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Green Tea; Mr. Justice Harbottle by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu

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GREEN TEA

1871

MR. JUSTICE HARBOTTLE

1872

By

Joseph Sheridan LeFanu

GREEN TEA

PROLOGUE

_Martin Hesselius, the German Physician_

Though carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never
practised either. The study of each continues, nevertheless, to interest
me profoundly. Neither idleness nor caprice caused my secession from the
honourable calling which I had just entered. The cause was a very
trifling scratch inflicted by a dissecting knife. This trifle cost me
the loss of two fingers, amputated promptly, and the more painful loss
of my health, for I have never been quite well since, and have seldom
been twelve months together in the same place.

In my wanderings I became acquainted with Dr. Martin Hesselius, a
wanderer like myself, like me a physician, and like me an enthusiast in
his profession. Unlike me in this, that his wanderings were voluntary,
and he a man, if not of fortune, as we estimate fortune in England, at
least in what our forefathers used to term "easy circumstances." He was
an old man when I first saw him; nearly five-and-thirty years my senior.

In Dr. Martin Hesselius, I found my master. His knowledge was immense,
his grasp of a case was an intuition. He was the very man to inspire a
young enthusiast, like me, with awe and delight. My admiration has stood
the test of time and survived the separation of death. I am sure it was
well-founded.

For nearly twenty years I acted as his medical secretary. His immense
collection of papers he has left in my care, to be arranged, indexed and
bound. His treatment of some of these cases is curious. He writes in two
distinct characters. He describes what he saw and heard as an
intelligent layman might, and when in this style of narrative he had
seen the patient either through his own hall-door, to the light of day,
or through the gates of darkness to the caverns of the dead, he returns
upon the narrative, and in the terms of his art and with all the force
and originality of genius, proceeds to the work of analysis, diagnosis
and illustration.

Here and there a case strikes me as of a kind to amuse or horrify a lay
reader with an interest quite different from the peculiar one which it
may possess for an expert. With slight modifications, chiefly of
language, and of course a change of names, I copy the following. The
narrator is Dr. Martin Hesselius. I find it among the voluminous notes
of cases which he made during a tour in England about sixty-four years
ago.

It is related in series of letters to his friend Professor Van Loo of
Leyden. The professor was not a physician, but a chemist, and a man who
read history and metaphysics and medicine, and had, in his day, written
a play.

The narrative is therefore, if somewhat less valuable as a medical
record, necessarily written in a manner more likely to interest an
unlearned reader.

These letters, from a memorandum attached, appear to have been returned
on the death of the professor, in 1819, to Dr. Hesselius. They are
written, some in English, some in French, but the greater part in
German. I am a faithful, though I am conscious, by no means a graceful
translator, and although here and there I omit some passages, and
shorten others, and disguise names, I have interpolated nothing.

CHAPTER I

_Dr. Hesselius Relates How He Met the Rev. Mr. Jennings_

The Rev. Mr. Jennings is tall and thin. He is middle-aged, and dresses
with a natty, old-fashioned, high-church precision. He is naturally a
little stately, but not at all stiff. His features, without being
handsome, are well formed, and their expression extremely kind, but also
shy.

I met him one evening at Lady Mary Heyduke's. The modesty and
benevolence of his countenance are extremely prepossessing.

We were but a small party, and he joined agreeably enough in the
conversation, He seems to enjoy listening very much more than
contributing to the talk; but what he says is always to the purpose and
well said. He is a great favourite of Lady Mary's, who it seems,
consults him upon many things, and thinks him the most happy and blessed
person on earth. Little knows she about him.

The Rev. Mr. Jennings is a bachelor, and has, they say sixty thousand
pounds in the funds. He is a charitable man. He is most anxious to be
actively employed in his sacred profession, and yet though always
tolerably well elsewhere, when he goes down to his vicarage in
Warwickshire, to engage in the actual duties of his sacred calling, his
health soon fails him, and in a very strange way. So says Lady Mary.

There is no doubt that Mr. Jennings' health does break down in,
generally, a sudden and mysterious way, sometimes in the very act of
officiating in his old and pretty church at Kenlis. It may be his heart,
it may be his brain. But so it has happened three or four times, or
oftener, that after proceeding a certain way in the service, he has on a
sudden stopped short, and after a silence, apparently quite unable to
resume, he has fallen into solitary, inaudible prayer, his hands and his
eyes uplifted, and then pale as death, and in the agitation of a strange
shame and horror, descended trembling, and got into the vestry-room,
leaving his congregation, without explanation, to themselves. This
occurred when his curate was absent. When he goes down to Kenlis now, he
always takes care to provide a clergyman to share his duty, and to
supply his place on the instant should he become thus suddenly
incapacitated.

When Mr. Jennings breaks down quite, and beats a retreat from the
vicarage, and returns to London, where, in a dark street off Piccadilly,
he inhabits a very narrow house, Lady Mary says that he is always
perfectly well. I have my own opinion about that. There are degrees of
course. We shall see.

Mr. Jennings is a perfectly gentlemanlike man. People, however, remark
something odd. There is an impression a little ambiguous. One thing
which certainly contributes to it, people I think don't remember; or,
perhaps, distinctly remark. But I did, almost immediately. Mr. Jennings
has a way of looking sidelong upon the carpet, as if his eye followed
the movements of something there. This, of course, is not always. It
occurs now and then. But often enough to give a certain oddity, as I
have said, to his manner, and in this glance travelling along the floor
there is something both shy and anxious.

A medical philosopher, as you are good enough to call me, elaborating
theories by the aid of cases sought out by himself, and by him watched
and scrutinised with more time at command, and consequently infinitely
more minuteness than the ordinary practitioner can afford, falls
insensibly into habits of observation, which accompany him everywhere,
and are exercised, as some people would say, impertinently, upon every
subject that presents itself with the least likelihood of rewarding
inquiry.

There was a promise of this kind in the slight, timid, kindly, but
reserved gentleman, whom I met for the first time at this agreeable
little evening gathering. I observed, of course, more than I here set
down; but I reserve all that borders on the technical for a strictly
scientific paper.

I may remark, that when I here speak of medical science, I do so, as I
hope some day to see it more generally understood, in a much more
comprehensive sense than its generally material treatment would warrant.
I believe the entire natural world is but the ultimate expression of
that spiritual world from which, and in which alone, it has its life. I
believe that the essential man is a spirit, that the spirit is an
organised substance, but as different in point of material from what we
ordinarily understand by matter, as light or electricity is; that the
material body is, in the most literal sense, a vesture, and death
consequently no interruption of the living man's existence, but simply
his extrication from the natural body--a process which commences at the
moment of what we term death, and the completion of which, at furthest a
few days later, is the resurrection "in power."

The person who weighs the consequences of these positions will probably
see their practical bearing upon medical science. This is, however, by
no means the proper place for displaying the proofs and discussing the
consequences of this too generally unrecognized state of facts.

In pursuance of my habit, I was covertly observing Mr. Jennings, with
all my caution--I think he perceived it--and I saw plainly that he was
as cautiously observing me. Lady Mary happening to address me by my
name, as Dr. Hesselius, I saw that he glanced at me more sharply, and
then became thoughtful for a few minutes.

After this, as I conversed with a gentleman at the other end of the
room, I saw him look at me more steadily, and with an interest which I
thought I understood. I then saw him take an opportunity of chatting
with Lady Mary, and was, as one always is, perfectly aware of being the
subject of a distant inquiry and answer.

This tall clergyman approached me by-and-by; and in a little time we had
got into conversation. When two people, who like reading, and know books
and places, having travelled, wish to discourse, it is very strange if
they can't find topics. It was not accident that brought him near me,
and led him into conversation. He knew German and had read my Essays on
Metaphysical Medicine which suggest more than they actually say.

This courteous man, gentle, shy, plainly a man of thought and reading,
who moving and talking among us, was not altogether of us, and whom I
already suspected of leading a life whose transactions and alarms were
carefully concealed, with an impenetrable reserve from, not only the
world, but his best beloved friends--was cautiously weighing in his own
mind the idea of taking a certain step with regard to me.

I penetrated his thoughts without his being aware of it, and was careful
to say nothing which could betray to his sensitive vigilance my
suspicions respecting his position, or my surmises about his plans
respecting myself.

We chatted upon indifferent subjects for a time but at last he said:

"I was very much interested by some papers of yours, Dr. Hesselius, upon
what you term Metaphysical Medicine--I read them in German, ten or
twelve years ago--have they been translated?"

"No, I'm sure they have not--I should have heard. They would have asked
my leave, I think."

"I asked the publishers here, a few months ago, to get the book for me
in the original German; but they tell me it is out of print."

"So it is, and has been for some years; but it flatters me as an author
to find that you have not forgotten my little book, although," I added,
laughing, "ten or twelve years is a considerable time to have managed
without it; but I suppose you have been turning the subject over again
in your mind, or something has happened lately to revive your interest
in it."

At this remark, accompanied by a glance of inquiry, a sudden
embarrassment disturbed Mr. Jennings, analogous to that which makes a
young lady blush and look foolish. He dropped his eyes, and folded his
hands together uneasily, and looked oddly, and you would have said,
guiltily, for a moment.

I helped him out of his awkwardness in the best way, by appearing not to
observe it, and going straight on, I said: "Those revivals of interest
in a subject happen to me often; one book suggests another, and often
sends me back a wild-goose chase over an interval of twenty years. But
if you still care to possess a copy, I shall be only too happy to
provide you; I have still got two or three by me--and if you allow me to
present one I shall be very much honoured."

"You are very good indeed," he said, quite at his ease again, in a
moment: "I almost despaired--I don't know how to thank you."

"Pray don't say a word; the thing is really so little worth that I am
only ashamed of having offered it, and if you thank me any more I shall
throw it into the fire in a fit of modesty."

Mr. Jennings laughed. He inquired where I was staying in London, and
after a little more conversation on a variety of subjects, he took his
departure.

CHAPTER II

_The Doctor Questions Lady Mary and She Answers_

"I like your vicar so much, Lady Mary," said I, as soon as he was gone.
"He has read, travelled, and thought, and having also suffered, he ought
to be an accomplished companion."

"So he is, and, better still, he is a really good man," said she. "His
advice is invaluable about my schools, and all my little undertakings at
Dawlbridge, and he's so painstaking, he takes so much trouble--you have
no idea--wherever he thinks he can be of use: he's so good-natured and
so sensible."

"It is pleasant to hear so good an account of his neighbourly virtues. I
can only testify to his being an agreeable and gentle companion, and in
addition to what you have told me, I think I can tell you two or three
things about him," said I.

"Really!"

"Yes, to begin with, he's unmarried."

"Yes, that's right--go on."

"He has been writing, that is he _was_, but for two or three years
perhaps, he has not gone on with his work, and the book was upon some
rather abstract subject--perhaps theology."

"Well, he was writing a book, as you say; I'm not quite sure what it was
about, but only that it was nothing that I cared for; very likely you are
right, and he certainly did stop--yes."

"And although he only drank a little coffee here to-night, he likes tea,
at least, did like it extravagantly."

"Yes, that's _quite_ true."

"He drank green tea, a good deal, didn't he?" I pursued.

"Well, that's very odd! Green tea was a subject on which we used almost
to quarrel."

"But he has quite given that up," said I.

"So he has."

"And, now, one more fact. His mother or his father, did you know them?"

"Yes, both; his father is only ten years dead, and their place is near
Dawlbridge. We knew them very well," she answered.

"Well, either his mother or his father--I should rather think his
father, saw a ghost," said I.

"Well, you really are a conjurer, Dr. Hesselius."

"Conjurer or no, haven't I said right?" I answered merrily.

"You certainly have, and it _was_ his father: he was a silent, whimsical
man, and he used to bore my father about his dreams, and at last he told
him a story about a ghost he had seen and talked with, and a very odd
story it was. I remember it particularly, because I was so afraid of
him. This story was long before he died--when I was quite a child--and
his ways were so silent and moping, and he used to drop in sometimes, in
the dusk, when I was alone in the drawing-room, and I used to fancy
there were ghosts about him."

I smiled and nodded.

"And now, having established my character as a conjurer, I think I must
say good-night," said I.

"But how _did_ you find it out?"

"By the planets, of course, as the gipsies do," I answered, and so,
gaily we said good-night.

Next morning I sent the little book he had been inquiring after, and a
note to Mr. Jennings, and on returning late that evening, I found that
he had called at my lodgings, and left his card. He asked whether I was
at home, and asked at what hour he would be most likely to find me.

Does he intend opening his case, and consulting me "professionally," as
they say? I hope so. I have already conceived a theory about him. It is
supported by Lady Mary's answers to my parting questions. I should like
much to ascertain from his own lips. But what can I do consistently with
good breeding to invite a confession? Nothing. I rather think he
meditates one. At all events, my dear Van L., I shan't make myself
difficult of access; I mean to return his visit tomorrow. It will be
only civil in return for his politeness, to ask to see him. Perhaps
something may come of it. Whether much, little, or nothing, my dear Van
L., you shall hear.

CHAPTER III

_Dr. Hesselius Picks Up Something in Latin Books_

Well, I have called at Blank Street.

On inquiring at the door, the servant told me that Mr. Jennings was
engaged very particularly with a gentleman, a clergyman from Kenlis, his
parish in the country. Intending to reserve my privilege, and to call
again, I merely intimated that I should try another time, and had turned
to go, when the servant begged my pardon, and asked me, looking at me a
little more attentively than well-bred persons of his order usually do,
whether I was Dr. Hesselius; and, on learning that I was, he said,
"Perhaps then, sir, you would allow me to mention it to Mr. Jennings,
for I am sure he wishes to see you."

The servant returned in a moment, with a message from Mr. Jennings,
asking me to go into his study, which was in effect his back drawing-room,
promising to be with me in a very few minutes.

This was really a study--almost a library. The room was lofty, with two
tall slender windows, and rich dark curtains. It was much larger than I
had expected, and stored with books on every side, from the floor to the
ceiling. The upper carpet--for to my tread it felt that there were two
or three--was a Turkey carpet. My steps fell noiselessly. The bookcases
standing out, placed the windows, particularly narrow ones, in deep
recesses. The effect of the room was, although extremely comfortable,
and even luxurious, decidedly gloomy, and aided by the silence, almost
oppressive. Perhaps, however, I ought to have allowed something for
association. My mind had connected peculiar ideas with Mr. Jennings. I
stepped into this perfectly silent room, of a very silent house, with a
peculiar foreboding; and its darkness, and solemn clothing of books, for
except where two narrow looking-glasses were set in the wall, they were
everywhere, helped this somber feeling.

