. Stein, G. Stevenson, R. Wells, H. Hutchinson, eds.
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. But finally the level rays, reddening the snow, threw their gleam upon the wall, and, hastily donning cloak and hood, she bade her friends farewell and sallied forth on her return. That home was one of a dozen log houses lying a few furlongs apart from each other, with their half-cleared demesnes separating them at the rear from a wilderness untrodden save by stealthy native or deadly panther tribes.
Through the little copse she walked slowly, with her cloak folded about her, lingering to imbibe the sense of shelter, the sunset filtered in purple through the mist of woven spray and twig, the companionship of growth not sufficiently dense to band against her, the sweet home-feeling of a young and tender wintry wood.
It was therefore just on the edge of the evening that she emerged from the place and began to cross the meadowland. The Lord have mercy on the people! She might have been a little frightened by such an apparition, if she had led a life of less reality than frontier settlers are apt to lead; but dealing with hard fact does not engender a flimsy habit of mind, and this woman was too sincere and earnest in her character, and too happy in her situation, to be thrown by antagonism, merely, upon superstitious fancies and chimeras of the second-sight.
If she had been imaginative, she would have hesitated at her first step into a region whose dangers were not visionary; but I suppose that the thought of a little child at home would conquer that propensity in the most habituated.
So, biting a bit of spicy birch, she went along. Now and then she came to a gap where the trees had been partially felled, and here she found that the lingering twilight was explained by that peculiar and perhaps electric film which sometimes sheathes the sky in diffused light for many hours before a brilliant aurora.
Suddenly, a swift shadow, like the fabulous flying-dragon, writhed through the air before her, and she felt herself instantly seized and borne aloft. His long sharp claws were caught in her clothing; he worried them sagaciously a little, then, finding that ineffectual to free them, he commenced licking her bare arms with his rasping tongue and pouring over her the wide streams of his hot, fetid breath.
A moment afterward, the beast left the arm, once white, now crimson, and looked up alertly. She did not think at this instant to call upon God. She called upon her husband. It seemed to her that she had but one friend in the world; that was he; and again the cry, loud, clear, prolonged, echoed through the woods. It was not the shriek that disturbed the creature at his relish; he was not born in the woods to be scared of an owl, you know; what then? It must have been the echo, most musical, most resonant, repeated and yet repeated, dying with long sighs of sweet sound, vibrated from rock to river and back again from depth to depth of cave and cliff.
Again her lips opened by instinct, but the sound that issued thence came by reason. All this struck her in one, and made a sob of her breath, and she ceased. Immediately the long red tongue thrust forth again. The monster raised his head and flared the fiery eyeballs upon her, then fretted the imprisoned claws a moment and was quiet; only the breath like the vapor from some hell-pit still swathed her.
Her voice, at first faint and fearful, gradually lost its quaver, grew under her control and subject to her modulation; it rose on long swells, it fell in subtile cadences, now and then its tones pealed out like bells from distant belfries on fresh sonorous mornings. She sung the song through, and, wondering lest his name of Indian Devil were not his true name, and if he would not detect her, she repeated it. Once or twice now, indeed, the beast stirred uneasily, turned, and made the bough sway at his movement.
How many a time she had heard her husband play it on the homely fiddle made by himself from birch and cherry wood! And here she was singing it alone, in the forest, at midnight, to a wild beast!
As she sent her voice trilling up and down its quick oscillations between joy and pain, the creature who grasped her uncurled his paw and scratched the bark from the bough; she must vary the spell; and her voice spun leaping along the projecting points of tune of a hornpipe.
Up and down and round about her voice flew, the beast threw back his head so that the diabolical face fronted hers, and the torrent of his breath prepared her for his feast as the anaconda slimes his prey.
Franticly she darted from tune to tune; his restless movements followed her. She tired herself with dancing and vivid national airs, growing feverish with singing spasmodically as she felt her horrid tomb yawning wider.
Touching in this manner all the slogan and keen clan cries, the beast moved again, but only to lay the disengaged paw across her with heavy satisfaction. She did not dare to pause; through the clear cold air, the frosty starlight, she sang. She fancied the light pouring through the chink and then shut in again with all the safety and comfort and joy, her husband taking down the fiddle and playing lightly with his head inclined, playing while she sang, while she sang for her life to an Indian Devil.
The beast had regained the use of all his limbs, and now, standing and raising his back, bristling and foaming, with sounds that would have been like hisses but for their deep and fearful sonority, he withdrew step by step toward the trunk of the tree, still with his flaming balls upon her. She was all at once free, on one end of the bough, twenty feet from the ground.
She did not measure the distance, but rose to drop herself down, careless of any death, so that it were not this. Instantly, as if he scanned her thoughts, the creature bounded forward with a yell and caught her again in his dreadful hold.
It might be that he was not greatly famished; for, as she suddenly flung up her voice again, he settled himself composedly on the bough, still clasping her with invincible pressure to his rough, ravenous breast, and listening in a fascination to the sad, strange U-la-lu that now moaned forth in loud, hollow tones above him.
