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Title: Collected Stories
Author: Richard Barham
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605141.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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Richard Barham (Thomas Ingoldsby)
Collected Stories


A Singular Passage in the Life of the Late Henry Harris, Doctor in Divinity
The Grey Dolphin
The Lady Rohesia
The Spectre of Tappington
Mrs. Botherby's Story: The Leech of Folkestone


In order that the extraordinary circumstance which I am about to
relate, may meet with the credit it deserves, I think it necessary to
premise, that my reverend friend, among whose papers I find it
recorded, was, in his lifetime, ever esteemed as a man of good plain
understanding, strict veracity, and unimpeached morals,--by no means
of a nervous temperament, or one likely to attach undue weight to any
occurrence out of the common course of events, merely because his
reflections might not, at the moment, afford him a ready solution of
its difficulties.

On the truth of his narrative, as far as he was personally concerned,
no one who knew him would hesitate to place the most implicit
reliance. His history is briefly this:--He had married early in life,
and was a widower at the age of thirty-nine, with an only daughter,
who had then arrived at puberty, and was just married to a near
connection of our own family. The sudden death of her husband,
occasioned by a fall from his horse, only three days after her
confinement, was abruptly communicated to Mrs. S--by a thoughtless
girl, who saw her master brought lifeless into the house, and, with
that inexplicable anxiety to be the first to tell bad news, so common
among the lower orders, rushed at once into the sick-room with her
intelligence. The shock was too severe; and though the young widow
survived the fatal event several months, yet she gradually sank under
the blow, and expired, leaving a boy, not a twelvemonth old, to the
care of his maternal grandfather.

My poor friend was sadly shaken by this melancholy catastrophe; time,
however, and a strong religious feeling, succeeded at length in
moderating the poignancy of his grief--a consummation much advanced by
his infant charge, who now succeeded, as it were by inheritance, to
the place in his affections left vacant by his daughter's decease.
Frederick S--grew up to be a fine lad; his person and features were
decidedly handsome; still there was, as I remember, an unpleasant
expression in his countenance, and an air of reserve, attributed, by
the few persons who called occasionally at the vicarage, to the
retired life led by his grandfather, and the little opportunity he
had, in consequence, of mixing in the society of his equals in age and
intellect. Brought up entirely at home, his progress in the common
branches of education was, without any great display of precocity,
rather in advance of the generality of boys of his own standing;
partly owing, perhaps, to the turn which even his amusements took from
the first. His sole associate was the son of the village apothecary, a
boy about two years older than himself, whose father, being really
clever in his profession, and a good operative chemist, had
constructed for himself a small laboratory, in which, as he was fond
of children, the two boys spent a great portion of their leisure time,
witnessing many of those little experiments so attractive to youth,
and in time aspiring to imitate what they admired.

In such society, it is not surprising that Frederick S--should imbibe
a strong taste for the sciences which formed his principal amusement;
or that, when, in process of time, it became necessary to choose his
walk in life, a profession so intimately connected with his favourite
pursuit, as that of medicine, should be eagerly selected. No
opposition was offered by my friend, who, knowing that the greater
part of his income would expire with his life, and that the remainder
would prove an insufficient resource to his grandchild, was only
anxious that he should follow such a path as would secure him that
moderate and respectable competency which is, perhaps, more conducive
to real happiness than a more elevated or wealthy situation. Frederick
was, accordingly, at the proper age, matriculated at Oxford, with the
view of studying the higher branches of medicine, a few months after
his friend, John W--, had proceeded to Leyden, for the purpose of
making himself acquainted with the practice of surgery in the
hospitals and lecture-rooms attached to that university. The boyish
intimacy of their younger days did not, as is frequently the case,
yield to separation; on the contrary, a close correspondence was kept
up between them. Dr. Harris was even prevailed upon to allow Frederick
to take a trip to Holland to see his friend; and John returned the
visit to Frederick at Oxford.

Satisfactory as, for some time, were the accounts of the general
course of Frederick S--'s studies, by degrees rumours of a less
pleasant nature reached the ears of some of his friends; to the
vicarage, however, I have reason to believe, they never penetrated.
The good old Doctor was too well beloved in his parish for any one
voluntarily to give him pain; and, after all, nothing beyond whisper
and surmises had reached X--, when the worthy vicar was surprised on a
sudden by a request from his grandchild, that he might be permitted to
take his name off the books of the university, and proceed to finish
his education in conjunction with his friend W--at Leyden. Such a
proposal, made, too, at a time when the period for his graduating
could not be far distant, both surprised and grieved the Doctor; he
combatted the design with more perseverance that he had ever been
known to exert in opposition to any declared wish of his darling boy
before, but, as usual, gave way, when, more strongly pressed, from
sheer inability to persist in a refusal, which seemed to give so much
pain to Frederick, especially when the latter, with more energy than
was quite becoming to their relative situations, expressed his
positive determination of not returning to Oxford, whatever might be
the result of his grandfather's decision. My friend, his mind,
perhaps, a little weakened by a short but severe nervous attack from
which he had scarcely recovered, at length yielded a reluctant
consent, and Frederick quitted England.

