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so reticent. The haunted chamber, for | with us all, – had been away for nearly instance - which of course existed at two years ou a voyage round the world ; the Grange - she treated with the aud since then sickness in our own greatest contempt. Various friends, family had kept us in our turn a good and relations had slept in it at different deal abroad. So that I had not seen times, and no approach to any kind of my cousins since all the calamities authenticated gliost-story, even of the which had befallen them in the intermost trivial description, had they been val, and as I steamed northwards, I able to supply. Its only claim to re- wondered a good deal as to the changes spect, indeed, was that it contained the I should find. I was to have come out famous Mervyn cabinet, a fascinating that year in London, but ill-health had puzzle of which I will speak later, but prevented me ; and as a sort of consowhich certainly had nothing haunting lation Lucy bad kindly asked me to or liorrible about its appearance. spend a fortnight at Mervyn, and be My uncle's family consisted of three present at a shooting-party which was

The eldest, George, the present to assemble there in the first week of baronet, was now in his thirties, mar- October. ried, and with children of his owu. I had started early, and there was The second, Jack, was the black sheep still an hour of the short autumn day of the family. He had been in the left when I descended at the little wayGuards ; but about five years back had side station, from which a six-mile got into some very disgraceful scrape, drive brought me to the Grange. A aud had been obliged to leave the dreary drive I found it — the round, country. The sorrow and the shame grey, treeless outline of the fells of this bad killed his unhappy mother, stretching around me on every side and her husband had not long after- beneath the leaden, changeless sky. wards followed her to the grave. Alan, The night bad nearly fallen as the youngest son, probably because he drove along the narrow valley in which was the nearest to us in age, had been the Grange stood; it was too dark to our special favorite in earlier years. see the autumn tints of the woods George was grown up before I had well which clothed and brightened its sides, left the nursery, and liis hot, quick almost too dark to distinguish the old temper had always kept us youngsters tower, — Dame Alice's tower as it was somewhat in awe of him. Jack was called, which stood some half a mile four years older than Alan, and be- farther on at its head. But the light sides, his profession had in a way cut shone brightly from the Grange winhis boyhood short. When my uncle dows, and all feeling of dreariness and aunt were abroad, as they fre- departed as I drove up to the door. quently were for months together on Leaving maid and boxes to their fate, account of her health, it was Alan I ran up the steps into the old, wellchiefly who liad to spend his holidays remembered hall, and was informed with us, both as schoolboy and as un- by the dignified manservant that her dergraduate. And a brighter, sweeter- ladyslip and the tea were awaiting me tempered comrade, or one possessed of in the morning-room. more diversified talents for the inven- I found that there was nobody staytion of games or the telling of stories, ing in the house except Alan, who was it would have been difficult to find. finishing the long vacation there ; he

For five years together now our an- had been called to the bar a couple of cient custom of an annual visit to years before. The guests were not to Mervyn had been broken. First there arrive for another week, so that I had had been the seclusion of mourning for plenty of opportunity in the interval to my aunt, and a year later for my make up for lost time with my cousins. uncle ; then George and his wife, Lucy, I began my observations that evening

- she was a connection of our own on as we sat down to dinner, a cosy party our mother's side, and very intimate of four. Lucy was quite unchanged

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pretty, foolish, and gentle as ever. I is all that is required of a woman. The George showed the full five years' meals and evevings passed quickly and increase of age, and seemed to have agreeably; the mornings I spent in acquired a somewhat painful control of unending gossip with Lucy, or in games his temper. lustead of the old petu- with the children, two bright boys of lant outbursts, there was at times an five and six years old. But the afterair of nervous, irritable self-restraint, noons were the best part of the day. which I found the less pleasant of the George was a thorough squire in all his two. But it was in Alan that the most tastes and habits, and every afternoon striking alteration appeared. I felt it his wife dutifully accompanied liim the moment I shook hands with him, round farms anil coverts, inspecting and the impression deepened that new buildings, trudying along halfevening with every hour. I told my- made roads, or marking unoffending self that it was only the natural differ- trees for destruction. Then Alan and ence between boy and man, between I would ride by the hour together over twenty and twenty-five, but I don't moor and meadowland, often picking think that I believed it. Superficially our way liomewards down the glen-side the change was not great. The slight- long after the autumn evenings had built, graceful figure; the deep grey closed in. During these rides I had eyes, too small for beauty ; the clear- glimpses many a time into depths in cut features ; the delicate, sensitive Alau's nature, of which I doubt lips, close shaveu now, as they had whether in the old days he had himself been hairless then, - all were as I been aware. To me certainly they remembered them. But the face was as a revelation.

