Part 6 out of 12
Mrs. Elton had already taken Hugh's arm, and was leading him away
after Mr. Arnold and Lady Emily.
"I will not leave you behind with the spectres, Miss Cameron," said
"Thank you; they will not detain me long. They don't mind being
It was some little time, however, before they presented themselves
in the drawing-room, to which, and not to the library, the party had
gone: they had had enough of horrors for that night.
Lest my readers should think they have had too many wonders at
least, I will explain one of them. It was really Margaret Elginbrod
whom Hugh had seen. Mrs. Elton was the lady in whose service she
had left her home. It was nothing strange that they had not met,
for Margaret knew he was in the same house, and had several times
seen him, but had avoided meeting him. Neither was it a wonderful
coincidence that they should be in such close proximity; for the
college friend from whom Hugh had first heard of Mr. Arnold, was the
son of the gentleman whom Mrs. Elton was visiting, when she first
Margaret had obeyed her mistress's summons to the drawing-room, and
had entered while Hugh was stooping over the plate. As the room was
nearly dark, and she was dressed in black, her pale face alone
caught the light and his eye as he looked up, and the giddiness
which followed had prevented him from seeing more. She left the
room the next moment, while they were all looking out of the window.
Nor was it any exercise of his excited imagination that had
presented her face as glorified. She was now a woman; and, there
being no divine law against saying so, I say that she had grown a
lady as well; as indeed any one might have foreseen who was capable
of foreseeing it. Her whole nature had blossomed into a still,
stately, lily-like beauty; and the face that Hugh saw was indeed the
realised idea of the former face of Margaret.
But how did the plate move? and whence came the writing of old
David's name? I must, for the present, leave the whole matter to
the speculative power of each of my readers.
But Margaret was in mourning: was David indeed dead?
He was dead. -- Yet his name will stand as the name of my story for
pages to come; because, if he had not been in it, the story would
never have been worth writing; because the influence of that
ploughman is the salt of the whole; because a man's life in the
earth is not to be measured by the time he is visible upon it; and
because, when the story is wound up, it will be in the presence of
Do I then believe that David himself did write that name of his?
Heaven forbid that any friend of mine should be able to believe it!
Long before she saw him, Margaret had known, from what she heard
among the servants, that Master Harry's tutor could be no other than
her own tutor of the old time. By and by she learned a great deal
about him from Harry's talk with Mrs. Elton and Lady Emily. But she
did not give the least hint that she knew him, or betray the least
desire to see him.
Mrs. Elton was amusingly bewildered by the occurrences of the
evening. Her theories were something astounding; and followed one
another with such alarming rapidity, that had they been in
themselves such as to imply the smallest exercise of the thinking
faculty, she might well have been considered in danger of an attack
of brain-fever. As it was, none such supervened. Lady Emily said
nothing, but seemed unhappy. As for Hugh, he simply could not tell
what to make of the writing. But he did not for a moment doubt that
the vision he had seen was only a vision -- a home-made ghost, sent
out from his own creative brain. Still he felt that Margaret's
face, come whence it might, was a living reproof to him; for he was
losing his life in passion, sinking deeper in it day by day. His
powers were deserting him. Poetry, usually supposed to be the
attendant of love, had deserted him. Only by fits could he see
anything beautiful; and then it was but in closest association of
thought with the one image which was burning itself deeper and
deeper into his mental sensorium. Come what might, he could not
tear it away. It had become a part of himself -- of his inner
life -- even while it seemed to be working the death of life. Deeper
and deeper it would burn, till it reached the innermost chamber of
life. Let it burn.
Yet he felt that he could not trust her. Vague hopes he had, that,
by trusting, she might be made trustworthy; but he feared they were
vain as well as vague. And yet he would not cast them away, for he
could not cast her away.
MORE MATERIALISM AND SOME SPIRITUALISM.
God wisheth none should wreck on a strange shelf:
To Him man's dearer than to himself.
BEN Jonson. -- The Forest: To Sir Robert Wroth.
At breakfast the following morning, the influences of the past day
on the family were evident. There was a good deal of excitement,
alternated with listlessness. The moral atmosphere seemed
unhealthy; and Harry, although he had, fortunately for him, had
nothing to do with the manifestations of the previous evening, was
affected by the condition of those around him. Hugh was still
careful enough of him to try to divert the conversation entirely
from what he knew would have a very injurious effect upon him; and
Mr. Arnold, seeing the anxious way in which he glanced now and then
at his pupil, and divining the reason, by the instinct of his
affection, with far more than his usual acuteness, tried likewise to
turn it aside, as often as it inclined that way. Still a few words
were let fall by the visitors, which made Harry stare. Hugh took
him away as soon as breakfast was over.
In the afternoon, Funkelstein called to inquire after the ladies;
and hoped he had no injury to their health to lay on his conscience.
Mr. Arnold, who had a full allowance of curiosity, its amount being
frequently in an inverse ratio to that of higher intellectual gifts,
begged him to spend the rest of the day with them; but not to say a
word of what had passed the day before, till after Harry had retired
for the night.
Renewed conversation led to renewed experiments in the library.
Hugh, however, refused to have anything more to do with the
plate-writing; for he dreaded its influence on his physical nature,
attributing, as I have said, the vision of Margaret to a cerebral
affection. And the plate did not seem to work satisfactorily with
any one else, except Funkelstein, who, for his part, had no great
wish to operate. Recourse was had to a more vulgar method -- that of
expectant solicitation of those noises whereby the prisoners in the
aėrial vaults are supposed capable of communicating with those in
this earthly cell. Certainly, raps were heard from some quarter or
another; and when the lights were extinguished, and the crescent
moon only allowed to shine in the room, some commotion was
discernible amongst the furniture. Several light articles flew
about. A pen-wiper alighted on Euphra's lap, and a sofa-pillow
gently disarranged Mrs. Elton's cap. Most of the artillery,
however, was directed against Lady Emily; and she it was who saw, in
a faint stream of moonlight, a female arm uplifted towards her, from
under a table, with a threatening motion. It was bare to the elbow,
and draped above. It showed first a clenched fist, and next an open
hand, palm outwards, making a repellent gesture. Then the back of
the hand was turned, and it motioned her away, as if she had been an
importunate beggar. But at this moment, one of the doors opened,
and a dark figure passed through the room towards the opposite door.
Everything that could be called ghostly, ceased instantaneously.
The arm vanished. The company breathed more freely.
Lady Emily, who had been on the point of going into hysterics,
recovered herself, and overcame the still lingering impulse: she
felt as if she had awaked from a momentary aberration of the
intellect. Mr. Arnold proceeded to light the candles, saying, in a
"I think we have had enough of this nonsense."
When the candles were lighted, there was no one to be seen in the
room besides themselves. Several, Hugh amongst them, had observed
the figure; but all had taken it for part of the illusive
phantasmagoria. Hugh would have concluded it a variety of his
vision of the former night; but others had seen it as well as he.
There was no renewal of the experiments that night. But all were in
a very unhealthy state of excitement. Vague fear, vague wonder, and
a certain indescribable oppression, had dimmed for the time all the
clearer vision, and benumbed all the nobler faculties of the soul.
Lady Emily was affected the most. Her eyes looked scared; there
was a bright spot on one cheek amidst deathly paleness; and she
seemed very unhappy. Mrs. Elton became alarmed, and this brought
her back to a more rational condition. She persuaded Lady Emily to
go to bed.
But the contagion spread; and indistinct terrors were no longer
confined to the upper portions of the family. The bruit revived,
which had broken out a year before -- that the house was haunted. It
was whispered that, the very night after these occurrences, the
Ghost's Walk had been in use as the name signified: a figure in
death-garments had been seen gliding along the deserted avenue, by
one of the maid-servants; the truth of whose story was corroborated
by the fact that, to support it, she did not hesitate to confess
that she had escaped from the house, nearly at midnight, to meet one
of the grooms in a part of the wood contiguous to the avenue in
question. Mr. Arnold instantly dismissed her -- not on the ground of
the intrigue, he took care to let her know, although that was bad
enough, but because she was a fool, and spread absurd and annoying
reports about the house. Mr. Arnold's usual hatred of what he
called superstition, was rendered yet more spiteful by the fact,
that the occurrences of the week had had such an effect on his own
mind, that he was mortally afraid lest he should himself sink into
the same limbo of vanity. The girl, however, was, or pretended to
be, quite satisfied with her discharge, protesting she would not
have staid for the world; and as the groom, whose wages happened to
have been paid the day before, took himself off the same evening, it
may be hoped her satisfaction was not altogether counterfeit.
"If all tales be true," said Mrs. Elton, "Lady Euphrasia is where
she can't get out."
"But if she repented before she died?" said Euphra, with a muffled
scorn in her tone.
"My dear Miss Cameron, do you call becoming a nun -- repentance? We
Protestants know very well what that means. Besides, your uncle
does not believe it."
