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Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by Montague Rhodes James

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a bearing on the situation. My brother was a great musician, and used to
run up to concerts in town. He came back, three months before he died,
from one of these, and gave me his programme to look at--an analytical
programme: he always kept them. "I nearly missed this one," he said. "I
suppose I must have dropped it: anyhow, I was looking for it under my
seat and in my pockets and so on, and my neighbour offered me his, said
'might he give it me, he had no further use for it,' and he went away
just afterwards. I don't know who he was--a stout, clean-shaven man. I
should have been sorry to miss it; of course I could have bought another,
but this cost me nothing." At another time he told me that he had been
very uncomfortable both on the way to his hotel and during the night. I
piece things together now in thinking it over. Then, not very long after,
he was going over these programmes, putting them in order to have them
bound up, and in this particular one (which by the way I had hardly
glanced at), he found quite near the beginning a strip of paper with some
very odd writing on it in red and black--most carefully done--it looked
to me more like Runic letters than anything else. "Why," he said, "this
must belong to my fat neighbour. It looks as if it might be worth
returning to him; it may be a copy of something; evidently someone has
taken trouble over it. How can I find his address?" We talked it over for
a little and agreed that it wasn't worth advertising about, and that my
brother had better look out for the man at the next concert, to which he
was going very soon. The paper was lying on the book and we were both by
the fire; it was a cold, windy summer evening. I suppose the door blew
open, though I didn't notice it: at any rate a gust--a warm gust it
was--came quite suddenly between us, took the paper and blew it straight
into the fire: it was light, thin paper, and flared and went up the
chimney in a single ash. "Well," I said, "you can't give it back now." He
said nothing for a minute: then rather crossly, "No, I can't; but why you
should keep on saying so I don't know." I remarked that I didn't say it
more than once. "Not more than four times, you mean," was all he said. I
remember all that very clearly, without any good reason; and now to come
to the point. I don't know if you looked at that book of Karswell's which
my unfortunate brother reviewed. It's not likely that you should: but I
did, both before his death and after it. The first time we made game of
it together. It was written in no style at all--split infinitives, and
every sort of thing that makes an Oxford gorge rise. Then there was
nothing that the man didn't swallow: mixing up classical myths, and
stories out of the _Golden Legend_ with reports of savage customs of
today--all very proper, no doubt, if you know how to use them, but he
didn't: he seemed to put the _Golden Legend_ and the _Golden Bough_
exactly on a par, and to believe both: a pitiable exhibition, in short.
Well, after the misfortune, I looked over the book again. It was no
better than before, but the impression which it left this time on my mind
was different. I suspected--as I told you--that Karswell had borne
ill-will to my brother, even that he was in some way responsible for what
had happened; and now his book seemed to me to be a very sinister
performance indeed. One chapter in particular struck me, in which he
spoke of "casting the Runes" on people, either for the purpose of gaining
their affection or of getting them out of the way--perhaps more
especially the latter: he spoke of all this in a way that really seemed
to me to imply actual knowledge. I've not time to go into details, but
the upshot is that I am pretty sure from information received that the
civil man at the concert was Karswell: I suspect--I more than
suspect--that the paper was of importance: and I do believe that if my
brother had been able to give it back, he might have been alive now.
Therefore, it occurs to me to ask you whether you have anything to put
beside what I have told you.'

By way of answer, Dunning had the episode in the Manuscript Room at the
British Museum to relate.

'Then he did actually hand you some papers; have you examined them? No?
because we must, if you'll allow it, look at them at once, and very

They went to the still empty house--empty, for the two servants were not
yet able to return to work. Dunning's portfolio of papers was gathering
dust on the writing-table. In it were the quires of small-sized
scribbling paper which he used for his transcripts: and from one of
these, as he took it up, there slipped and fluttered out into the room
with uncanny quickness, a strip of thin light paper. The window was open,
but Harrington slammed it to, just in time to intercept the paper, which
he caught. 'I thought so,' he said; 'it might be the identical thing that
was given to my brother. You'll have to look out, Dunning; this may mean
something quite serious for you.'

A long consultation took place. The paper was narrowly examined. As
Harrington had said, the characters on it were more like Runes than
anything else, but not decipherable by either man, and both hesitated to
copy them, for fear, as they confessed, of perpetuating whatever evil
purpose they might conceal. So it has remained impossible (if I may
anticipate a little) to ascertain what was conveyed in this curious
message or commission. Both Dunning and Harrington are firmly convinced
that it had the effect of bringing its possessors into very undesirable
company. That it must be returned to the source whence it came they were
agreed, and further, that the only safe and certain way was that of
personal service; and here contrivance would be necessary, for Dunning
was known by sight to Karswell. He must, for one thing, alter his
appearance by shaving his beard. But then might not the blow fall first?
Harrington thought they could time it. He knew the date of the concert at
which the 'black spot' had been put on his brother: it was June 18th. The
death had followed on Sept. 18th. Dunning reminded him that three months
had been mentioned on the inscription on the car-window. 'Perhaps,' he
added, with a cheerless laugh, 'mine may be a bill at three months too. I
believe I can fix it by my diary. Yes, April 23rd was the day at the
Museum; that brings us to July 23rd. Now, you know, it becomes extremely
important to me to know anything you will tell me about the progress of
your brother's trouble, if it is possible for you to speak of it.' 'Of
course. Well, the sense of being watched whenever he was alone was the
most distressing thing to him. After a time I took to sleeping in his
room, and he was the better for that: still, he talked a great deal in
his sleep. What about? Is it wise to dwell on that, at least before
things are straightened out? I think not, but I can tell you this: two
things came for him by post during those weeks, both with a London
postmark, and addressed in a commercial hand. One was a woodcut of
Bewick's, roughly torn out of the page: one which shows a moonlit road
and a man walking along it, followed by an awful demon creature. Under it
were written the lines out of the "Ancient Mariner" (which I suppose the
cut illustrates) about one who, having once looked round--

walks on,
And turns no more his head,
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

The other was a calendar, such as tradesmen often send. My brother paid
no attention to this, but I looked at it after his death, and found that
everything after Sept. 18 had been torn out. You may be surprised at his
having gone out alone the evening he was killed, but the fact is that
during the last ten days or so of his life he had been quite free from
the sense of being followed or watched.'

The end of the consultation was this. Harrington, who knew a neighbour of
Karswell's, thought he saw a way of keeping a watch on his movements. It
would be Dunning's part to be in readiness to try to cross Karswell's
path at any moment, to keep the paper safe and in a place of ready

They parted. The next weeks were no doubt a severe strain upon Dunning's
nerves: the intangible barrier which had seemed to rise about him on the
day when he received the paper, gradually developed into a brooding
blackness that cut him off from the means of escape to which one might
have thought he might resort. No one was at hand who was likely to
suggest them to him, and he seemed robbed of all initiative. He waited
with inexpressible anxiety as May, June, and early July passed on, for a
mandate from Harrington. But all this time Karswell remained immovable at

At last, in less than a week before the date he had come to look upon as
the end of his earthly activities, came a telegram: 'Leaves Victoria by
boat train Thursday night. Do not miss. I come to you to-night.

He arrived accordingly, and they concocted plans. The train left Victoria
at nine and its last stop before Dover was Croydon West. Harrington would
mark down Karswell at Victoria, and look out for Dunning at Croydon,
calling to him if need were by a name agreed upon. Dunning, disguised as
far as might be, was to have no label or initials on any hand luggage,
and must at all costs have the paper with him.

Dunning's suspense as he waited on the Groydon platform I need not
attempt to describe. His sense of danger during the last days had only
been sharpened by the fact that the cloud about him had perceptibly been
lighter; but relief was an ominous symptom, and, if Karswell eluded him
now, hope was gone: and there were so many chances of that. The rumour of
the journey might be itself a device. The twenty minutes in which he
paced the platform and persecuted every porter with inquiries as to the
boat train were as bitter as any he had spent. Still, the train came, and
Harrington was at the window. It was important, of course, that there
should be no recognition: so Dunning got in at the farther end of the
corridor carriage, and only gradually made his way to the compartment
where Harrington and Karswell were. He was pleased, on the whole, to see
that the train was far from full.

Karswell was on the alert, but gave no sign of recognition. Dunning took
the seat not immediately facing him, and attempted, vainly at first, then
with increasing command of his faculties, to reckon the possibilities of
making the desired transfer. Opposite to Karswell, and next to Dunning,
was a heap of Karswell's coats on the seat. It would be of no use to slip
the paper into these--he would not be safe, or would not feel so, unless
in some way it could be proffered by him and accepted by the other. There
was a handbag, open, and with papers in it. Could he manage to conceal
this (so that perhaps Karswell might leave the carriage without it), and
then find and give it to him? This was the plan that suggested itself. If
he could only have counselled with Harrington! but that could not be. The
minutes went on. More than once Karswell rose and went out into the
corridor. The second time Dunning was on the point of attempting to make
the bag fall off the seat, but he caught Harrington's eye, and read in it
a warning.

Karswell, from the corridor, was watching: probably to see if the two men
recognized each other. He returned, but was evidently restless: and, when
he rose the third time, hope dawned, for something did slip off his seat
and fall with hardly a sound to the floor. Karswell went out once more,
and passed out of range of the corridor window. Dunning picked up what
had fallen, and saw that the key was in his hands in the form of one of
Cook's ticket-cases, with tickets in it. These cases have a pocket in the
cover, and within very few seconds the paper of which we have heard was
in the pocket of this one. To make the operation more secure, Harrington
stood in the doorway of the compartment and fiddled with the blind. It
was done, and done at the right time, for the train was now slowing down
towards Dover.

In a moment more Karswell re-entered the compartment. As he did so,
Dunning, managing, he knew not how, to suppress the tremble in his voice,
handed him the ticket-case, saying, 'May I give you this, sir? I believe
it is yours.' After a brief glance at the ticket inside, Karswell uttered
the hoped-for response, 'Yes, it is; much obliged to you, sir,' and he
placed it in his breast pocket.

Even in the few moments that remained--moments of tense anxiety, for they
knew not to what a premature finding of the paper might lead--both men
noticed that the carriage seemed to darken about them and to grow warmer;
that Karswell was fidgety and oppressed; that he drew the heap of loose
coats near to him and cast it back as if it repelled him; and that he
then sat upright and glanced anxiously at both. They, with sickening
anxiety, busied themselves in collecting their belongings; but they both
thought that Karswell was on the point of speaking when the train stopped
at Dover Town. It was natural that in the short space between town and
pier they should both go into the corridor.

At the pier they got out, but so empty was the train that they were
forced to linger on the platform until Karswell should have passed ahead
of them with his porter on the way to the boat, and only then was it safe
for them to exchange a pressure of the hand and a word of concentrated
congratulation. The effect upon Dunning was to make him almost faint.
Harrington made him lean up against the wall, while he himself went
forward a few yards within sight of the gangway to the boat, at which
Karswell had now arrived. The man at the head of it examined his ticket,
and, laden with coats he passed down into the boat. Suddenly the official
called after him, 'You, sir, beg pardon, did the other gentleman show his
ticket?' 'What the devil do you mean by the other gentleman?' Karswell's
snarling voice called back from the deck. The man bent over and looked at
him. 'The devil? Well, I don't know, I'm sure,' Harrington heard him say
to himself, and then aloud, 'My mistake, sir; must have been your rugs!
ask your pardon.' And then, to a subordinate near him, ''Ad he got a dog
with him, or what? Funny thing: I could 'a' swore 'e wasn't alone. Well,
whatever it was, they'll 'ave to see to it aboard. She's off now. Another
week and we shall be gettin' the 'oliday customers.' In five minutes more
there was nothing but the lessening lights of the boat, the long line of
the Dover lamps, the night breeze, and the moon.