He half closed his eyes, and sleepily reopened and shut them again. What rending pains were close at hand! Water, be it cold or warm, that which buoys up blue ice-fields, or which bathes tropical coasts with currents of balmy bliss, is yet a gentle conqueror, kisses as it kills, and draws you down gently through darkening fathoms to its heart.
Death at the sword is the festival of trumpet and bugle and banner, with glory ringing out around you and distant hearts thrilling through yours. What dread comes with the thought of perishing in flames! Fire is not half ourselves; as it devours, arouses neither hatred nor disgust; is not to be known by the strength of our lower natures let loose; does not drip our blood into our faces from foaming chaps, nor mouth nor slaver above us with vitality.
Let us be ended by fire, and we are ashes, for the winds to bear, the leaves to cover; let us be ended by wild beasts, and the base, cursed thing howls with us forever through the forest.
All this she felt as she charmed him, and what force it lent to her song God knows. If her voice should fail! If the damp and cold should give her any fatal hoarseness! If all the silent powers of the forest did not conspire to help her! The dark, hollow night rose indifferently over her; the wide, cold air breathed rudely past her, lifted her wet hair and blew it down again; the great boughs swung with a ponderous strength, now and then clashed their iron lengths together and shook off a sparkle of icy spears or some long-lain weight of snow from their heavy shadows.
The green depths were utterly cold and silent and stern. These beautiful haunts that all the summer were hers and rejoiced to share with her their bounty, these heavens that had yielded their largess, these stems that had thrust their blossoms into her hands, all these friends of three moons ago forgot her now and knew her no longer. Still the beast lay with closed eyes, yet never relaxing his grasp. How weary she was! How fuller and fuller of dismay grew the knowledge that she was only prolonging her anguish and playing with death!
How appalling the thought that with her voice ceased her existence! She remembered the winding-sheet, and for the first time in her life shivered with spiritual fear. Was it hers? Out of this strange music, peculiar to one character of faith, and than which there is none more beautiful in its degree nor owning a more potent sway of sound, her voice soared into the glorified chants of churches.
What to her was death by cold or famine or wild beasts? Did not the world swing at his will? If this were in his great plan of providence, was it not best, and should she not accept it?
Oh, sublime faith of our fathers, where utter self-sacrifice alone was true love, the fragrance of whose unrequired subjection was pleasanter than that of golden censers swung in purple-vapored chancels! Never ceasing in the rhythm of her thoughts, articulated in music as they thronged, the memory of her first communion flashed over her. Again she was in that distant place on that sweet spring morning.
Again the congregation rustled out, and the few remained, and she trembled to find herself among them. How well she remembered the devout, quiet faces, too accustomed to the sacred feast to glow with their inner joy! And in that morning, with its buoyant sunlight, was I any dearer to the Heart of the World than now? How gently all the winter-wrapt things bent toward her then! It was no longer despondency, that singing. It was neither prayer nor petition. Lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death!
Then she thought of the Great Deliverance, when he drew her up out of many waters, and the flashing old psalm pealed forth triumphantly:. She forgot how recently, and with what a strange pity for her own shapeless form that was to be, she had quaintly sung:. She had no comfort or consolation in this season, such as sustained the Christian martyrs in the amphitheatre. How the night was passing! Still she chanted on. A remote crash of brushwood told of some other beast on his depredations, or some night-belated traveller groping his way through the narrow path.
The far, faint echoes of the chanticleers died into distance, the crashing of the branches grew nearer. Perhaps, when her husband last looked forth, he was half ashamed to find what a fear he felt for her. He was more singularly alarmed than he would have been willing to acknowledge; as he had sat with his bow hovering over the strings, he had half believed to hear her voice mingling gayly with the instrument, till he paused and listened if she were not about to lift the latch and enter.
Some mad exclamation escaped him, but without diverting her.
Circumstance (short story)
Eliot, T. Frost, R. Hopkins, G. Keats, J.
The imaginative power and feminism of Harriet Prescott Spofford
Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book.
It was published serially in The Atlantic Monthly in The story takes place in the woods of Maine with an unnamed protagonist who walks home after caring for a sick neighbor. She ventures into the woods, where she comes in contact with the Indian Devil who assaults her throughout the story, but in this life-and-death situation she realizes her reality and religion and comes to terms with her life, sexuality, and fears. By the end of the story, her husband shoots the Devil with his shotgun in one hand and their baby in the other while the " true Indian Devils " destroy their home and town.
Oxford Bibliographies is a sophisticated online recommendation service that provides original scholarly content used and trusted by professional researchers worldwide. No, she is no longer with us today, having produced most of her work during the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, but to those of us lucky enough to have encountered her tales of romance and the supernatural, we can only believe that Gothic genius came much earlier than Ann Rice and Joyce Carol Oates. During her time, Spofford published continuously in periodicals, offering short stories, serialized novels, poetry, and articles for adults and children. Despite her long career over 60 years and impressive list of publications, Spofford has been neglected by critics and only recently has she been resurrected from the footnote. To overlook this writer who challenged stereotypical depictions of women, blending the colors of romance with the realities of her New England environment, while introducing us to the very first female authored serial detective—A Mr. Furbush—is to shortchange our literary history. Born in Calais, Maine in , Spofford moved with her parents to Newburyport, Massachusetts, which would be her eventual resting place.