The Fall of the House of Sarek
by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam
Son coeur est un luth suspendu;
During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of drab landscape when I found myself within view of the melancholy House of Sarek. I know not how it was -- but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I looked upon the scene before me -- upon the mere house and the desert landscape of the domain -- upon the bleak walls -- upon the vacant eye-like windows -- upon a few rank sedges -- and upon the white trunks of decayed trees with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the aftermath of love with one unloved -- the bitter retreat from the momentary ecstasy, the hideous dropping off of the veil of infatuation, and for what? For nothing, for an icy sensation of the body which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.
What was it -- I paused to think -- what was it that so unnerved me in my contemplation of the House of Sarek? It was a mystery all insoluble.
I reined in my horse at the precipitous brink of a black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the bleak dwelling, and gazed down with a shudder even more thrilling than before upon the inverted images of the house, with its gray sedge, its ghastly tree-stems, its vacant and eye-like windows.
In this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Spock, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood, but many years had elapsed since our last meeting. However, a letter had lately reached me in a distant part of the galaxy -- a letter from him which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply.
It had read:
"Kirk, oh my wild amber-eyed Kirk, do not impetuously toss this letter aside as if you do not remember our fond schooldays together. I write to tell you I long to see you and to renew our boyish vows, nay, to intensify them, even to multiply their toy-like pleasures a hundred fold.
"However, I must speak the truth. It seems I have acquired (oh, I fear even speaking the words) a nervous agitation, a mental disorder which oppresses me beyond all pain everywhere. Dearest Jim, you are my best, and indeed my only personal friend; surely, the cheerfulness of your society will effect some alleviation of my malady. Remember the nights in our dormitory? Recall how we made those drab walls rainbow-colored with our innocent raptures! Pray let us continue those ecstasies. Please come to me, Jim, I beg of you! Your loving Spock."
Clearly, I would be allowed me no room for hesitation, and I obeyed forthwith.
Although, as boys, we had been intimate associates (even too intimate it had been whispered, more intimate than brothers -- or sisters, yet we rarely overstepped the bounds of propriety; indeed, the kisses of two sinless roses leaning together were nearly the full extent of our caresses) I somehow really knew little of my friend. His reserve had been always excessive and habitual. I was aware, however, that his very ancient family had been noted, time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament, displaying itself, through long ages, in many works of exalted art, and manifested in repeated deeds of munificent yet unobtrusive charity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the intricacies of musical science. I had learned, also, the very remarkable fact that the stem of the Sarek race, all time-honoured as it was, had put forth, at no period, any enduring branch, until Spock himself was born to his noble father and a mother from another world; in other words, until Spock, the entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. Only Spock differed and he felt the difference as keenly as a knife.
Shaking from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the aspect of the building. Its principal feature seemed to be an excessive antiquity. The discoloration of ages had been great, and minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. But beyond this indication of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn. But that alone was evidence of any immediately anticipated catastrophe.
I could tarry no longer in reflection. Spurring my steed, I rode over a short causeway to the house. A servant took my horse, and I entered the Gothic archway of the hall. From there a valet of stealthy step and wide Slavic face, with dark hair as disordered as a clumsy wig, conducted me in silence through many dark and intricate passages to the studio of his master. I noted sombre tapestries on the wall as we pattered on the ebon blackness of the floors, and numberless phantasmagoric armorial trophies rattled as we strode along.
Then on one of the staircases, I met, as evidenced by his little black bag, the physician of the family. His countenance wore, I thought, a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity, and he accosted me with a lifted eyebrow as he passed us. Then the valet threw open a door and ushered me into the presence of his master.
The room in which I found myself was large and lofty. The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and many books and musical instruments lay scattered about; however, all failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I had entered an atmosphere of sorrow.
Upon my entrance, Spock arose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality. A glance, however, at his countenance, convinced me of his perfect sincerity. "Jim!" he had said and I had no reason to doubt his joy.
We sat down, and, for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed upon him with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Spock! It was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of the wan being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. Yet the character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid but of a surpassingly beautiful curve; a strong nose, almost Renaissance in its modeling; a finely moulded chin; hair glossy and black as the eternal beetle; these features, together with an inordinate expansion in the auricular convolutions, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.
Then he began to speak of the object of my visit, of his earnest desire to see me, and of the solace he expected me to afford him from his malady. It seemed he suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odours of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror.
"I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR."
Much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more natural and far more palpable origin -- to the severe and long-continued illness of a tenderly beloved companion for long years. "Her decease," he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, "would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) terrifyingly alone in the ancient House of Sarek."