Long and long the two sat in their room at the 'Lord Warden'. In spite of
the removal of their greatest anxiety, they were oppressed with a doubt,
not of the lightest. Had they been justified in sending a man to his
death, as they believed they had? Ought they not to warn him, at least?
'No,' said Harrington; 'if he is the murderer I think him, we have done
no more than is just. Still, if you think it better--but how and where
can you warn him?' 'He was booked to Abbeville only,' said Dunning. 'I
saw that. If I wired to the hotels there in Joanne's Guide, "Examine your
ticket-case, Dunning," I should feel happier. This is the 21st: he will
have a day. But I am afraid he has gone into the dark.' So telegrams were
left at the hotel office.

It is not clear whether these reached their destination, or whether, if
they did, they were understood. All that is known is that, on the
afternoon of the 23rd, an English traveller, examining the front of St
Wulfram's Church at Abbeville, then under extensive repair, was struck on
the head and instantly killed by a stone falling from the scaffold
erected round the north-western tower, there being, as was clearly
proved, no workman on the scaffold at that moment: and the traveller's
papers identified him as Mr Karswell.

Only one detail shall be added. At Karswell's sale a set of Bewick, sold
with all faults, was acquired by Harrington. The page with the woodcut of
the traveller and the demon was, as he had expected, mutilated. Also,
after a judicious interval, Harrington repeated to Dunning something of
what he had heard his brother say in his sleep: but it was not long
before Dunning stopped him.


This matter began, as far as I am concerned, with the reading of a notice
in the obituary section of the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for an early year
in the nineteenth century:

On February 26th, at his residence in the Cathedral Close of
Barchester, the Venerable John Benwell Haynes, D.D., aged 57,
Archdeacon of Sowerbridge and Rector of Pickhill and Candley. He was
of ---- College, Cambridge, and where, by talent and assiduity, he
commanded the esteem of his seniors; when, at the usual time, he took
his first degree, his name stood high in the list of _wranglers_.
These academical honours procured for him within a short time a
Fellowship of his College. In the year 1783 he received Holy Orders,
and was shortly afterwards presented to the perpetual Curacy of
Ranxton-sub-Ashe by his friend and patron the late truly venerable
Bishop of Lichfield.... His speedy preferments, first to a Prebend,
and subsequently to the dignity of Precentor in the Cathedral of
Barchester, form an eloquent testimony to the respect in which he was
held and to his eminent qualifications. He succeeded to the
Archdeaconry upon the sudden decease of Archdeacon Pulteney in 1810.
His sermons, ever conformable to the principles of the religion and
Church which he adorned, displayed in no ordinary degree, without the
least trace of enthusiasm, the refinement of the scholar united with
the graces of the Christian. Free from sectarian violence, and
informed by the spirit of the truest charity, they will long dwell in
the memories of his hearers. [Here a further omission.] The
productions of his pen include an able defence of Episcopacy, which,
though often perused by the author of this tribute to his memory,
affords but one additional instance of the want of liberality and
enterprise which is a too common characteristic of the publishers of
our generation. His published works are, indeed, confined to a
spirited and elegant version of the _Argonautica_ of Valerius Flacus,
a volume of _Discourses upon the Several Events in the Life of
Joshua_, delivered in his Cathedral, and a number of the charges
which he pronounced at various visitations to the clergy of his
Archdeaconry. These are distinguished by etc., etc. The urbanity and
hospitality of the subject of these lines will not readily be
forgotten by those who enjoyed his acquaintance. His interest in the
venerable and awful pile under whose hoary vault he was so punctual
an attendant, and particularly in the musical portion of its rites,
might be termed filial, and formed a strong and delightful contrast
to the polite indifference displayed by too many of our Cathedral
dignitaries at the present time.

The final paragraph, after informing us that Dr Haynes died a bachelor,

It might have been augured that an existence so placid and benevolent
would have been terminated in a ripe old age by a dissolution equally
gradual and calm. But how unsearchable are the workings of
Providence! The peaceful and retired seclusion amid which the
honoured evening of Dr Haynes' life was mellowing to its close was
destined to be disturbed, nay, shattered, by a tragedy as appalling
as it was unexpected. The morning of the 26th of February--

But perhaps I shall do better to keep back the remainder of the narrative
until I have told the circumstances which led up to it. These, as far as
they are now accessible, I have derived from another source.

I had read the obituary notice which I have been quoting, quite by
chance, along with a great many others of the same period. It had excited
some little speculation in my mind, but, beyond thinking that, if I ever
had an opportunity of examining the local records of the period
indicated, I would try to remember Dr Haynes, I made no effort to pursue
his case.

Quite lately I was cataloguing the manuscripts in the library of the
college to which he belonged. I had reached the end of the numbered
volumes on the shelves, and I proceeded to ask the librarian whether
there were any more books which he thought I ought to include in my
description. 'I don't think there are,' he said, 'but we had better come
and look at the manuscript class and make sure. Have you time to do that
now?' I had time. We went to the library, checked off the manuscripts,
and, at the end of our survey, arrived at a shelf of which I had seen
nothing. Its contents consisted for the most part of sermons, bundles of
fragmentary papers, college exercises, _Cyrus_, an epic poem in several
cantos, the product of a country clergyman's leisure, mathematical tracts
by a deceased professor, and other similar material of a kind with which
I am only too familiar. I took brief notes of these. Lastly, there was a
tin box, which was pulled out and dusted. Its label, much faded, was thus
inscribed: 'Papers of the Ven. Archdeacon Haynes. Bequeathed in 1834 by
his sister, Miss Letitia Haynes.'

I knew at once that the name was one which I had somewhere encountered,
and could very soon locate it. 'That must be the Archdeacon Haynes who
came to a very odd end at Barchester. I've read his obituary in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_. May I take the box home? Do you know if there is
anything interesting in it?'

The librarian was very willing that I should take the box and examine it
at leisure. 'I never looked inside it myself,' he said, 'but I've always
been meaning to. I am pretty sure that is the box which our old Master
once said ought never to have been accepted by the college. He said that
to Martin years ago; and he said also that as long as he had control over
the library it should never be opened. Martin told me about it, and said
that he wanted terribly to know what was in it; but the Master was
librarian, and always kept the box in the lodge, so there was no getting
at it in his time, and when he died it was taken away by mistake by his
heirs, and only returned a few years ago. I can't think why I haven't
opened it; but, as I have to go away from Cambridge this afternoon, you
had better have first go at it. I think I can trust you not to publish
anything undesirable in our catalogue.'

I took the box home and examined its contents, and thereafter consulted
the librarian as to what should be done about publication, and, since I
have his leave to make a story out of it, provided I disguised the
identity of the people concerned, I will try what can be done.

The materials are, of course, mainly journals and letters. How much I
shall quote and how much epitomize must be determined by considerations
of space. The proper understanding of the situation has necessitated a
little--not very arduous--research, which has been greatly facilitated by
the excellent illustrations and text of the Barchester volume in Bell's
_Cathedral Series_.

When you enter the choir of Barchester Cathedral now, you pass through a
screen of metal and coloured marbles, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, and
find yourself in what I must call a very bare and odiously furnished
place. The stalls are modern, without canopies. The places of the
dignitaries and the names of the prebends have fortunately been allowed
to survive, and are inscribed on small brass plates affixed to the
stalls. The organ is in the triforium, and what is seen of the case is
Gothic. The reredos and its surroundings are like every other.

Careful engravings of a hundred years ago show a very different state of
things. The organ is on a massive classical screen. The stalls are also
classical and very massive. There is a baldacchino of wood over the
altar, with urns upon its corners. Farther east is a solid altar screen,
classical in design, of wood, with a pediment, in which is a triangle
surrounded by rays, enclosing certain Hebrew letters in gold. Cherubs
contemplate these. There is a pulpit with a great sounding-board at the
eastern end of the stalls on the north side, and there is a black and
white marble pavement. Two ladies and a gentleman are admiring the
general effect. From other sources I gather that the archdeacon's stall
then, as now, was next to the bishop's throne at the south-eastern end of
the stalls. His house almost faces the west front of the church, and is a
fine red-brick building of William the Third's time.

Here Dr Haynes, already a mature man, took up his abode with his sister
in the year 1810. The dignity had long been the object of his wishes, but
his predecessor refused to depart until he had attained the age of
ninety-two. About a week after he had held a modest festival in
celebration of that ninety-second birthday, there came a morning, late in
the year, when Dr Haynes, hurrying cheerfully into his breakfast-room,
rubbing his hands and humming a tune, was greeted, and checked in his
genial flow of spirits, by the sight of his sister, seated, indeed, in
her usual place behind the tea-urn, but bowed forward and sobbing
unrestrainedly into her handkerchief. 'What--what is the matter? What bad
news?' he began. 'Oh, Johnny, you've not heard? The poor dear
archdeacon!' 'The archdeacon, yes? What is it--ill, is he?' 'No, no; they
found him on the staircase this morning; it is so shocking.' 'Is it
possible! Dear, dear, poor Pulteney! Had there been any seizure?' 'They
don't think so, and that is almost the worst thing about it. It seems to
have been all the fault of that stupid maid of theirs, Jane.' Dr Haynes
paused. 'I don't quite understand, Letitia. How was the maid at fault?'
'Why, as far as I can make out, there was a stair-rod missing, and she
never mentioned it, and the poor archdeacon set his foot quite on the
edge of the step--you know how slippery that oak is--and it seems he must
have fallen almost the whole flight and broken his neck. It _is_ so sad
for poor Miss Pulteney. Of course, they will get rid of the girl at once.
I never liked her.' Miss Haynes's grief resumed its sway, but eventually
relaxed so far as to permit of her taking some breakfast. Not so her
brother, who, after standing in silence before the window for some
minutes, left the room, and did not appear again that morning.

I need only add that the careless maid-servant was dismissed forthwith,
but that the missing stair-rod was very shortly afterwards found _under_
the stair-carpet--an additional proof, if any were needed, of extreme
stupidity and carelessness on her part.

For a good many years Dr Haynes had been marked out by his ability, which
seems to have been really considerable, as the likely successor of
Archdeacon Pulteney, and no disappointment was in store for him. He was
duly installed, and entered with zeal upon the discharge of those
functions which are appropriate to one in his position. A considerable
space in his journals is occupied with exclamations upon the confusion in
which Archdeacon Pulteney had left the business of his office and the
documents appertaining to it. Dues upon Wringham and Barnswood have been
uncollected for something like twelve years, and are largely
irrecoverable; no visitation has been held for seven years; four chancels
are almost past mending. The persons deputized by the archdeacon have
been nearly as incapable as himself. It was almost a matter for
thankfulness that this state of things had not been permitted to
continue, and a letter from a friend confirms this view. '[Greek: ho
katechôn],' it says (in rather cruel allusion to the Second Epistle to
the Thessalonians), 'is removed at last. My poor friend! Upon what a
scene of confusion will you be entering! I give you my word that, on the
last occasion of my crossing his threshold, there was no single paper
that he could lay hands upon, no syllable of mine that he could hear, and
no fact in connexion with my business that he could remember. But now,
thanks to a negligent maid and a loose stair-carpet, there is some
prospect that necessary business will be transacted without a complete
loss alike of voice and temper.' This letter was tucked into a pocket in
the cover of one of the diaries.