"Haven't you found out yet, dear Mrs. Elton, what my uncle's
favourite phrase is?"
"No. What is it?"
"I don't believe it."
"You naughty girl!"
"I'm not naughty," answered Euphra, affecting to imitate the
simplicity of a chidden child. "My uncle is so fond of casting doubt
upon everything! If salvation goes by quantity, his faith won't
Euphra knew well enough that Mrs. Elton was no tell-tale. The good
lady had hopes of her from this moment, because she all but quoted
Scripture to condemn her uncle; the verdict corresponding with her
own judgment of Mr. Arnold, founded on the clearest assertions of
Scripture; strengthened somewhat, it must be confessed, by the fact
that the spirits, on the preceding evening but one, had rapped out
the sentence: "Without faith it is impossible to please him."
Lady Emily was still in bed, but apparently more sick in mind than
in body. She said she had tossed about all the previous night
without once falling asleep; and her maid, who had slept in the
dressing-room without waking once, corroborated the assertion. In
the morning, Mrs. Elton, wishing to relieve the maid, sent Margaret
to Lady Emily. Margaret arranged the bedclothes and pillows, which
were in a very uncomfortable condition, sat down behind the curtain;
and, knowing that it would please Lady Emily, began to sing, in what
the French call a veiled voice, The Land o' the Leal. Now the air
of this lovely song is the same as that of Scots wha hae; but it is
the pibroch of onset changed into the coronach of repose, singing of
the land beyond the battle, of the entering in of those who have
fought the good fight, and fallen in the field. It is the silence
after the thunder. Before she had finished, Lady Emily was fast
asleep. A sweet peaceful half smile lighted her troubled face
graciously, like the sunshine that creeps out when it can, amidst
the rain of an autumn day, saying, "I am with you still, though we
are all troubled." Finding her thus at rest, Margaret left the room
for a minute, to fetch some work. When she returned, she found her
tossing, and moaning, and apparently on the point of waking. As
soon as she sat down by her, her trouble diminished by degrees, till
she lay in the same peaceful sleep as before. In this state she
continued for two or three hours, and awoke much refreshed. She
held out her little hand to Margaret, and said:
"Thank you. Thank you. What a sweet creature you are!"
And Lady Emily lay and gazed in loving admiration at the face of the
"Shall I send Sarah to you now, my lady?" said Margaret; "or would
you like me to stay with you?"
"Oh! you, you, please -- if Mrs. Elton can spare you."
"She will only think of your comfort, I know, my lady."
"That recalls me to my duty, and makes me think of her."
"But your comfort will be more to her than anything else."
"In that case you must stay, Margaret."
"With pleasure, my lady."
Mrs. Elton entered, and quite confirmed what Margaret had said.
"But," she added, "it is time Lady Emily had something to eat. Go
to the cook, Margaret, and see if the beef-tea Miss Cameron ordered
"What a comfort it is," said Mrs. Elton, wishing to interest Lady
Emily, "that now-a-days, when infidelity is so rampant, such
corroborations of Sacred Writ are springing up on all sides! There
are the discoveries at Nineveh; and now these Spiritual
Manifestations, which bear witness so clearly to another world."
But Lady Emily made no reply. She began to toss about as before,
and show signs of inexplicable discomfort. Margaret had hardly been
gone two minutes, when the invalid moaned out:
"What a time Margaret is gone! -- when will she be back?"
"I am here, my love," said Mrs. Elton.
"Yes, yes; thank you. But I want Margaret."
"She will be here presently. Have patience, my dear."
"Please, don't let Miss Cameron come near me. I am afraid I am very
wicked, but I can't bear her to come near me."
"No, no, dear; we will keep you to ourselves."
"Is Mr. -- , the foreign gentleman, I mean -- below?"
"No. He is gone."
"Are you sure? I can hardly believe it."
"What do you mean, dear? I am sure he is gone."
Lady Emily did not answer. Margaret returned. She took the
beef-tea, and grew quiet again.
"You must not leave her ladyship, Margaret," whispered her mistress.
"She has taken it into her head to like no one but you, and you must
just stay with her."
"Very well, ma'am. I shall be most happy."
Mrs. Elton left the room. Lady Emily said:
"Read something to me, Margaret."
"What shall I read?"
"Anything you like."
Margaret got a Bible, and read to her one of her father's favourite
chapters, the fortieth of Isaiah.
"I have no right to trust in God, Margaret."
"Why, my lady?"
"Because I do not feel any faith in him; and you know we cannot be
accepted without faith."
"That is to make God as changeable as we are, my lady."
"But the Bible says so."
"I don't think it does; but if an angel from heaven said so, I would
not believe it."
"My lady, I love God with all my heart, and I cannot bear you should
think so of him. You might as well say that a mother would go away
from her little child, lying moaning in the dark, because it could
not see her, and was afraid to put its hand out into the dark to
feel for her."
"Then you think he does care for us, even when we are very wicked.
But he cannot bear wicked people."
"Who dares to say that?" cried Margaret. "Has he not been making the
world go on and on, with all the wickedness that is in it; yes,
making new babies to be born of thieves and murderers and sad women
and all, for hundreds of years? God help us, Lady Emily! If he
cannot bear wicked people, then this world is hell itself, and the
Bible is all a lie, and the Saviour did never die for sinners. It
is only the holy Pharisees that can't bear wicked people."
"Oh! how happy I should be, if that were true! I should not be
"You are not wicked, dear Lady Emily; but if you were, God would
bend over you, trying to get you back, like a father over his sick
child. Will people never believe about the lost sheep?"
"Oh! yes; I believe that. But then --"
"You can't trust it quite. Trust in God, then, the very father of
you -- and never mind the words. You have been taught to turn the
very words of God against himself."
Lady Emily was weeping.
"Lady Emily," Margaret went on, "if I felt my heart as hard as a
stone; if I did not love God, or man, or woman, or little child, I
would yet say to God in my heart: 'O God, see how I trust thee,
because thou art perfect, and not changeable like me. I do not love
thee. I love nobody. I am not even sorry for it. Thou seest how
much I need thee to come close to me, to put thy arm round me, to
say to me, my child; for the worse my state, the greater my need of
my father who loves me. Come to me, and my day will dawn. My
beauty and my love will come back; and oh! how I shall love thee, my
God! and know that my love is thy love, my blessedness thy being.'"
As Margaret spoke, she seemed to have forgotten Lady Emily's
presence, and to be actually praying. Those who cannot receive such
words from the lips of a lady's-maid, must be reminded what her
father was, and that she had lost him. She had had advantages at
least equal to those which David the Shepherd had -- and he wrote the
She ended with:
"I do not even desire thee to come, yet come thou."
She seemed to pray entirely as Lady Emily, not as Margaret. When
she had ceased, Lady Emily said, sobbing:
"You will not leave me, Margaret? I will tell you why another
"I will not leave you, my dear lady."
Margaret stooped and kissed her forehead. Lady Emily threw her arms
round her neck, and offered her mouth to be kissed by the maid. In
another minute she was fast asleep, with Margaret seated by her
side, every now and then glancing up at her from her work, with a
calm face, over which brooded the mist of tears.
That night, as Hugh paced up and down the floor of his study about
midnight, he was awfully startled by the sudden opening of the door
and the apparition of Harry in his nightshirt, pale as death, and
scarcely able to articulate the words:
"The ghost! the ghost!"
He took the poor boy in his arms, held him fast, and comforted him.
When he was a little soothed,
"Oh, Harry!" he said, lightly, "you've been dreaming. Where's the
"In the Ghost's Walk," cried Harry, almost shrieking anew with
"How do you know it is there?"
"I saw it from my window. -- I couldn't sleep. I got up and looked
out -- I don't know why -- and I saw it! I saw it!"
The words were followed by a long cry of terror.
"Come and show it to me," said Hugh, wanting to make light of it.
"No, no, Mr. Sutherland -- please not. I couldn't go back into that
"Very well, dear Harry; you shan't go back. You shall sleep with
"Oh! thank you, thank you, dear Mr. Sutherland. You will love me
again, won't you?"
This touched Hugh's heart. He could hardly refrain from tears. His
old love, buried before it was dead, revived. He clasped the boy to
his heart, and carried him to his own bed; then, to comfort him,
undressed and lay down beside him, without even going to look if he
too might not see the ghost. She had brought about one good thing
at least that night; though, I fear, she had no merit in it.
Lady Emily's room likewise looked out upon the Ghost's Walk.