While awaiting Mr. Jennings' arrival, I amused myself by looking into
some of the books with which his shelves were laden. Not among these,
but immediately under them, with their backs upward, on the floor, I
lighted upon a complete set of Swedenborg's "Arcana Caelestia," in the
original Latin, a very fine folio set, bound in the natty livery which
theology affects, pure vellum, namely, gold letters, and carmine edges.
There were paper markers in several of these volumes, I raised and
placed them, one after the other, upon the table, and opening where
these papers were placed, I read in the solemn Latin phraseology, a
series of sentences indicated by a pencilled line at the margin. Of
these I copy here a few, translating them into English.

"When man's interior sight is opened, which is that of his spirit, then
there appear the things of another life, which cannot possibly be made
visible to the bodily sight."...

"By the internal sight it has been granted me to see the things that are
in the other life, more clearly than I see those that are in the world.
From these considerations, it is evident that external vision exists
from interior vision, and this from a vision still more interior, and so
on."...

"There are with every man at least two evil spirits."...

"With wicked genii there is also a fluent speech, but harsh and grating.
There is also among them a speech which is not fluent, wherein the
dissent of the thoughts is perceived as something secretly creeping
along within it."

"The evil spirits associated with man are, indeed from the hells, but
when with man they are not then in hell, but are taken out thence. The
place where they then are, is in the midst between heaven and hell, and
is called the world of spirits--when the evil spirits who are with man,
are in that world, they are not in any infernal torment, but in every
thought and affection of man, and so, in all that the man himself
enjoys. But when they are remitted into their hell, they return to their
former state."...

"If evil spirits could perceive that they were associated with man, and
yet that they were spirits separate from him, and if they could flow in
into the things of his body, they would attempt by a thousand means to
destroy him; for they hate man with a deadly hatred."...

"Knowing, therefore, that I was a man in the body, they were continually
striving to destroy me, not as to the body only, but especially as to
the soul; for to destroy any man or spirit is the very delight of the
life of all who are in hell; but I have been continually protected by
the Lord. Hence it appears how dangerous it is for man to be in a living
consort with spirits, unless he be in the good of faith."...

"Nothing is more carefully guarded from the knowledge of associate
spirits than their being thus conjoint with a man, for if they knew it
they would speak to him, with the intention to destroy him."...

"The delight of hell is to do evil to man, and to hasten his eternal
ruin."

A long note, written with a very sharp and fine pencil, in Mr. Jennings'
neat hand, at the foot of the page, caught my eye. Expecting his
criticism upon the text, I read a word or two, and stopped, for it was
something quite different, and began with these words, _Deus misereatur
mei_--"May God compassionate me." Thus warned of its private nature, I
averted my eyes, and shut the book, replacing all the volumes as I had
found them, except one which interested me, and in which, as men
studious and solitary in their habits will do, I grew so absorbed as to
take no cognisance of the outer world, nor to remember where I was.

I was reading some pages which refer to "representatives" and
"correspondents," in the technical language of Swedenborg, and had
arrived at a passage, the substance of which is, that evil spirits, when
seen by other eyes than those of their infernal associates, present
themselves, by "correspondence," in the shape of the beast (_fera_)
which represents their particular lust and life, in aspect direful and
atrocious. This is a long passage, and particularises a number of those
bestial forms.

CHAPTER IV

_Four Eyes Were Reading the Passage_

I was running the head of my pencil-case along the line as I read it,
and something caused me to raise my eyes.

Directly before me was one of the mirrors I have mentioned, in which I
saw reflected the tall shape of my friend, Mr. Jennings, leaning over my
shoulder, and reading the page at which I was busy, and with a face so
dark and wild that I should hardly have known him.

I turned and rose. He stood erect also, and with an effort laughed a
little, saying:

"I came in and asked you how you did, but without succeeding in awaking
you from your book; so I could not restrain my curiosity, and very
impertinently, I'm afraid, peeped over your shoulder. This is not your
first time of looking into those pages. You have looked into Swedenborg,
no doubt, long ago?"

"Oh dear, yes! I owe Swedenborg a great deal; you will discover traces
of him in the little book on Metaphysical Medicine, which you were so good
as to remember."

Although my friend affected a gaiety of manner, there was a slight flush
in his face, and I could perceive that he was inwardly much perturbed.

"I'm scarcely yet qualified, I know so little of Swedenborg. I've only
had them a fortnight," he answered, "and I think they are rather likely
to make a solitary man nervous--that is, judging from the very little I
have read--I don't say that they have made me so," he laughed; "and I'm
so very much obliged for the book. I hope you got my note?"

I made all proper acknowledgments and modest disclaimers.

"I never read a book that I go with, so entirely, as that of yours," he
continued. "I saw at once there is more in it than is quite unfolded. Do
you know Dr. Harley?" he asked, rather abruptly.

In passing, the editor remarks that the physician here named was one of
the most eminent who had ever practised in England.

I did, having had letters to him, and had experienced from him great
courtesy and considerable assistance during my visit to England.

"I think that man one of the very greatest fools I ever met in my life,"
said Mr. Jennings.

This was the first time I had ever heard him say a sharp thing of
anybody, and such a term applied to so high a name a little startled me.

"Really! and in what way?" I asked.

"In his profession," he answered.

I smiled.

"I mean this," he said: "he seems to me, one half, blind--I mean one
half of all he looks at is dark--preternaturally bright and vivid all
the rest; and the worst of it is, it seems _wilful_. I can't get him--I
mean he won't--I've had some experience of him as a physician, but I
look on him as, in that sense, no better than a paralytic mind, an
intellect half dead. I'll tell you--I know I shall some time--all about
it," he said, with a little agitation. "You stay some months longer in
England. If I should be out of town during your stay for a little time,
would you allow me to trouble you with a letter?"

"I should be only too happy," I assured him.

"Very good of you. I am so utterly dissatisfied with Harley."

"A little leaning to the materialistic school," I said.

"A _mere_ materialist," he corrected me; "you can't think how that sort
of thing worries one who knows better. You won't tell any one--any of my
friends you know--that I am hippish; now, for instance, no one knows--not
even Lady Mary--that I have seen Dr. Harley, or any other doctor. So
pray don't mention it; and, if I should have any threatening of an
attack, you'll kindly let me write, or, should I be in town, have a
little talk with you."

I was full of conjecture, and unconsciously I found I had fixed my eyes
gravely on him, for he lowered his for a moment, and he said:

"I see you think I might as well tell you now, or else you are forming a
conjecture; but you may as well give it up. If you were guessing all the
rest of your life, you will never hit on it."

He shook his head smiling, and over that wintry sunshine a black cloud
suddenly came down, and he drew his breath in, through his teeth as men
do in pain.

"Sorry, of course, to learn that you apprehend occasion to consult any
of us; but, command me when and how you like, and I need not assure you
that your confidence is sacred."

He then talked of quite other things, and in a comparatively cheerful
way and after a little time, I took my leave.

CHAPTER V

_Dr. Hesselius is Summoned to Richmond_

We parted cheerfully, but he was not cheerful, nor was I. There are
certain expressions of that powerful organ of spirit--the human
face--which, although I have seen them often, and possess a doctor's
nerve, yet disturb me profoundly. One look of Mr. Jennings haunted me. It
had seized my imagination with so dismal a power that I changed my plans
for the evening, and went to the opera, feeling that I wanted a change of
ideas.

I heard nothing of or from him for two or three days, when a note in his
hand reached me. It was cheerful, and full of hope. He said that he had
been for some little time so much better--quite well, in fact--that he
was going to make a little experiment, and run down for a month or so to
his parish, to try whether a little work might not quite set him up.
There was in it a fervent religious expression of gratitude for his
restoration, as he now almost hoped he might call it.

A day or two later I saw Lady Mary, who repeated what his note had
announced, and told me that he was actually in Warwickshire, having
resumed his clerical duties at Kenlis; and she added, "I begin to think
that he is really perfectly well, and that there never was anything the
matter, more than nerves and fancy; we are all nervous, but I fancy
there is nothing like a little hard work for that kind of weakness, and
he has made up his mind to try it. I should not be surprised if he did
not come back for a year."

Notwithstanding all this confidence, only two days later I had this
note, dated from his house off Piccadilly:

Dear Sir,--I have returned disappointed. If I should feel at all
able to see you, I shall write to ask you kindly to call. At
present, I am too low, and, in fact, simply unable to say all I wish
to say. Pray don't mention my name to my friends. I can see no one.
By-and-by, please God, you shall hear from me. I mean to take a run
into Shropshire, where some of my people are. God bless you! May we,
on my return, meet more happily than I can now write.

About a week after this I saw Lady Mary at her own house, the last
person, she said, left in town, and just on the wing for Brighton, for
the London season was quite over. She told me that she had heard from
Mr. Jenning's niece, Martha, in Shropshire. There was nothing to be
gathered from her letter, more than that he was low and nervous. In
those words, of which healthy people think so lightly, what a world of
suffering is sometimes hidden!

Nearly five weeks had passed without any further news of Mr. Jennings.
At the end of that time I received a note from him. He wrote:

"I have been in the country, and have had change of air, change of
scene, change of faces, change of everything--and in everything--but
_myself_. I have made up my mind, so far as the most irresolute creature
on earth can do it, to tell my case fully to you. If your engagements
will permit, pray come to me to-day, to-morrow, or the next day; but,
pray defer as little as possible. You know not how much I need help. I
have a quiet house at Richmond, where I now am. Perhaps you can manage
to come to dinner, or to luncheon, or even to tea. You shall have no
trouble in finding me out. The servant at Blank Street, who takes this
note, will have a carriage at your door at any hour you please; and I am
always to be found. You will say that I ought not to be alone. I have
tried everything. Come and see."

I called up the servant, and decided on going out the same evening,
which accordingly I did.

He would have been much better in a lodging-house, or hotel, I thought,
as I drove up through a short double row of sombre elms to a very
old-fashioned brick house, darkened by the foliage of these trees, which
overtopped, and nearly surrounded it. It was a perverse choice, for
nothing could be imagined more triste and silent. The house, I found,
belonged to him. He had stayed for a day or two in town, and, finding it
for some cause insupportable, had come out here, probably because being
furnished and his own, he was relieved of the thought and delay of
selection, by coming here.

The sun had already set, and the red reflected light of the western sky
illuminated the scene with the peculiar effect with which we are all
familiar. The hall seemed very dark, but, getting to the back drawing-room,
whose windows command the west, I was again in the same dusky light.

I sat down, looking out upon the richly-wooded landscape that glowed in
the grand and melancholy light which was every moment fading. The
corners of the room were already dark; all was growing dim, and the
gloom was insensibly toning my mind, already prepared for what was
sinister. I was waiting alone for his arrival, which soon took place.
The door communicating with the front room opened, and the tall figure
of Mr. Jennings, faintly seen in the ruddy twilight, came, with quiet
stealthy steps, into the room.

We shook hands, and, taking a chair to the window, where there was still
light enough to enable us to see each other's faces, he sat down beside
me, and, placing his hand upon my arm, with scarcely a word of preface
began his narrative.

CHAPTER VI

_How Mr. Jennings Met His Companion_

The faint glow of the west, the pomp of the then lonely woods of
Richmond, were before us, behind and about us the darkening room, and on
the stony face of the sufferer--for the character of his face, though
still gentle and sweet, was changed--rested that dim, odd glow which
seems to descend and produce, where it touches, lights, sudden though
faint, which are lost, almost without gradation, in darkness. The
silence, too, was utter: not a distant wheel, or bark, or whistle from
without; and within the depressing stillness of an invalid bachelor's
house.

I guessed well the nature, though not even vaguely the particulars of
the revelations I was about to receive, from that fixed face of
suffering that so oddly flushed stood out, like a portrait of
Schalken's, before its background of darkness.

"It began," he said, "on the 15th of October, three years and eleven
weeks ago, and two days--I keep very accurate count, for every day is
torment. If I leave anywhere a chasm in my narrative tell me.

"About four years ago I began a work, which had cost me very much
thought and reading. It was upon the religious metaphysics of the
ancients."

"I know," said I, "the actual religion of educated and thinking
paganism, quite apart from symbolic worship? A wide and very interesting
field."

"Yes, but not good for the mind--the Christian mind, I mean. Paganism is
all bound together in essential unity, and, with evil sympathy, their
religion involves their art, and both their manners, and the subject is
a degrading fascination and the Nemesis sure. God forgive me!

"I wrote a great deal; I wrote late at night. I was always thinking on
the subject, walking about, wherever I was, everywhere. It thoroughly
infected me. You are to remember that all the material ideas connected
with it were more or less of the beautiful, the subject itself
delightfully interesting, and I, then, without a care."

He sighed heavily.

"I believe, that every one who sets about writing in earnest does his
work, as a friend of mine phrased it, _on_ something--tea, or coffee, or
tobacco. I suppose there is a material waste that must be hourly
supplied in such occupations, or that we should grow too abstracted, and
the mind, as it were, pass out of the body, unless it were reminded
often enough of the connection by actual sensation. At all events, I
felt the want, and I supplied it. Tea was my companion--at first the
ordinary black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong: but I drank a
good deal, and increased its strength as I went on. I never experienced
an uncomfortable symptom from it. I began to take a little green tea. I
found the effect pleasanter, it cleared and intensified the power of
thought so, I had come to take it frequently, but not stronger than one
might take it for pleasure. I wrote a great deal out here, it was so
quiet, and in this room. I used to sit up very late, and it became a
habit with me to sip my tea--green tea--every now and then as my work
proceeded. I had a little kettle on my table, that swung over a lamp,
and made tea two or three times between eleven o'clock and two or three
in the morning, my hours of going to bed. I used to go into town every
day. I was not a monk, and, although I spent an hour or two in a
library, hunting up authorities and looking out lights upon my theme, I
was in no morbid state as far as I can judge. I met my friends pretty
much as usual and enjoyed their society, and, on the whole, existence
had never been, I think, so pleasant before.

"I had met with a man who had some odd old books, German editions in
mediaeval Latin, and I was only too happy to be permitted access to
them. This obliging person's books were in the City, a very
out-of-the-way part of it. I had rather out-stayed my intended hour, and,
on coming out, seeing no cab near, I was tempted to get into the omnibus
which used to drive past this house. It was darker than this by the time
the 'bus had reached an old house, you may have remarked, with four poplars
at each side of the door, and there the last passenger but myself got
out. We drove along rather faster. It was twilight now. I leaned back in
my corner next the door ruminating pleasantly.