There can be no doubt of the new archdeacon's zeal and enthusiasm. 'Give
me but time to reduce to some semblance of order the innumerable errors
and complications with which I am confronted, and I shall gladly and
sincerely join with the aged Israelite in the canticle which too many, I
fear, pronounce but with their lips.' This reflection I find, not in a
diary, but a letter; the doctor's friends seem to have returned his
correspondence to his surviving sister. He does not confine himself,
however, to reflections. His investigation of the rights and duties of
his office are very searching and business-like, and there is a
calculation in one place that a period of three years will just suffice
to set the business of the Archdeaconry upon a proper footing. The
estimate appears to have been an exact one. For just three years he is
occupied in reforms; but I look in vain at the end of that time for the
promised _Nunc dimittis_. He has now found a new sphere of activity.
Hitherto his duties have precluded him from more than an occasional
attendance at the Cathedral services. Now he begins to take an interest
in the fabric and the music. Upon his struggles with the organist, an old
gentleman who had been in office since 1786, I have no time to dwell;
they were not attended with any marked success. More to the purpose is
his sudden growth of enthusiasm for the Cathedral itself and its
furniture. There is a draft of a letter to Sylvanus Urban (which I do not
think was ever sent) describing the stalls in the choir. As I have said,
these were of fairly late date--of about the year 1700, in fact.

'The archdeacon's stall, situated at the south-east end, west of the
episcopal throne (now so worthily occupied by the truly excellent prelate
who adorns the See of Barchester), is distinguished by some curious
ornamentation. In addition to the arms of Dean West, by whose efforts the
whole of the internal furniture of the choir was completed, the
prayer-desk is terminated at the eastern extremity by three small but
remarkable statuettes in the grotesque manner. One is an exquisitely
modelled figure of a cat, whose crouching posture suggests with admirable
spirit the suppleness, vigilance, and craft of the redoubted adversary of
the genus _Mus_. Opposite to this is a figure seated upon a throne and
invested with the attributes of royalty; but it is no earthly monarch
whom the carver has sought to portray. His feet are studiously concealed
by the long robe in which he is draped: but neither the crown nor the cap
which he wears suffice to hide the prick-ears and curving horns which
betray his Tartarean origin; and the hand which rests upon his knee, is
armed with talons of horrifying length and sharpness. Between these two
figures stands a shape muffled in a long mantle. This might at first
sight be mistaken for a monk or "friar of orders gray", for the head is
cowled and a knotted cord depends from somewhere about the waist. A
slight inspection, however, will lead to a very different conclusion The
knotted cord is quickly seen to be a halter, held by a hand all but
concealed within the draperies; while the sunken features and, horrid to
relate, the rent flesh upon the cheek-bones, proclaim the King of
Terrors. These figures are evidently the production of no unskilled
chisel; and should it chance that any of your correspondents are able to
throw light upon their origin and significance, my obligations to your
valuable miscellany will be largely increased.'

There is more description in the paper, and, seeing that the woodwork in
question has now disappeared, it has a considerable interest. A paragraph
at the end is worth quoting:

'Some late researches among the Chapter accounts have shown me that the
carving of the stalls was not as was very usually reported, the work of
Dutch artists, but was executed by a native of this city or district
named Austin. The timber was procured from an oak copse in the vicinity,
the property of the Dean and Chapter, known as Holywood. Upon a recent
visit to the parish within whose boundaries it is situated, I learned
from the aged and truly respectable incumbent that traditions still
lingered amongst the inhabitants of the great size and age of the oaks
employed to furnish the materials of the stately structure which has
been, however imperfectly, described in the above lines. Of one in
particular, which stood near the centre of the grove, it is remembered
that it was known as the Hanging Oak. The propriety of that title is
confirmed by the fact that a quantity of human bones was found in the
soil about its roots, and that at certain times of the year it was the
custom for those who wished to secure a successful issue to their
affairs, whether of love or the ordinary business of life, to suspend
from its boughs small images or puppets rudely fashioned of straw, twigs,
or the like rustic materials.'

So much for the archdeacon's archaeological investigations To return to
his career as it is to be gathered from his diaries. Those of his first
three years of hard and careful work show him throughout in high spirits,
and, doubtless, during this time, that reputation for hospitality and
urbanity which is mentioned in his obituary notice was well deserved.
After that, as time goes on, I see a shadow coming over him--destined to
develop into utter blackness--which I cannot but think must have been
reflected in his outward demeanour. He commits a good deal of his fears
and troubles to his diary; there was no other outlet for them. He was
unmarried and his sister was not always with him. But I am much mistaken
if he has told all that he might have told. A series of extracts shall be

_Aug. 30th 1816_--The days begin to draw in more perceptibly than
ever. Now that the Archdeaconry papers are reduced to order, I must
find some further employment for the evening hours of autumn and
winter. It is a great blow that Letitia's health will not allow her
to stay through these months. Why not go on with my _Defence of
Episcopacy_? It may be useful.

_Sept. 15._--Letitia has left me for Brighton.

_Oct. 11._--Candles lit in the choir for the first time at evening
prayers. It came as a shock: I find that I absolutely shrink from the
dark season.

_Nov. 17_--Much struck by the character of the carving on my desk: I
do not know that I had ever carefully noticed it before. My attention
was called to it by an accident. During the _Magnificat_ I was, I
regret to say, almost overcome with sleep. My hand was resting on the
back of the carved figure of a cat which is the nearest to me of the
three figures on the end of my stall. I was not aware of this, for I
was not looking in that direction, until I was startled by what
seemed a softness, a feeling as of rather rough and coarse fur, and a
sudden movement, as if the creature were twisting round its head to
bite me. I regained complete consciousness in an instant, and I have
some idea that I must have uttered a suppressed exclamation, for I
noticed that Mr Treasurer turned his head quickly in my direction.
The impression of the unpleasant feeling was so strong that I found
myself rubbing my hand upon my surplice. This accident led me to
examine the figures after prayers more carefully than I had done
before, and I realized for the first time with what skill they are

_Dec. 6_--I do indeed miss Letitia's company. The evenings, after I
have worked as long as I can at my _Defence_, are very trying. The
house is too large for a lonely man, and visitors of any kind are too
rare. I get an uncomfortable impression when going to my room that
there _is_ company of some kind. The fact is (I may as well formulate
it to myself) that I hear voices. This, I am well aware, is a common
symptom of incipient decay of the brain--and I believe that I should
be less disquieted than I am if I had any suspicion that this was the
cause. I have none--none whatever, nor is there anything in my family
history to give colour to such an idea. Work, diligent work, and a
punctual attention to the duties which fall to me is my best remedy,
and I have little doubt that it will prove efficacious.

_Jan. 1_--My trouble is, I must confess it, increasing upon me. Last
night, upon my return after midnight from the Deanery, I lit my
candle to go upstairs. I was nearly at the top when something
whispered to me, 'Let me wish you a happy New Year.' I could not be
mistaken: it spoke distinctly and with a peculiar emphasis. Had I
dropped my candle, as I all but did, I tremble to think what the
consequences must have been. As it was, I managed to get up the last
flight, and was quickly in my room with the door locked, and
experienced no other disturbance.

_Jan. 15_--I had occasion to come downstairs last night to my
workroom for my watch, which I had inadvertently left on my table
when I went up to bed. I think I was at the top of the last flight
when I had a sudden impression of a sharp whisper in my ear '_Take
care_.' I clutched the balusters and naturally looked round at once.
Of course, there was nothing. After a moment I went on--it was no
good turning back--but I had as nearly as possible fallen: a cat--a
large one by the feel of it--slipped between my feet, but again, of
course, I saw nothing. It _may_ have been the kitchen cat, but I do
not think it was.

_Feb. 27_--A curious thing last night, which I should like to forget.
Perhaps if I put it down here I may see it in its true proportion. I
worked in the library from about 9 to 10. The hall and staircase
seemed to be unusually full of what I can only call movement without
sound: by this I mean that there seemed to be continuous going and
coming, and that whenever I ceased writing to listen, or looked out
into the hall, the stillness was absolutely unbroken. Nor, in going
to my room at an earlier hour than usual--about half-past ten--was I
conscious of anything that I could call a noise. It so happened that
I had told John to come to my room for the letter to the bishop which
I wished to have delivered early in the morning at the Palace. He was
to sit up, therefore, and come for it when he heard me retire. This I
had for the moment forgotten, though I had remembered to carry the
letter with me to my room. But when, as I was winding up my watch, I
heard a light tap at the door, and a low voice saying, 'May I come
in?' (which I most undoubtedly did hear), I recollected the fact, and
took up the letter from my dressing-table, saying 'Certainly: come
in.' No one, however, answered my summons, and it was now that, as I
strongly suspect, I committed an error: for I opened the door and
held the letter out. There was certainly no one at that moment in the
passage, but, in the instant of my standing there, the door at the
end opened and John appeared carrying a candle. I asked him whether
he had come to the door earlier; but am satisfied that he had not. I
do not like the situation; but although my senses were very much on
the alert, and though it was some time before I could sleep, I must
allow that I perceived nothing further of an untoward character.

With the return of spring, when his sister came to live with him for some
months, Dr Haynes's entries become more cheerful, and, indeed, no symptom
of depression is discernible until the early part of September when he
was again left alone. And now, indeed, there is evidence that he was
incommoded again, and that more pressingly. To this matter I will return
in a moment, but I digress to put in a document which, rightly or
wrongly, I believe to have a bearing on the thread of the story.

The account-books of Dr Haynes, preserved along with his other papers,
show, from a date but little later than that of his institution as
archdeacon, a quarterly payment of £25 to J. L. Nothing could have been
made of this, had it stood by itself. But I connect with it a very dirty
and ill-written letter, which, like another that I have quoted, was in a
pocket in the cover of a diary. Of date or postmark there is no vestige,
and the decipherment was not easy. It appears to run:

Dr Sr.

I have bin expctin to her off you theis last wicks, and not Haveing
done so must supose you have not got mine witch was saying how me and
my man had met in with bad times this season all seems to go cross
with us on the farm and which way to look for the rent we have no
knowledge of it this been the sad case with us if you would have the
great [liberality _probably, but the exact spelling defies
reproduction_] to send fourty pounds otherwise steps will have to be
took which I should not wish. Has you was the Means of me losing my
place with Dr Pulteney I think it is only just what I am asking and
you know best what I could say if I was Put to it but I do not wish
anything of that unpleasant Nature being one that always wish to have
everything Pleasant about me.

Your obedt Servt,

Jane Lee.

About the time at which I suppose this letter to have been written there
is, in fact, a payment of £40 to J.L.

We return to the diary:

_Oct. 22_--At evening prayers, during the Psalms, I had that same
experience which I recollect from last year. I was resting my hand on
one of the carved figures, as before (I usually avoid that of the cat
now), and--I was going to have said--a change came over it, but that
seems attributing too much importance to what must, after all, be due
to some physical affection in myself: at any rate, the wood seemed to
become chilly and soft as if made of wet linen. I can assign the
moment at which I became sensible of this. The choir were singing the
words (_Set thou an ungodly man to be ruler over him and let Satan
stand at his right hand_.)

The whispering in my house was more persistent tonight. I seemed not
to be rid of it in my room. I have not noticed this before. A nervous
man, which I am not, and hope I am not becoming, would have been much
annoyed, if not alarmed, by it. The cat was on the stairs tonight. I
think it sits there always. There _is_ no kitchen cat.

_Nov.15_--Here again I must note a matter I do not understand I am
much troubled in sleep. No definite image presented itself, but I was
pursued by the very vivid impression that wet lips were whispering
into my ear with great rapidity and emphasis for some time together.
After this, I suppose, I fell asleep, but was awakened with a start
by a feeling as if a hand were laid on my shoulder. To my intense
alarm I found myself standing at the top of the lowest flight of the
first staircase. The moon was shining brightly enough through the
large window to let me see that there was a large cat on the second
or third step. I can make no comment. I crept up to bed again, I do
not know how. Yes, mine is a heavy burden. [Then follows a line or
two which has been scratched out. I fancy I read something like
'acted for the best'.]