Margaret heard the cry as she sat by the sleeping Emily; and, not
knowing whence it came, went, naturally enough, in her perplexity,
to the window. From it she could see distinctly, for it was clear
moonlight: a white figure went gliding away along the deserted
avenue. She immediately guessed what the cry had meant; but as she
had heard a door bang directly after (as Harry shut his behind him
with a terrified instinct, to keep the awful window in), she was not
very uneasy about him. She felt besides that she must remain where
she was, according to her promise to Lady Emily. But she resolved
to be prepared for the possible recurrence of the same event, and
accordingly revolved it in her mind. She was sure that any report
of it coming to Lady Emily's ears, would greatly impede her
recovery; for she instinctively felt that her illness had something
to do with the questionable occupations in the library. She watched
by her bedside all the night, slumbering at times, but roused in a
moment by any restlessness of the patient; when she found that,
simply by laying her hand on hers, or kissing her forehead, she
could restore her at once to quiet sleep.
THE GHOST'S WALK.
Thierry. -- 'Tis full of fearful shadows.
Ordella. -- So is sleep, sir;
Or anything that's merely ours, and mortal;
We were begotten gods else. But those fears
Feeling but once the fires of nobler thoughts,
Fly, like the shapes of clouds we form, to nothing.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER. -- Thierry and Theodoret.
Margaret sat watching the waking of Lady Emily. Knowing how much
the first thought colours the feeling of the whole day, she wished
that Lady Emily should at once be aware that she was by her side.
She opened her eyes, and a smile broke over her face when she
perceived her nurse. But Margaret did not yet speak to her.
Every nurse should remember that waking ought always to be a gradual
operation; and, except in the most triumphant health, is never
complete on the opening of the eyes.
"Margaret, I am better," said Lady Emily, at last.
"I am very glad, my lady."
"I have been lying awake for some time, and I am sure I am better.
I don't see strange-coloured figures floating about the room as I
did yesterday. Were you not out of the room a few minutes ago?"
"Just for one moment, my lady."
"I knew it. But I did not mind it. Yesterday, when you left me,
those figures grew ten times as many, the moment you were gone. But
you will stay with me to-day, too, Margaret?" she added, with some
"I will, if you find you need me. But I may be forced to leave you
a little while this evening -- you must try to allow me this, dear
"Of course I will. I will be quite patient, I promise you, whatever
comes to me."
When Harry woke, after a very troubled sleep, from which he had
often started with sudden cries of terror, Hugh made him promise not
to increase the confusion of the household, by speaking of what he
had seen. Harry promised at once, but begged in his turn that Hugh
would not leave him all day. It did not need the pale scared face
of his pupil to enforce the request; for Hugh was already anxious
lest the fright the boy had had, should exercise a permanently
deleterious effect on his constitution. Therefore he hardly let him
out of his sight.
But although Harry kept his word, the cloud of perturbation gathered
thicker in the kitchen and the servants' hall. Nothing came to the
ears of their master and mistress; but gloomy looks, sudden starts,
and sidelong glances of fear, indicated the prevailing character of
the feelings of the household.
And although Lady Emily was not so ill, she had not yet taken a
decided turn for the better, but appeared to suffer from some kind
of low fever. The medical man who was called in, confessed to Mrs.
Elton, that as yet he could say nothing very decided about her
condition, but recommended great quiet and careful nursing.
Margaret scarcely left her room, and the invalid showed far more
than the ordinary degree of dependence upon her nurse. In her
relation to her, she was more like a child than an invalid.
About noon she was better. She called Margaret and said to her:
"Margaret, dear, I should like to tell you one thing that annoys me
"What is it, dear Lady Emily?"
"That man haunts me. I cannot bear the thought of him; and yet I
cannot get rid of him. I am sure he is a bad man. Are you certain
he is not here?"
"Yes, indeed, my lady. He has not been here since the day before
"And yet when you leave me for an instant, I always feel as if he
were sitting in the very seat where you were the moment before, or
just coming to the door and about to open it. That is why I cannot
bear you to leave me."
Margaret might have confessed to some slighter sensations of the
same kind; but they did not oppress her as they did Lady Emily.
"God is nearer to you than any thought or feeling of yours, Lady
Emily. Do not be afraid. If all the evil things in the universe
were around us, they could not come inside the ring that he makes
about us. He always keeps a place for himself and his child, into
which no other being can enter."
"Oh! how you must love God, Margaret!"
"Indeed I do love him, my lady. If ever anything looks beautiful or
lovely to me, then I know at once that God is that."
"But, then, what right have we to take the good of that, however
true it is, when we are not beautiful ourselves?"
"That only makes God the more beautiful -- in that he will pour out
the more of his beauty upon us to make us beautiful. If we care for
his glory, we shall be glad to believe all this about him. But we
are too anxious about feeling good ourselves, to rejoice in his
perfect goodness. I think we should find that enough, my lady.
For, if he be good, are not we his children, and sure of having it,
not merely feeling it, some day?"
Here Margaret repeated a little poem of George Herbert's. She had
found his poems amongst Mrs. Elton's books, who, coming upon her
absorbed in it one day, had made her a present of the volume. Then
indeed Margaret had found a friend.
The poem is called Dialogue:
"Sweetest Saviour, if my soul
Were but worth the having --"
"Oh, what a comfort you are to me, Margaret!" Lady Emily said,
after a short silence. Where did you learn such things?"
"From my father, and from Jesus Christ, and from God himself,
showing them to me in my heart."
"Ah! that is why, as often as you come into my room, even if I am
very troubled, I feel as if the sun shone, and the wind blew, and
the birds sang, and the tree-tops went waving in the wind, as they
used to do before I was taken ill -- I mean before they thought I must
go abroad. You seem to make everything clear, and right, and plain.
I wish I were you, Margaret."
"If I were you, my lady, I would rather be what God chose to make
me, than the most glorious creature that I could think of. For to
have been thought about -- born in God's thoughts -- and then made by
God, is the dearest, grandest, most precious thing in all thinking.
Is it not, my lady?"
"It is," said Lady Emily, and was silent.
The shadows of evening came on. As soon as it was dark, Margaret
took her place at one of the windows hidden from Lady Emily by a
bed-curtain. She raised the blind, and pulled aside one curtain, to
let her have a view of the trees outside. She had placed the one
candle so as not to shine either on the window or on her own eyes.
Lady Emily was asleep. One hour and another passed, and still she
sat there -- motionless, watching.
Margaret did not know, that at another window -- the one, indeed, next
to her own -- stood a second watcher. It was Hugh, in Harry's room:
Harry was asleep in Hugh's. He had no light. He stood with his
face close against the windowpane, on which the moon shone brightly.
All below him the woods were half dissolved away in the moonlight.
The Ghost's Walk lay full before him, like a tunnel through the
trees. He could see a great way down, by the light that fell into
it, at various intervals, from between the boughs overhead. He
stood thus for a long time, gazing somewhat listlessly. Suddenly he
became all eyes, as he caught the white glimmer of something passing
up the avenue. He stole out of the room, down to the library by the
back-stair, and so through the library window into the wood. He
reached the avenue sideways, at some distance from the house, and
peeped from behind a tree, up and down. At first he saw nothing.
But, a moment after, while he was looking down the avenue, that is,
away from the house, a veiled figure in white passed him noiselessly
from the other direction. From the way in which he was looking at
the moment, it had passed him before he saw it. It made no sound.
Only some early-fallen leaves rustled as they hurried away in
uncertain eddies, startled by the sweep of its trailing garments,
which yet were held up by hands hidden within them. On it went.
Hugh's eyes were fixed on its course. He could not move, and his
heart laboured so frightfully that he could hardly breathe. The
figure had not advanced far, however, before he heard a repressed
cry of agony, and it sank to the earth, and vanished; while from
where it disappeared, down the path, came, silently too, turning
neither to the right nor the left, a second figure, veiled in black
from head to foot.
"It is the nun in Lady Euphrasia's room," said Hugh to himself.
This passed him too, and, walking slowly towards the house,
disappeared somewhere, near the end of the avenue. Turning once
more, with reviving courage -- for his blood had begun to flow more
equably -- Hugh ventured to approach the spot where the white figure
had vanished. He found nothing there but the shadow of a huge tree.
He walked through the avenue to the end, and then back to the
house, but saw nothing; though he often started at fancied
appearances. Sorely bewildered, he returned to his own room. After
speculating till thought was weary, he lay down beside Harry, whom
he was thankful to find in a still repose, and fell fast asleep.
Margaret lay on a couch in Lady Emily's room, and slept likewise;
but she started wide awake at every moan of the invalid, who often
moaned in her sleep.
THE BAD MAN.
She kent he was nae gentle knight,
That she had letten in;
For neither when he gaed nor cam',
Kissed he her cheek or chin.
He neither kissed her when he cam'
Nor clappit her when he gaed;
And in and out at her bower window,
The moon shone like the gleed.
Glenkindie. -- Old Scotch Ballad.