"The interior of the omnibus was nearly dark. I had observed in the
corner opposite to me at the other side, and at the end next the horses,
two small circular reflections, as it seemed to me of a reddish light.
They were about two inches apart, and about the size of those small
brass buttons that yachting men used to put upon their jackets. I began
to speculate, as listless men will, upon this trifle, as it seemed. From
what centre did that faint but deep red light come, and from what--glass
beads, buttons, toy decorations--was it reflected? We were lumbering
along gently, having nearly a mile still to go. I had not solved the
puzzle, and it became in another minute more odd, for these two luminous
points, with a sudden jerk, descended nearer and nearer the floor,
keeping still their relative distance and horizontal position, and then,
as suddenly, they rose to the level of the seat on which I was sitting
and I saw them no more.

"My curiosity was now really excited, and, before I had time to think, I
saw again these two dull lamps, again together near the floor; again
they disappeared, and again in their old corner I saw them.

"So, keeping my eyes upon them, I edged quietly up my own side, towards
the end at which I still saw these tiny discs of red.

"There was very little light in the 'bus. It was nearly dark. I leaned
forward to aid my endeavour to discover what these little circles really
were. They shifted position a little as I did so. I began now to
perceive an outline of something black, and I soon saw, with tolerable
distinctness, the outline of a small black monkey, pushing its face
forward in mimicry to meet mine; those were its eyes, and I now dimly
saw its teeth grinning at me.

"I drew back, not knowing whether it might not meditate a spring. I
fancied that one of the passengers had forgot this ugly pet, and wishing
to ascertain something of its temper, though not caring to trust my
fingers to it, I poked my umbrella softly towards it. It remained
immovable--up to it--_through_ it. For through it, and back and forward
it passed, without the slightest resistance.

"I can't, in the least, convey to you the kind of horror that I felt.
When I had ascertained that the thing was an illusion, as I then
supposed, there came a misgiving about myself and a terror that
fascinated me in impotence to remove my gaze from the eyes of the brute
for some moments. As I looked, it made a little skip back, quite into
the corner, and I, in a panic, found myself at the door, having put my
head out, drawing deep breaths of the outer air, and staring at the
lights and tress we were passing, too glad to reassure myself of
reality.

"I stopped the 'bus and got out. I perceived the man look oddly at me as
I paid him. I dare say there was something unusual in my looks and
manner, for I had never felt so strangely before."

CHAPTER VII

_The Journey: First Stage_

"When the omnibus drove on, and I was alone upon the road, I looked
carefully round to ascertain whether the monkey had followed me. To my
indescribable relief I saw it nowhere. I can't describe easily what a
shock I had received, and my sense of genuine gratitude on finding
myself, as I supposed, quite rid of it.

"I had got out a little before we reached this house, two or three
hundred steps. A brick wall runs along the footpath, and inside the wall
is a hedge of yew, or some dark evergreen of that kind, and within that
again the row of fine trees which you may have remarked as you came.

"This brick wall is about as high as my shoulder, and happening to raise
my eyes I saw the monkey, with that stooping gait, on all fours, walking
or creeping, close beside me, on top of the wall. I stopped, looking at
it with a feeling of loathing and horror. As I stopped so did it. It sat
up on the wall with its long hands on its knees looking at me. There was
not light enough to see it much more than in outline, nor was it dark
enough to bring the peculiar light of its eyes into strong relief. I
still saw, however, that red foggy light plainly enough. It did not show
its teeth, nor exhibit any sign of irritation, but seemed jaded and
sulky, and was observing me steadily.

"I drew back into the middle of the road. It was an unconscious recoil,
and there I stood, still looking at it. It did not move.

"With an instinctive determination to try something--anything, I turned
about and walked briskly towards town with askance look, all the time,
watching the movements of the beast. It crept swiftly along the wall, at
exactly my pace.

"Where the wall ends, near the turn of the road, it came down, and with
a wiry spring or two brought itself close to my feet, and continued to
keep up with me, as I quickened my pace. It was at my left side, so
close to my leg that I felt every moment as if I should tread upon it.

"The road was quite deserted and silent, and it was darker every moment.
I stopped dismayed and bewildered, turning as I did so, the other way--I
mean, towards this house, away from which I had been walking. When I
stood still, the monkey drew back to a distance of, I suppose, about
five or six yards, and remained stationary, watching me.

"I had been more agitated than I have said. I had read, of course, as
everyone has, something about 'spectral illusions,' as you physicians
term the phenomena of such cases. I considered my situation, and looked
my misfortune in the face.

"These affections, I had read, are sometimes transitory and sometimes
obstinate. I had read of cases in which the appearance, at first
harmless, had, step by step, degenerated into something direful and
insupportable, and ended by wearing its victim out. Still as I stood
there, but for my bestial companion, quite alone, I tried to comfort
myself by repeating again and again the assurance, 'the thing is purely
disease, a well-known physical affection, as distinctly as small-pox or
neuralgia. Doctors are all agreed on that, philosophy demonstrates it. I
must not be a fool. I've been sitting up too late, and I daresay my
digestion is quite wrong, and, with God's help, I shall be all right,
and this is but a symptom of nervous dyspepsia.' Did I believe all this?
Not one word of it, no more than any other miserable being ever did who
is once seized and riveted in this satanic captivity. Against my
convictions, I might say my knowledge, I was simply bullying myself into
a false courage.

"I now walked homeward. I had only a few hundred yards to go. I had
forced myself into a sort of resignation, but I had not got over the
sickening shock and the flurry of the first certainty of my misfortune.

"I made up my mind to pass the night at home. The brute moved close
beside me, and I fancied there was the sort of anxious drawing toward
the house, which one sees in tired horses or dogs, sometimes as they
come toward home.

"I was afraid to go into town, I was afraid of any one's seeing and
recognizing me. I was conscious of an irrepressible agitation in my
manner. Also, I was afraid of any violent change in my habits, such as
going to a place of amusement, or walking from home in order to fatigue
myself. At the hall door it waited till I mounted the steps, and when
the door was opened entered with me.

"I drank no tea that night. I got cigars and some brandy and water. My
idea was that I should act upon my material system, and by living for a
while in sensation apart from thought, send myself forcibly, as it were,
into a new groove. I came up here to this drawing-room. I sat just here.
The monkey then got upon a small table that then stood _there_. It
looked dazed and languid. An irrepressible uneasiness as to its
movements kept my eyes always upon it. Its eyes were half closed, but I
could see them glow. It was looking steadily at me. In all situations,
at all hours, it is awake and looking at me. That never changes.

"I shall not continue in detail my narrative of this particular night. I
shall describe, rather, the phenomena of the first year, which never
varied, essentially. I shall describe the monkey as it appeared in
daylight. In the dark, as you shall presently hear, there are
peculiarities. It is a small monkey, perfectly black. It had only one
peculiarity--a character of malignity--unfathomable malignity. During
the first year it looked sullen and sick. But this character of intense
malice and vigilance was always underlying that surly languor. During
all that time it acted as if on a plan of giving me as little trouble as
was consistent with watching me. Its eyes were never off me. I have
never lost sight of it, except in my sleep, light or dark, day or night,
since it came here, excepting when it withdraws for some weeks at a
time, unaccountably.

"In total dark it is visible as in daylight. I do not mean merely its
eyes. It is _all_ visible distinctly in a halo that resembles a glow of
red embers, and which accompanies it in all its movements.

"When it leaves me for a time, it is always at night, in the dark,
and in the same way. It grows at first uneasy, and then furious, and
then advances towards me, grinning and shaking, its paws clenched, and,
at the same time, there comes the appearance of fire in the grate. I
never have any fire. I can't sleep in the room where there is any, and
it draws nearer and nearer to the chimney, quivering, it seems, with
rage, and when its fury rises to the highest pitch, it springs into the
grate, and up the chimney, and I see it no more.

"When first this happened, I thought I was released. I was now a new
man. A day passed--a night--and no return, and a blessed week--a
week--another week. I was always on my knees, Dr. Hesselius, always,
thanking God and praying. A whole month passed of liberty, but on a
sudden, it was with me again."

CHAPTER VIII

_The Second Stage_

"It was with me, and the malice which before was torpid under a sullen
exterior, was now active. It was perfectly unchanged in every other
respect. This new energy was apparent in its activity and its looks, and
soon in other ways.

"For a time, you will understand, the change was shown only in an
increased vivacity, and an air of menace, as if it were always brooding
over some atrocious plan. Its eyes, as before, were never off me."

"Is it here now?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "it has been absent exactly a fortnight and a
day--fifteen days. It has sometimes been away so long as nearly two
months, once for three. Its absence always exceeds a fortnight, although
it may be but by a single day. Fifteen days having past since I saw it
last, it may return now at any moment."

"Is its return," I asked, "accompanied by any peculiar manifestation?"

"Nothing--no," he said. "It is simply with me again. On lifting my eyes
from a book, or turning my head, I see it, as usual, looking at me, and
then it remains, as before, for its appointed time. I have never told so
much and so minutely before to any one."

I perceived that he was agitated, and looking like death, and he
repeatedly applied his handkerchief to his forehead; I suggested that he
might be tired, and told him that I would call, with pleasure, in the
morning, but he said:

"No, if you don't mind hearing it all now. I have got so far, and I
should prefer making one effort of it. When I spoke to Dr. Harley, I had
nothing like so much to tell. You are a philosophic physician. You give
spirit its proper rank. If this thing is real--"

He paused looking at me with agitated inquiry.

"We can discuss it by-and-by, and very fully. I will give you all I
think," I answered, after an interval.

"Well--very well. If it is anything real, I say, it is prevailing,
little by little, and drawing me more interiorly into hell. Optic
nerves, he talked of. Ah! well--there are other nerves of communication.
May God Almighty help me! You shall hear.

"Its power of action, I tell you, had increased. Its malice became, in a
way, aggressive. About two years ago, some questions that were pending
between me and the bishop having been settled, I went down to my parish
in Warwickshire, anxious to find occupation in my profession. I was not
prepared for what happened, although I have since thought I might have
apprehended something like it. The reason of my saying so is this--"

He was beginning to speak with a great deal more effort and reluctance,
and sighed often, and seemed at times nearly overcome. But at this time
his manner was not agitated. It was more like that of a sinking patient,
who has given himself up.

"Yes, but I will first tell you about Kenlis, my parish.

"It was with me when I left this place for Dawlbridge. It was my silent
travelling companion, and it remained with me at the vicarage. When I
entered on the discharge of my duties, another change took place. The
thing exhibited an atrocious determination to thwart me. It was with me
in the church--in the reading-desk--in the pulpit--within the communion
rails. At last, it reached this extremity, that while I was reading to
the congregation, it would spring upon the book and squat there, so that
I was unable to see the page. This happened more than once.

"I left Dawlbridge for a time. I placed myself in Dr. Harley's hands. I
did everything he told me. He gave my case a great deal of thought. It
interested him, I think. He seemed successful. For nearly three months I
was perfectly free from a return. I began to think I was safe. With his
full assent I returned to Dawlbridge.

"I travelled in a chaise. I was in good spirits. I was more--I was happy
and grateful. I was returning, as I thought, delivered from a dreadful
hallucination, to the scene of duties which I longed to enter upon. It
was a beautiful sunny evening, everything looked serene and cheerful,
and I was delighted. I remember looking out of the window to see the
spire of my church at Kenlis among the trees, at the point where one has
the earliest view of it. It is exactly where the little stream that
bounds the parish passes under the road by a culvert, and where it
emerges at the road-side, a stone with an old inscription is placed. As
we passed this point, I drew my head in and sat down, and in the corner
of the chaise was the monkey.

"For a moment I felt faint, and then quite wild with despair and horror.
I called to the driver, and got out, and sat down at the road-side, and
prayed to God silently for mercy. A despairing resignation supervened.
My companion was with me as I re-entered the vicarage. The same
persecution followed. After a short struggle I submitted, and soon I
left the place.

"I told you," he said, "that the beast has before this become in certain
ways aggressive. I will explain a little. It seemed to be actuated by
intense and increasing fury, whenever I said my prayers, or even
meditated prayer. It amounted at last to a dreadful interruption. You
will ask, how could a silent immaterial phantom effect that? It was
thus, whenever I meditated praying; It was always before me, and nearer
and nearer.

"It used to spring on a table, on the back of a chair, on the
chimney-piece, and slowly to swing itself from side to side, looking at me
all the time. There is in its motion an indefinable power to dissipate
thought, and to contract one's attention to that monotony, till the
ideas shrink, as it were, to a point, and at last to nothing--and unless
I had started up, and shook off the catalepsy I have felt as if my mind
were on the point of losing itself. There are other ways," he sighed
heavily; "thus, for instance, while I pray with my eyes closed, it comes
closer and closer, and I see it. I know it is not to be accounted for
physically, but I do actually see it, though my lids are dosed, and so
it rocks my mind, as it were, and overpowers me, and I am obliged to
rise from my knees. If you had ever yourself known this, you would be
acquainted with desperation."

CHAPTER IX

_The Third Stage_

"I see, Dr. Hesselius, that you don't lose one word of my statement. I
need not ask you to listen specially to what I am now going to tell you.
They talk of the optic nerves, and of spectral illusions, as if the
organ of sight was the only point assailable by the influences that have
fastened upon me--I know better. For two years in my direful case that
limitation prevailed. But as food is taken in softly at the lips, and
then brought under the teeth, as the tip of the little finger caught in
a mill crank will draw in the hand, and the arm, and the whole body, so
the miserable mortal who has been once caught firmly by the end of the
finest fibre of his nerve, is drawn in and in, by the enormous machinery
of hell, until he is as I am. Yes, Doctor, as _I_ am, for a while I talk
to you, and implore relief, I feel that my prayer is for the impossible,
and my pleading with the inexorable."

I endeavoured to calm his visibly increasing agitation, and told him
that he must not despair.

While we talked the night had overtaken us. The filmy moonlight was wide
over the scene which the window commanded, and I said:

"Perhaps you would prefer having candles. This light, you know, is odd.
I should wish you, as much as possible, under your usual conditions
while I make my diagnosis, shall I call it--otherwise I don't care."

"All lights are the same to me," he said; "except when I read or write,
I care not if night were perpetual. I am going to tell you what happened
about a year ago. The thing began to speak to me."

"Speak! How do you mean--speak as a man does, do you mean?"

"Yes; speak in words and consecutive sentences, with perfect coherence
and articulation; but there is a peculiarity. It is not like the tone of
a human voice. It is not by my ears it reaches me--it comes like a
singing through my head.

"This faculty, the power of speaking to me, will be my undoing. It won't
let me pray, it interrupts me with dreadful blasphemies. I dare not go
on, I could not. Oh! Doctor, can the skill, and thought, and prayers of
man avail me nothing!"