And, while he spoke, the lady T'Pring (for so was she called) passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my presence, disappeared. I regarded her with an utter astonishment not unmingled with dread -- and yet I found it impossible to account for such feelings. A sensation of stupor oppressed me as my eyes followed her retreating steps. When a door, at length, closed upon her, my glance sought instinctively the countenance of Spock, but he had buried his face in his hands, and I could only perceive that a far more than ordinary wanness had overspread the emaciated fingers through which trickled many passionate tears.
The disease of the lady T'Pring had long baffled the skill of the wily physician I had already seen. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, were the unusual diagnosis. Hitherto she had steadily borne up against the pressure of her malady, but, on the closing in of the first evening of my arrival at the house, she had surrendered to the prostrating power of her ailment. I learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person would thus probably be the last I should obtain -- that the lady, at least while living, would likely be seen by me no more.
For several ensuing days, her name was unmentioned by either Spock or myself: and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavours to alleviate the melancholy of my friend. We painted and read together; or I listened, as if in a dream, to his long improvised dirges on his eerie Vulcan harp.
Then one afternoon he bade me sit beside him as he examined certain etchings. His long wand-like hands handled the illustrations (all morbid and yet beautiful beyond measure) with a certain delicacy. Unable to restrain my base emotions, I took one of his hands in my smaller, more human ones. "Oh, that this hand should suffer any sorrow," I said with heartfelt sincerity.
"And yet it does," he replied and looked away.
I kissed it as in days of yore.
"Stop tormenting me, Jim," he muttered hoarsely.
I pressed his hand to my heart. "Spock, feel this pounding."
"Oh, for one kiss," Spock said, and our lips met; then he abruptly pulled away. "No, this must be reserved for . . . I cannot say." And he stood up.
I watched his lean panther of a frame stalk away from me.
He wheeled around. "I told you, Jim: Stop!" And we looked into one another's eyes, helplessly caught in the remembrance of the night when, naked as fish, we had lain in the same cot too excited to even move against each other. Then Spock had reached over and pressed his lips to mine in a kiss, just a kiss, yet somehow different from other kisses, and . . . I could not help it, I spent my virgin rapture against the rough wool of the school blankets.
And then the shame of it. Mistress T'Pau had picked that moment to do a random tallying of her students.
She found us unclothed and in a manly state. Disgraced, we were each sent home, never to return to her sacred halls of academe.
Surely now we were out of reach from T'Pau's cruel arms.
I walked over to him. And he fled down the endless halls of the House of Sarek.
That night I crawled under the chilled bedclothes (all brocaded as they were with the crest of the House of Sarek). My thoughts were as the thoughts of a fevered brain, when at midnight there came a knocking at the huge ebon door to my chamber.
It was Spock, clad in his characteristic voluminous robes. He was carrying an exquisitely leather-bound edition of etchings. Then he spoke: "It was so dreary that I could not sleep. At midnight, I decided to go to my great paneled library and examine many of these quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore that I have recently purchased."
Our eyes met. "And that volume you are holding now is . . . " I queried.
"It is called *Who Mourns for Adonais*. A simple boy's tale of the ancient Greeks. Shall we peruse it together?" As the light of his candle of fine tallow, at least nine inches in length, flickered against the wall, I realized Spock was offering to renew our friendship.
"Recline beside me, Spock. Let me see what you have." And in somber silence, we leafed through the tome.
"These are engaging depictions," I told him.
"SEE! See! Here is the myth of Zeus and Ganymede! Notice the arcane caresses! One would scarcely think the human frame could withstand it, and yet it can, aye, that and even more."
I looked at the ancient engraving. Zeus, as befits a God, was depicted mastering the fair-haired Ganymede.
"Jim, we could do that, I as Zeus, you as Ganymede. Indeed, on these long nights here in this accursed home, I have dreamt of such."
And he lay beside me, his breath warm as sunlight. "Jim," he murmured against my trembling cheek, and then I felt his hand move to part the bolsters and touch, under the blankets, my . . . "No, my God, I am tempted, but no, it shall not happen."
And, removing himself from my bedchamber, Spock again fled into the depthless darkness of the House of Sarek.
I have spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory nerve which rendered all music intolerable to Spock, with the exception of certain effects of stringed instruments. It was this which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of Spock's performances on his harp. Oftimes I accompanied his music with a spoken recitation of certain popular refrains and versifications. Thus we passed our days.
But one night, as we were again looking at some of our more favored illustrated volumes, there was a soft knock on the door.
"Let me in, confound you," a soft yet intense voice cried.
"What is it!" Spock cried.