When Euphra recovered from the swoon into which she had fallen -- for
I need hardly explain to my readers, that it was she who walked the
Ghost's Walk in white -- on seeing Margaret, whom, under the
irresistible influences of the moonlight and a bad conscience, she
took for the very being whom Euphra herself was personating -- when
she recovered, I say, she found herself lying in the wood, with
Funkelstein, whom she had gone to meet, standing beside her. Her
first words were of anger, as she tried to rise, and found she could
"How long, Count Halkar, am I to be your slave?"
"Till you have learned to submit."
"Have I not done all I can?"
"You have not found it. You are free from the moment you place that
ring, belonging to me, in right of my family, into my hands."
I do not believe that the man really was Count Halkar, although he
had evidently persuaded Euphra that such was his name and title. I
think it much more probable that, in the course of picking up a mass
of trifling information about various families of distinction, for
which his position of secretary in several of their houses had
afforded him special facilities, he had learned something about the
Halkar family, and this particular ring, of which, for some reason
or other, he wanted to possess himself.
"What more can I do?" moaned Euphra, succeeding at length in raising
herself to a sitting posture, and leaning thus against a tree. "I
shall be found out some day. I have been already seen wandering
through the house at midnight, with the heart of a thief. I hate
you, Count Halkar!"
A low laugh was the count's only reply.
"And now Lady Euphrasia herself dogs my steps, to keep me from the
ring." She gave a low cry of agony at the remembrance.
"Miss Cameron -- Euphra -- are you going to give way to such folly?"
"Folly! Is it not worse folly to torture a poor girl as you do
me -- all for a worthless ring? What can you want with the ring? I
do not know that he has it even."
"You lie. You know he has. You need not think to take me in."
"You base man! You dare not give the lie to any but a woman."
"Because you are a coward. You are afraid of Lady Euphrasia
yourself. See there!"
Von Funkelstein glanced round him uneasily. It was only the
moonlight on the bark of a silver birch. Conscious of having
betrayed weakness, he grew spiteful.
"If you do not behave to me better, I will compel you. Rise up!"
After a moment's hesitation, she rose.
"Put your arms round me."
She seemed to grow to the earth, and to drag herself from it, one
foot after another. But she came close up to the Bohemian, and put
one arm half round him, looking to the earth all the time.
"Count Halkar!" her voice sounded hollow and harsh, as if from a
dead throat -- "I will do what you please. Only release me."
"Go then; but mind you resist me no more. I do not care for your
kisses. You were ready enough once. But that idiot of a tutor has
taken my place, I see."
"Would to God I had never seen you! -- never yielded to your influence
over me! Swear that I shall be free if I find you the ring."
"You find the ring first. Why should I swear? I can compel you.
You know you laid yourself out to entrap me first with your arts,
and I only turned upon you with mine. And you are in my power. But
you shall be free, notwithstanding; and I will torture you till you
free yourself. Find the ring."
"Cruel! cruel! You are doing all you can to ruin me."
"On the contrary, I am doing all I can to save myself. If you had
loved me as you allowed me to think once, I should never have made
you my tool."
"You would all the same."
"Take care. I am irritable to-night."
For a few moments Euphra made no reply.
"To what will you drive me?" she said at last.
"I will not go too far. I should lose my power over you if I did.
I prefer to keep it."
Another despairing pause.
"What am I to do?"
"Nothing. But keep yourself ready to carry out any plan that I may
propose. Something will turn up, now that I have got into the house
myself. Leave me to find out the means. I can expect no invention
from your brains. You can go home."
Euphra turned without another word, and went; murmuring, as if in
excuse to herself:
"It is for my freedom. It is for my freedom."
Of course this account must have come originally from Euphra
herself, for there was no one else to tell it. She, at least,
believed herself compelled to do what the man pleased. Some of my
readers will put her down as insane. She may have been; but, for my
part, I believe there is such a power of one being over another,
though perhaps only in a rare contact of psychologically peculiar
natures. I have testimony enough for that. She had yielded to his
will once. Had she not done so, he could not have compelled her;
but, having once yielded, she had not strength sufficient to free
herself again. Whether even he could free her, further than by
merely abstaining from the exercise of the power he had gained, I
It is evident that he had come to the neighbourhood of Arnstead for
the sake of finding her, and exercising his power over her for his
own ends; that he had made her come to him once, if not oftener,
before he met Hugh, and by means of his acquaintance, obtained
admission into Arnstead. Once admitted, he had easily succeeded, by
his efforts to please, in so far ingratiating himself with Mr.
Arnold, that now the house-door stood open to him, and he had even
his recognised seat at the dinner-table.
SPIRIT VERSUS MATERIALISM.
Next this marble venomed seat,
Smeared with gums of glutinous heat,
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold --
Now the spell hath lost his hold.
MILTON. -- Comas.
Next morning Lady Emily felt better, and wanted to get up: but her
eyes were still too bright, and her hands too hot; and Margaret
would not hear of it.
Fond as Lady Emily was in general of Mrs. Elton's society, she did
not care to have her with her now, and got tired of her when
Margaret was absent.
They had taken care not to allow Miss Cameron to enter the room; but
to-day there was not much likelihood of her making the attempt, for
she did not appear at breakfast, sending a message to her uncle that
she had a bad headache, but hoped to take her place at the
During the day, Lady Emily was better, but restless by fits.
"Were you not out of the room for a little while last night,
Margaret?" she said, rather suddenly.
"Yes, my lady. I told you I should have to go, perhaps."
"I remember I thought you had gone, but I was not in the least
afraid, and that dreadful man never came near me. I do not know
when you returned. Perhaps I had fallen asleep; but when I thought
about you next, there you were by my bedside."
"I shall not have to leave you to-night," was all Margaret's answer.
As for Hugh, when first he woke, the extraordinary experiences of
the previous night appeared to him to belong only to the night, and
to have no real relation to the daylight world. But a little
reflection soon convinced him of the contrary; and then he went
through the duties of the day like one who had nothing to do with
them. The phantoms he had seen even occupied some of the thinking
space formerly appropriated by the image of Euphra, though he knew
to his concern that she was ill, and confined to her room. He had
heard the message sent to Mr. Arnold, however, and so kept hoping
for the dinner-hour.
With it came Euphra, very pale. Her eyes had an unsettled look, and
there were dark hollows under them. She would start and look
sideways without any visible cause; and was thus very different from
her usual self -- ordinarily remarkable for self-possession, almost to
coolness, of manner and speech. Hugh saw it, and became both
distressed and speculative in consequence. It did not diminish his
discomfort that, about the middle of dinner, Funkelstein was
announced. Was it, then, that Euphra had been tremulously expectant
"This is an unforeseen pleasure, Herr von Funkelstein," said Mr.
"It is very good of you to call it a pleasure, Mr. Arnold," said he.
"Miss Cameron -- but, good heavens! how ill you look!"
"Don't be alarmed. I have only caught the plague."
"Only?" was all Funkelstein said in reply; yet Hugh thought he had
no right to be so solicitous about Euphra's health.
As the gentlemen sat at their wine, Mr. Arnold said:
"I am anxious to have one more trial of those strange things you
have brought to our knowledge. I have been thinking about them ever
"Of course I am at your service, Mr. Arnold; but don't you think,
for the ladies' sakes, we have had enough of it?"
"You are very considerate, Herr von Funkelstein; but they need not
be present if they do not like it."
"Very well, Mr. Arnold."
They adjourned once more to the library instead of the drawing-room.
Hugh went and told Euphra, who was alone in the drawing-room, what
they were about. She declined going, but insisted on his leaving
her, and joining the other gentlemen.
Hugh left her with much reluctance.
"Margaret," said Lady Emily, "I am certain that man is in the
"He is, my lady," answered Margaret.
"They are about some more of those horrid experiments, as they call
"I do not know."
Mrs. Elton entering the room at the moment, Margaret said:
"Do you know, ma'am, whether the gentlemen are -- in the library
"I don't know, Margaret. I hope not. We have had enough of that.
I will go and find out, though."
"Will you take my place for a few minutes first, please, ma'am?"
Margaret had felt a growing oppression for some time. She had
scarcely left the sick-room that day.
"Don't leave me, dear Margaret," said Lady Emily, imploringly.
"Only for a little while, my lady. I shall be back in less than a
quarter of an hour."
"Very well, Margaret," she answered dolefully.
Margaret went out into the moonlight, and walked for ten minutes.
She sought the more open parts, where the winds were. She then
returned to the sick-chamber, refreshed and strong.
"Now I will go and see what the gentlemen are about," said Mrs.
The good lady did not like these proceedings, but she was
irresistibly attracted by them notwithstanding. Having gone to see
for Lady Emily, she remained to see for herself.
After she had left, Lady Emily grew more uneasy. Not even
Margaret's presence could make her comfortable. Mrs. Elton did not
return. Many minutes elapsed. Lady Emily said at last:
"Margaret, I am terrified at the idea of being left alone, I
confess; but not so terrified as at the idea of what is going on in
that library. Mrs. Elton will not come back. Would you mind just
running down to ask her to come to me?"