"You must promise me, my dear sir, not to trouble yourself with
unnecessarily exciting thoughts; confine yourself strictly to the
narrative of _facts_; and recollect, above all, that even if the thing
that infests you be, you seem to suppose a reality with an actual
independent life and will, yet it can have no power to hurt you, unless
it be given from above: its access to your senses depends mainly upon
your physical condition--this is, under God, your comfort and reliance:
we are all alike environed. It is only that in your case, the
_'paries,'_ the veil of the flesh, the screen, is a little out of
repair, and sights and sounds are transmitted. We must enter on a new
course, sir,--be encouraged. I'll give to-night to the careful
consideration of the whole case."

"You are very good, sir; you think it worth trying, you don't give me
quite up; but, sir, you don't know, it is gaining such an influence over
me: it orders me about, it is such a tyrant, and I'm growing so
helpless. May God deliver me!"

"It orders you about--of course you mean by speech?"

"Yes, yes; it is always urging me to crimes, to injure others, or
myself. You see, Doctor, the situation is urgent, it is indeed. When I
was in Shropshire, a few weeks ago" (Mr. Jennings was speaking rapidly
and trembling now, holding my arm with one hand, and looking in my
face), "I went out one day with a party of friends for a walk: my
persecutor, I tell you, was with me at the time. I lagged behind the
rest: the country near the Dee, you know, is beautiful. Our path
happened to lie near a coal mine, and at the verge of the wood is a
perpendicular shaft, they say, a hundred and fifty feet deep. My niece
had remained behind with me--she knows, of course nothing of the nature
of my sufferings. She knew, however, that I had been ill, and was low,
and she remained to prevent my being quite alone. As we loitered slowly
on together, the brute that accompanied me was urging me to throw myself
down the shaft. I tell you now--oh, sir, think of it!--the one
consideration that saved me from that hideous death was the fear lest
the shock of witnessing the occurrence should be too much for the poor
girl. I asked her to go on and walk with her friends, saying that I
could go no further. She made excuses, and the more I urged her the
firmer she became. She looked doubtful and frightened. I suppose there
was something in my looks or manner that alarmed her; but she would not
go, and that literally saved me. You had no idea, sir, that a living man
could be made so abject a slave of Satan," he said, with a ghastly groan
and a shudder.

There was a pause here, and I said, "You _were_ preserved nevertheless.
It was the act of God. You are in His hands and in the power of no other
being: be therefore confident for the future."

CHAPTER X

_Home_

I made him have candles lighted, and saw the room looking cheery and
inhabited before I left him. I told him that he must regard his illness
strictly as one dependent on physical, though _subtle_ physical causes.
I told him that he had evidence of God's care and love in the
deliverance which he had just described, and that I had perceived with
pain that he seemed to regard its peculiar features as indicating that
he had been delivered over to spiritual reprobation. Than such a
conclusion nothing could be, I insisted, less warranted; and not only
so, but more contrary to facts, as disclosed in his mysterious
deliverance from that murderous influence during his Shropshire
excursion. First, his niece had been retained by his side without his
intending to keep her near him; and, secondly, there had been infused
into his mind an irresistible repugnance to execute the dreadful
suggestion in her presence.

As I reasoned this point with him, Mr. Jennings wept. He seemed
comforted. One promise I exacted, which was that should the monkey at
any time return, I should be sent for immediately; and, repeating my
assurance that I would give neither time nor thought to any other
subject until I had thoroughly investigated his case, and that to-morrow
he should hear the result, I took my leave.

Before getting into the carriage I told the servant that his master was
far from well, and that he should make a point of frequently looking
into his room. My own arrangements I made with a view to being quite
secure from interruption.

I merely called at my lodgings, and with a travelling-desk and carpet-bag,
set off in a hackney carriage for an inn about two miles out of town,
called "The Horns," a very quiet and comfortable house, with good thick
walls. And there I resolved, without the possibility of intrusion
or distraction, to devote some hours of the night, in my comfortable
sitting-room, to Mr. Jennings' case, and so much of the morning as it
might require.

(There occurs here a careful note of Dr. Hesselius' opinion upon the
case, and of the habits, dietary, and medicines which he prescribed. It
is curious--some persons would say mystical. But, on the whole, I doubt
whether it would sufficiently interest a reader of the kind I am likely
to meet with, to warrant its being here reprinted. The whole letter was
plainly written at the inn where he had hid himself for the occasion.
The next letter is dated from his town lodgings.)

I left town for the inn where I slept last night at half-past nine, and
did not arrive at my room in town until one o'clock this afternoon. I
found a letter in Mr. Jennings' hand upon my table. It had not come by
post, and, on inquiry, I learned that Mr. Jennings' servant had brought
it, and on learning that I was not to return until to-day, and that no
one could tell him my address, he seemed very uncomfortable, and said
his orders from his master were that that he was not to return without
an answer.

I opened the letter and read:

DEAR DR. HESSELIUS.--It is here. You had not been an hour gone when
it returned. It is speaking. It knows all that has happened. It
knows everything--it knows you, and is frantic and atrocious. It
reviles. I send you this. It knows every word I have written--I
write. This I promised, and I therefore write, but I fear very
confused, very incoherently. I am so interrupted, disturbed.

Ever yours, sincerely yours,
Robert Lynder Jennings.

"When did this come?" I asked.

"About eleven last night: the man was here again, and has been here
three times to-day. The last time is about an hour since."

Thus answered, and with the notes I had made upon his case in my pocket,
I was in a few minutes driving towards Richmond, to see Mr. Jennings.

I by no means, as you perceive, despaired of Mr. Jennings' case. He had
himself remembered and applied, though quite in a mistaken way, the
principle which I lay down in my Metaphysical Medicine, and which
governs all such cases. I was about to apply it in earnest. I was
profoundly interested, and very anxious to see and examine him while the
"enemy" was actually present.

I drove up to the sombre house, and ran up the steps, and knocked. The
door, in a little time, was opened by a tall woman in black silk. She
looked ill, and as if she had been crying. She curtseyed, and heard my
question, but she did not answer. She turned her face away, extending
her hand towards two men who were coming down-stairs; and thus having,
as it were, tacitly made me over to them, she passed through a side-door
hastily and shut it.

The man who was nearest the hall, I at once accosted, but being now
close to him, I was shocked to see that both his hands were covered with
blood.

I drew back a little, and the man, passing downstairs, merely said in a
low tone, "Here's the servant, sir."

The servant had stopped on the stairs, confounded and dumb at seeing me.
He was rubbing his hands in a handkerchief, and it was steeped in blood.

"Jones, what is it? what has happened?" I asked, while a sickening
suspicion overpowered me.

The man asked me to come up to the lobby. I was beside him in a moment,
and, frowning and pallid, with contracted eyes, he told me the horror
which I already half guessed.

His master had made away with himself.

I went upstairs with him to the room--what I saw there I won't tell you.
He had cut his throat with his razor. It was a frightful gash. The two
men had laid him on the bed, and composed his limbs. It had happened, as
the immense pool of blood on the floor declared, at some distance
between the bed and the window. There was carpet round his bed, and a
carpet under his dressing-table, but none on the rest of the floor, for
the man said he did not like a carpet on his bedroom. In this sombre and
now terrible room, one of the great elms that darkened the house was
slowly moving the shadow of one of its great boughs upon this dreadful
floor.

I beckoned to the servant, and we went downstairs together. I turned off
the hall into an old-fashioned panelled room, and there standing, I
heard all the servant had to tell. It was not a great deal.

"I concluded, sir, from your words, and looks, sir, as you left last
night, that you thought my master was seriously ill. I thought it might
be that you were afraid of a fit, or something. So I attended very close
to your directions. He sat up late, till past three o'clock. He was not
writing or reading. He was talking a great deal to himself, but that was
nothing unusual. At about that hour I assisted him to undress, and left
him in his slippers and dressing-gown. I went back softly in about
half-an-hour. He was in his bed, quite undressed, and a pair of candles
lighted on the table beside his bed. He was leaning on his elbow, and
looking out at the other side of the bed when I came in. I asked him if
he wanted anything, and he said No.

"I don't know whether it was what you said to me, sir, or something a
little unusual about him, but I was uneasy, uncommon uneasy about him
last night.

"In another half hour, or it might be a little more, I went up again. I
did not hear him talking as before. I opened the door a little. The
candles were both out, which was not usual. I had a bedroom candle, and
I let the light in, a little bit, looking softly round. I saw him
sitting in that chair beside the dressing-table with his clothes on
again. He turned round and looked at me. I thought it strange he should
get up and dress, and put out the candles to sit in the dark, that way.
But I only asked him again if I could do anything for him. He said, No,
rather sharp, I thought. I asked him if I might light the candles, and
he said, 'Do as you like, Jones.' So I lighted them, and I lingered
about the room, and he said, 'Tell me truth, Jones; why did you come
again--you did not hear anyone cursing?' 'No, sir,' I said, wondering
what he could mean.

"'No,' said he, after me, 'of course, no;' and I said to him, 'Wouldn't
it be well, sir, you went to bed? It's just five o'clock;' and he said
nothing, but, 'Very likely; good-night, Jones.' So I went, sir, but in
less than an hour I came again. The door was fast, and he heard me, and
called as I thought from the bed to know what I wanted, and he desired
me not to disturb him again. I lay down and slept for a little. It must
have been between six and seven when I went up again. The door was still
fast, and he made no answer, so I did not like to disturb him, and
thinking he was asleep, I left him till nine. It was his custom to ring
when he wished me to come, and I had no particular hour for calling him.
I tapped very gently, and getting no answer, I stayed away a good while,
supposing he was getting some rest then. It was not till eleven o'clock
I grew really uncomfortable about him--for at the latest he was never,
that I could remember, later than half-past ten. I got no answer. I
knocked and called, and still no answer. So not being able to force the
door, I called Thomas from the stables, and together we forced it, and
found him in the shocking way you saw."

Jones had no more to tell. Poor Mr. Jennings was very gentle, and very
kind. All his people were fond of him. I could see that the servant was
very much moved.

So, dejected and agitated, I passed from that terrible house, and its
dark canopy of elms, and I hope I shall never see it more. While I write
to you I feel like a man who has but half waked from a frightful and
monotonous dream. My memory rejects the picture with incredulity and
horror. Yet I know it is true. It is the story of the process of a
poison, a poison which excites the reciprocal action of spirit and
nerve, and paralyses the tissue that separates those cognate functions
of the senses, the external and the interior. Thus we find strange
bed-fellows, and the mortal and immortal prematurely make acquaintance.

CONCLUSION

_A Word for Those Who Suffer_

My dear Van L----, you have suffered from an affection similar to that
which I have just described. You twice complained of a return of it.

Who, under God, cured you? Your humble servant, Martin Hesselius. Let me
rather adopt the more emphasised piety of a certain good old French
surgeon of three hundred years ago: "I treated, and God cured you."

Come, my friend, you are not to be hippish. Let me tell you a fact.

I have met with, and treated, as my book shows, fifty-seven cases of
this kind of vision, which I term indifferently "sublimated,"
"precocious," and "interior."

There is another class of affections which are truly termed--though
commonly confounded with those which I describe--spectral illusions.
These latter I look upon as being no less simply curable than a cold in
the head or a trifling dyspepsia.

It is those which rank in the first category that test our promptitude
of thought. Fifty-seven such cases have I encountered, neither more nor
less. And in how many of these have I failed? In no one single instance.

There is no one affliction of mortality more easily and certainly
reducible, with a little patience, and a rational confidence in the
physician. With these simple conditions, I look upon the cure as
absolutely certain.

You are to remember that I had not even commenced to treat Mr. Jennings'
case. I have not any doubt that I should have cured him perfectly in
eighteen months, or possibly it might have extended to two years. Some
cases are very rapidly curable, others extremely tedious. Every
intelligent physician who will give thought and diligence to the task,
will effect a cure.

You know my tract on "The Cardinal Functions of the Brain." I there, by
the evidence of innumerable facts, prove, as I think, the high
probability of a circulation arterial and venous in its mechanism,
through the nerves. Of this system, thus considered, the brain is the
heart. The fluid, which is propagated hence through one class of nerves,
returns in an altered state through another, and the nature of that
fluid is spiritual, though not immaterial, any more than, as I before
remarked, light or electricity are so.

By various abuses, among which the habitual use of such agents as green
tea is one, this fluid may be affected as to its quality, but it is more
frequently disturbed as to equilibrium. This fluid being that which we
have in common with spirits, a congestion found upon the masses of brain
or nerve, connected with the interior sense, forms a surface unduly
exposed, on which disembodied spirits may operate: communication is thus
more or less effectually established. Between this brain circulation and
the heart circulation there is an intimate sympathy. The seat, or rather
the instrument of exterior vision, is the eye. The seat of interior
vision is the nervous tissue and brain, immediately about and above the
eyebrow. You remember how effectually I dissipated your pictures by the
simple application of iced eau-de-cologne. Few cases, however, can be
treated exactly alike with anything like rapid success. Cold acts
powerfully as a repellant of the nervous fluid. Long enough continued it
will even produce that permanent insensibility which we call numbness,
and a little longer, muscular as well as sensational paralysis.

I have not, I repeat, the slightest doubt that I should have first
dimmed and ultimately sealed that inner eye which Mr. Jennings had
inadvertently opened. The same senses are opened in delirium tremens,
and entirely shut up again when the overaction of the cerebral heart,
and the prodigious nervous congestions that attend it, are terminated by
a decided change in the state of the body. It is by acting steadily upon
the body, by a simple process, that this result is produced--and
inevitably produced--I have never yet failed.

Poor Mr. Jennings made away with himself. But that catastrophe was the
result of a totally different malady, which, as it were, projected
itself upon the disease which was established. His case was in the
distinctive manner a complication, and the complaint under which he
really succumbed, was hereditary suicidal mania. Poor Mr. Jennings I
cannot call a patient of mine, for I had not even begun to treat his
case, and he had not yet given me, I am convinced, his full and
unreserved confidence. If the patient do not array himself on the side
of the disease, his cure is certain.

* * * * *

MR. JUSTICE HARBOTTLE

PROLOGUE

On this case Doctor Hesselius has inscribed nothing more than the words,
"Harman's Report," and a simple reference to his own extraordinary Essay
on "The Interior Sense, and the Conditions of the Opening thereof."