A prevailing paler and thinner than it had been, and sadness, occasionally a painful tone of there were lines round the eyes and at bitterness, characterized these the corners of the mouth, which were serious moods of bis ; but I do not no more natural to twenty-five than think that, at the end of that week, I they would have been to twenty. The would, if I could, have changed the old charm indeed the sweet friendli- man, whom I was learning to revere ness of manner, which was his own and to pily, for the light-hearted playpeculiar possession- was still there. mate whom I felt was lost to me forHe talked and laughed almost as much ever. as formerly, but the talk was manufactured for our entertainment, and the laughter came from his head and not THE only feature of the family life from his heart. And it was when he which jarred on me was the attitude of was taking no part in the conversation the two brothers towards the children. that the change showed most. Then I did not notice this at first, and at all the face, on which in the old time times it was a thing to be felt rather every passing emotion had expressed than to be seen. George himself never itself in a constant, living current, be- seemed quite at ease with them. The cold and impassive — without boys were strong and well

growni, interest, aud without desire. It was at healthy in mind and body ; and one such times that I knew most certainly would have thought that the existence that here was something which had of two such representatives to carry ou been living and was dead. Was it only his name and inherit his fortune would his boyhood ?

have been the very crown of pride and Still, in spite of all, that week was happiness to their father. But it was one of the happiest of my life. The not so. Lucy indeed was devoted to brothers were both men of enough them, and in all practical matters uo ability and cultivation to be pleasant one could have been kinder to them talkers, and Lucy could perform ade- than was George. They were free of quately the part of conversationalist the whole house, and every indulgeuce accompanist, which, socially speaking, 'that money could buy for them they

II.

came

had. I never heard him give them a possible moment, I proposed an inspecharsh word. But there was something liou of it. The only portion of the old wrong. A constraint in their presence, building left standing in any kind of a relief in their absence, an evident entirety was two rooms, one above the dislike of discussing them and their other. The lower room, level with the affairs, a total want of that enjoyment bottom of the moat, was dark and of love and possession which in such a damp, avd it was the upper one, case one might have expected to find. reached by a little outside staircase, Alan's state of mind was even more which had been our rendezvous of old. marked. Never did I hear him will. Alan showed no disposition to enter, ingly address his nephews, or in any and said that lie would stay outside way allude to their existence. I should and hold my horse, so I dismounted have said that he simply ignored it, and ran up alone. but for the heavy gloom which always The room seemed in no way changed. overspread his spirits in their company, A mere stone shell, littered with fragand for the glances which he would ments of wood and mortar. There was now and again cast in their direction the rough wooden block on which Alan glances full of some hidden, painful used to sit while he first frightened us emotion, though of what nature it with bogey-stories, and then calmed would have been hard to define. In- our excited nerves by rapid sallies of deed, Alan's attitude towards her wild nonsense. There was the plank children I soon found to be the only from behind which, erected as a barrier source of friction between Lucy and across the doorway, he would defend this otherwise much-loved member of the castle against our united assault, her husband's family. I asked her one pelting us with fir-coves and sods of day why the boys never appeared at earth. This and many a bygone scene luncheon. “Oh, they come when Alan thronged on me as I stood there,

and is away,” she answered ; “but they the room filled again with the memo

to annoy him so much that ries of childish mirth. And following George thinks it is better to keep them close came those of childish terrors. out of sight when he is here. It is Horrors, which had oppressed me very tiresome.