"I would go with pleasure," said Margaret; "but I don't want to be
Margaret did not want to be seen by Hugh. Lady Emily, with her
dislike to Funkelstein, thought Margaret did not want to be seen by
"You will find a black veil of mine," she said, "in that
wardrobe -- just throw it over your head, and hold a handkerchief to
your face. They will be so busy that they will never see you."
Margaret yielded to the request of Lady Emily, who herself arranged
her head-dress for her.
Now I must go back a little. -- When Mrs. Elton reached the room, she
found it darkened, and the gentlemen seated at the table. A running
fire of knocks was going on all around.
She sat down in a corner. In a minute or two, she fancied she saw
strange figures moving about, generally near the floor, and very
imperfectly developed. Sometimes only a hand, sometimes only a
foot, shadowed itself out of the dim obscurity. She tried to
persuade herself that it was all done, somehow or other, by
Funkelstein, yet she could not help watching with a curious dread.
She was not a very excitable woman, and her nerves were safe
In a minute or two more, the table at which they were seated, began
to move up and down with a kind of vertical oscillation, and several
things in the room began to slide about, by short, apparently
purposeless jerks. Everything threatened to assume motion, and turn
the library into a domestic chaos. Mrs. Elton declared afterwards
that several books were thrown about the room. -- But suddenly
everything was as still as the moonlight. Every chair and table was
at rest, looking perfectly incapable of motion. Mrs. Elton felt
that she dared not say they had moved at all, so utterly ordinary
was their appearance. Not a sound was to be heard from corner or
ceiling. After a moment's silence, Mrs. Elton was quite restored to
her sound mind, as she said, and left the room.
"Some adverse influence is at work," said Funkelstein, with some
vexation. "What is in that closet?"
So saying he approached the door of the private staircase, and
opened it. They saw him start aside, and a veiled dark figure pass
him, cross the library, and go out by another door.
"I have my suspicions," said Funkelstein, with a rather tremulous
"And your fears too, I think. Grant it now," said Mr. Arnold.
"Granted, Mr. Arnold. Let us go to the drawing-room."
Just as Margaret had reached the library door at the bottom of the
private stair, either a puff of wind from an open loophole window,
or some other cause, destroyed the arrangement of the veil, and made
it fall quite over her face, She stopped for a moment to readjust
it. She had not quite succeeded, when Funkelstein opened the door.
Without an instant's hesitation, she let the veil fall, and walked
Mrs. Elton had gone to her own room, on her way to Lady Emily's.
When she reached the latter, she found Margaret seated as she had
left her, by the bedside. Lady Emily said:
"I did not miss you, Margaret, half so much as I expected. But,
indeed, you were not many moments gone. I do not care for that man
now. He can't hurt me, can he?"
"Certainty not. I hope he will give you no more trouble either,
dear Lady Emily. But if I might presume to advise you, I would
say -- Get well as soon as you can, and leave this place."
"Why should I? You frighten me. Mr. Arnold is very kind to me."
"The place quite suits Lady Emily, I am sure, Margaret."
"But Lady Emily is not so well as when she came."
"No, but that is not the fault of the place," said Lady Emily. "I am
sure it is all that horrid man's doing."
"How else will you get rid of him, then? What if he wants to get
rid of you?"
"What harm can I be doing him -- a poor girl like me?"
"I don't know. But I fear there is something not right going on."
"We will tell Mr. Arnold at once," said Mrs. Elton.
"But what could you tell him, ma'am? Mr. Arnold is hardly one to
listen to your maid's suspicions. Dear Lady Emily, you must get
well and go."
"I will try," said Lady Emily, submissive as a child.
"I think you will be able to get up for a little while tomorrow."
A tap came to the door. It was Euphrasia, inquiring after Lady
"Ask Miss Cameron to come in," said the invalid.
She entered. Her manner was much changed -- was subdued and
"Dear Miss Cameron, you and I ought to change places. I am sorry to
see you looking so ill," said Lady Emily.
"I have had a headache all day. I shall be quite well to-morrow,
"I intend to be so too," said Lady Emily, cheerfully.
After some little talk, Euphra went, holding her hand to her
forehead. Margaret did not look up, all the time she was in the
room, but went on busily with her needle.
That night was a peaceful one.
shining crystal, which
Out of her womb a thousand rayons threw.
BELLAY: translated by Spenser.
The next day, Lady Emily was very nearly as well as she had proposed
being. She did not, however, make her appearance below. Mr.
Arnold, hearing at luncheon that she was out of bed, immediately
sent up his compliments, with the request that he might be permitted
to see her on his return from the neighbouring village, where he had
some business. To this Lady Emily gladly consented.
He sat with her a long time, talking about various things; for the
presence of the girl, reminding him of his young wife, brought out
the best of the man, lying yet alive under the incrustation of
self-importance, and its inevitable stupidity. At length, subject
of further conversation failing,
"I wonder what we can do to amuse you, Lady Emily," said he.
"Thank you, Mr. Arnold; I am not at all dull. With my kind friend,
Mrs. Elton, and --"
She would have said Margaret, but became instinctively aware that
the mention of her would make Mr. Arnold open his eyes, for he did
not even know her name; and that he would stare yet wider when he
learned that the valued companion referred to was Mrs. Elton's maid.
Mr. Arnold left the room, and presently returned with his arms
filled with all the drawing-room books he could find, with grand
bindings outside, and equally grand plates inside. These he heaped
on the table beside Lady Emily, who tried to look interested, but
scarcely succeeded to Mr. Arnold's satisfaction, for he presently
"You don't seem to care much about these, dear Lady Emily. I
daresay you have looked at them all already, in this dull house of
This was a wonderful admission from Mr. Arnold. He pondered -- then
exclaimed, as if he had just made a grand discovery:
"I have it! I know something that will interest you."
"Do not trouble yourself, pray, Mr. Arnold," said Lady Emily. But
he was already half way to the door.
He went to his own room, and his own strong closet therein.
Returning towards the invalid's quarters with an ebony box of
considerable size, he found it rather heavy, and meeting Euphra by
the way, requested her to take one of the silver handles, and help
him to carry it to Lady Emily's room. She started when she saw it,
but merely said:
"With pleasure, uncle."
"Now, Lady Emily," said he, as, setting down the box, he took out a
curious antique enamelled key, "we shall be able to amuse you for a
He opened the box, and displayed such a glitter and show as would
have delighted the eyes of any lady. All kinds of strange
ornaments; ancient watches -- one of them a death's head in gold;
cameo necklaces; pearls abundant; diamonds, rubies, and all the
colours of precious stones -- every one of them having some history,
whether known to the owner or not; gems that had flashed on many a
fair finger and many a shining neck -- lay before Lady Emily's
delighted eyes. But Euphrasia's eyes shone, as she gazed on them,
with a very different expression from that which sparkled in Lady
Emily's. They seemed to search them with fingers of lightning. Mr.
Arnold chose two or three, and gave Lady Emily her choice of them.
"I could not think of depriving you."
"They are of no use to me," said Mr. Arnold, making light of the
"You are too kind. -- I should like this ring."
"Take it then, dear Lady Emily."
Euphrasia's eyes were not on the speakers, nor was any envy to be
seen in her face. She still gazed at the jewels in the box.
The chosen gem was put aside; and then, one after another, the
various articles were taken out and examined. At length, a large
gold chain, set with emeralds, was lifted from where it lay coiled
up in a corner. A low cry, like a muffled moan, escaped from
Euphrasia's lips, and she turned her head away from the box.
"What is the matter, Euphra?" said Mr. Arnold.
"A sudden shoot of pain -- I beg your pardon, dear uncle. I fear I am
not quite so well yet as I thought I was. How stupid of me!"
"Do sit down. I fear the weight of the box was too much for you."
"Not in the least. I want to see the pretty things."
"But you have seen them before."
"No, uncle. You promised to show them to me, but you never did."
"You see what I get by being ill," said Lady Emily.
The chain was examined, admired, and laid aside.
Where it had lain, they now observed, in the corner, a huge stone
like a diamond.
"What is this?" said Lady Emily, taking it up. "Oh! I see. It is a
ring. But such a ring for size, I never saw. Do look, Miss
For Miss Cameron was not looking. She was leaning her head on her
hand, and her face was ashy pale. Lady Emily tried the ring on.
Any two of her fingers would go into the broad gold circlet, beyond
which the stone projected far in every direction. Indeed, the ring
was attached to the stone, rather than the stone set in the ring.
"That is a curious thing, is it not?" said Mr. Arnold. "It is of no
value in itself, I believe; it is nothing but a crystal. But it
seems to have been always thought something of in the family; -- I
presume from its being evidently the very ring painted by Sir Peter
Lely in that portrait of Lady Euphrasia which I showed you the other
day. It is a clumsy affair, is it not?"