Then entered that doctor whom I had espied the first evening I had entered the House of Sarek. "I bring you no good tidings, Spock," he spoke.
"I know already your message." Spock turned away. "I have sensed it all day."
"Yes, the Lady T'Pring is no more. As we had expected."
A daunting look passed between Spock and the doctor, who then turned his questioning eyes to me.
"I see you are engaged, Spock. Perhaps if your friend would excuse us, we have business to discuss."
"No, curse you, McCoy! We have no business, you and I. I know the abomination you so-called healers want to perform on the delicate frame of my T'Pring. You may not examine her lifeless frame as if she were some fascinating specimen. She shall go to her Maker as she lived, entirely intact! Now leave before I assault you with my rapier!"
McCoy's eyes narrowed in a sly way, but he took his leave.
Then to me Spock stated his intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight (previous to its final interment) in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls of the building. The worldly reason, however, assigned for this singular proceeding, was one which I did not feel at liberty to dispute. Spock had been led to his resolution (so he told me) by consideration of the unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of certain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of McCoy and his dastardly medical cohorts, and of the remote and exposed situation of the burial-ground of the family. I will not deny that, when I called to mind the sinister countenance of the doctor, I had no desire to oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless, and by no means an unnatural, precaution.
Therefore, at the request of Spock, I aided him in the arrangements for the temporary entombment. The body having been encoffined, we two alone bore it to its rest. The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; curiously, it lay immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment. Her final resting place had been used, apparently, in remote feudal times, as a dungeon; a portion of its floor was carefully sheathed with copper. And the immense weight of the iron door caused an unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its hinges.
Having deposited our mournful burden upon trestles within this region of horror, we partially turned aside the yet unscrewed lid of the coffin, and looked upon the face of the tenant. A striking similitude between Spock and T'Pring now arrested my attention; and perhaps divining my thoughts, Spock murmured some few words from which I learned that, not only were they of the same race, but that telepathic sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had long existed between them. Our glances, however, rested not long upon the dead -- for we could not regard her unawed. The disease which had thus entombed the lady in the maturity of youth had left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical character, the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face and that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so terrible in death. We replaced and screwed down the lid, and, having secured the door of iron, made our slow way into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the house.
However, at the top of the stairs, Spock wheeled about to look at me: "Do you not feel the relief flooding through the halls of Sarek?"
"Yes, and I am sure she too feels a great relief that her tortured days are now over."
"How can dying be a relief to the one afflicted?"
But Spock appeared not to hear me; instead he seemed to surround me until I was leaning back over the balustrade. "There can be no further prevarication. Now you are truly mine, Jim Kirk." Then, without pause, he pulled me into my bedchamber: "At last I will have my way. Yet I do not deceive my T'Pring; she who is beyond deception now. Jim, take off those ridiculous rags and let me feast on your innocent body."
"Spock, we cannot do something so wrong."
"Will you have me rip them off you?"
"No!" But Spock was too carried away in his own madness to listen to my denials. With talons of iron, he ripped my shirt away leaving my manly bosom bleeding and bared to his burning gaze. Then he tore at my nether garments: tearing them open and indeed tearing open my own modest heart.
"You have bewitched me long enough, Jim Kirk." And, using all of his massive strength, he threw me against the wall, bruising my flesh with his iron grip. "You must surrender your charms to me: do you not understand that I am now free!" he hissed. "Surrender, surrender or be damned!" And then he pushed his knee between my legs to part them and I felt a rough hand clawing at my last remaining garment, a linen vest, "I shall see all your charms, all the charms I've dreamed of night after night." Then he held up his candle: "Your beauty is that of an angel, you would make a demon renounce his sin. That skin is silk." And, as he leaned over me, his lips sought mine.
I could resist no further. I felt his organ of generation against mine, aroused and firm as ivory; we pressed against each other, hardly knowing what we were doing. But it was not until he placed himself at the base of my most intimate self (an act of nature I had never considered) that I was able to speak: "Spock, you will rend my very vitals!"
"Hardly, Jim: I will instead replete with you such unguarded thrills that you will not be the same by dawn. Yes, surfeiting myself completely with your flesh has been my heart's dearest yet most depraved dream. I want to do as Zeus did to Ganymede in those engravings, filling that rosy cupid's very soul with his own godlike heat as he parted the rose petals of his beloved's body and plunged again and again into him! Oh, say yes, Jim, say yes!"
My eyes had been closed during this fierce narrative whilst images of orgiastic rioting flashed before my feverish brain. "No, Spock, no! It would be wrong."