The reference is to Vol. I., Section 317, Note Z^{a}. The note to which
reference is thus made, simply says: "There are two accounts of the
remarkable case of the Honourable Mr. Justice Harbottle, one furnished
to me by Mrs. Trimmer, of Tunbridge Wells (June, 1805); the other at a
much later date, by Anthony Harman, Esq. I much prefer the former; in
the first place, because it is minute and detailed, and written, it
seems to me, with more caution and knowledge; and in the next, because
the letters from Dr. Hedstone, which are embodied in it, furnish matter
of the highest value to a right apprehension of the nature of the case.
It was one of the best declared cases of an opening of the interior
sense, which I have met with. It was affected too, by the phenomenon,
which occurs so frequently as to indicate a law of these eccentric
conditions; that is to say, it exhibited what I may term, the contagious
character of this sort of intrusion of the spirit-world upon the proper
domain of matter. So soon as the spirit-action has established itself in
the case of one patient, its developed energy begins to radiate, more or
less effectually, upon others. The interior vision of the child was
opened; as was, also, that of its mother, Mrs. Pyneweck; and both the
interior vision and hearing of the scullery-maid, were opened on the
same occasion. After-appearances are the result of the law explained in
Vol. II., Section 17 to 49. The common centre of association,
simultaneously recalled, unites, or _re_unites, as the case may be, for a
period measured, as we see, in Section 37. The _maximum_ will extend to
days, the _minimum_ is little more than a second. We see the operation
of this principle perfectly displayed, in certain cases of lunacy, of
epilepsy, of catalepsy, and of mania, of a peculiar and painful
character, though unattended by incapacity of business."

The memorandum of the case of Judge Harbottle, which was written by Mrs.
Trimmer, of Tunbridge Wells, which Doctor Hesselius thought the better
of the two, I have been unable to discover among his papers. I found in
his escritoire a note to the effect that he had lent the Report of Judge
Harbottle's case, written by Mrs. Trimmer, to Dr. F. Heyne. To that
learned and able gentleman accordingly I wrote, and received from him,
in his reply, which was full of alarms and regrets, on account of the
uncertain safety of that "valuable MS.," a line written long since by
Dr. Hesselius, which completely exonerated him, inasmuch as it
acknowledged the safe return of the papers. The narrative of Mr. Harman,
is therefore, the only one available for this collection. The late Dr.
Hesselius, in another passage of the note that I have cited, says, "As
to the facts (non-medical) of the case, the narrative of Mr. Harman
exactly tallies with that furnished by Mrs. Trimmer." The strictly
scientific view of the case would scarcely interest the popular reader;
and, possibly, for the purposes of this selection, I should, even had I
both papers to choose between, have preferred that of Mr. Harman, which
is given, in full, in the following pages.

CHAPTER I

_The Judge's House_

Thirty years ago, an elderly man, to whom I paid quarterly a small
annuity charged on some property of mine, came on the quarter-day to
receive it. He was a dry, sad, quiet man, who had known better days, and
had always maintained an unexceptionable character. No better authority
could be imagined for a ghost story.

He told me one, though with a manifest reluctance; he was drawn into the
narration by his choosing to explain what I should not have remarked,
that he had called two days earlier than that week after the strict day
of payment, which he had usually allowed to elapse. His reason was a
sudden determination to change his lodgings, and the consequent
necessity of paying his rent a little before it was due.

He lodged in a dark street in Westminster, in a spacious old house, very
warm, being wainscoted from top to bottom, and furnished with no undue
abundance of windows, and those fitted with thick sashes and small
panes.

This house was, as the bills upon the windows testified, offered to be
sold or let. But no one seemed to care to look at it.

A thin matron, in rusty black silk, very taciturn, with large, steady,
alarmed eyes, that seemed to look in your face, to read what you might
have seen in the dark rooms and passages through which you had passed,
was in charge of it, with a solitary "maid-of-all-work" under her
command. My poor friend had taken lodgings in this house, on account of
their extraordinary cheapness. He had occupied them for nearly a year
without the slightest disturbance, and was the only tenant, under rent,
in the house. He had two rooms; a sitting-room and a bed-room with a
closet opening from it, in which he kept his books and papers locked up.
He had gone to his bed, having also locked the outer door. Unable to
sleep, he had lighted a candle, and after having read for a time, had
laid the book beside him. He heard the old clock at the stairhead strike
one; and very shortly after, to his alarm, he saw the closet-door, which
he thought he had locked, open stealthily, and a slight dark man,
particularly sinister, and somewhere about fifty, dressed in mourning of
a very antique fashion, such a suit as we see in Hogarth, entered the
room on tip-toe. He was followed by an elder man, stout, and blotched
with scurvy, and whose features, fixed as a corpse's, were stamped with
dreadful force with a character of sensuality and villany.

This old man wore a flowered silk dressing-gown and ruffles, and he
remarked a gold ring on his finger, and on his head a cap of velvet,
such as, in the days of perukes, gentlemen wore in undress.

This direful old man carried in his ringed and ruffled hand a coil of
rope; and these two figures crossed the floor diagonally, passing the
foot of his bed, from the closet door at the farther end of the room, at
the left, near the window, to the door opening upon the lobby, close to
the bed's head, at his right.

He did not attempt to describe his sensations as these figures passed so
near him. He merely said, that so far from sleeping in that room again,
no consideration the world could offer would induce him so much as to
enter it again alone, even in the daylight. He found both doors, that of
the closet, and that of the room opening upon the lobby, in the morning
fast locked as he had left them before going to bed.

[Illustration: _These two figures crossed the floor diagonally, passing
the foot of the bed._]

In answer to a question of mine, he said that neither appeared
the least conscious of his presence. They did not seem to glide, but
walked as living men do, but without any sound, and he felt a vibration
on the floor as they crossed it. He so obviously suffered from speaking
about the apparitions, that I asked him no more questions.

There were in his description, however, certain coincidences so very
singular, as to induce me, by that very post, to write to a friend much
my senior, then living in a remote part of England, for the information
which I knew he could give me. He had himself more than once pointed out
that old house to my attention, and told me, though very briefly, the
strange story which I now asked him to give me in greater detail.

His answer satisfied me; and the following pages convey its substance.

Your letter (he wrote) tells me you desire some particulars about the
closing years of the life of Mr. Justice Harbottle, one of the judges of
the Court of Common Pleas. You refer, of course, to the extraordinary
occurrences that made that period of his life long after a theme for
"winter tales" and metaphysical speculation. I happen to know perhaps
more than any other man living of those mysterious particulars.

The old family mansion, when I revisited London, more than thirty years
ago, I examined for the last time. During the years that have passed
since then, I hear that improvement, with its preliminary demolitions,
has been doing wonders for the quarter of Westminster in which it stood.
If I were quite certain that the house had been taken down, I should
have no difficulty about naming the street in which it stood. As what I
have to tell, however, is not likely to improve its letting value, and
as I should not care to get into trouble, I prefer being silent on that
particular point.

How old the house was, I can't tell. People said it was built by Roger
Harbottle, a Turkey merchant, in the reign of King James I. I am not a
good opinion upon such questions; but having been in it, though in its
forlorn and deserted state, I can tell you in a general way what it was
like. It was built of dark-red brick, and the door and windows were
faced with stone that had turned yellow by time. It receded some feet
from the line of the other houses in the street; and it had a florid and
fanciful rail of iron about the broad steps that invited your ascent to
the hall-door, in which were fixed, under a file of lamps among scrolls
and twisted leaves, two immense "extinguishers," like the conical caps
of fairies, into which, in old times, the footmen used to thrust their
flambeaux when their chairs or coaches had set down their great people,
in the hall or at the steps, as the case might be. That hall is panelled
up to the ceiling, and has a large fire-place. Two or three stately old
rooms open from it at each side. The windows of these are tall, with
many small panes. Passing through the arch at the back of the hall, you
come upon the wide and heavy well-staircase. There is a back staircase
also. The mansion is large, and has not as much light, by any means, in
proportion to its extent, as modern houses enjoy. When I saw it, it had
long been untenanted, and had the gloomy reputation beside of a haunted
house. Cobwebs floated from the ceilings or spanned the corners of the
cornices, and dust lay thick over everything. The windows were stained
with the dust and rain of fifty years, and darkness had thus grown
darker.

When I made it my first visit, it was in company with my father, when I
was still a boy, in the year 1808. I was about twelve years old, and my
imagination impressible, as it always is at that age. I looked about me
with great awe. I was here in the very centre and scene of those
occurrences which I had heard recounted at the fireside at home, with so
delightful a horror.

My father was an old bachelor of nearly sixty when he married. He had,
when a child, seen Judge Harbottle on the bench in his robes and wig a
dozen times at least before his death, which took place in 1748, and his
appearance made a powerful and unpleasant impression, not only on his
imagination, but upon his nerves.

The Judge was at that time a man of some sixty-seven years. He had a
great mulberry-coloured face, a big, carbuncled nose, fierce eyes, and a
grim and brutal mouth. My father, who was young at the time, thought it
the most formidable face he had ever seen; for there were evidences of
intellectual power in the formation and lines of the forehead. His voice
was loud and harsh, and gave effect to the sarcasm which was his
habitual weapon on the bench.

This old gentleman had the reputation of being about the wickedest man
in England. Even on the bench he now and then showed his scorn of
opinion. He had carried cases his own way, it was said, in spite of
counsel, authorities, and even of juries, by a sort of cajolery,
violence, and bamboozling, that somehow confused and overpowered
resistance. He had never actually committed himself; he was too cunning
to do that. He had the character of being, however, a dangerous and
unscrupulous judge; but his character did not trouble him. The
associates he chose for his hours of relaxation cared as little as he
did about it.

CHAPTER II

_Mr. Peters_

One night during the session of 1746 this old Judge went down in his
chair to wait in one of the rooms of the House of Lords for the result
of a division in which he and his order were interested.

This over, he was about to return to his house close by, in his chair;
but the night had become so soft and fine that he changed his mind, sent
it home empty, and with two footmen, each with a flambeau, set out on
foot in preference. Gout had made him rather a slow pedestrian. It took
him some time to get through the two or three streets he had to pass
before reaching his house.

In one of those narrow streets of tall houses, perfectly silent at that
hour, he overtook, slowly as he was walking, a very singular-looking old
gentleman.

He had a bottle-green coat on, with a cape to it, and large stone
buttons, a broad-leafed low-crowned hat, from under which a big powdered
wig escaped; he stooped very much, and supported his bending knees with
the aid of a crutch-handled cane, and so shuffled and tottered along
painfully.

"I ask your pardon, sir," said this old man, in a very quavering voice,
as the burly Judge came up with him, and he extended his hand feebly
towards his arm.

Mr. Justice Harbottle saw that the man was by no means poorly dressed,
and his manner that of a gentleman.

The Judge stopped short, and said, in his harsh peremptory tones, "Well,
sir, how can I serve you?"

"Can you direct me to Judge Harbottle's house? I have some intelligence
of the very last importance to communicate to him."

"Can you tell it before witnesses?" asked the Judge.

"By no means; it must reach _his_ ear only," quavered the old man
earnestly.

"If that be so, sir, you have only to accompany me a few steps farther
to reach my house, and obtain a private audience; for I am Judge
Harbottle."

With this invitation the infirm gentleman in the white wig complied very
readily; and in another minute the stranger stood in what was then
termed the front parlour of the Judge's house, _tete-a-tete_ with that
shrewd and dangerous functionary.

He had to sit down, being very much exhausted, and unable for a little
time to speak; and then he had a fit of coughing, and after that a fit
of gasping; and thus two or three minutes passed, during which the Judge
dropped his roquelaure on an arm-chair, and threw his cocked-hat over
that.

The venerable pedestrian in the white wig quickly recovered his voice.
With closed doors they remained together for some time.

There were guests waiting in the drawing-rooms, and the sound of men's
voices laughing, and then of a female voice singing to a harpsichord,
were heard distinctly in the hall over the stairs; for old Judge Harbottle
had arranged one of his dubious jollifications, such as might well make
the hair of godly men's heads stand upright for that night.

This old gentleman in the powdered white wig, that rested on his stooped
shoulders, must have had something to say that interested the Judge very
much; for he would not have parted on easy terms with the ten minutes
and upwards which that conference filched from the sort of revelry in
which he most delighted, and in which he was the roaring king, and in
some sort the tyrant also, of his company.

The footman who showed the aged gentleman out observed that the Judge's
mulberry-coloured face, pimples and all, were bleached to a dingy
yellow, and there was the abstraction of agitated thought in his manner,
as he bid the stranger good-night. The servant saw that the conversation
had been of serious import, and that the Judge was frightened.

Instead of stumping upstairs forthwith to his scandalous hilarities, his
profane company, and his great china bowl of punch--the identical bowl
from which a bygone Bishop of London, good easy man, had baptised this
Judge's grandfather, now clinking round the rim with silver ladles, and
hung with scrolls of lemon-peel--instead, I say, of stumping and
clambering up the great staircase to the cavern of his Circean
enchantment, he stood with his big nose flattened against the window-pane,
watching the progress of the feeble old man, who clung stiffly to
the iron rail as he got down, step by step, to the pavement.

The hall-door had hardly closed, when the old Judge was in the hall
bawling hasty orders, with such stimulating expletives as old colonels
under excitement sometimes indulge in now-a-days, with a stamp or two of
his big foot, and a waving of his clenched fist in the air. He commanded
the footman to overtake the old gentleman in the white wig, to offer him
his protection on his way home, and in no case to show his face again
without having ascertained where he lodged, and who he was, and all
about him.

"By ---, sirrah! if you fail me in this, you doff my livery to-night!"

Forth bounced the stalwart footman, with his heavy cane under his arm,
and skipped down the steps, and looked up and down the street after the
singular figure, so easy to recognize.

What were his adventures I shall not tell you just now.

The old man, in the conference to which he had been admitted in that
stately panelled room, had just told the Judge a very strange story. He
might be himself a conspirator; he might possibly be crazed; or possibly
his whole story was straight and true.

The aged gentleman in the bottle-green coat, in finding himself alone
with Mr. Justice Harbottle, had become agitated. He said,

"There is, perhaps you are not aware, my lord, a prisoner in Shrewsbury
jail, charged with having forged a bill of exchange for a hundred and
twenty pounds, and his name is Lewis Pyneweck, a grocer of that town."

"Is there?" says the Judge, who knew well that there was.

"Yes, my lord," says the old man.

"Then you had better say nothing to affect this case. If you do, by
---, I'll commit you! for I'm to try it," says the judge, with his
terrible look and tone.

"I am not going to do anything of the kind, my lord; of him or his case
I know nothing, and care nothing. But a fact has come to my knowledge
which it behoves you to well consider."

"And what may that fact be?" inquired the Judge; "I'm in haste, sir, and
beg you will use dispatch."

"It has come to my knowledge, my lord, that a secret tribunal is in
process of formation, the object of which is to take cognisance of the
conduct of the judges; and first, of _your_ conduct, my lord; it is a
wicked conspiracy."

"Who are of it?" demands the Judge.

"I know not a single name as yet. I know but the fact, my lord; it is
most certainly true."