It might have occurred to Mr. Arnold, that such a thing must have
been thought something of, before its owner would have chosen to
wear it when sitting for her portrait.
Lady Emily was just going to lay it down, when she spied something
that made her look at it more closely.
"What curious engraving is this upon the gold?" she asked.
"I do not know, indeed," answered Mr. Arnold. "I have never observed
"Look at it, then -- all over the gold. What at first looks only like
chasing, is, I do believe, words. The character looks to me like
German. I wish I could read it. I am but a poor German scholar.
Do look at it, please, dear Miss Cameron."
Euphra glanced slightly at it without touching it, and said:
"I am sure I could make nothing of it. -- But," she added, as if
struck by a sudden thought, "as Lady Emily seems interested in
it -- suppose we send for Mr. Sutherland. I have no doubt he will be
able to decipher it."
She rose as if she would go for him herself; but, apparently on
second thoughts, went to the bell and rang it.
"Oh! do not trouble yourself," interposed Lady Emily, in a tone that
showed she would like it notwithstanding.
"No trouble at all," answered Euphra and her uncle in a breath.
"Jacob," said Mr. Arnold, "take my compliments to Mr. Sutherland,
and ask him to step this way."
The man went, and Hugh came.
"There's a puzzle for you, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold, as he
entered. "Decipher that inscription, and gain the favour of Lady
Emily for ever."
As he spoke he put the ring in Hugh's hand. Hugh recognized it at
"Ah! this is Lady Euphrasia's wonderful ring," said he.
Euphra cast on him one of her sudden glances.
"What do you know about it?" said Mr. Arnold, hastily.
Euphra flashed at him once more, covertly.
"I only know that this is the ring in her portrait. Any one may see
that it is a very wonderful ring indeed, by only looking at it,"
answered Hugh, smiling.
"I hope it is not too wonderful for you to get at the mystery of it,
though, Mr. Sutherland?" said Lady Emily.
"Lady Emily is dying to understand the inscription," said Euphrasia.
By this time Hugh was turning it round and round, trying to get a
beginning to the legend. But in this he met with a difficulty. The
fact was, that the initial letter of the inscription could only be
found by looking into the crystal held close to the eye. The words
seemed not altogether unknown to him, though the characters were a
little strange, and the words themselves were undivided. The dinner
"Dear me! how the time goes in your room, Lady Emily!" said Mr.
Arnold, who was never known to keep dinner waiting a moment. "Will
you venture to go down with us to-day?"
"I fear I must not to-day. To-morrow, I hope. But do put up these
beauties before you go. I dare not touch them without you, and it
is so much more pleasure seeing them, when I have you to tell me
"Well, throw them in," said Mr. Arnold, pretending an indifference
he did not feel. "The reality of dinner must not be postponed to the
fancy of jewels."
All this time Hugh had stood poring over the ring at the window,
whither he had taken it for better light, as the shadows were
falling. Euphra busied herself replacing everything in the box.
When all were in, she hastily shut the lid.
"Well, Mr. Sutherland?" said Mr. Arnold.
"I seem on the point of making it out, Mr. Arnold, but I certainly
have not succeeded yet."
"Confess yourself vanquished, then, and come to dinner."
"I am very unwilling to give in, for I feel convinced that if I had
leisure to copy the inscription as far as I can read it, I should,
with the help of my dictionary, soon supply the rest. I am very
unwilling, as well, to lose a chance of the favour of Lady Emily."
"Yes, do read it, if you can. I too am dying to hear it," said
"Will you trust me with it, Mr. Arnold? I will take the greatest
care of it."
"Oh, certainly!" replied Mr. Arnold -- with a little hesitation in his
tone, however, of which Hugh was too eager to take any notice.
He carried it to his room immediately, and laid it beside his
manuscript verses, in the hiding-place of the old escritoire. He
was in the drawing-room a moment after.
There he found Euphra and the Bohemian alone. -- Von Funkelstein had,
in an incredibly short space of time, established himself as
Hausfreund, and came and went as he pleased. -- They looked as if they
had been interrupted in a hurried and earnest conversation -- their
faces were so impassive. Yet Euphra's wore a considerably
heightened colour -- a more articulate indication. She could school
her features, but not her complexion.
He...stakes this ring;
And would so, had it been a carbuncle
Of Phbus' wheel; and might so safely, had it
Been all the worth of his car.
Hugh, of course, had an immediate attack of jealousy. Wishing to
show it in one quarter, and hide it in every other, he carefully
abstained from looking once in the direction of Euphra; while,
throughout the dinner, he spoke to every one else as often as there
was the smallest pretext for doing so. To enable himself to keep
this up, he drank wine freely. As he was in general very moderate,
by the time the ladies rose, it had begun to affect his brain. It
was not half so potent, however, in its influences, as the parting
glance which Euphra succeeded at last, as she left the room, in
sending through his eyes to his heart.
Hugh sat down to the table again, with a quieter tongue, but a
busier brain. He drank still, without thinking of the consequences.
A strong will kept him from showing any signs of intoxication, but
he was certainly nearer to that state than he had ever been in his
The Bohemian started the new subject which generally follows the
"How long is it since Arnstead was first said to be haunted, Mr.
"Haunted! Herr von Funkelstein? I am at a loss to understand you,"
replied Mr. Arnold, who resented any such allusion, being subversive
of the honour of his house, almost as much as if it had been
depreciative of his own.
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Arnold. I thought it was an open subject of
"So it is," said Hugh; "every one knows that."
Mr. Arnold was struck dumb with indignation. Before he had
recovered himself sufficiently to know what to say, the conversation
between the other two had assumed a form to which his late
experiences inclined him to listen with some degree of interest.
But, his pride sternly forbidding him to join in it, he sat sipping
his wine in careless sublimity.
"You have seen it yourself, then?" said the Bohemian.
"I did not say that," answered Hugh. "But I heard one of the maids
say once -- when --"
This hesitation of his witnessed against him afterwards, in Mr.
Arnold's judgment. But he took no notice now. -- Hugh ended tamely
"Why, it is commonly reported amongst the servants."
"With a blue light? -- Such as we saw that night from the library
window, I suppose."
"I did not say that," answered Hugh. "Besides, it was nothing of the
sort you saw from the library. It was only the moon. But --"
He paused again. Von Funkelstein saw the condition he was in, and
"You know something more, Mr. Sutherland."
Hugh hesitated again, but only for a moment.
"Well, then," he said, "I have seen the spectre myself, walking in
her white grave-clothes, in the Ghost's Avenue -- ha! ha!"
Funkelstein looked anxious.
"Were you frightened?" said he.
"Frightened!" repeated Hugh, in a tone of the greatest contempt. "I
am of Don Juan's opinion with regard to such gentry."
"What is that?"
"'That soul and body, on the whole,
Are odds against a disembodied soul.'"
"Bravo!" cried the count. "You despise all these tales about Lady
Euphrasia, wandering about the house with a death-candle in her
hand, looking everywhere about as if she had lost something, and
couldn't find it?"
"Pooh! pooh! I wish I could meet her!"
"Then you don't believe a word of it?"
"I don't say that. There would be less of courage than boasting in
talking so, if I did not believe a word of it."
"Then you do believe it?"
But Hugh was too much of a Scotchman to give a hasty opinion, or
rather a direct answer -- even when half-tipsy; especially when such
was evidently desired. He only shook and nodded his head at the
"Do you really mean you would meet her if you could?"
"Then, if all tales are true, you may, without much difficulty. For
the coachman told me only to-day, that you may see her light in the
window of that room almost any night, towards midnight. He told me,
too (for I made quite a friend of him to-day, on purpose to hear his
tales), that one of the maids, who left the other day, told the
groom -- and he told the coachman -- that she had once heard talking;
and, peeping through the key-hole of a door that led into that part
of the old house, saw a figure, dressed exactly like the picture of
Lady Euphrasia, wandering up and down, wringing her hands and
beating her breast, as if she were in terrible trouble. She had a
light in her hand which burned awfully blue, and her face was the
face of a corpse, with pale-green spots."
"You think to frighten me, Funkelstein, and make me tremble at what
I said a minute ago. Instead of repeating that. I say now: I will
sleep in Lady Euphrasia's room this night, if you like."
"I lay you a hundred guineas you won't!" cried the Bohemian.
"Done!" said Hugh, offering him his hand. Funkelstein took it; and
so the bet was committed to the decision of courage.
"Well, gentlemen," interposed Mr. Arnold at last, "you might have
left a corner for me somewhere. Without my permission you will
hardly settle your wager."
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Arnold," said Funkelstein. "We got rather
excited over it, and forgot our manners. But I am quite willing to
give it up, if Mr. Sutherland will."