Not long after this it is evident to me that the archdeacon's firmness
began to give way under the pressure of these phenomena. I omit as
unnecessarily painful and distressing the ejaculations and prayers which,
in the months of December and January, appear for the first time and
become increasingly frequent. Throughout this time, however, he is
obstinate in clinging to his post. Why he did not plead ill-health and
take refuge at Bath or Brighton I cannot tell; my impression is that it
would have done him no good; that he was a man who, if he had confessed
himself beaten by the annoyances, would have succumbed at once, and that
he was conscious of this. He did seek to palliate them by inviting
visitors to his house. The result he has noted in this fashion:

_Jan. 7_--I have prevailed on my cousin Allen to give me a few days,
and he is to occupy the chamber next to mine.

_Jan. 8_--A still night. Allen slept well, but complained of the
wind. My own experiences were as before: still whispering and
whispering: what is it that he wants to say?

_Jan. 9_--Allen thinks this a very noisy house. He thinks, too, that
my cat is an unusually large and fine specimen, but very wild.

_Jan. 10_--Allen and I in the library until 11. He left me twice to
see what the maids were doing in the hall: returning the second time
he told me he had seen one of them passing through the door at the
end of the passage, and said if his wife were here she would soon get
them into better order. I asked him what coloured dress the maid
wore; he said grey or white. I supposed it would be so.

_Jan. 11_--Allen left me today. I must be firm.

These words, _I must be firm_, occur again and again on subsequent days;
sometimes they are the only entry. In these cases they are in an
unusually large hand, and dug into the paper in a way which must have
broken the pen that wrote them.

Apparently the archdeacon's friends did not remark any change in his
behaviour, and this gives me a high idea of his courage and
determination. The diary tells us nothing more than I have indicated of
the last days of his life. The end of it all must be told in the polished
language of the obituary notice:

The morning of the 26th of February was cold and tempestuous. At an
early hour the servants had occasion to go into the front hall of the
residence occupied by the lamented subject of these lines. What was
their horror upon observing the form of their beloved and respected
master lying upon the landing of the principal staircase in an
attitude which inspired the gravest fears. Assistance was procured,
and an universal consternation was experienced upon the discovery
that he had been the object of a brutal and a murderous attack. The
vertebral column was fractured in more than one place. This might
have been the result of a fall: it appeared that the stair-carpet was
loosened at one point. But, in addition to this, there were injuries
inflicted upon the eyes, nose and mouth, as if by the agency of some
savage animal, which, dreadful to relate, rendered those features
unrecognizable. The vital spark was, it is needless to add,
completely extinct, and had been so, upon the testimony of
respectable medical authorities, for several hours. The author or
authors of this mysterious outrage are alike buried in mystery, and
the most active conjecture has hitherto failed to suggest a solution
of the melancholy problem afforded by this appalling occurrence.

The writer goes on to reflect upon the probability that the writings of
Mr Shelley, Lord Byron, and M. Voltaire may have been instrumental in
bringing about the disaster, and concludes by hoping, somewhat vaguely,
that this event may 'operate as an example to the rising generation'; but
this portion of his remarks need not be quoted in full.

I had already formed the conclusion that Dr Haynes was responsible for
the death of Dr Pulteney. But the incident connected with the carved
figure of death upon the archdeacon's stall was a very perplexing
feature. The conjecture that it had been cut out of the wood of the
Hanging Oak was not difficult, but seemed impossible to substantiate.
However, I paid a visit to Barchester, partly with the view of finding
out whether there were any relics of the woodwork to be heard of. I was
introduced by one of the canons to the curator of the local museum, who
was, my friend said, more likely to be able to give me information on the
point than anyone else. I told this gentleman of the description of
certain carved figures and arms formerly on the stalls, and asked whether
any had survived. He was able to show me the arms of Dean West and some
other fragments. These, he said, had been got from an old resident, who
had also once owned a figure--perhaps one of those which I was inquiring
for. There was a very odd thing about that figure, he said. 'The old man
who had it told me that he picked it up in a woodyard, whence he had
obtained the still extant pieces, and had taken it home for his children.
On the way home he was fiddling about with it and it came in two in his
hands, and a bit of paper dropped out. This he picked up and, just
noticing that there was writing on it, put it into his pocket, and
subsequently into a vase on his mantelpiece. I was at his house not very
long ago, and happened to pick up the vase and turn it over to see
whether there were any marks on it, and the paper fell into my hand. The
old man, on my handing it to him, told me the story I have told you, and
said I might keep the paper. It was crumpled and rather torn, so I have
mounted it on a card, which I have here. If you can tell me what it means
I shall be very glad, and also, I may say, a good deal surprised.'

He gave me the card. The paper was quite legibly inscribed in an old
hand, and this is what was on it:

When I grew in the Wood
I was water'd w'th Blood
Now in the Church I stand
Who that touches me with his Hand
If a Bloody hand he bear
I councell him to be ware
Lest he be fetcht away
Whether by night or day,
But chiefly when the wind blows high
In a night of February.
This I drempt, 26 Febr. Anno 1699. JOHN AUSTIN.

'I suppose it is a charm or a spell: wouldn't you call it something of
that kind?' said the curator.

'Yes,' I said, 'I suppose one might. What became of the figure in which
it was concealed?'

'Oh, I forgot,' said he. 'The old man told me it was so ugly and
frightened his children so much that he burnt it.'


Some few years back I was staying with the rector of a parish in the
West, where the society to which I belong owns property. I was to go over
some of this land: and, on the first morning of my visit, soon after
breakfast, the estate carpenter and general handyman, John Hill, was
announced as in readiness to accompany us. The rector asked which part of
the parish we were to visit that morning. The estate map was produced,
and when we had showed him our round, he put his finger on a particular
spot. 'Don't forget,' he said, 'to ask John Hill about Martin's Close
when you get there. I should like to hear what he tells you.' 'What ought
he to tell us?' I said. 'I haven't the slightest idea,' said the rector,
'or, if that is not exactly true, it will do till lunch-time.' And here
he was called away.

We set out; John Hill is not a man to withhold such information as he
possesses on any point, and you may gather from him much that is of
interest about the people of the place and their talk. An unfamiliar
word, or one that he thinks ought to be unfamiliar to you, he will
usually spell--as c-o-b cob, and the like. It is not, however, relevant
to my purpose to record his conversation before the moment when we
reached Martin's Close. The bit of land is noticeable, for it is one of
the smallest enclosures you are likely to see--a very few square yards,
hedged in with quickset on all sides, and without any gate or gap leading
into it. You might take it for a small cottage garden long deserted, but
that it lies away from the village and bears no trace of cultivation. It
is at no great distance from the road, and is part of what is there
called a moor, in other words, a rough upland pasture cut up into largish

'Why is this little bit hedged off so?' I asked, and John Hill (whose
answer I cannot represent as perfectly as I should like) was not at
fault. 'That's what we call Martin's Close, sir: 'tes a curious thing
'bout that bit of land, sir: goes by the name of Martin's Close, sir.
M-a-r-t-i-n Martin. Beg pardon, sir, did Rector tell you to make inquiry
of me 'bout that, sir?' 'Yes, he did.' 'Ah, I thought so much, sir. I was
tell'n Rector 'bout that last week, and he was very much interested. It
'pears there's a murderer buried there, sir, by the name of Martin. Old
Samuel Saunders, that formerly lived yurr at what we call South-town,
sir, he had a long tale 'bout that, sir: terrible murder done 'pon a
young woman, sir. Cut her throat and cast her in the water down yurr.'
'Was he hung for it?' 'Yes, sir, he was hung just up yurr on the roadway,
by what I've 'eard, on the Holy Innocents' Day, many 'undred years ago,
by the man that went by the name of the bloody judge: terrible red and
bloody, I've 'eard.' 'Was his name Jeffreys, do you think?' 'Might be
possible 'twas--Jeffreys--J-e-f--Jeffreys. I reckon 'twas, and the tale
I've 'eard many times from Mr Saunders,--how this young man
Martin--George Martin--was troubled before his crule action come to light
by the young woman's sperit.' 'How was that, do you know?' 'No, sir, I
don't exactly know how 'twas with it: but by what I've 'eard he was
fairly tormented; and rightly tu. Old Mr Saunders, he told a history
regarding a cupboard down yurr in the New Inn. According to what he
related, this young woman's sperit come out of this cupboard: but I don't
racollact the matter.'

This was the sum of John Hill's information. We passed on, and in due
time I reported what I had heard to the Rector. He was able to show me
from the parish account-books that a gibbet had been paid for in 1684,
and a grave dug in the following year, both for the benefit of George
Martin; but he was unable to suggest anyone in the parish, Saunders being
now gone, who was likely to throw any further light on the story.

Naturally, upon my return to the neighbourhood of libraries, I made
search in the more obvious places. The trial seemed to be nowhere
reported. A newspaper of the time, and one or more news-letters, however,
had some short notices, from which I learnt that, on the ground of local
prejudice against the prisoner (he was described as a young gentleman of
a good estate), the venue had been moved from Exeter to London; that
Jeffreys had been the judge, and death the sentence, and that there had
been some 'singular passages' in the evidence. Nothing further transpired
till September of this year. A friend who knew me to be interested in
Jeffreys then sent me a leaf torn out of a second-hand bookseller's
catalogue with the entry: JEFFREYS, JUDGE: _Interesting old MS. trial for
murder_, and so forth, from which I gathered, to my delight, that I could
become possessed, for a very few shillings, of what seemed to be a
verbatim report, in shorthand, of the Martin trial. I telegraphed for the
manuscript and got it. It was a thin bound volume, provided with a title
written in longhand by someone in the eighteenth century, who had also
added this note: 'My father, who took these notes in court, told me that
the prisoner's friends had made interest with Judge Jeffreys that no
report should be put out: he had intended doing this himself when times
were better, and had shew'd it to the Revd Mr Glanvil, who incourag'd his
design very warmly, but death surpriz'd them both before it could be
brought to an accomplishment.'

The initials W. G. are appended; I am advised that the original reporter
may have been T. Gurney, who appears in that capacity in more than one
State trial.

This was all that I could read for myself. After no long delay I heard of
someone who was capable of deciphering the shorthand of the seventeenth
century, and a little time ago the typewritten copy of the whole
manuscript was laid before me. The portions which I shall communicate
here help to fill in the very imperfect outline which subsists in the
memories of John Hill and, I suppose, one or two others who live on the
scene of the events.

The report begins with a species of preface, the general effect of which
is that the copy is not that actually taken in court, though it is a true
copy in regard to the notes of what was said; but that the writer has
added to it some 'remarkable passages' that took place during the trial,
and has made this present fair copy of the whole, intending at some
favourable time to publish it; but has not put it into longhand, lest it
should fall into the possession of unauthorized persons, and he or his
family be deprived of the profit.

The report then begins:

This case came on to be tried on Wednesday, the 19th of November, between
our sovereign lord the King, and George Martin Esquire, of (I take leave
to omit some of the place-names), at a sessions of oyer and terminer and
gaol delivery, at the Old Bailey, and the prisoner, being in Newgate, was
brought to the bar.

_Clerk of the Crown._ George Martin, hold up thy hand (which he did).

Then the indictment was read, which set forth that the prisoner, 'not
having the fear of God before his eyes, but being moved and seduced by
the instigation of the devil, upon the 15th day of May, in the 36th year
of our sovereign lord King Charles the Second, with force and arms in the
parish aforesaid, in and upon Ann Clark, spinster, of the same place, in
the peace of God and of our said sovereign lord the King then and there
being, feloniously, wilfully, and of your malice aforethought did make an
assault and with a certain knife value a penny the throat of the said Ann
Clark then and there did cut, of the which wound the said Ann Clark then
and there did die, and the body of the said Ann Clark did cast into a
certain pond of water situate in the same parish (with more that is not
material to our purpose) against the peace of our sovereign lord the
King, his crown and dignity.'