"Wrong does not enter into it, damn you!"
Then I felt it, and, what was more, I wanted it: I wanted to be pierced and penetrated and taken by Spock's achingly erect member. I moved against him and felt it, oh my God, I felt it begin to enter me. Unnaturally large like a satyr or deity, the sheer girth of Spock's ecstasy stretched me to unforeseen circumferences. Yet I did not wish for him to pause, and again I moved against him to get more of his massive energy.
"Kirk, Kirk," he sobbed, but his gasping breath would not let him finish. By now my fevered brain was screaming that I must take all of it in, despite the apparent impossibility (surely no frail maiden could have endured it), and I said, "Please move in completely," and, as Spock did, I screamed, nearly fainting, because I felt it battering again and again at the mysterious interior of my flesh and then he was panting, completely surrounded by my pulsing ardor.
"Kirk, Kirk, Kirk," again he sobbed, "My Jim, my only Jim, the only thing I've ever wanted." And, stirring himself, he rallied himself and, gripping me, he lunged back and forth against me. My fond heart raced against him, and, as we moved as one being, a certain timeless ecstasy took over. I felt as if I were fulfilled at long last; the tolling of a thousand golden bells were ringing in my blood and brain and vitals and I moved as a bell would, ringing out the wildest ecstasy of man or beast, and Spock was ringing with me, and then he said, "oh, I come, the satisfaction is mine at last," and I knew the final ecstasy was upon him and his hottest essence burst again and again inside me and I felt myself clotting and pulsing against him and we collapsed like the dead in one another's arms.
After that wild night, an observable change came over the features of my friend. His ordinary occupations were neglected or forgotten. He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried step. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if possible, an even greener hue -- but the luminousness of his eye had utterly gone out. At times, he seemed to gaze upon vacancy for long hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to some imaginary sound.
But our nocturnal ecstasies were only intensified by this strange fit of Spock's. He designed more pleasures, all of which would make Aretino blush. One evening I was made to master the sullen (but receptive) valet as Spock strummed his harp into melody. Another night, he had the fancy that a certain healing kiss could be administered only by me and me alone, and he asked that my kisses last all night long. And yet on another wild twilight, the two of us reenacted certain ancient rituals before a large golden-framed mirror, I as Antinuous, he as Caesar.
But the days were not so joyful, and always they threatened to color the rhapsodies of the evenings. Upon retiring to bed late in the night of the seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady T'Pring within the dungeon, I experienced the full power of such feelings. Not sleep nor Spock came near my couch -- while the hours waned and waned away. I struggled to reason off the nervousness which had dominion over me. I endeavoured to believe that much, if not all of what I felt, was due to the bewildering influence of a wild storm outside -- or the gloomy room -- or Spock's absence. I uplifted myself upon the pillows, and, peering earnestly within the darkness of the chamber, harkened to certain low and indefinite sounds which came, through the pauses of the storm.
Then I heard it: A rapping, gently tapping. It was Spock; he entered my room bearing a lamp. His countenance was, as usual, cadaverously wan -- but tonight there was a species of mad hilarity in his eyes -- an evidently restrained hysteria in his whole demeanour. "And you have not seen it?" he said abruptly, after having stared about him for some moments in silence --"you have not then seen it? --but, stay! you shall." Thus speaking, and having carefully shaded his lamp, he hurried to one of the casements, and threw it freely open to the storm.
It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty. A whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity; for there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind; and the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not prevent our perceiving the life-like velocity with which they flew careering from all points against each other.
"You must not -- you shall not do this!" said I, shudderingly, to Spock, as I led him, with a gentle violence, from the window to a seat. "Let us close this casement; the air is chilling and dangerous to your frame. Here, here is one of your favourite romances. I will read, and you shall listen, and so we will pass away this terrible night together."
The antique volume which I had taken up was the "Mad Trek" of Sir Launcelot Canning; but I had called it a favourite of Spock's more in sad jest than in earnest; for, in truth, there was little in its uncouth and unimaginative prolixity which could have had interest for the lofty and spiritual ideality of my friend. It was, however, the only book immediately at hand; and I indulged a vague hope that the excitement which now agitated him might find relief in the folly which I should read to him.
I had arrived at that well-known portion of the story where Sir Jean-Luc, the hero of the Trek, having sought in vain for peaceable admission into the dwelling of the evil wizard Quintus, proceeds to make good an entrance by force. Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative run thus:
"And Sir Jean-Luc, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and who was now mighty withal, on account of the powerfulness of the wine which he had drunken, waited no longer to hold parley with the evil wizard Quintus, who, in sooth, was of an obstinate and devilish turn, but, feeling the rain upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and, with blows, made quickly room in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling sturdily, he so cracked, and ripped, and tore the wizard's mere door all asunder, that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding wood alarumed and reverberated throughout the forest."