"Not I," said Hugh; -- "that is, of course, if Mr. Arnold has no
"Of course not. My house, ghost and all, is at your service,
gentlemen," responded Mr. Arnold, rising.
They went to the drawing-room. Mr. Arnold, strange to say, was in a
good humour. He walked up to Mrs. Elton, and said:
"These wicked men have been betting, Mrs. Elton."
"I am surprised they should be so silly," said she, with a smile,
taking it as a joke.
"What have they been betting about?" said Euphra, coming up to her
"Herr von Funkelstein has laid a hundred guineas that Mr. Sutherland
will not sleep in Lady Euphrasia's room to-night."
Euphra turned pale.
"By sleep I suppose you mean spend the night?" said Hugh to
Funkelstein. "I cannot be certain of sleeping, you know."
"Of course, I mean that," answered the other; and, turning to
"I must say I consider it rather courageous of him to dare the
spectre as he does, for he cannot say he disbelieves in her. But
come and sing me one of the old songs," he added, in an under tone.
Euphra allowed him to lead her to the piano; but instead of singing
a song to him, she played some noisy music, through which he and she
contrived to talk for some time, without being overheard; after
which he left the room. Euphra then looked round to Hugh, and
begged him with her eyes to come to her. He could not resist,
burning with jealousy as he was.
"Are you sure you have nerve enough for this, Hugh?" she said, still
"I have had nerve enough to sit still and look at you for the last
half hour," answered Hugh, rudely.
She turned pale, and glanced up at him with a troubled look. Then,
without responding to his answer, said:
"I daresay the count is not over-anxious to hold you to your bet."
"Pray intercede for me with the count, madam," answered Hugh,
sarcastically. "He would not wish the young fool to be frightened, I
daresay. But perhaps he wishes to have an interview with the ghost
himself, and grudges me the privilege."
She turned deadly pale this time, and gave him one terrified glance,
but made no other reply to his words. Still she played on.
"You will arm yourself?"
"Against a ghost? Yes, with a stout heart."
"But don't forget the secret door through which we came that night,
Hugh. I distrust the count."
The last words were spoken in a whisper, emphasized into almost a
"Tell him I shall be armed. I tell you I shall meet him
bare-handed. Betray me if you like."
Hugh had taken his revenge, and now came the reaction. He gazed at
Euphra; but instead of the injured look, which was the best he could
hope to see, an expression of "pity and ruth" grew slowly in her
face, making it more lovely than ever in his eyes. At last she
seemed on the point of bursting into tears; and, suddenly changing
the music, she began playing a dead-march. She kept her eyes on the
keys. Once more, only, she glanced round, to see whether Hugh was
still by her side; and he saw that her face was pale as death, and
wet with silent tears. He had never seen her weep before. He would
have fallen at her feet, had he been alone with her. To hide his
feelings, he left the room, and then the house.
He wandered into the Ghost's Walk; and, finding himself there,
walked up and down in it. This was certainly throwing the lady a
bold challenge, seeing he was going to spend the night in her room.
The excitement into which jealousy had thrown him, had been suddenly
checked by the sight of Euphra's tears. The reaction, too, after
his partial intoxication, had already begun to set in; to be
accounted for partly by the fact that its source had been chiefly
champagne, and partly by the other fact, that he had bound himself
in honour, to dare a spectre in her own favourite haunt.
On the other hand, the sight of Euphra's emotion had given him a far
better courage than jealousy or wine could afford. Yet, after ten
minutes passed in the shadows of the Ghost's Walk, he would not have
taken the bet at ten times its amount.
But to lose it now would have been a serious affair for him, the
disgrace of failure unconsidered. If he could have lost a hundred
guineas, it would have been comparatively a slight matter; but to
lose a bet, and be utterly unable to pay it, would be
disgraceful -- no better than positive cheating. He had not thought
of this at the time. Nor, even now, was it more than a passing
thought; for he had not the smallest desire to recede. The ambition
of proving his courage to Euphra, and, far more, the strength just
afforded him by the sight of her tears, were quite sufficient to
carry him on to the ordeal. Whether they would carry him through it
with dignity, he did not ask himself.
And, after all, would the ghost appear? At the best, she might not
come; at the very worst, she would be but a ghost; and he could say
with Hamlet --
"for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing as immortal as itself?"
But then, his jealousy having for the moment intermitted, Hugh was
not able to say with Hamlet --
"I do not set my life at a pin's fee;"
and that had much to do with Hamlet's courage in the affair of the
He walked up and down the avenue, till, beginning to feel the night
chilly, he began to feel the avenue eerie; for cold is very
antagonistic to physical courage. But what refuge would he find in
the ghost's room?
He returned to the drawing-room. Von Funkelstein and Euphra were
there alone, but in no proximity. Mr. Arnold soon entered.
"Shall I have the bed prepared for you, Mr. Sutherland?" said
"Which of your maids will you persuade to that office?" said Mr.
Arnold, with a facetious expression.
"I must do it myself," answered Euphra, "if Mr. Sutherland
Hugh saw, or thought he saw, the Bohemian dart an angry glance at
Euphra, who shrank under it. But before he could speak, Mr. Arnold
"You can make a bed, then? That is the housemaid's phrase, is it
"I can do anything another can, uncle."
"Bravo! Can you see the ghost?"
"Yes," she answered, with a low lingering on the sibilant; looking
round, at the same time, with an expression that implied a hope that
Hugh had heard it; as indeed he had.
"What! Euphra too?" said Mr. Arnold, in a tone of gentle contempt.
"Do not disturb the ghost's bed for me," said Hugh. "It would be a
pity to disarrange it, after it has lain so for an age. Besides, I
need not rouse the wrath of the poor spectre more than can't be
helped. If I must sleep in her room, I need not sleep in her bed.
I will lie on the old couch. Herr von Funkelstein, what proof
shall I give you?"
"Your word, Mr. Sutherland," replied Funkelstein, with a bow.
"Thank you. At what hour must I be there."
"Oh! I don't know. By eleven I should think. Oh! any time before
midnight. That's the ghost's own, is it not? It is now -- let me
see -- almost ten."
"Then I will go at once," said Hugh, thinking it better to meet the
gradual approach of the phantom-hour in the room itself, than to
walk there through the desolate house, and enter the room just as
the fear would be gathering thickest within it. Besides, he was
afraid that his courage might have broken down a little by that
time, and that he would not be able to conceal entirely the
anticipative dread, whose inroad he had reason to apprehend.
"I have one good cup of tea yet, Mr. Sutherland," said Euphra. "Will
you not strengthen your nerves with that, before we lead you to the
"Then she will go with me," thought Hugh. "I will, thank you, Miss
He approached the table at which she stood pouring out the cup of
tea. She said, low and hurriedly, without raising her head:
"Don't go, dear Hugh. You don't know what may happen."
"I will go, Euphra. Not even you shall prevent me."
"I will pay the wager for you -- lend you the money."
"Euphra!" -- The tone implied many things.
Mr. Arnold approached. Other conversation followed. As half-past
ten chimed from the clock on the chimney-piece, Hugh rose to go.
"I will just get a book from my room," he said; "and then perhaps
Herr von Funkelstein will be kind enough to see me make a beginning
"Certainly I will. And I advise you to let the book be Edgar Poe's
"No. I shall need all the courage I have, I assure you. I shall
find you here?"
Hugh went to his room, and washed his face and hands. Before doing
so, he pulled off his finger a ring of considerable value, which had
belonged to his father. As he was leaving the room to return to the
company, he remembered that he had left the ring on the
washhand-stand. He generally left it there at night; but now he
bethought himself that, as he was not going to sleep in the room, it
might be as well to place it in the escritoire. He opened the
secret place, and laid the diamond beside his poems and the crystal
ring belonging to Mr. Arnold. This done, he took up his book again,
and, returning to the drawing-room, found the whole party prepared
to accompany him. Mr. Arnold had the keys. Von Funkelstein and he
went first, and Hugh followed with Euphra.
"We will not contribute to your discomfiture by locking the doors on
the way, Mr. Sutherland," said Mr. Arnold.
"That is, you will not compel me to win the wager in spite of my
fears," said Hugh.
"But you will let the ghost loose on the household," said the
"I will be responsible for that," replied Mr. Arnold.
Euphra dropped a little behind with Hugh.
"Remember the secret passage," said she. "You can get out when you
will, whether they lock the door, or not. Don't carry it too far,
"The ghost you mean, Euphra. -- I don't think I shall," said Hugh,
laughing. But as he laughed, an involuntary shudder passed through
"Have I stepped over my own grave?" thought he.
They reached the room, and entered. Hugh would have begged them to
lock him in, had he not felt that his knowledge of the secret door,
would, although he intended no use of it, render such a proposal
dishonourable. They gave him the key of the door, to lock it on the
inside, and bade him good night. They were just leaving him, when
Hugh on whom a new light had broken at last, in the gradual
restoration of his faculties, said to the Bohemian:
"One word with you, Herr von Funkelstein, if you please."