Then the prisoner prayed a copy of the indictment.

_L.C.J._ (Sir George Jeffreys). What is this? Sure you know that is never
allowed. Besides, here is as plain indictment as ever I heard; you have
nothing to do but to plead to it.

_Pris._ My lord, I apprehend there may be matter of law arising out of
the indictment, and I would humbly beg the court to assign me counsel to
consider of it. Besides, my lord, I believe it was done in another case:
copy of the indictment was allowed.

_L.C.J._ What case was that?

_Pris._ Truly, my lord, I have been kept close prisoner ever since I came
up from Exeter Castle, and no one allowed to come at me and no one to
advise with.

_L.C.J._ But I say, what was that case you allege?

_Pris._ My lord, I cannot tell your lordship precisely the name of the
case, but it is in my mind that there was such an one, and I would humbly

_L.C.J._ All this is nothing. Name your case, and we will tell you
whether there be any matter for you in it. God forbid but you should have
anything that may be allowed you by law: but this is against law, and we
must keep the course of the court.

_Att.-Gen._ (Sir Robert Sawyer). My lord, we pray for the King that he
may be asked to plead.

_Cl. of Ct._ Are you guilty of the murder whereof you stand indicted, or
not guilty?

_Pris._ My lord, I would humbly offer this to the court. If I plead now,
shall I have an opportunity after to except against the indictment?

_L.C.J._ Yes, yes, that comes after verdict: that will be saved to you,
and counsel assigned if there be matter of law, but that which you have
now to do is to plead.

Then after some little parleying with the court (which seemed strange
upon such a plain indictment) the prisoner pleaded _Not Guilty_.

_Cl. of Ct._ Cul-prit. How wilt thou be tried?

_Pris._ By God and my country.

_Cl. of Ct._ God send thee a good deliverance.

_L.C.J._ Why, how is this? Here has been a great to-do that you should
not be tried at Exeter by your country, but be brought here to London,
and now you ask to be tried by your country. Must we send you to Exeter

_Pris._ My lord, I understood it was the form.

_L.C.J._ So it is, man: we spoke only in the way of pleasantness. Well,
go on and swear the jury.

So they were sworn. I omit the names. There was no challenging on the
prisoner's part, for, as he said, he did not know any of the persons
called. Thereupon the prisoner asked for the use of pen, ink, and paper,
to which the L. C. J. replied: 'Ay, ay, in God's name let him have it.'
Then the usual charge was delivered to the jury, and the case opened by
the junior counsel for the King, Mr Dolben.

The Attorney-General followed:

May it please your lordship, and you gentlemen of the jury, I am of
counsel for the King against the prisoner at the bar. You have heard that
he stands indicted for a murder done upon the person of a young girl.
Such crimes as this you may perhaps reckon to be not uncommon, and,
indeed, in these times, I am sorry to say it, there is scarce any fact so
barbarous and unnatural but what we may hear almost daily instances of
it. But I must confess that in this murder that is charged upon the
prisoner there are some particular features that mark it out to be such
as I hope has but seldom if ever been perpetrated upon English ground.
For as we shall make it appear, the person murdered was a poor country
girl (whereas the prisoner is a gentleman of a proper estate) and,
besides that, was one to whom Providence had not given the full use of
her intellects, but was what is termed among us commonly an innocent or
natural: such an one, therefore, as one would have supposed a gentleman
of the prisoner's quality more likely to overlook, or, if he did notice
her, to be moved to compassion for her unhappy condition, than to lift up
his hand against her in the very horrid and barbarous manner which we
shall show you he used.

Now to begin at the beginning and open the matter to you orderly: About
Christmas of last year, that is the year 1683, this gentleman, Mr Martin,
having newly come back into his own country from the University of
Cambridge, some of his neighbours, to show him what civility they could
(for his family is one that stands in very good repute all over that
country), entertained him here and there at their Christmas merrymakings,
so that he was constantly riding to and fro, from one house to another,
and sometimes, when the place of his destination was distant, or for
other reason, as the unsafeness of the roads, he would be constrained to
lie the night at an inn. In this way it happened that he came, a day or
two after the Christmas, to the place where this young girl lived with
her parents, and put up at the inn there, called the New Inn, which is,
as I am informed, a house of good repute. Here was some dancing going on
among the people of the place, and Ann Clark had been brought in, it
seems, by her elder sister to look on; but being, as I have said, of weak
understanding, and, besides that, very uncomely in her appearance, it was
not likely she should take much part in the merriment; and accordingly
was but standing by in a corner of the room. The prisoner at the bar,
seeing her, one must suppose by way of a jest, asked her would she dance
with him. And in spite of what her sister and others could say to prevent
it and to dissuade her--

_L.C.J._ Come, Mr Attorney, we are not set here to listen to tales of
Christmas parties in taverns. I would not interrupt you, but sure you
have more weighty matters than this. You will be telling us next what
tune they danced to.

_Att._ My lord, I would not take up the time of the court with what is
not material: but we reckon it to be material to show how this unlikely
acquaintance begun: and as for the tune, I believe, indeed, our evidence
will show that even that hath a bearing on the matter in hand.

_L.C.J._ Go on, go on, in God's name: but give us nothing that is

_Att._ Indeed, my lord, I will keep to my matter. But, gentlemen, having
now shown you, as I think, enough of this first meeting between the
murdered person and the prisoner, I will shorten my tale so far as to say
that from then on there were frequent meetings of the two: for the young
woman was greatly tickled with having got hold (as she conceived it) of
so likely a sweetheart, and he being once a week at least in the habit of
passing through the street where she lived, she would be always on the
watch for him; and it seems they had a signal arranged: he should whistle
the tune that was played at the tavern: it is a tune, as I am informed,
well known in that country, and has a burden, '_Madam, will you walk,
will you talk with me?_'

_L.C.J._ Ay, I remember it in my own country, in Shropshire. It runs
somehow thus, doth it not? [Here his lordship whistled a part of a tune,
which was very observable, and seemed below the dignity of the court. And
it appears he felt it so himself, for he said:] But this is by the mark,
and I doubt it is the first time we have had dance-tunes in this court.
The most part of the dancing we give occasion for is done at Tyburn.
[Looking at the prisoner, who appeared very much disordered.] You said
the tune was material to your case, Mr Attorney, and upon my life I think
Mr Martin agrees with you. What ails you, man? staring like a player that
sees a ghost!

_Pris._ My lord, I was amazed at hearing such trivial, foolish things as
they bring against me.

_L.C.J._ Well, well, it lies upon Mr Attorney to show whether they be
trivial or not: but I must say, if he has nothing worse than this he has
said, you have no great cause to be in amaze. Doth it not lie something
deeper? But go on, Mr Attorney.

_Att._ My lord and gentlemen--all that I have said so far you may indeed
very reasonably reckon as having an appearance of triviality. And, to be
sure, had the matter gone no further than the humouring of a poor silly
girl by a young gentleman of quality, it had been very well. But to
proceed. We shall make it appear that after three or four weeks the
prisoner became contracted to a young gentlewoman of that country, one
suitable every way to his own condition, and such an arrangement was on
foot that seemed to promise him a happy and a reputable living. But
within no very long time it seems that this young gentlewoman, hearing of
the jest that was going about that countryside with regard to the
prisoner and Ann Clark, conceived that it was not only an unworthy
carriage on the part of her lover, but a derogation to herself that he
should suffer his name to be sport for tavern company: and so without
more ado she, with the consent of her parents, signified to the prisoner
that the match between them was at an end. We shall show you that upon
the receipt of this intelligence the prisoner was greatly enraged against
Ann Clark as being the cause of his misfortune (though indeed there was
nobody answerable for it but himself), and that he made use of many
outrageous expressions and threatenings against her, and subsequently
upon meeting with her both abused her and struck at her with his whip:
but she, being but a poor innocent, could not be persuaded to desist from
her attachment to him, but would often run after him testifying with
gestures and broken words the affection she had to him: until she was
become, as he said, the very plague of his life. Yet, being that affairs
in which he was now engaged necessarily took him by the house in which
she lived, he could not (as I am willing to believe he would otherwise
have done) avoid meeting with her from time to time. We shall further
show you that this was the posture of things up to the 15th day of May in
this present year. Upon that day the prisoner comes riding through the
village, as of custom, and met with the young woman: but in place of
passing her by, as he had lately done, he stopped, and said some words to
her with which she appeared wonderfully pleased, and so left her; and
after that day she was nowhere to be found, notwithstanding a strict
search was made for her. The next time of the prisoner's passing through
the place, her relations inquired of him whether he should know anything
of her whereabouts; which he totally denied. They expressed to him their
fears lest her weak intellects should have been upset by the attention he
had showed her, and so she might have committed some rash act against her
own life, calling him to witness the same time how often they had
beseeched him to desist from taking notice of her, as fearing trouble
might come of it: but this, too, he easily laughed away. But in spite of
this light behaviour, it was noticeable in him that about this time his
carriage and demeanour changed, and it was said of him that he seemed a
troubled man. And here I come to a passage to which I should not dare to
ask your attention, but that it appears to me to be founded in truth, and
is supported by testimony deserving of credit. And, gentlemen, to my
judgement it doth afford a great instance of God's revenge against
murder, and that He will require the blood of the innocent.

[Here Mr Attorney made a pause, and shifted with his papers: and it was
thought remarkable by me and others, because he was a man not easily

_L.C.J._ Well, Mr Attorney, what is your instance?

_Att._ My lord, it is a strange one, and the truth is that, of all the
cases I have been concerned in, I cannot call to mind the like of it. But
to be short, gentlemen, we shall bring you testimony that Ann Clark was
seen after this 15th of May, and that, at such time as she was so seen,
it was impossible she could have been a living person.

[Here the people made a hum, and a good deal of laughter, and the Court
called for silence, and when it was made]--

_L.C.J._ Why, Mr Attorney, you might save up this tale for a week; it
will be Christmas by that time, and you can frighten your cook-maids with
it [at which the people laughed again, and the prisoner also, as it
seemed]. God, man, what are you prating of--ghosts and Christmas jigs and
tavern company--and here is a man's life at stake! [To the prisoner]: And
you, sir, I would have you know there is not so much occasion for you to
make merry neither. You were not brought here for that, and if I know Mr
Attorney, he has more in his brief than he has shown yet. Go on, Mr
Attorney. I need not, mayhap, have spoken so sharply, but you must
confess your course is something unusual.

_Att._ Nobody knows it better than I, my lord: but I shall bring it to an
end with a round turn. I shall show you, gentlemen, that Ann Clark's body
was found in the month of June, in a pond of water, with the throat cut:
that a knife belonging to the prisoner was found in the same water: that
he made efforts to recover the said knife from the water: that the
coroner's quest brought in a verdict against the prisoner at the bar, and
that therefore he should by course have been tried at Exeter: but that,
suit being made on his behalf, on account that an impartial jury could
not be found to try him in his own country, he hath had that singular
favour shown him that he should be tried here in London. And so we will
proceed to call our evidence.

Then the facts of the acquaintance between the prisoner and Ann Clark
were proved, and also the coroner's inquest. I pass over this portion of
the trial, for it offers nothing of special interest.

Sarah Arscott was next called and sworn.

_Att._ What is your occupation?

_S._ I keep the New Inn at--.

_Att._ Do you know the prisoner at the bar?

_S._ Yes: he was often at our house since he come first at Christmas of
last year.

_Att._ Did you know Ann Clark?

_S._ Yes, very well.

_Att._ Pray, what manner of person was she in her appearance?

_S._ She was a very short thick-made woman: I do not know what else you
would have me say.

_Att._ Was she comely?