I know that it is the then, wholly imagined or dimly apprefashion to say that George has got the hended from half-heard traditions, and temper of the family ; but I assure never thought of since, Aitted around you that Alan's nervous moods and me in the gathering dusk. And with fancies are much more difficult to live them it seemed to me as if there came with."

other memories too — memories which That was on the morning a Friday had never been my own, of scenes it was — of the last day which we were whose actors had long been with the to spend alone. The guests were to dead, but which, immortal as the spirit arrive soon after tea; and I think that before whose eyes they had dwelt, still with the knowledge of their near ap- lingered in the spot where their victim proach Alan and I prolonged our ride had first learned to shudder at their that afternoon beyond its usual limits. presence. Once the ghastly notion We were on our way home, and it was came to me, it seized on my imaginaalready dusk, when a turn of the path tion with irresistible force. It seemed brought us face to face with the old as if from the darkened corners of the ruined tower, of which I have already room vague, ill-defined shapes were spoken as standing at the head of the actually peering out at me. When valley. I had not been close up to it night came they would show themyet during this visit at Mervyn. It selves in that form vivid and terrible, bad been a very favorite haunt of ours in which they had been burnt into the as children, and partly on that account, brain and heart of the long ago dead. partly perhaps in order to defer the I turned and glanced towards where dreaded close of our ride to the last 'I had left Alan. I could see his figure

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framed in by the window, a black The train of thought into which be shadow against the grey twilight of the had sunk during my absence was apsky behind. Erect and perfectly mo- pareutly an absorbing one, for to my tionless lie sat, so motionless as to look first question as to the painted board almost lifeless, gazing before him down he could hardly rouse himself to anthe valley into the illimitable distance swer. beyond. There was something in that A board with a legend written on stern immobility of look and attitude it? Yes, he remembered something which struck me with a curious sense of the kind there. It had always beeu of congruity. It was right that he there, he thought. He knew nothing should be thus — right that he should about it,” — and so the subject was not be no longer the laughing boy who a continued. moment before had been in my men- The weird feelings which had haunted ory. The baunting horrors of that me in the tower still oppressed me, place seemed to demand it, and for the and I proceeded to ask Alan about that first time I felt that I understood the old Dame Alice whom the traditions of change. With an effort I shook myself my childhood represented as the last free from these fancies, and turned to occupant of the ruined building. Alan go. As I did so, my eye fell upon a roused himself now, but did not seem queer-shaped painted board, leaning up anxious to impart in formation on the against the wall, which I well recol subject. She had lived there he ad. lected in old times. Many a discussion mitled, and no one had lived there had we had about the legend inscribed since. 6. Had she not," I inquired, upon it, which in our wisdom “something to do with the mysterious had finally pronounced to be German, cabinet at the house? I remember chiefly because it was illegible. Though hearing it spoken of as 'Dame Alice's I had louilly professed my faith in this cabinet." » theory at the time, I had always had “ So they say,” he assented 1; uncasy doubts on the subject, and now and an Italian artificer who was in hier half smiling I bent down to verify or service, and who, chiefly I imagine, on remove them. The language was En- account of his skill, shared with her glish, not German ; but the badly the honor of reputed witchcraft." painted, faded Gothic letters in which “She was the mother of Hugh Merit was written made the mistake cx- vyn, the man who was murdered by cusable. In the dim light I had diffi- his wife, was she not?” I asked. cully even now in deciphering the "Yes," ” said Alan briefly. words, and felt whien I had done so " And had she not something to do that neither the information conveyed with the curse ? " I inquired after a nor the style of the composition was short pause, and nervously. I rememsufficient reward for the trouble I had bered my father's experience on that taken. This is what I read :

subject, and I had never before dared

to alluile to it in the presence of any Where the woman sinned the maid shall member of the family. My nervous

win; But God help the maid that sleeps within.

ness was fully warranted.