At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment, paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me) --it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of the mansion, there came indistinctly to my ears an echo (but a stifled and dull one) of the very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. It was, beyond doubt, coincidence. I continued the story:
"But the good champion Sir Jean-Luc, now entering within the door, was sore enraged and amazed to perceive no sign of the maliceful wizard Quintus; but, in the stead thereof, a targ of a scaly and prodigious demeanour, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this legend enwritten - *Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin; Who slayeth the targ, the shield he shall win*. Sir Jean-Luc uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the targ, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Sir Jean-Luc had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard."
Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement -- for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound -- the exact counterpart of the targ's unnatural shriek.
Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of the second and most extraordinary coincidence, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting the sensitivities of my companion. I was by no means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question; although, assuredly, a strange alteration had during the last few minutes taken place in his demeanour. From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast, yet I knew that he was not asleep -- for he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this, I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded:
"And now, the champion, having escaped from the terrible fury of the targ, and bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and of the breaking up of the enchantment which was upon it, moved the carcass out of the way before him, and approached valorously over the silver pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the wall; which in sooth tarried not for his full coming, but fell down at his feet upon the silver floor, with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound."
No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than, as if a shield of brass had indeed just fallen heavily upon a floor of silver, I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Spock was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.
"Not hear it? Yes, I hear it, and have heard it. Long -- long -- long -- many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard it -- yet I dared not -- oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am! -- I dared not -- I dared not speak! We have put her living in the tomb! Said I not that my senses were acute? I feared I heard them -- many, many days ago -- yet I dared not -- I dared not speak! And now to-night Jean-Luc -- ha! ha! -- the breaking of Quintus' door, and the death-cry of the targ, and the clangour of the shield! Say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! Oh whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? MADMAN!" here he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul: "MADMAN! I TELL YOU THAT SHE NOW STANDS WITHOUT THE DOOR!"
As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been the potency of a spell, the huge antique panels threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust -- but then without those doors there DID stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady T'Pring. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, she spoke. Her voice was as of the grave, hollow, free of any human feeling much as we imagine the dead to be: "Spock, I see through your evil scheme. Yes, you knew, you knew of my peculiar ailment, you knew that how my constitution would someday feign the final morbid sleep and yet you told McCoy not to examine me. And why? So you could enjoy your unspeakable comportings with this . . . this Kirk! A man! But you forget that women have their strengths too, especially scorned ones. I have come from the grave to claim you as my own, as it was foretold. Come to me, Spock!" And she lurched toward the person of her beloved Spock and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor, each an apparent corpse, and victim to the awful terrors Spock had always anticipated.
From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. To my astonishment, the radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building to its base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened -- there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind -- the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight -- my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder -- there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters -- and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the house of Sarek.
I turned around and there illumined by the fiery light of the moon was . . . Spock!
"Spock! What happened! With you! With that girl back there!
"Only death could break that accursed attachment which Sarek made for me ere I had reached the age of decision. I was betrothed to her, to her and none other. But, when I came of age, I knew there were no caresses I wanted less than those of the chilling hands of T'Pring. Yet I was not truly free . . . until tonight. Now I am yours."
"Spock. You killed her!"
"Jim, no! Yet I would have killed nations in order to have you in my arms. The sea would be blood if it meant you were mine." He gazed deep into my eyes. Then he took me in his arms: "You want me," his voice was a low whisper.
"How can I want a monster such as you?"
"You want me." And in that thrilling second, I realized he was right. My frame leaned towards his. "Jim, my Jim, I did not willingly put her alive in her tomb. Since your arrival, my curious mental melding with T'Pring had grown weaker and weaker. You know that, on the night when McCoy came to our chamber to tell me of her demise, I was already aware of what he was to say. Indeed, my mind had become as black as that dank tarn. I felt T'Pring must have died, and the blackness of my mind could entertain no other hypothesis. Yet I could not explain the occasional curious murmurs in my fevered brain, like the cries of distant flocks of crows in far-off fields. I swear to you I am not a murderer! I am innocent of tonight's events! The sole part of her charge that rings with truth is . . . that I love you." He gripped me by my arms. "And I always have."
And as the water of the tarn boiled around us and the jealous moon blazed down, I joined my lips to Spock's, never to be parted, always to be linked, and at last free of the horrific "HOUSE OF SAREK!"