_S._ No, not by no manner of means: she was very uncomely, poor child!
She had a great face and hanging chops and a very bad colour like a

_L.C.J._ What is that, mistress? What say you she was like?

_S._ My lord, I ask pardon; I heard Esquire Martin say she looked like a
puddock in the face; and so she did.

_L.C.J._ Did you that? Can you interpret her, Mr Attorney?

_Att._ My lord, I apprehend it is the country word for a toad.

_L.C.J._ Oh, a hop-toad! Ay, go on.

_Att._ Will you give an account to the jury of what passed between you
and the prisoner at the bar in May last?

_S._ Sir, it was this. It was about nine o'clock the evening after that
Ann did not come home, and I was about my work in the house; there was no
company there only Thomas Snell, and it was foul weather. Esquire Martin
came in and called for some drink, and I, by way of pleasantry, I said to
him, "Squire, have you been looking after your sweetheart?" and he flew
out at me in a passion and desired I would not use such expressions. I
was amazed at that, because we were accustomed to joke with him about

_L.C.J._ Who, her?

_S._ Ann Clark, my lord. And we had not heard the news of his being
contracted to a young gentlewoman elsewhere, or I am sure I should have
used better manners. So I said nothing, but being I was a little put out,
I begun singing, to myself as it were, the song they danced to the first
time they met, for I thought it would prick him. It was the same that he
was used to sing when he came down the street; I have heard it very
often: '_Madam, will you walk, will you talk with me?_' And it fell out
that I needed something that was in the kitchen. So I went out to get it,
and all the time I went on singing, something louder and more bold-like.
And as I was there all of a sudden I thought I heard someone answering
outside the house, but I could not be sure because of the wind blowing so
high. So then I stopped singing, and now I heard it plain, saying, '_Yes,
sir, I will walk, I will talk with you_,' and I knew the voice for Ann
Clark's voice.

_Att._ How did you know it to be her voice?

_S._ It was impossible I could be mistaken. She had a dreadful voice, a
kind of a squalling voice, in particular if she tried to sing. And there
was nobody in the village that could counterfeit it, for they often
tried. So, hearing that, I was glad, because we were all in an anxiety to
know what was gone with her: for though she was a natural, she had a good
disposition and was very tractable: and says I to myself, 'What, child!
are you returned, then?' and I ran into the front room, and said to
Squire Martin as I passed by, 'Squire, here is your sweetheart back
again: shall I call her in?' and with that I went to open the door; but
Squire Martin he caught hold of me, and it seemed to me he was out of his
wits, or near upon. 'Hold, woman,' says he, 'in God's name!' and I know
not what else: he was all of a shake. Then I was angry, and said I,
'What! are you not glad that poor child is found?' and I called to Thomas
Snell and said,' If the Squire will not let me, do you open the door and
call her in.' So Thomas Snell went and opened the door, and the wind
setting that way blew in and overset the two candles that was all we had
lighted: and Esquire Martin fell away from holding me; I think he fell
down on the floor, but we were wholly in the dark, and it was a minute or
two before I got a light again: and while I was feeling for the fire-box,
I am not certain but I heard someone step 'cross the floor, and I am sure
I heard the door of the great cupboard that stands in the room open and
shut to. Then, when I had a light again, I see Esquire Martin on the
settle, all white and sweaty as if he had swounded away, and his arms
hanging down; and I was going to help him; but just then it caught my eye
that there was something like a bit of a dress shut into the cupboard
door, and it came to my mind I had heard that door shut. So I thought it
might be some person had run in when the light was quenched, and was
hiding in the cupboard. So I went up closer and looked: and there was a
bit of a black stuff cloak, and just below it an edge of a brown stuff
dress, both sticking out of the shut of the door: and both of them was
low down, as if the person that had them on might be crouched down

_Att._ What did you take it to be?

_S._ I took it to be a woman's dress.

_Att._ Could you make any guess whom it belonged to? Did you know anyone
who wore such a dress?

_S._ It was a common stuff, by what I could see. I have seen many women
wearing such a stuff in our parish.

_Att._ Was it like Ann Clark's dress?

_S._ She used to wear just such a dress: but I could not say on my oath
it was hers.

_Att_. Did you observe anything else about it?

_S_. I did notice that it looked very wet: but it was foul weather

_L.C.J._ Did you feel of it, mistress?

_S._ No, my lord, I did not like to touch it.

_L.C.J._ Not like? Why that? Are you so nice that you scruple to feel of
a wet dress?

_S._ Indeed, my lord, I cannot very well tell why: only it had a nasty
ugly look about it.

_L.C.J._ Well, go on.

_S_. Then I called again to Thomas Snell, and bid him come to me and
catch anyone that come out when I should open the cupboard door, 'for,'
says I, 'there is someone hiding within, and I would know what she
wants.' And with that Squire Martin gave a sort of a cry or a shout and
ran out of the house into the dark, and I felt the cupboard door pushed
out against me while I held it, and Thomas Snell helped me: but for all
we pressed to keep it shut as hard as we could, it was forced out against
us, and we had to fall back.

_L.C.J._ And pray what came out--a mouse?

_S._ No, my lord, it was greater than a mouse, but I could not see what
it was: it fleeted very swift over the floor and out at the door.

_L.C.J._ But come; what did it look like? Was it a person?

_S._ My lord, I cannot tell what it was, but it ran very low, and it was
of a dark colour. We were both daunted by it, Thomas Snell and I, but we
made all the haste we could after it to the door that stood open. And we
looked out, but it was dark and we could see nothing.

_L.C.J._ Was there no tracks of it on the floor? What floor have you

_S._ It is a flagged floor and sanded, my lord, and there was an
appearance of a wet track on the floor, but we could make nothing of it,
neither Thomas Snell nor me, and besides, as I said, it was a foul night,

_L.C.J._ Well, for my part, I see not--though to be sure it is an odd
tale she tells--what you would do with this evidence.

_Att._ My lord, we bring it to show the suspicious carriage of the
prisoner immediately after the disappearance of the murdered person: and
we ask the jury's consideration of that; and also to the matter of the
voice heard without the house.

Then the prisoner asked some questions not very material, and Thomas
Snell was next called, who gave evidence to the same effect as Mrs
Arscott, and added the following:

_Att._ Did anything pass between you and the prisoner during the time Mrs
Arscott was out of the room?

_Th._ I had a piece of twist in my pocket.

_Att._ Twist of what?

_Th._ Twist of tobacco, sir, and I felt a disposition to take a pipe of
tobacco. So I found a pipe on the chimney-piece, and being it was twist,
and in regard of me having by an oversight left my knife at my house, and
me not having over many teeth to pluck at it, as your lordship or anyone
else may have a view by their own eyesight--

_L.C.J._ What is the man talking about? Come to the matter, fellow! Do
you think we sit here to look at your teeth?

_Th._ No, my lord, nor I would not you should do, God forbid! I know your
honours have better employment, and better teeth, I would not wonder.

_L.C.J._ Good God, what a man is this! Yes, I _have_ better teeth, and
that you shall find if you keep not to the purpose.

_Th._ I humbly ask pardon, my lord, but so it was. And I took upon me,
thinking no harm, to ask Squire Martin to lend me his knife to cut my
tobacco. And he felt first of one pocket and then of another and it was
not there at all. And says I, 'What! have you lost your knife, Squire?'
And up he gets and feels again and he sat down, and such a groan as he
gave. 'Good God!' he says, 'I must have left it there.' 'But,' says I,
'Squire, by all appearance it is _not_ there. Did you set a value on it,'
says I, 'you might have it cried.' But he sat there and put his head
between his hands and seemed to take no notice to what I said. And then
it was Mistress Arscott come tracking back out of the kitchen place.

Asked if he heard the voice singing outside the house, he said 'No,' but
the door into the kitchen was shut, and there was a high wind: but says
that no one could mistake Ann Clark's voice.

Then a boy, William Reddaway, about thirteen years of age, was called,
and by the usual questions, put by the Lord Chief Justice, it was
ascertained that he knew the nature of an oath. And so he was sworn. His
evidence referred to a time about a week later.

_Att._ Now, child, don't be frighted: there is no one here will hurt you
if you speak the truth.

_L.C.J._ Ay, if he speak the truth. But remember, child, thou art in the
presence of the great God of heaven and earth, that hath the keys of
hell, and of us that are the king's officers, and have the keys of
Newgate; and remember, too, there is a man's life in question; and if
thou tellest a lie, and by that means he comes to an ill end, thou art no
better than his murderer; and so speak the truth.

_Att._ Tell the jury what you know, and speak out. Where were you on the
evening of the 23rd of May last?

_L.C.J._ Why, what does such a boy as this know of days. Can you mark the
day, boy?

_W._ Yes, my lord, it was the day before our feast, and I was to spend
sixpence there, and that falls a month before Midsummer Day.

_One of the Jury._ My lord, we cannot hear what he says.

_L.C.J._ He says he remembers the day because it was the day before the
feast they had there, and he had sixpence to lay out. Set him up on the
table there. Well, child, and where wast thou then?

_W._ Keeping cows on the moor, my lord.

But, the boy using the country speech, my lord could not well apprehend
him, and so asked if there was anyone that could interpret him, and it
was answered the parson of the parish was there, and he was accordingly
sworn and so the evidence given. The boy said:

'I was on the moor about six o'clock, and sitting behind a bush of furze
near a pond of water: and the prisoner came very cautiously and looking
about him, having something like a long pole in his hand, and stopped a
good while as if he would be listening, and then began to feel in the
water with the pole: and I being very near the water--not above five
yards--heard as if the pole struck up against something that made a
wallowing sound, and the prisoner dropped the pole and threw himself on
the ground, and rolled himself about very strangely with his hands to his
ears, and so after a while got up and went creeping away.'

Asked if he had had any communication with the prisoner, 'Yes, a day or
two before, the prisoner, hearing I was used to be on the moor, he asked
me if I had seen a knife laying about, and said he would give sixpence to
find it. And I said I had not seen any such thing, but I would ask about.
Then he said he would give me sixpence to say nothing, and so he did.'

_L.C.J._ And was that the sixpence you were to lay out at the feast?

_W._ Yes, if you please, my lord.

Asked if he had observed anything particular as to the pond of water, he
said, 'No, except that it begun to have a very ill smell and the cows
would not drink of it for some days before.'

Asked if he had ever seen the prisoner and Ann Clark in company together,
he began to cry very much, and it was a long time before they could get
him to speak intelligibly. At last the parson of the parish, Mr Matthews,
got him to be quiet, and the question being put to him again, he said he
had seen Ann Clark waiting on the moor for the prisoner at some way off,
several times since last Christmas.

_Att._ Did you see her close, so as to be sure it was she?

_W._ Yes, quite sure.

_L.C.J._ How quite sure, child?

_W._ Because she would stand and jump up and down and clap her arms like
a goose [which he called by some country name: but the parson explained
it to be a goose]. And then she was of such a shape that it could not be
no one else.

_Att._ What was the last time that you so saw her?

Then the witness began to cry again and clung very much to Mr Matthews,
who bid him not be frightened.

And so at last he told his story: that on the day before their feast
(being the same evening that he had before spoken of) after the prisoner
had gone away, it being then twilight and he very desirous to get home,
but afraid for the present to stir from where he was lest the prisoner
should see him, remained some few minutes behind the bush, looking on the
pond, and saw something dark come up out of the water at the edge of the
pond farthest away from him, and so up the bank. And when it got to the
top where he could see it plain against the sky, it stood up and flapped
the arms up and down, and then run off very swiftly in the same direction
the prisoner had taken: and being asked very strictly who he took it to
be, he said upon his oath that it could be nobody but Ann Clark.

Thereafter his master was called, and gave evidence that the boy had come
home very late that evening and been chided for it, and that he seemed
very much amazed, but could give no account of the reason.