The gloom

on Alan's brow deepened, and after a What the lines could refer to I neither very short “ They say so," he turned had any notion nor did I pause then full upon me, and inquired with some even in my own mind to inquire. I asperity why on earth I had developed only remember vaguely wondering this sudden curiosity about his anceswhether they were intended for a tress. tombstone or for a dvorway. Then, I hesitated a moment, for I was a continuing my way, I rapidly descended little ashamed of my fancies; but the the steps and remounted my horse, darkness gave me courage, and besides glad to find myself once again in the I was not afraid of telling Alan - he open air and by my cousin's side. would understand. I told him of the

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strange sensations. I had had while in wilfully deprive him of his reason ; the tower - sensations which had struck and yet a man with drunkenness or me with all that force and clearness madness in his blood thinks nothing of which we usually associate with a direct bringing children into the world tainted experience of fact. "Of course it was as deeply with the curse as if he had a trick of imagination," I commented ; inoculated them with it directly. There “but I could vol get rid of the feeling is no responsibility so completely igthat the persou who had dwelt there nored as this one of marriage and last must have had terrible thoughts fatherhood, and yet how heavy it is for the companions of her life.” and far-reaching."

Alan listened in silence, and the "Well," I said, siniling, “let us silence continued for some time after I console ourselves with the thought that had ceasel speaking.

we are not all lunatics and drunkards." “ It is strange," he said at last ; “No," he answered ; “but there “instincts which we do not understand are other evils besides these, moral form the motive-power of most of our laints as well as physical, curses which life's actions, and yet we refuse to ad- have their roots in worlds beyond our mit them as evidence of any external own, — sins of the fathers which are truth. I suppose it is because we must visited upon the children.' act somehow, rightly or wrongly ; and He had lost all violence and bitterthere are a great many things which ness of tone now ; but the weary dewe need not believe unless we choose. jection which had taken their place As for this old lady, she lived long - communicated itself to my spirit with long enough, like most of us, lo do more subtle power than his previous evil; unlike most of us, long enough to mood bad owned. witness some of the results of that 6. That is why," he went on, and his evil. To say that, is to say that the manner seemed to give more purpose last years of her life must have been to his speech than hitherto,

.66 that is weighted heavily enough with tragic why, so far as I am concerned, I mean thought."

to shirk the responsibility and remain I gave a little shudder of repulsion. unmarried."

“ That is a depressing view of life, I was hardly surprised at his words. Alan," I said. “Does our peace of I felt that I had expected them, but mind depend only upon death coming their utterance seemed to intensify the early enough to hide from us the gloom which rested upon us. Alan truth ? And, after all, can it ? Our was the first to arouse himself from its spirits do not die. From another world influence. they may witness the fruits of our lives “ After all,” he said, turning round in this one."

to me and speaking lightly, " without "If they do,” he answered with sud- looking so far and so deep, I thiuk my den violence, “it is absurd to doubt resolve is a prudent one. Above all the existence of a purgatory. There things, let us take life easily, and you niust in such a case be a terrible one in know what St. Paul says about“ trouble store for the best among us."

in the flesh,” - a remark which I am I was silent. The shadow that lay sure is specially applicable to briefless on his soul dill not penetrate to mine, barristers, even thouglı possessed of a but it hung round me nevertheless, a modest competence of their own. cloud which I felt powerless to dis- Perhaps one of these days, when I am perse.

a fat old judge, I shall give my cook a After a moment lie went on : “ Pro- chance if she is satisfactory in her vided that they are distant, enonghi, clear soups ; but till then I shall expect how little, after all, do we think of you, Evie, to work me one pair of the results of our actions ! There carpet-slippers per annum, as tribute arc few men who would deliberately due to a bachelor cousin." instil into a child a love of drink, or I don't quite know what I answered,

LIVING AGE. VOL. V. 226

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