Funkelstein followed him into the room; when Hugh half-closing the
"I trust to your sympathy, as gentleman, not to misunderstand me. I
wagered a hundred guineas with you in the heat of after-dinner talk.
I am not at present worth a hundred shillings."
"Oh!" began Funkelstein, with a sneer, "if you wish to get off on
that ground --"
"Herr von Funkelstein," interrupted Hugh, in a very decided tone, "I
pointed to your sympathy as a gentleman, as the ground on which I
had hoped to meet you now. If you have difficulty in finding that
ground, another may be found to-morrow without much seeking."
Hugh paused for a moment after making this grand speech; but
Funkelstein did not seem to understand him: he stood in a waiting
attitude. Hugh therefore went on:
"Meantime, what I wanted to say is this: -- I have just left a ring in
my room, which, though in value considerably below the sum mentioned
between us, may yet be a pledge of my good faith, in as far as it is
of infinitely more value to me than can be reckoned in money. It
was the property of one who by birth, and perhaps by social position
as well, was Herr von Funkelstein's equal. The ring is a diamond,
and belonged to my father."
Von Funkelstein merely replied:
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Sutherland, for misunderstanding you. The
ring is quite an equivalent." And making him a respectful bow, he
turned and left him.
THE LADY EUPHRASIA.
The black jades of swart night trot foggy rings
'Bout heaven's brow. 'Tis now stark dead night.
JOHN MARSTON. -- Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.
As soon as Hugh was alone, his first action was to lock the door by
which he had entered; his next to take the key from the lock, and
put it in his pocket. He then looked if there were any other
fastenings, and finding an old tarnished brass bolt as well,
succeeded in making it do its duty for the first time that century,
which required some persuasion, as may be supposed. He then turned
towards the other door. As he crossed the room, he found four
candles, a decanter of port, and some biscuits, on a table -- placed
there, no doubt, by the kind hands of Euphra. He vowed to himself
that he would not touch the wine. "I have had enough of that for one
night," said he. But he lighted the candles; and then saw that the
couch was provided with plenty of wraps for the night. One of
them -- he recognised to his delight -- was a Cameron tartan, often worn
by Euphra. He buried his face in it for a moment, and drew from it
fresh courage. He then went into the furthest recess, lifted the
tapestry, and proceeded to fasten the concealed door. But, to his
discomfiture, he could find no fastening upon it. "No doubt,"
thought he, "it does fasten, in some secret way or other." But he
could discover none. There was no mark of bolt or socket to show
whence one had been removed, nor sign of friction to indicate that
the door had ever been made secure in such fashion. It closed with
"Then," said Hugh, apostrophising the door, "I must watch you."
As, however, it was not yet near the time when ghosts are to be
expected, and as he felt very tired, he drank one glass of the wine,
and throwing himself on the couch, drew Euphra's shawl over him,
opened his book, and began to read. But the words soon vanished in
a bewildering dance, and he slept.
He started awake in that agony of fear in which I suppose most
people have awaked in the night, once or twice in their lives. He
felt that he was not alone. But the feeling seemed, when he
recalled it, to have been altogether different from that with which
we recognise the presence of the most unwelcome bodily visitor. The
whole of his nervous skeleton seemed to shudder and contract. Every
sense was intensified to the acme of its acuteness; while the powers
of volition were inoperative. He could not move a finger.
The moment in which he first saw the object I am about to describe,
he could not recall. The impression made seemed to have been too
strong for the object receiving it, destroying thus its own traces,
as an overheated brand-iron would in dry timber. Or it may be that,
after such a pre-sensation, the cause of it could not surprise him.
He saw, a few paces off, bending as if looking down upon him, a face
which, if described as he described it, would be pronounced as far
past the most liberal boundary-line of art, as itself had passed
beyond that degree of change at which a human countenance is fit for
the upper world no longer, and must be hidden away out of sight.
The lips were dark, and drawn back from the closed teeth, which
were white as those of a skull. There were spots -- in fact, the face
corresponded exactly to the description given by Funkelstein of the
reported ghost of Lady Euphrasia. The dress was point for point
correspondent to that in the picture. Had the portrait of Lady
Euphrasia been hanging on the wall above, instead of the portrait of
the unknown nun, Hugh would have thought, as far as dress was
concerned, that it had come alive, and stepped from its
frame -- except for one thing: there was no ring on the thumb.
It was wonderful to himself afterwards, that he should have observed
all these particulars; but the fact was, that they rather burnt
themselves in upon his brain, than were taken notice of by him.
They returned upon him afterwards by degrees, as one becomes
sensible of the pain of a wound.
But there was one sign of life. Though the eyes were closed, tears
flowed from them; and seemed to have worn channels for their
constant flow down this face of death, which ought to have been
lying still in the grave, returning to its dust, and was weeping
above ground instead. The figure stood for a moment, as one who
would gaze, could she but open her heavy, death-rusted eyelids.
Then, as if in hopeless defeat, she turned away. And then, to
crown the horror literally as well as figuratively, Hugh saw that
her hair sparkled and gleamed goldenly, as the hair of a saint
might, if the aureole were combed down into it. She moved towards
the door with a fettered pace, such as one might attribute to the
dead if they walked; -- to the dead body, I say, not to the living
ghost; to that which has lain in the prison-hold, till the joints
are decayed with the grave-damps, and the muscles are stiff with
more than deathly cold. She dragged one limb after the other slowly
and, to appearance, painfully, as she moved towards the door which
Hugh had locked.
When she had gone half-way to the door, Hugh, lying as he was on a
couch, could see her feet, for her dress did not reach the ground.
They were bare, as the feet of the dead ought to be, which are
about to tread softly in the realm of Hades, But how stained and
mouldy and iron-spotted, as if the rain had been soaking through the
spongy coffin, did the dress show beside the pure whiteness of those
exquisite feet! Not a sign of the tomb was upon them. Small,
living, delicately formed, Hugh, could he have forgot the face they
bore above, might have envied the floor which in their nakedness
they seemed to caress, so lingeringly did they move from it in their
She reached the door, put out her hand, and touched it. Hugh saw it
open outwards and let her through. Nor did this strike him as in
the smallest degree marvellous. It closed again behind her,
noiseless as her footfalls.
The moment she vanished, the power of motion returned to him, and
Hugh sprang to his feet. He leaped to the door. With trembling
hand he inserted the key, and the lock creaked as he turned it.
In proof of his being in tolerable possession of his faculties at
the moment, and that what he was relating to me actually occurred,
he told me that he remembered at once that he had heard that
peculiar creak, a few moments before Euphra and he discovered that
they were left alone in this very chamber. He had never thought of
Still the door would not open: it was bolted as well, and the bolt
was very stiff to withdraw. But at length he succeeded.
When he reached the passage outside, he thought he saw the glimmer
of a light, perhaps in the picture-gallery beyond. Towards this he
groped his way. -- He could never account for the fact, that he left
the candles burning in the room behind him and went forward into the
darkness, except by supposing that his wits had gone astray, in
consequence of the shock the apparition had occasioned them. -- When
he reached the gallery, there was no light there; but somewhere in
the distance he saw, or fancied, a faint shimmer.
The impulse to go towards it was too strong to be disputed with. He
advanced with outstretched arms, groping. After a few steps, he had
lost all idea of where he was, or how he ought to proceed in order
to reach any known quarter. The light had vanished. He stood. -- Was
that a stealthy step he heard beside him in the dark? He had no
time to speculate, for the next moment he fell senseless.
Darkness is fled: look, infant morn hath drawn
Bright silver curtains 'bout the couch of night;
And now Aurora's horse trots azure rings,
Breathing fair light about the firmament.
Stand; what's that?
JOHN MARSTON. -- Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.
When he came to himself, it was with a slow flowing of the tide of
consciousness. His head ached. Had he fallen down stairs? -- or had
he struck his head against some projection, and so stunned himself?
The last he remembered was -- standing quite still in the dark, and
hearing something. Had he been knocked down? He could not
tell. -- Where was he? Could the ghost have been all a dream? and
this headache be nature's revenge upon last night's wine? -- For he
lay on the couch in the haunted chamber, and on his bosom lay the
book over which he had dropped asleep.
Mingled with all this doubt, there was another. For he remembered
that, when consciousness first returned, he felt as if he had seen
Euphra's face bending down close over his. -- Could it be possible?
Had Euphra herself come to see how he had fared? -- The room lay in
the grey light of the dawn, but Euphra was nowhere visible. Could
she have vanished ashamed through the secret door? Or had she been
only a phantasy, a projection outwards of the form that dwelt in his
brain; a phenomenon often occurring when the last of sleeping and
the first of waking are indistinguishably blended in a vague
But if it was so, then the ghost? -- what of it? Had not his brain,