_Att._ My lord, we have done with our evidence for the King.

Then the Lord Chief Justice called upon the prisoner to make his defence;
which he did, though at no great length, and in a very halting way,
saying that he hoped the jury would not go about to take his life on the
evidence of a parcel of country people and children that would believe
any idle tale; and that he had been very much prejudiced in his trial; at
which the L.C.J. interrupted him, saying that he had had singular favour
shown to him in having his trial removed from Exeter, which the prisoner
acknowledging, said that he meant rather that since he was brought to
London there had not been care taken to keep him secured from
interruption and disturbance. Upon which the L.C.J. ordered the Marshal
to be called, and questioned him about the safe keeping of the prisoner,
but could find nothing: except the Marshal said that he had been informed
by the underkeeper that they had seen a person outside his door or going
up the stairs to it: but there was no possibility the person should have
got in. And it being inquired further what sort of person this might be,
the Marshal could not speak to it save by hearsay, which was not allowed.
And the prisoner, being asked if this was what he meant, said no, he knew
nothing of that, but it was very hard that a man should not be suffered
to be at quiet when his life stood on it. But it was observed he was very
hasty in his denial. And so he said no more, and called no witnesses.
Whereupon the Attorney-General spoke to the jury. [A full report of what
he said is given, and, if time allowed, I would extract that portion in
which he dwells on the alleged appearance of the murdered person: he
quotes some authorities of ancient date, as St Augustine _de cura pro
mortuis gerenda_ (a favourite book of reference with the old writers on
the supernatural) and also cites some cases which may be seen in
Glanvil's, but more conveniently in Mr Lang's books. He does not,
however, tell us more of those cases than is to be found in print.]

The Lord Chief Justice then summed up the evidence for the jury. His
speech, again, contains nothing that I find worth copying out: but he was
naturally impressed with the singular character of the evidence, saying
that he had never heard such given in his experience; but that there was
nothing in law to set it aside, and that the jury must consider whether
they believed these witnesses or not.

And the jury after a very short consultation brought the prisoner in

So he was asked whether he had anything to say in arrest of judgement,
and pleaded that his name was spelt wrong in the indictment, being Martin
with an I, whereas it should be with a Y. But this was overruled as not
material, Mr Attorney saying, moreover, that he could bring evidence to
show that the prisoner by times wrote it as it was laid in the
indictment. And, the prisoner having nothing further to offer, sentence
of death was passed upon him, and that he should be hanged in chains upon
a gibbet near the place where the fact was committed, and that execution
should take place upon the 28th December next ensuing, being Innocents'

Thereafter the prisoner being to all appearance in a state of
desperation, made shift to ask the L.C.J. that his relations might be
allowed to come to him during the short time he had to live.

_L.C.J._ Ay, with all my heart, so it be in the presence of the keeper;
and Ann Clark may come to you as well, for what I care.

At which the prisoner broke out and cried to his lordship not to use such
words to him, and his lordship very angrily told him he deserved no
tenderness at any man's hands for a cowardly butcherly murderer that had
not the stomach to take the reward of his deeds: 'and I hope to God,'
said he,'that she _will_ be with you by day and by night till an end is
made of you.' Then the prisoner was removed, and, so far as I saw, he was
in a swound, and the Court broke up.

I cannot refrain from observing that the prisoner during all the time of
the trial seemed to be more uneasy than is commonly the case even in
capital causes: that, for example, he was looking narrowly among the
people and often turning round very sharply, as if some person might be
at his ear. It was also very noticeable at this trial what a silence the
people kept, and further (though this might not be otherwise than natural
in that season of the year), what a darkness and obscurity there was in
the court room, lights being brought in not long after two o'clock in the
day, and yet no fog in the town.

* * * * *

It was not without interest that I heard lately from some young men who
had been giving a concert in the village I speak of, that a very cold
reception was accorded to the song which has been mentioned in this
narrative: '_Madam, will you walk?_' It came out in some talk they had
next morning with some of the local people that that song was regarded
with an invincible repugnance; it was not so, they believed, at North
Tawton, but here it was reckoned to be unlucky. However, why that view
was taken no one had the shadow of an idea.


About fifteen years ago, on a date late in August or early in September,
a train drew up at Wilsthorpe, a country station in Eastern England. Out
of it stepped (with other passengers) a rather tall and reasonably
good-looking young man, carrying a handbag and some papers tied up in a
packet. He was expecting to be met, one would say, from the way in which
he looked about him: and he was, as obviously, expected. The
stationmaster ran forward a step or two, and then, seeming to recollect
himself, turned and beckoned to a stout and consequential person with a
short round beard who was scanning the train with some appearance of
bewilderment. 'Mr Cooper,' he called out,--'Mr Cooper, I think this is
your gentleman'; and then to the passenger who had just alighted, 'Mr
Humphreys, sir? Glad to bid you welcome to Wilsthorpe. There's a cart
from the Hall for your luggage, and here's Mr Cooper, what I think you
know.' Mr Cooper had hurried up, and now raised his hat and shook hands.
'Very pleased, I'm sure,' he said, 'to give the echo to Mr Palmer's kind
words. I should have been the first to render expression to them but for
the face not being familiar to me, Mr Humphreys. May your residence among
us be marked as a red-letter day, sir.' 'Thank you very much, Mr Cooper,'
said Humphreys, 'for your good wishes, and Mr Palmer also. I do hope very
much that this change of--er--tenancy--which you must all regret, I am
sure--will not be to the detriment of those with whom I shall be brought
in contact.' He stopped, feeling that the words were not fitting
themselves together in the happiest way, and Mr Cooper cut in, 'Oh, you
may rest satisfied of that, Mr Humphreys. I'll take it upon myself to
assure you, sir, that a warm welcome awaits you on all sides. And as to
any change of propriety turning out detrimental to the neighbourhood,
well, your late uncle--' And here Mr Cooper also stopped, possibly in
obedience to an inner monitor, possibly because Mr Palmer, clearing his
throat loudly, asked Humphreys for his ticket. The two men left the
little station, and--at Humphreys' suggestion--decided to walk to Mr
Cooper's house, where luncheon was awaiting them.

The relation in which these personages stood to each other can be
explained in a very few lines. Humphreys had inherited--quite
unexpectedly--a property from an uncle: neither the property nor the
uncle had he ever seen. He was alone in the world--a man of good ability
and kindly nature, whose employment in a Government office for the last
four or five years had not gone far to fit him for the life of a country
gentleman. He was studious and rather diffident, and had few out-of-door
pursuits except golf and gardening. To-day he had come down for the first
time to visit Wilsthorpe and confer with Mr Cooper, the bailiff, as to
the matters which needed immediate attention. It may be asked how this
came to be his first visit? Ought he not in decency to have attended his
uncle's funeral? The answer is not far to seek: he had been abroad at the
time of the death, and his address had not been at once procurable. So he
had put off coming to Wilsthorpe till he heard that all things were ready
for him. And now we find him arrived at Mr Cooper's comfortable house,
facing the parsonage, and having just shaken hands with the smiling Mrs
and Miss Cooper.

During the minutes that preceded the announcement of luncheon the party
settled themselves on elaborate chairs in the drawing-room, Humphreys,
for his part, perspiring quietly in the consciousness that stock was
being taken of him.

'I was just saying to Mr Humphreys, my dear,' said Mr Cooper, 'that I
hope and trust that his residence among us here in Wilsthorpe will be
marked as a red-letter day.'

'Yes, indeed, I'm sure,' said Mrs Cooper heartily, 'and many, many of

Miss Cooper murmured words to the same effect, and Humphreys attempted a
pleasantry about painting the whole calendar red, which, though greeted
with shrill laughter, was evidently not fully understood. At this point
they proceeded to luncheon.

'Do you know this part of the country at all, Mr Humphreys?' said Mrs
Cooper, after a short interval. This was a better opening.

'No, I'm sorry to say I do _not_,' said Humphreys. 'It seems very
pleasant, what I could see of it coming down in the train.'

'Oh, it _is_ a pleasant part. Really, I sometimes say I don't know a
nicer district, for the country; and the people round, too: such a
quantity always going on. But I'm afraid you've come a little late for
some of the better garden parties, Mr Humphreys.'

'I suppose I have; dear me, what a pity!' said Humphreys, with a gleam of
relief; and then, feeling that something more could be got out of this
topic, 'But after all, you see, Mrs Cooper, even if I could have been
here earlier, I should have been cut off from them, should I not? My poor
uncle's recent death, you know--'

'Oh dear, Mr Humphreys, to be sure; what a dreadful thing of me to say!'
(And Mr and Miss Cooper seconded the proposition inarticulately.) 'What
must you have thought? I _am_ sorry: you must really forgive me.'

'Not at all, Mrs Cooper, I assure you. I can't honestly assert that my
uncle's death was a great grief to me, for I had never seen him. All I
meant was that I supposed I shouldn't be expected to take part for some
little time in festivities of that kind.'

'Now, really it's very kind of you to take it in that way, Mr Humphreys,
isn't it, George? And you _do_ forgive me? But only fancy! You never saw
poor old Mr Wilson!'

'Never in my life; nor did I ever have a letter from him. But, by the
way, you have something to forgive _me_ for. I've never thanked you,
except by letter, for all the trouble you've taken to find people to look
after me at the Hall.'

'Oh, I'm sure that was nothing, Mr Humphreys; but I really do think that
you'll find them give satisfaction. The man and his wife whom we've got
for the butler and housekeeper we've known for a number of years: such a
nice respectable couple, and Mr Cooper, I'm sure, can answer for the men
in the stables and gardens.'

'Yes, Mr Humphreys, they're a good lot. The head gardener's the only one
who's stopped on from Mr Wilson's time. The major part of the employees,
as you no doubt saw by the will, received legacies from the old gentleman
and retired from their posts, and as the wife says, your housekeeper and
butler are calculated to render you every satisfaction.'

'So everything, Mr Humphreys, is ready for you to step in this very day,
according to what I understood you to wish,' said Mrs Cooper.
'Everything, that is, except company, and there I'm afraid you'll find
yourself quite at a standstill. Only we did understand it was your
intention to move in at once. If not, I'm sure you know we should have
been only too pleased for you to stay here.'

'I'm quite sure you would, Mrs Cooper, and I'm very grateful to you. But
I thought I had really better make the plunge at once. I'm accustomed to
living alone, and there will be quite enough to occupy my
evenings--looking over papers and books and so on--for some time to come,
I thought if Mr Cooper could spare the time this afternoon to go over the
house and grounds with me--'

'Certainly, certainly, Mr Humphreys. My time is your own, up to any hour
you please.'

'Till dinner-time, father, you mean,' said Miss Cooper.' Don't forget
we're going over to the Brasnetts'. And have you got all the garden

'Are you a great gardener, Miss Cooper?' said Mr Humphreys. 'I wish you
would tell me what I'm to expect at the Hall.'

'Oh, I don't know about a _great_ gardener, Mr Humphreys: I'm very fond
of flowers--but the Hall garden might be made quite lovely, I often say.
It's very old-fashioned as it is: and a great deal of shrubbery. There's
an old temple, besides, and a maze.'

'Really? Have you explored it ever?'

'No-o,' said Miss Cooper, drawing in her lips and shaking her head. 'I've
often longed to try, but old Mr Wilson always kept it locked. He wouldn't
even let Lady Wardrop into it. (She lives near here, at Bentley, you
know, and she's a _great_ gardener, if you like.) That's why I asked
father if he had all the keys.'

'I see. Well, I must evidently look into that, and show you over it when
I've learnt the way.'

'Oh, thank you so much, Mr Humphreys! Now I shall have the laugh of Miss
Foster (that's our rector's daughter, you know; they're away on their
holiday now--such nice people). We always had a joke between us which
should be the first to get into the maze.'

