It was a remarkable face--a most impressive face. If you could fancy some mighty serpent transformed into a
man, preserving in the human lineaments the old serpent type, you would have a better idea of that
countenance than long descriptions can convey: the width and flatness of frontal--the tapering elegance of
contour disguising the strength of the deadly jaw--the long, large, terrible eye, glittering and green as the
emerald--and withal a certain ruthless calm, as if from the consciousness of an immense power.
Mechanically I turned round the miniature to examine the back of it, and on the back was engraved a pentacle;
in the middle of the pentacle a ladder, and the third step of the ladder was formed by the date 1765.
Examining still more minutely, I detected a spring; this, on being pressed, opened the back of the miniature as
a lid. Withinside the lid were engraved, 'Marianna to thee--be faithful in life and in death to----.' Here follows
a name that I will not mention, but it was not unfamiliar to me. I had heard it spoken of by old men in my
childhood as the name borne by a dazzling charlatan who had made a great sensation in London for a year or
so, and had fled the country on the charge of a double murder within his own house--that of his mistress and
his rival. I said nothing of this to Mr. J----, to whom reluctantly I resigned the miniature.
We had found no difficulty in opening the first drawer within the iron safe; we found great difficulty in
opening the second: it was not locked, but it resisted all efforts, till we inserted in the clinks the edge of a
chisel. When we had thus drawn it forth we found a very singular apparatus in the nicest order. Upon a small
thin book, or rather tablet, was placed a saucer of crystal: this saucer was filled with a clear liquid--on that
liquid floated a kind of compass, with a needle shifting rapidly round; but instead of the usual points of a
compass were seven strange characters, not very unlike those used by astrologers to denote the planets.
A peculiar, but not strong nor displeasing odor came from this drawer, which was lined with a wood that we
afterwards discovered to be hazel. Whatever the cause of this odor, it produced a material effect on the nerves.
We all felt it, even the two workmen who were in the room--a creeping tingling sensation from the tips of the
fingers to the roots of the hair. Impatient to examine the tablet, I removed the saucer. As I did so the needle of
the compass went round and round with exceeding swiftness, and I felt a shock that ran through my whole
frame, so that I dropped the saucer on the floor. The liquid was spilt--the saucer was broken--the compass
rolled to the end of the room--and at that instant the walls shook to and fro, as if a giant had swayed and
The two workmen were so frightened that they ran up the ladder by which we had descended from the
trap-door; but seeing that nothing more happened, they were easily induced to return.
Meanwhile I had opened the tablet: it was bound in plain red leather, with a silver clasp; it contained but one
sheet of thick vellum, and on that sheet were inscribed within a double pentacle, words in old monkish Latin,
which are literally to be translated thus: 'On all that it can reach within these walls--sentient or inanimate,
living or dead--as moves the needle, so work my will! Accursed be the house, and restless be the dwellers
We found no more. Mr. J---- burnt the tablet and its anathema. He razed to the foundations the part of the
building containing the secret room with the chamber over it. He had then the courage to inhabit the house
himself for a month, and a quieter, better-conditioned house could not be found in all London. Subsequently he let it to advantage, and his tenant has made no complaints.