"I'll have you before the Privy Council, sir," says the Judge.

"That is what I most desire; but not for a day or two, my lord."

"And why so?"

"I have not as yet a single name, as I told your lordship; but I expect
to have a list of the most forward men in it, and some other papers
connected with the plot, in two or three days."

"You said one or two just now."

"About that time, my lord."

"Is this a Jacobite plot?"

"In the main I think it is, my lord."

"Why, then, it is political. I have tried no State prisoners, nor am
like to try any such. How, then, doth it concern me?"

"From what I can gather, my lord, there are those in it who desire
private revenges upon certain judges."

"What do they call their cabal?"

"The High Court of Appeal, my lord."

"Who are you, sir? What is your name?"

"Hugh Peters, my lord."

"That should be a Whig name?"

"It is, my lord." "Where do you lodge, Mr. Peters?"

"In Thames Street, my lord, over against the sign of the 'Three Kings.'"

"'Three Kings?' Take care one be not too many for you, Mr. Peters! How
come you, an honest Whig, as you say, to be privy to a Jacobite plot?
Answer me that."

"My lord, a person in whom I take an interest has been seduced to take a
part in it; and being frightened at the unexpected wickedness of their
plans, he is resolved to become an informer for the Crown."

"He resolves like a wise man, sir. What does he say of the persons? Who
are in the plot? Doth he know them?"

"Only two, my lord; but he will be introduced to the club in a few days,
and he will then have a list, and more exact information of their plans,
and above all of their oaths, and their hours and places of meeting,
with which he wishes to be acquainted before they can have any
suspicions of his intentions. And being so informed, to whom, think you,
my lord, had he best go then?"

"To the king's attorney-general straight. But you say this concerns me,
sir, in particular? How about this prisoner, Lewis Pyneweck? Is he one
of them?"

"I can't tell, my lord; but for some reason, it is thought your lordship
will be well advised if you try him not. For if you do, it is feared
'twill shorten your days."

"So far as I can learn, Mr. Peters, this business smells pretty strong
of blood and treason. The king's attorney-general will know how to deal
with it. When shall I see you again, sir?"

"If you give me leave, my lord, either before your lordship's court
sits, or after it rises, to-morrow. I should like to come and tell your
lordship what has passed."

"Do so, Mr. Peters, at nine o'clock to-morrow morning. And see you play
me no trick, sir, in this matter; if you do, by ---, sir, I'll lay you
by the heels!"

"You need fear no trick from me, my lord; had I not wished to serve you,
and acquit my own conscience, I never would have come all this way to
talk with your lordship."

"I'm willing to believe you, Mr. Peters; I'm willing to believe you,
sir."

And upon this they parted.

"He has either painted his face, or he is consumedly sick," thought the
old Judge.

The light had shown more effectually upon his features as he turned to
leave the room with a low bow, and they looked, he fancied, unnaturally
chalky.

"D--- him!" said the Judge ungraciously, as he began to scale the
stairs: "he has half-spoiled my supper."

But if he had, no one but the Judge himself perceived it, and the
evidence was all, as any one might perceive, the other way.

CHAPTER III

_Lewis Pyneweck_

In the meantime the footman dispatched in pursuit of Mr. Peters
speedily overtook that feeble gentleman. The old man stopped when he
heard the sound of pursuing steps, but any alarms that may have crossed
his mind seemed to disappear on his recognizing the livery. He very
gratefully accepted the proffered assistance, and placed his tremulous
arm within the servant's for support. They had not gone far, however,
when the old man stopped suddenly, saying,

"Dear me! as I live, I have dropped it. You heard it fall. My eyes, I
fear, won't serve me, and I'm unable to stoop low enough; but if _you_
will look, you shall have half the find. It is a guinea; I carried it in
my glove."

The street was silent and deserted. The footman had hardly descended to
what he termed his "hunkers," and begun to search the pavement about the
spot which the old man indicated, when Mr. Peters, who seemed very much
exhausted, and breathed with difficulty, struck him a violent blow, from
above, over the back of the head with a heavy instrument, and then
another; and leaving him bleeding and senseless in the gutter, ran like
a lamplighter down a lane to the right, and was gone.

When an hour later, the watchman brought the man in livery home, still
stupid and covered with blood, Judge Harbottle cursed his servant
roundly, swore he was drunk, threatened him with an indictment for
taking bribes to betray his master, and cheered him with a perspective
of the broad street leading from the Old Bailey to Tyburn, the cart's
tail, and the hangman's lash.

Notwithstanding this demonstration, the Judge was pleased. It was a
disguised "affidavit man," or footpad, no doubt, who had been employed
to frighten him. The trick had fallen through.

A "court of appeal," such as the false Hugh Peters had indicated, with
assassination for its sanction, would be an uncomfortable institution
for a "hanging judge" like the Honourable Justice Harbottle. That
sarcastic and ferocious administrator of the criminal code of England,
at that time a rather pharisaical, bloody and heinous system of justice,
had reasons of his own for choosing to try that very Lewis Pyneweck, on
whose behalf this audacious trick was devised. Try him he would. No man
living should take that morsel out of his mouth.

Of Lewis Pyneweck, of course, so far as the outer world could see, he
knew nothing. He would try him after his fashion, without fear, favour,
or affection.

But did he not remember a certain thin man, dressed in mourning, in
whose house, in Shrewsbury, the Judge's lodgings used to be, until a
scandal of ill-treating his wife came suddenly to light? A grocer with a
demure look, a soft step, and a lean face as dark as mahogany, with a
nose sharp and long, standing ever so little awry, and a pair of dark
steady brown eyes under thinly-traced black brows--a man whose thin lips
wore always a faint unpleasant smile.

Had not that scoundrel an account to settle with the Judge? had he not
been troublesome lately? and was not his name Lewis Pyneweck, some time
grocer in Shrewsbury, and now prisoner in the jail of that town?

The reader may take it, if he pleases, as a sign that Judge Harbottle
was a good Christian, that he suffered nothing ever from remorse. That
was undoubtedly true. He had, nevertheless, done this grocer, forger,
what you will, some five or six years before, a grievous wrong; but it
was not that, but a possible scandal, and possible complications, that
troubled the learned Judge now.

Did he not, as a lawyer, know, that to bring a man from his shop to the
dock, the chances must be at least ninety-nine out of a hundred that he
is guilty?

A weak man like his learned brother Withershins was not a judge to keep
the high-roads safe, and make crime tremble. Old Judge Harbottle was the
man to make the evil-disposed quiver, and to refresh the world with
showers of wicked blood, and thus save the innocent, to the refrain of
the ancient saw he loved to quote:

Foolish pity
Ruins a city.

In hanging that fellow he could not be wrong. The eye of a man
accustomed to look upon the dock could not fail to read "villain"
written sharp and clear in his plotting face. Of course he would try
him, and no one else should.

A saucy-looking woman, still handsome, in a mob-cap gay with blue
ribbons, in a saque of flowered silk, with lace and rings on, much too
fine for the Judge's housekeeper, which nevertheless she was, peeped
into his study next morning, and, seeing the Judge alone, stepped in.

"Here's another letter from him, come by the post this morning. Can't
you do nothing for him?" she said wheedlingly, with her arm over his
neck, and her delicate finger and thumb fiddling with the lobe of his
purple ear.

"I'll try," said Judge Harbottle, not raising his eyes from the paper he
was reading.

"I knew you'd do what I asked you," she said.

The Judge clapt his gouty claw over his heart, and made her an ironical
bow.

"What," she asked, "will you do?"

"Hang him," said the Judge with a chuckle.

"You don't mean to; no, you don't, my little man," said she, surveying
herself in a mirror on the wall.

"I'm d----d but I think you're falling in love with your husband at
last!" said Judge Harbottle.

"I'm blest but I think you're growing jealous of him," replied the lady
with a laugh. "But no; he was always a bad one to me; I've done with him
long ago."

"And he with you, by George! When he took your fortune, and your spoons,
and your ear-rings, he had all he wanted of you. He drove you from his
house; and when he discovered you had made yourself comfortable, and
found a good situation, he'd have taken your guineas, and your silver,
and your ear-rings over again, and then allowed you half-a-dozen years
more to make a new harvest for his mill. You don't wish him good; if you
say you do, you lie."

She laughed a wicked, saucy laugh, and gave the terrible Rhadamanthus a
playful tap on the chops.

"He wants me to send him money to fee a counsellor," she said, while her
eyes wandered over the pictures on the wall, and back again to the
looking-glass; and certainly she did not look as if his jeopardy
troubled her very much.

"Confound his impudence, the _scoundrel_!" thundered the old Judge,
throwing himself back in his chair, as he used to do _in furore_ on the
bench, and the lines of his mouth looked brutal, and his eyes ready to
leap from their sockets. "If you answer his letter from my house to
please yourself, you'll write your next from somebody else's to please
me. You understand, my pretty witch, I'll not be pestered. Come, no
pouting; whimpering won't do. You don't care a brass farthing for the
villain, body or soul. You came here but to make a row. You are one of
Mother Carey's chickens; and where you come, the storm is up. Get you
gone, baggage! get you _gone_!" he repeated, with a stamp; for a knock
at the hall-door made her instantaneous disappearance indispensable.

I need hardly say that the venerable Hugh Peters did not appear again.
The Judge never mentioned him. But oddly enough, considering how he
laughed to scorn the weak invention which he had blown into dust at the
very first puff, his white-wigged visitor and the conference in the dark
front parlour were often in his memory.

His shrewd eye told him that allowing for change of tints and such
disguises as the playhouse affords every night, the features of this
false old man, who had turned out too hard for his tall footman, were
identical with those of Lewis Pyneweck.

Judge Harbottle made his registrar call upon the crown solicitor, and
tell him that there was a man in town who bore a wonderful resemblance
to a prisoner in Shrewsbury jail named Lewis Pyneweck, and to make
inquiry through the post forthwith whether any one was personating
Pyneweck in prison and whether he had thus or otherwise made his escape.

The prisoner was safe, however, and no question as to his identity.

CHAPTER IV

_Interruption in Court_

In due time Judge Harbottle went circuit; and in due time the judges
were in Shrewsbury. News travelled slowly in those days, and newspapers,
like the wagons and stage coaches, took matters easily. Mrs. Pyneweck,
in the Judge's house, with a diminished household--the greater part of
the Judge's servants having gone with him, for he had given up riding
circuit, and travelled in his coach in state--kept house rather
solitarily at home.

In spite of quarrels, in spite of mutual injuries--some of them,
inflicted by herself, enormous--in spite of a married life of spited
bickerings--a life in which there seemed no love or liking or
forbearance, for years--now that Pyneweck stood in near danger of death,
something like remorse came suddenly upon her. She knew that in
Shrewsbury were transacting the scenes which were to determine his fate.
She knew she did not love him; but she could not have supposed, even a
fortnight before, that the hour of suspense could have affected her so
powerfully.

She knew the day on which the trial was expected to take place. She
could not get it out of her head for a minute; she felt faint as it drew
towards evening.

Two or three days passed; and then she knew that the trial must be over
by this time. There were floods between London and Shrewsbury, and news
was long delayed. She wished the floods would last forever. It was
dreadful waiting to hear; dreadful to know that the event was over, and
that she could not hear till self-willed rivers subsided; dreadful to
know that they must subside and the news come at last.

She had some vague trust in the Judge's good nature, and much in the
resources of chance and accident. She had contrived to send the money he
wanted. He would not be without legal advice and energetic and skilled
support.

At last the news did come--a long arrear all in a gush: a letter from a
female friend in Shrewsbury; a return of the sentences, sent up for the
Judge; and most important, because most easily got at, being told with
great aplomb and brevity, the long-deferred intelligence of the
Shrewsbury Assizes in the _Morning Advertiser_. Like an impatient reader
of a novel, who reads the last page first, she read with dizzy eyes the
list of the executions.

Two were respited, seven were hanged; and in that capital catalogue was
this line:

"Lewis Pyneweck--forgery."

She had to read it a half-a-dozen times over before she was sure she
understood it. Here was the paragraph:

_Sentence, Death--7._

Executed accordingly, on Friday the 13th instant, to wit:

Thomas Primer, _alias_ Duck--highway robbery. Flora Guy--stealing to
the value of 11s. 6d. Arthur Pounden--burglary. Matilda
Mummery--riot. Lewis Pyneweck--forgery, bill of exchange.

And when she reached this, she read it over and over, feeling very cold
and sick.

This buxom housekeeper was known in the house as Mrs. Carwell--Carwell
being her maiden name, which she had resumed.

No one in the house except its master knew her history. Her introduction
had been managed craftily. No one suspected that it had been concerted
between her and the old reprobate in scarlet and ermine.

Flora Carwell ran up the stairs now, and snatched her little girl,
hardly seven years of age, whom she met on the lobby, hurriedly up in
her arms, and carried her into her bedroom, without well knowing what
she was doing, and sat down, placing the child before her. She was not
able to speak. She held the child before her, and looked in the little
girl's wondering face, and burst into tears of horror.

She thought the Judge could have saved him. I daresay he could. For a
time she was furious with him, and hugged and kissed her bewildered
little girl, who returned her gaze with large round eyes.

That little girl had lost her father, and knew nothing of the matter.
She had always been told that her father was dead long ago.

A woman, coarse, uneducated, vain, and violent, does not reason, or even
feel, very distinctly; but in these tears of consternation were mingling
a self-upbraiding. She felt afraid of that little child.

But Mrs. Carwell was a person who lived not upon sentiment, but upon
beef and pudding; she consoled herself with punch; she did not trouble
herself long even with resentments; she was a gross and material person,
and could not mourn over the irrevocable for more than a limited number
of hours, even if she would.

Judge Harbottle was soon in London again. Except the gout, this savage
old epicurean never knew a day's sickness. He laughed, and coaxed, and
bullied away the young woman's faint upbraidings, and in a little time
Lewis Pyneweck troubled her no more; and the Judge secretly chuckled
over the perfectly fair removal of a bore, who might have grown little
by little into something very like a tyrant.

It was the lot of the Judge whose adventures I am now recounting to try
criminal cases at the Old Bailey shortly after his return. He had
commenced his charge to the jury in a case of forgery, and was, after
his wont, thundering dead against the prisoner, with many a hard
aggravation and cynical gibe, when suddenly all died away in silence,
and, instead of looking at the jury, the eloquent Judge was gaping at
some person in the body of the court.

Among the persons of small importance who stand and listen at the sides
was one tall enough to show with a little prominence; a slight mean
figure, dressed in seedy black, lean and dark of visage. He had just
handed a letter to the crier, before he caught the Judge's eye.