'I think the garden keys must be up at the house,' said Mr Cooper, who
had been looking over a large bunch. 'There is a number there in the
library. Now, Mr Humphreys, if you're prepared, we might bid goodbye to
these ladies and set forward on our little tour of exploration.'

* * * * *

As they came out of Mr Cooper's front gate, Humphreys had to run the
gauntlet--not of an organized demonstration, but of a good deal of
touching of hats and careful contemplation from the men and women who had
gathered in somewhat unusual numbers in the village street. He had,
further, to exchange some remarks with the wife of the lodge-keeper as
they passed the park gates, and with the lodge-keeper himself, who was
attending to the park road. I cannot, however, spare the time to report
the progress fully. As they traversed the half-mile or so between the
lodge and the house, Humphreys took occasion to ask his companion some
question which brought up the topic of his late uncle, and it did not
take long before Mr Cooper was embarked upon a disquisition.

'It is singular to think, as the wife was saying just now, that you
should never have seen the old gentleman. And yet--you won't
misunderstand me, Mr Humphreys, I feel confident, when I say that in my
opinion there would have been but little congeniality betwixt yourself
and him. Not that I have a word to say in deprecation--not a single word.
I can tell you what he was,' said Mr Cooper, pulling up suddenly and
fixing Humphreys with his eye. 'Can tell you what he was in a nutshell,
as the saying goes. He was a complete, thorough valentudinarian. That
describes him to a T. That's what he was, sir, a complete
valentudinarian. No participation in what went on around him. I did
venture, I think, to send you a few words of cutting from our local
paper, which I took the occasion to contribute on his decease. If I
recollect myself aright, such is very much the gist of them. But don't,
Mr Humphreys,' continued Cooper, tapping him impressively on the
chest,--'don't you run away with the impression that I wish to say aught
but what is most creditable--_most_ creditable--of your respected uncle
and my late employer. Upright, Mr Humphreys--open as the day; liberal to
all in his dealings. He had the heart to feel and the hand to
accommodate. But there it was: there was the stumbling-block--his
unfortunate health--or, as I might more truly phrase it, his _want_ of

'Yes, poor man. Did he suffer from any special disorder before his last
illness--which, I take it, was little more than old age?'

'Just that, Mr Humphreys--just that. The flash flickering slowly away in
the pan,' said Cooper, with what he considered an appropriate
gesture,--'the golden bowl gradually ceasing to vibrate. But as to your
other question I should return a negative answer. General absence of
vitality? yes: special complaint? no, unless you reckon a nasty cough he
had with him. Why, here we are pretty much at the house. A handsome
mansion, Mr Humphreys, don't you consider?'

It deserved the epithet, on the whole: but it was oddly proportioned--a
very tall red-brick house, with a plain parapet concealing the roof
almost entirely. It gave the impression of a town house set down in the
country; there was a basement, and a rather imposing flight of steps
leading up to the front door. It seemed also, owing to its height, to
desiderate wings, but there were none. The stables and other offices were
concealed by trees. Humphreys guessed its probable date as 1770 or

The mature couple who had been engaged to act as butler and
cook-housekeeper were waiting inside the front door, and opened it as
their new master approached. Their name, Humphreys already knew, was
Calton; of their appearance and manner he formed a favourable impression
in the few minutes' talk he had with them. It was agreed that he should
go through the plate and the cellar next day with Mr Calton, and that Mrs
C. should have a talk with him about linen, bedding, and so on--what
there was, and what there ought to be. Then he and Cooper, dismissing the
Caltons for the present, began their view of the house. Its topography is
not of importance to this story. The large rooms on the ground floor were
satisfactory, especially the library, which was as large as the
dining-room, and had three tall windows facing east. The bedroom prepared
for Humphreys was immediately above it. There were many pleasant, and a
few really interesting, old pictures. None of the furniture was new, and
hardly any of the books were later than the seventies. After hearing of
and seeing the few changes his uncle had made in the house, and
contemplating a shiny portrait of him which adorned the drawing-room,
Humphreys was forced to agree with Cooper that in all probability there
would have been little to attract him in his predecessor. It made him
rather sad that he could not be sorry--_dolebat se dolere non posse_--for
the man who, whether with or without some feeling of kindliness towards
his unknown nephew, had contributed so much to his well-being; for he
felt that Wilsthorpe was a place in which he could be happy, and
especially happy, it might be, in its library.

And now it was time to go over the garden: the empty stables could wait,
and so could the laundry. So to the garden they addressed themselves, and
it was soon evident that Miss Cooper had been right in thinking that
there were possibilities. Also that Mr Cooper had done well in keeping on
the gardener. The deceased Mr Wilson might not have, indeed plainly had
not, been imbued with the latest views on gardening, but whatever had
been done here had been done under the eye of a knowledgeable man, and
the equipment and stock were excellent. Cooper was delighted with the
pleasure Humphreys showed, and with the suggestions he let fall from time
to time. 'I can see,' he said, 'that you've found your meatear here, Mr
Humphreys: you'll make this place a regular signosier before very many
seasons have passed over our heads. I wish Clutterham had been
here--that's the head gardener--and here he would have been of course,
as I told you, but for his son's being horse doover with a fever, poor
fellow! I should like him to have heard how the place strikes you.'

'Yes, you told me he couldn't be here today, and I was very sorry to hear
the reason, but it will be time enough tomorrow. What is that white
building on the mound at the end of the grass ride? Is it the temple Miss
Cooper mentioned?'

'That it is, Mr Humphreys--the Temple of Friendship. Constructed of
marble brought out of Italy for the purpose, by your late uncle's
grandfather. Would it interest you perhaps to take a turn there? You get
a very sweet prospect of the park.'

The general lines of the temple were those of the Sibyl's Temple at
Tivoli, helped out by a dome, only the whole was a good deal smaller.
Some ancient sepulchral reliefs were built into the wall, and about it
all was a pleasant flavour of the grand tour. Cooper produced the key,
and with some difficulty opened the heavy door. Inside there was a
handsome ceiling, but little furniture. Most of the floor was occupied by
a pile of thick circular blocks of stone, each of which had a single
letter deeply cut on its slightly convex upper surface. 'What is the
meaning of these?' Humphreys inquired.

'Meaning? Well, all things, we're told, have their purpose, Mr Humphreys,
and I suppose these blocks have had theirs as well as another. But what
that purpose is or was [Mr Cooper assumed a didactic attitude here], I,
for one, should be at a loss to point out to you, sir. All I know of
them--and it's summed up in a very few words--is just this: that they're
stated to have been removed by your late uncle, at a period before I
entered on the scene, from the maze. That, Mr Humphreys, is--'

'Oh, the maze!' exclaimed Humphreys. 'I'd forgotten that: we must have a
look at it. Where is it?'

Cooper drew him to the door of the temple, and pointed with his stick.
'Guide your eye,' he said (somewhat in the manner of the Second Elder in
Handel's 'Susanna'--

Far to the west direct your straining eyes
Where yon tall holm-tree rises to the skies)

'Guide your eye by my stick here, and follow out the line directly
opposite to the spot where we're standing now, and I'll engage, Mr
Humphreys, that you'll catch the archway over the entrance. You'll see it
just at the end of the walk answering to the one that leads up to this
very building. Did you think of going there at once? because if that be
the case, I must go to the house and procure the key. If you would walk
on there, I'll rejoin you in a few moments' time.'

Accordingly Humphreys strolled down the ride leading to the temple, past
the garden-front of the house, and up the turfy approach to the archway
which Cooper had pointed out to him. He was surprised to find that the
whole maze was surrounded by a high wall, and that the archway was
provided with a padlocked iron gate; but then he remembered that Miss
Cooper had spoken of his uncle's objection to letting anyone enter this
part of the garden. He was now at the gate, and still Cooper came not.
For a few minutes he occupied himself in reading the motto cut over the
entrance, _Secretum meum mihi et filiis domus meae_, and in trying to
recollect the source of it. Then he became impatient and considered the
possibility of scaling the wall. This was clearly not worth while; it
might have been done if he had been wearing an older suit: or could the
padlock--a very old one--be forced? No, apparently not: and yet, as he
gave a final irritated kick at the gate, something gave way, and the lock
fell at his feet. He pushed the gate open inconveniencing a number of
nettles as he did so, and stepped into the enclosure.

It was a yew maze, of circular form, and the hedges, long untrimmed, had
grown out and upwards to a most unorthodox breadth and height. The walks,
too, were next door to impassable. Only by entirely disregarding
scratches, nettle-stings, and wet, could Humphreys force his way along
them; but at any rate this condition of things, he reflected, would make
it easier for him to find his way out again, for he left a very visible
track. So far as he could remember, he had never been in a maze before,
nor did it seem to him now that he had missed much. The dankness and
darkness, and smell of crushed goosegrass and nettles were anything but
cheerful. Still, it did not seem to be a very intricate specimen of its
kind. Here he was (by the way, was that Cooper arrived at last? No!) very
nearly at the heart of it, without having taken much thought as to what
path he was following. Ah! there at last was the centre, easily gained.
And there was something to reward him. His first impression was that the
central ornament was a sundial; but when he had switched away some
portion of the thick growth of brambles and bindweed that had formed over
it, he saw that it was a less ordinary decoration. A stone column about
four feet high, and on the top of it a metal globe--copper, to judge by
the green patina--engraved, and finely engraved too, with figures in
outline, and letters. That was what Humphreys saw, and a brief glance at
the figures convinced him that it was one of those mysterious things
called celestial globes, from which, one would suppose, no one ever yet
derived any information about the heavens. However, it was too dark--at
least in the maze--for him to examine this curiosity at all closely, and
besides, he now heard Cooper's voice, and sounds as of an elephant in the
jungle. Humphreys called to him to follow the track he had beaten out,
and soon Cooper emerged panting into the central circle. He was full of
apologies for his delay; he had not been able, after all, to find the
key. 'But there!' he said, 'you've penetrated into the heart of the
mystery unaided and unannealed, as the saying goes. Well! I suppose it's
a matter of thirty to forty years since any human foot has trod these
precincts. Certain it is that I've never set foot in them before. Well,
well! what's the old proverb about angels fearing to tread? It's proved
true once again in this case.' Humphreys' acquaintance with Cooper,
though it had been short, was sufficient to assure him that there was no
guile in this allusion, and he forbore the obvious remark, merely
suggesting that it was fully time to get back to the house for a late cup
of tea, and to release Cooper for his evening engagement. They left the
maze accordingly, experiencing well-nigh the same ease in retracing their
path as they had in coming in.

'Have you any idea,' Humphreys asked, as they went towards the house,
'why my uncle kept that place so carefully locked?'

Cooper pulled up, and Humphreys felt that he must be on the brink of a

'I should merely be deceiving you, Mr Humphreys, and that to no good
purpose, if I laid claim to possess any information whatsoever on that
topic. When I first entered upon my duties here, some eighteen years
back, that maze was word for word in the condition you see it now, and
the one and only occasion on which the question ever arose within my
knowledge was that of which my girl made mention in your hearing. Lady
Wardrop--I've not a word to say against her--wrote applying for admission
to the maze. Your uncle showed me the note--a most civil note--everything
that could be expected from such a quarter. "Cooper," he said, "I wish
you'd reply to that note on my behalf." "Certainly Mr Wilson," I said,
for I was quite inured to acting as his secretary, "what answer shall I
return to it?" "Well," he said, "give Lady Wardrop my compliments, and
tell her that if ever that portion of the grounds is taken in hand I
shall be happy to give her the first opportunity of viewing it, but that
it has been shut up now for a number of years, and I shall be grateful to
her if she kindly won't press the matter." That, Mr Humphreys, was your
good uncle's last word on the subject, and I don't think I can add

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