That Judge descried, to his amazement, the features of Lewis Pyneweck.
He had the usual faint thin-lipped smile; and with his blue chin raised
in air, and as it seemed quite unconscious of the distinguished notice
he has attracted, he was stretching his low cravat with his crooked
fingers, while he slowly turned his head from side to side--a process
which enabled the Judge to see distinctly a stripe of swollen blue round
his neck, which indicated, he thought, the grip of the rope.

This man, with a few others, had got a footing on a step, from which he
could better see the court. He now stepped down, and the Judge lost
sight of him.

His lordship signed energetically with his hand in the direction in
which this man had vanished. He turned to the tipstaff. His first effort
to speak ended in a gasp. He cleared his throat, and told the astounded
official to arrest that man who had interrupted the court.

"He's but this moment gone down _there_. Bring him in custody before me,
within ten minutes' time, or I'll strip your gown from your shoulders
and fine the sheriff!" he thundered, while his eyes flashed round the
court in search of the functionary.

Attorneys, counsellors, idle spectators, gazed in the direction in which
Mr. Justice Harbottle had shaken his gnarled old hand. They compared
notes. Not one had seen any one making a disturbance. They asked one
another if the Judge was losing his head.

Nothing came of the search. His lordship concluded his charge a great
deal more tamely; and when the jury retired, he stared round the court
with a wandering mind, and looked as if he would not have given sixpence
to see the prisoner hanged.

CHAPTER V

_Caleb Searcher_

The Judge had received the letter; had he known from whom it came, he
would no doubt have read it instantaneously. As it was he simply read
the direction:

_To the Honourable
The Lord Justice
Elijah Harbottle,
One of his Majesty's Justices of
the Honourable Court of Common Pleas._

It remained forgotten in his pocket till he reached home.

When he pulled out that and others from the capacious pocket of his
coat, it had its turn, as he sat in his library in his thick silk
dressing-gown; and then he found its contents to be a closely-written
letter, in a clerk's hand, and an enclosure in "secretary hand," as I
believe the angular scrivinary of law-writings in those days was termed,
engrossed on a bit of parchment about the size of this page. The letter
said:

MR. JUSTICE HARBOTTLE,--MY LORD,

I am ordered by the High Court of Appeal to acquaint your lordship,
in order to your better preparing yourself for your trial, that a
true bill hath been sent down, and the indictment lieth against your
lordship for the murder of one Lewis Pyneweck of Shrewsbury,
citizen, wrongfully executed for the forgery of a bill of exchange,
on the ----th day of ---- last, by reason of the wilful perversion
of the evidence, and the undue pressure put upon the jury, together
with the illegal admission of evidence by your lordship, well
knowing the same to be illegal, by all which the promoter of the
prosecution of the said indictment, before the High Court of Appeal,
hath lost his life.

And the trial of the said indictment, I am farther ordered to
acquaint your lordship, is fixed for the both day of ---- next
ensuing, by the right honourable the Lord Chief Justice Twofold, of
the court aforesaid, to wit, the High Court of Appeal, on which day
it will most certainly take place. And I am farther to acquaint your
lordship, to prevent any surprise or miscarriage, that your case
stands first for the said day, and that the said High Court of
Appeal sits day and night, and never rises; and herewith, by order
of the said court, I furnish your lordship with a copy (extract) of
the record in this case, except of the indictment, whereof,
notwithstanding, the substance and effect is supplied to your
lordship in this Notice. And farther I am to inform you, that in
case the jury then to try your lordship should find you guilty, the
right honourable the Lord Chief Justice will, in passing sentence of
death upon you, fix the day of execution for the 10th day of ----,
being one calendar month from the day of your trial.

It was signed by
CALEB SEARCHER,
Officer of the Crown Solicitor in the Kingdom of Life and Death.

The Judge glanced through the parchment.

"'Sblood! Do they think a man like me is to be bamboozled by their
buffoonery?"

The Judge's coarse features were wrung into one of his sneers; but he
was pale. Possibly, after all, there was a conspiracy on foot. It was
queer. Did they mean to pistol him in his carriage? or did they only aim
at frightening him?

Judge Harbottle had more than enough of animal courage. He was not
afraid of highwaymen, and he had fought more than his share of duels,
being a foul-mouthed advocate while he held briefs at the bar. No one
questioned his fighting qualities. But with respect to this particular
case of Pyneweck, he lived in a house of glass. Was there not his
pretty, dark-eyed, over-dressed housekeeper, Mrs. Flora Carwell? Very
easy for people who knew Shrewsbury to identify Mrs. Pyneweck, if once
put upon the scent; and had he not stormed and worked hard in that case?
Had he not made it hard sailing for the prisoner? Did he not know very
well what the bar thought of it? It would be the worst scandal that ever
blasted Judge.

So much there was intimidating in the matter but nothing more. The Judge
was a little bit gloomy for a day or two after, and more testy with
every one than usual.

He locked up the papers; and about a week after he asked his
housekeeper, one day, in the library:

"Had your husband never a brother?"

Mrs. Carwell squalled on this sudden introduction of the funereal topic,
and cried exemplary "piggins full," as the Judge used pleasantly to say.
But he was in no mood for trifling now, and he said sternly:

"Come, madam! this wearies me. Do it another time; and give me an answer
to my question." So she did.

Pyneweck had no brother living. He once had one; but he died in Jamaica.

"How do you know he is dead?" asked the Judge.

"Because he told me so."

"Not the dead man."

"Pyneweck told me so."

"Is that all?" sneered the Judge.

He pondered this matter; and time went on. The Judge was growing a
little morose, and less enjoying. The subject struck nearer to his
thoughts than he fancied it could have done. But so it is with most
undivulged vexations, and there was no one to whom he could tell this
one.

It was now the ninth; and Mr Justice Harbottle was glad. He knew nothing
would come of it. Still it bothered him; and to-morrow would see it well
over.

[What of the paper I have cited? No one saw it during his life; no one,
after his death. He spoke of it to Dr. Hedstone; and what purported to
be "a copy," in the old Judge's handwriting, was found. The original was
nowhere. Was it a copy of an illusion, incident to brain disease? Such
is my belief.]

CHAPTER VI

_Arrested_

Judge Harbottle went this night to the play at Drury Lane. He was one
of the old fellows who care nothing for late hours, and occasional
knocking about in pursuit of pleasure. He had appointed with two cronies
of Lincoln's Inn to come home in his coach with him to sup after the
play.

They were not in his box, but were to meet him near the entrance, and
get into his carriage there; and Mr. Justice Harbottle, who hated
waiting, was looking a little impatiently from the window.

The Judge yawned.

He told the footman to watch for Counsellor Thavies and Counsellor
Beller, who were coming; and, with another yawn, he laid his cocked hat
on his knees, closed his eyes, leaned back in his corner, wrapped his
mantle closer about him, and began to think of pretty Mrs. Abington.

And being a man who could sleep like a sailor, at a moment's notice, he
was thinking of taking a nap. Those fellows had no business to keep a
judge waiting.

He heard their voices now. Those rake-hell counsellors were laughing,
and bantering, and sparring after their wont. The carriage swayed and
jerked, as one got in, and then again as the other followed. The door
clapped, and the coach was now jogging and rumbling over the pavement.
The Judge was a little bit sulky. He did not care to sit up and open his
eyes. Let them suppose he was asleep. He heard them laugh with more
malice than good-humour, he thought, as they observed it. He would give
them a d----d hard knock or two when they got to his door, and till then
he would counterfeit his nap.

The clocks were chiming twelve. Beller and Thavies were silent as
tombstones. They were generally loquacious and merry rascals.

The Judge suddenly felt himself roughly seized and thrust from his
corner into the middle of the seat, and opening his eyes, instantly he
found himself between his two companions.

Before he could blurt out the oath that was at his lips, he saw that
they were two strangers--evil-looking fellows, each with a pistol in his
hand, and dressed like Bow Street officers.

The Judge clutched at the check-string. The coach pulled up. He stared
about him. They were not among houses; but through the windows, under a
broad moonlight, he saw a black moor stretching lifelessly from right to
left, with rotting trees, pointing fantastic branches in the air,
standing here and there in groups, as if they held up their arms and
twigs like fingers, in horrible glee at the Judge's coming.

A footman came to the window. He knew his long face and sunken eyes. He
knew it was Dingly Chuff, fifteen years ago a footman in his service,
whom he had turned off at a moment's notice, in a burst of jealousy, and
indicted for a missing spoon. The man had died in prison of the jail-fever.

The Judge drew back in utter amazement. His armed companions signed
mutely; and they were again gliding over this unknown moor.

The bloated and gouty old man, in his horror considered the question of
resistance. But his athletic days were long over. This moor was a
desert. There was no help to be had. He was in the hands of strange
servants, even if his recognition turned out to be a delusion, and they
were under the command of his captors. There was nothing for it but
submission, for the present.

Suddenly the coach was brought nearly to a standstill, so that the
prisoner saw an ominous sight from the window.

It was a gigantic gallows beside the road; it stood three-sided, and
from each of its three broad beams at top depended in chains some eight
or ten bodies, from several of which the cere-clothes had dropped away,
leaving the skeletons swinging lightly by their chains. A tall ladder
reached to the summit of the structure, and on the peat beneath lay
bones.

On top of the dark transverse beam facing the road, from which, as from
the other two completing the triangle of death, dangled a row of these
unfortunates in chains, a hangman, with a pipe in his mouth, much as we
see him in the famous print of the "Idle Apprentice," though here his
perch was ever so much higher, was reclining at his ease and listlessly
shying bones, from a little heap at his elbow, at the skeletons that
hung round, bringing down now a rib or two, now a hand, now half a leg.
A long-sighted man could have discerned that he was a dark fellow, lean;
and from continually looking down on the earth from the elevation over
which, in another sense, he always hung, his nose, his lips, his chin
were pendulous and loose, and drawn down into a monstrous grotesque.

This fellow took his pipe from his mouth on seeing the coach, stood up,
and cut some solemn capers high on his beam, and shook a new rope in the
air, crying with a voice high and distant as the caw of a raven hovering
over a gibbet, "A robe for Judge Harbottle!"

The coach was now driving on at its old swift pace.

So high a gallows as that, the Judge had never, even in his most
hilarious moments, dreamed of. He thought, he must be raving. And the
dead footman! He shook his ears and strained his eyelids; but if he was
dreaming, he was unable to awake himself.

There was no good in threatening these scoundrels. A _brutum fulmen_
might bring a real one on his head.

Any submission to get out of their hands; and then heaven and earth he
would move to unearth and hunt them down.

Suddenly they drove round a corner of a vast white building, and under a
_porte-cochere_.

CHAPTER VII

_Chief-Justice Twofold_

The Judge found himself in a corridor lighted with dingy oil lamps, the
walls of bare stone; it looked like a passage in a prison. His guards
placed him in the hands of other people. Here and there he saw bony and
gigantic soldiers passing to and fro, with muskets over their shoulders.
They looked straight before them, grinding their teeth, in bleak fury,
with no noise but the clank of their shoes. He saw these by glimpses,
round corners, and at the ends of passages, but he did not actually pass
them by.

And now, passing under a narrow doorway, he found himself in the dock,
confronting a judge in his scarlet robes, in a large court-house. There
was nothing to elevate this Temple of Themis above its vulgar kind
elsewhere. Dingy enough it looked, in spite of candles lighted in decent
abundance. A case had just closed, and the last juror's back was seen
escaping through the door in the wall of the jury-box. There were some
dozen barristers, some fiddling with pen and ink, others buried in
briefs, some beckoning, with the plumes of their pens, to their
attorneys, of whom there were no lack; there were clerks to-ing and
fro-ing, and the officers of the court, and the registrar, who was handing
up a paper to the judge; and the tipstaff, who was presenting a note at
the end of his wand to a king's counsel over the heads of the crowd
between. If this was the High Court of Appeal, which never rose day or
night, it might account for the pale and jaded aspect of everybody in
it. An air of indescribable gloom hung upon the pallid features of all
the people here; no one ever smiled; all looked more or less secretly
suffering.

"The King against Elijah Harbottle!" shouted the officer.

"Is the appellant Lewis Pyneweck in court?" asked Chief-Justice Twofold,
in a voice of thunder, that shook the woodwork of the court, and boomed
down the corridors.

Up stood Pyneweck from his place at the table.

"Arraign the prisoner!" roared the Chief: and Judge Harbottle felt the
panels of the dock round him, and the floor, and the rails quiver in the
vibrations of that tremendous voice.

The prisoner, _in limine_, objected to this pretended court, as being a
sham, and non-existent in point of law; and then, that, even if it were
a court constituted by law (the Judge was growing dazed), it had not and
could not have any jurisdiction to try him for his conduct on the bench.

Whereupon the chief-justice laughed suddenly, and every one in court,
turning round upon the prisoner, laughed also, till the laugh grew and
roared all round like a deafening acclamation; he saw nothing but
glittering eyes and teeth, a universal stare and grin; but though all
the voices laughed, not a single face of all those that concentrated
their gaze upon him looked like a laughing face. The mirth subsided as
suddenly as it began.

The indictment was read. Judge Harbottle actually pleaded! He pleaded
"Not Guilty." A jury were sworn. The trial proceeded. Judge Harbottle
was bewildered. This could not be real. He must be either mad, or
_going_ mad, he thought.

One thing could not fail to strike even him. This Chief-Justice Twofold,
who was knocking him about at every turn with sneer and gibe, and
roaring him down with his tremendous voice, was a dilated effigy of
himself; an image of Mr. Justice Harbottle, at least double his size,
and with all his fierce colouring, and his ferocity of eye and visage,
enhanced awfully.

Nothing the prisoner could argue, cite, or state, was permitted to
retard for a moment the march of the case towards its catastrophe.

The chief-justice seemed to feel his power over the jury, and to exult
and riot in the display of it. He glared at them, he nodded to them; he
seemed to have established an understanding with them. The lights were
faint in that part of the court. The jurors were mere shadows, sitting
in rows; the prisoner could see a dozen pair of white eyes shining,
coldly, out of the darkness; and whenever the judge in his charge, which
was contemptuously brief, nodded and grinned and gibed, the prisoner
could see, in the obscurity, by the dip of all these rows of eyes
together, that the jury nodded in acquiescence.

And now the charge was over, the huge chief-justice leaned back panting
and gloating on the prisoner. Every one in the court turned about, and
gazed with steadfast hatred on the man in the dock. From the jury-box
where the twelve sworn brethren were whispering together, a sound in the
general stillness like a prolonged "hiss-s-s!" was heard; and then, in
answer to the challenge of the officer, "How say you, gentlemen of the
jury, guilty or not guilty?" came in a melancholy voice the finding,
"Guilty."

The place seemed to the eyes of the prisoner to grow gradually darker
and darker, till he could discern nothing distinctly but the lumen of
the eyes that were turned upon him from every bench and side and corner
and gallery of the building. The prisoner doubtless thought that he had
quite enough to say, and conclusive, why sentence of death should not be
pronounced upon him; but the lord chief-justice puffed it contemptuously
away, like so much smoke, and proceeded to pass sentence of death upon
the prisoner, having named the tenth of the ensuing month for his
execution.

Before he had recovered the stun of this ominous farce, in obedience to
the mandate, "Remove the prisoner," he was led from the dock. The lamps
seemed all to have gone out, and there were stoves and charcoal-fires
here and there, that threw a faint crimson light on the walls of the
corridors through which he passed. The stones that composed them looked
now enormous, cracked and unhewn.

He came into a vaulted smithy, where two men, naked to the waist, with
heads like bulls, round shoulders, and the arms of giants, were welding
red-hot chains together with hammers that pelted like thunderbolts.

They looked on the prisoner with fierce red eyes, and rested on their
hammers for a minute; and said the elder to his companion, "Take out
Elijah Harbottle's gyves;" and with a pincers he plucked the end which
lay dazzling in the fire from the furnace.

"One end locks," said he, taking the cool end of the iron in one hand,
while with the grip of a vice he seized the leg of the Judge, and locked
the ring round his ankle. "The other," he said with a grin, "is welded."

The iron band that was to form the ring for the other leg lay still red
hot upon the stone floor, with briliant sparks sporting up and down its
surface.

His companion, in his gigantic hands, seized the old Judge's other leg,
and pressed his foot immovably to the stone floor; while his senior, in
a twinkling, with a masterly application of pincers and hammer, sped the
glowing bar around his ankle so tight that the skin and sinews smoked
and bubbled again, and old Judge Harbottle uttered a yell that seemed to
chill the very stones, and make the iron chains quiver on the wall.

Chains, vaults, smiths, and smithy all vanished in a moment; but the
pain continued. Mr. Justice Harbottle was suffering torture all round
the ankle on which the infernal smiths had just been operating.

His friends, Thavies and Beller, were startled by the Judge's roar in
the midst of their elegant trifling about a marriage _a-la-mode_ case
which was going on. The Judge was in panic as well as pain. The street
lamps and the light of his own hall door restored him.

"I'm very bad," growled he between his set teeth; "my foot's blazing.
Who was he that hurt my foot? 'Tis the gout--'tis the gout!" he said,
awaking completely. "How many hours have we been coming from the
playhouse? 'Sblood, what has happened on the way? I've slept half the
night!"

There had been no hitch or delay, and they had driven home at a good
pace.

The Judge, however, was in gout; he was feverish too; and the attack,
though very short, was sharp; and when, in about a fortnight, it
subsided, his ferocious joviality did not return. He could not get this
dream, as he chose to call it, out of his head.

CHAPTER VIII

_Somebody Has Got Into the House_

People remarked that the Judge was in the vapours. His doctor said he
should go for a fortnight to Buxton.

Whenever the Judge fell into a brown study, he was always conning over
the terms of the sentence pronounced upon him in his vision--"in one
calendar month from the date of this day;" and then the usual form, "and
you shall be hanged by the neck till you are dead," etc. "That will be
the 10th--I'm not much in the way of being hanged. I know what stuff
dreams are, and I laugh at them; but this is continually in my thoughts,
as if it forecast misfortune of some sort. I wish the day my dream gave
me were passed and over. I wish I were well purged of my gout. I wish I
were as I used to be. 'Tis nothing but vapours, nothing but a maggot."
The copy of the parchment and letter which had announced his trial with
many a snort and sneer he would read over and over again, and the
scenery and people of his dream would rise about him in places the most
unlikely, and steal him in a moment from all that surrounded him into a
world of shadows.

The Judge had lost his iron energy and banter. He was growing taciturn
and morose. The Bar remarked the change, as well they might. His friends
thought him ill. The doctor said he was troubled with hypochondria, and
that his gout was still lurking in his system, and ordered him to that
ancient haunt of crutches and chalk-stones, Buxton.

The Judge's spirits were very low; he was frightened about himself; and
he described to his housekeeper, having sent for her to his study to
drink a dish of tea, his strange dream in his drive home from Drury Lane
Playhouse. He was sinking into the state of nervous dejection in which
men lose their faith in orthodox advice, and in despair consult quacks,
astrologers, and nursery storytellers. Could such a dream mean that he
was to have a fit, and so die on the both? She did not think so. On the
contrary, it was certain some good luck must happen on that day.

The Judge kindled; and for the first time for many days, he looked for a
minute or two like himself, and he tapped her on the cheek with the hand
that was not in flannel.

"Odsbud! odsheart! you dear rogue! I had forgot. There is young
Tom--yellow Tom, my nephew, you know, lies sick at Harrogate; why shouldn't
he go that day as well as another, and if he does, I get an estate by
it? Why, lookee, I asked Doctor Hedstone yesterday if I was like to take
a fit any time, and he laughed, and swore I was the last man in town to
go off that way."

The Judge sent most of his servants down to Buxton to make his lodgings
and all things comfortable for him. He was to follow in a day or two.

It was now the 9th; and the next day well over, he might laugh at his
visions and auguries.

On the evening of the 9th, Dr. Hedstone's footman knocked at the
Judge's door. The Doctor ran up the dusky stairs to the drawing-room. It
was a March evening, near the hour of sunset, with an east wind
whistling sharply through the chimney-stacks. A wood fire blazed
cheerily on the hearth. And Judge Harbottle, in what was then called a
brigadier-wig, with his red roquelaure on, helped the glowing effect of
the darkened chamber, which looked red all over like a room on fire.

The Judge had his feet on a stool, and his huge grim purple face
confronted the fire, and seemed to pant and swell, as the blaze
alternately spread upward and collapsed. He had fallen again among his
blue devils, and was thinking of retiring from the Bench, and of fifty
other gloomy things.

But the Doctor, who was an energetic son of Aesculapius, would listen to
no croaking, told the Judge he was full of gout, and in his present
condition no judge even of his own case, but promised him leave to
pronounce on all those melancholy questions, a fortnight later.

In the meantime the Judge must be very careful. He was overcharged with
gout, and he must not provoke an attack, till the waters of Buxton
should do that office for him, in their own salutary way.

The Doctor did not think him perhaps quite so well as he pretended, for
he told him he wanted rest, and would be better if he went forthwith to
his bed.

Mr. Gerningham, his valet, assisted him, and gave him his drops; and the
Judge told him to wait in his bedroom till he should go to sleep.

Three persons that night had specially odd stories to tell.

The housekeeper had got rid of the trouble of amusing her little girl at
this anxious time, by giving her leave to run about the sitting-rooms
and look at the pictures and china, on the usual condition of touching
nothing. It was not until the last gleam of sunset had for some time
faded, and the twilight had so deepened that she could no longer discern
the colours on the china figures on the chimneypiece or in the cabinets,
that the child returned to the housekeeper's room to find her mother.

To her she related, after some prattle about the china, and the
pictures, and the Judge's two grand wigs in the dressing-room off the
library, an adventure of an extraordinary kind.

In the hall was placed, as was customary in those times, the sedan-chair
which the master of the house occasionally used, covered with stamped
leather, and studded with gilt nails, and with its red silk blinds down.
In this case, the doors of this old-fashioned conveyance were locked,
the windows up, and, as I said, the blinds down, but not so closely that
the curious child could not peep underneath one of them, and see into
the interior.

A parting beam from the setting sun, admitted through the window of a
back room, shot obliquely through the open door, and lighting on the
chair, shone with a dull transparency through the crimson blind.

To her surprise, the child saw in the shadow a thin man, dressed in
black, seated in it; he had sharp dark features; his nose, she fancied,
a little awry, and his brown eyes were looking straight before him; his
hand was on his thigh, and he stirred no more than the waxen figure she
had seen at Southwark fair.

A child is so often lectured for asking questions, and on the propriety
of silence, and the superior wisdom of its elders, that it accepts most
things at last in good faith; and the little girl acquiesced
respectfully in the occupation of the chair by this mahogany-faced
person as being all right and proper.

It was not until she asked her mother who this man was, and observed her
scared face as she questioned her more minutely upon the appearance of
the stranger, that she began to understand that she had seen something
unaccountable.

Mrs. Carwell took the key of the chair from its nail over the footman's
shelf, and led the child by the hand up to the hall, having a lighted
candle in her other hand. She stopped at a distance from the chair, and
placed the candlestick in the child's hand.

"Peep in, Margery, again, and try if there's anything there," she
whispered; "hold the candle near the blind so as to throw its light
through the curtain."

The child peeped, this time with a very solemn face, and intimated at
once that he was gone.

"Look again, and be sure," urged her mother.

The little girl was quite certain; and Mrs. Carwell, with her mob-cap of
lace and cherry-coloured ribbons, and her dark brown hair, not yet
powdered, over a very pale face, unlocked the door, looked in, and
beheld emptiness.

"All a mistake, child, you see."

"_There!_ ma'am! see there! He's gone round the corner," said the child.

"Where?" said Mrs. Carwell, stepping backward a step.

"Into that room."

"Tut, child! 'twas the shadow," cried Mrs. Carwell, angrily, because she
was frightened. "I moved the candle." But she clutched one of the poles
of the chair, which leant against the wall in the corner, and pounded
the floor furiously with one end of it, being afraid to pass the open
door the child had pointed to.

The cook and two kitchen-maids came running upstairs, not knowing what
to make of this unwonted alarm.

They all searched the room; but it was still and empty, and no sign of
any one's having been there.

Some people may suppose that the direction given to her thoughts by this
odd little incident will account for a very strange illusion which Mrs.
Carwell herself experienced about two hours later.

CHAPTER IX

_The Judge Leaves His House_

Mrs. Flora Carwell was going up the great staircase with a posset for
the Judge in a china bowl, on a little silver tray.

Across the top of the well-staircase there runs a massive oak rail; and,
raising her eyes accidentally, she saw an extremely odd-looking
stranger, slim and long, leaning carelessly over with a pipe between his
finger and thumb. Nose, lips, and chin seemed all to droop downward into
extraordinary length, as he leant his odd peering face over the
banister. In his other hand he held a coil of rope, one end of which
escaped from under his elbow and hung over the rail.

Mrs. Carwell, who had no suspicion at the moment, that he was not a real
person, and fancied that he was some one employed in cording the Judge's
luggage, called to know what he was doing there.

Instead of answering, he turned about, and walked across the lobby, at
about the same leisurely pace at which she was ascending, and entered a
room, into which she followed him. It was an uncarpeted and unfurnished
chamber. An open trunk lay upon the floor empty, and beside it the coil
of rope; but except herself there her. Perhaps, when she was able to
think it over, it was a relief to was no one in the room.

Mrs. Carwell was very much frightened, and now concluded that the child
must have seen the same ghost that had just appeared to believe so; for
the face, figure, and dress described by the child were awfully like
Pyneweck; and this certainly was not he.

Very much scared and very hysterical, Mrs. Carwell ran down to her room,
afraid to look over her shoulder, and got some companions about her, and
wept, and talked, and drank more than one cordial, and talked and wept
again, and so on, until, in those early days, it was ten o'clock, and
time to go to bed.

A scullery maid remained up finishing some of her scouring and
"scalding" for some time after the other servants--who, as I said, were
few in number--that night had got to their beds. This was a low-browed,
broad-faced, intrepid wench with black hair, who did not "vally a ghost
not a button," and treated the housekeeper's hysterics with measureless
scorn.

The old house was quiet now. It was near twelve o'clock, no sounds were
audible except the muffled wailing of the wintry winds, piping high
among the roofs and chimneys, or rumbling at intervals, in under gusts,
through the narrow channels of the street.

The spacious solitudes of the kitchen level were awfully dark, and this
sceptical kitchen-wench was the only person now up and about the house.
She hummed tunes to herself, for a time; and then stopped and listened;
and then resumed her work again. At last, she was destined to be more
terrified than even was the housekeeper.

There was a back kitchen in this house, and from this she heard, as if
coming from below its foundations, a sound like heavy strokes, that
seemed to shake the earth beneath her feet. Sometimes a dozen in
sequence, at regular intervals; sometimes fewer. She walked out softly
into the passage, and was surprised to see a dusky glow issuing from
this room, as if from a charcoal fire.

The room seemed thick with smoke.

Looking in she very dimly beheld a monstrous figure, over a furnace,
beating with a mighty hammer the rings and rivets of a chain.

The strokes, swift and heavy as they looked, sounded hollow and distant.
The man stopped, and pointed to something on the floor, that, through
the smoky haze, looked, the thought, like a dead body. She remarked no
more; but the servants in the room close by, startled from their sleep
by a hideous scream, found her in a swoon on the flags, close to the
door, where she had just witnessed this ghastly vision.

Startled by the girl's incoherent asseverations that she had seen the
Judge's corpse on the floor, two servants having first searched the
lower part of the house, went rather frightened up-stairs to inquire
whether their master was well. They found him, not in his bed, but in
his room. He had a table with candles burning at his bedside, and was
getting on his clothes again; and he swore and cursed at them roundly in
his old style, telling them that he had business, and that he would
discharge on the spot any scoundrel who should dare to disturb him
again.

So the invalid was left to his quietude.

In the morning it was rumored here and there in the street that the
Judge was dead. A servant was sent from the house three doors away, by
Counsellor Traverse, to inquire at Judge Harbottle's hall door.

The servant who opened it was pale and reserved, and would only say that
the Judge was ill. He had had a dangerous accident; Doctor Hedstone had
been with him at seven o'clock in the morning.

There were averted looks, short answers, pale and frowning faces, and
all the usual signs that there was a secret that sat heavily upon their
minds and the time for disclosing which had not yet come. That time
would arrive when the coroner had arrived, and the mortal scandal that
had befallen the house could be no longer hidden. For that morning Mr.
Justice Harbottle had been found hanging by the neck from the banister
at the top of the great staircase, and quite dead.

There was not the smallest sign of any struggle or resistance. There had
not been heard a cry or any other noise in the slightest degree
indicative of violence. There was medical evidence to show that, in his
atrabilious state, it was quite on the cards that he might have made
away with himself. The jury found accordingly that it was a case of
suicide. But to those who were acquainted with the strange story which
Judge Harbottle had related to at least two persons, the fact that the
catastrophe occurred on the morning of March 10th seemed a startling
coincidence.

A few days after, the pomp of a great funeral attended him to the grave;
and so, in the language of Scripture, "the rich man died, and was
buried."

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