It was not till some months had elapsed after his departure, that I
had reason to suspect that the eager desire of availing himself of
opportunities for study abroad, not afforded him at home, was not the
sole, or even the principal, reason which had drawn Frederick so
abruptly from his Alma Mater. A chance visit to the university, and a
conversation with a senior fellow belonging to his late college,
convinced me of this; still I found it impossible to extract from the
latter the precise nature of his offence. That he had given way to
most culpable indulgences I had before heard hinted; and when I
recollected how he had been at once launched, from a state of what
might well be called seclusion, into a world where so many enticements
were lying in wait to allure--with liberty, example, everything to
tempt him from the straight road--regret, I frankly own, was more the
predominant feeling in my mind than either surprise or condemnation.
But here was evidently something more than mere ordinary excess--some
act of profligacy, perhaps, of a deeper stain, which had induced his
superiors, who, at first, had been loud in his praises, to desire him
to withdraw himself quietly, but for ever; and such an intimation, I
found, had, in fact, been conveyed to him from an authority which it
was impossible to resist. Seeing that my informant was determined not
to be explicit, I did not press for a disclosure, which, if made,
would, in all probability, only have given me pain, and that the
rather, as my old friend the Doctor had recently obtained a valuable
living from Lord M--, only a few miles distant from the market-town in
which I resided, where he now was, amusing himself in putting his
grounds in order, ornamenting his house, and getting everything ready
against his grandson's expected visit in the following autumn. October
came, and with it came Frederick; he rode over more than once to see
me, sometimes accompanied by the Doctor, between whom and myself the
recent loss of my poor daughter Louisa had drawn the cords of sympathy
still closer.

More than two years had flown on in this way, in which Frederick S--
has as many times made temporary visits to his native country. The
time was fast approaching when he was expected to return and finally
take up his residence in England, when the sudden illness of my wife's
father obliged us to take a journey into Lancashire, my old friend,
who had himself a curate, kindly offering to fix his quarters at my
parsonage, and superintend the concerns of my parish till my return.
Alas! when I saw him next he was on the bed of death!

My absence was necessarily prolonged much beyond what I had
anticipated. A letter, with a foreign post-mark, has, as I afterwards
found, been brought over from his own house to my venerable substitute
in the interval, and barely giving himself time to transfer the charge
he had undertaken to a neighbouring clergyman, he had hurried off at
once to Leyden. His arrival there was, however, too late. Frederick
was dead!--killed in a duel, occasioned, it was said, by no ordinary
provocation on his part, although the flight of his antagonist had
added to the mystery which enveloped its origin. The long journey, in
its melancholy termination, and the complete overthrow of all my poor
friend's earthly hopes, were too much for him. He appeared too--as I
was informed by the proprietor of the house in which I found him, when
his summons at length had brought me to his bedside--to have received
some sudden and unaccountable shock, which even the death of his
grandson was inadequate to explain. There was, indeed, a wildness in
his fast-glazing eye, which mingled strangely with the glance of
satisfaction thrown upon me as he pressed my hand; he endeavoured to
raise himself, and would have spoken, but fell back in the effort, and
closed his eyes for ever. I buried him there, by the side of the
object of his more than parental affection--in a foreign land.

It is from the papers that I discovered in his travelling case that I
submit the following extracts, without, however, presuming to advance
an opinion on the strange circumstances which they detail, or even as
to the connexion which some may fancy they discover between different
parts of them.

The first was evidently written at my own house, and bears date August
the 15th, 18--, about three weeks after my own departure for Preston.

It begins thus:--

'Tuesday, August 15.--Poor girl!--I forget who it is that says, "The
real ills of life are light in comparison with fancied evils;" and
certainly the scene I have just witnessed goes some way towards
establishing the truth of the hypothesis. Among the afflictions which
flesh is heir to, a diseased imagination is far from being the
lightest, even when considered separately, and without taking into the
account those bodily pains and sufferings which--so close is the
connexion between mind and matter--are but too frequently attendant
upon any disorder of the fancy. Seldom has my interest been more
powerfully excited than by poor Mary Graham. Her age, her appearance,
her pale, melancholy features, the very contour of her countenance,
all conspire to remind me, but too forcibly, of one who, waking or
sleeping, is never long absent from my thoughts;--but enough of this.

'A fine morning had succeeded one of the most tempestuous nights I
ever remember, and I was just sitting down to a substantial breakfast,
which the care of my friend Ingoldsby's house-keeper, kind-hearted
Mrs. Wilson, had prepared for me, when I was interrupted by a summons
to the sick-bed of a young parishioner whom I had frequently seen in
my walks, and had remarked for the regularity of her attendance at
Divine worship. Mary Graham is the elder of two daughters, residing
with their mother, the widow of an attorney, who, dying suddenly in
the prime of life, left his family but slenderly provided for. A
strict though not parsimonious economy has, however, enabled them to
live with an appearance of respectability and comfort; and from the
personal attractions which both girls possess, their mother is
evidently not without hopes of seeing one, at least, of them
advantageously settled in life. As far as poor Mary is concerned, I
fear she is doomed to inevitable disappointment, as I am much mistaken
if consumption has not laid its wasting finger upon her; while this
last recurrence, of what I cannot but believe to be a formidable
epileptic attack, threatens to shake out, with even added velocity,
the little sand that may yet remain within the hour-glass of time. Her
very delusion, too, is of such a nature as, by adding to bodily
illness the agitation of superstitious terror, can scarcely fail to
accelerate the catastrophe, which I think I see fast approaching.

'Before I was introduced into the sick-room, her sister, who had been
watching my arrival from the window, took me into their little
parlour, and, after the usual civilities, began to prepare me for the
visit I was about to pay. Her countenance was marked at once with
trouble and alarm, and in a low tone of voice, which some internal
emotion, rather than the fear of disturbing the invalid in a distant
room, had subdued almost to a whisper, informed me that my presence
was become necessary, not more as a clergyman than a magistrate; that
the disorder with which her sister had, during the night, been so
suddenly and unaccountably seized, was one of no common kind, but
attended with circumstances which, coupled with the declarations of
the sufferer, took it out of all ordinary calculations, and, to use
her own expression, that "malice was at the bottom of it."

'Naturally supposing that these insinuations were intended to intimate
the partaking of some deleterious substance on the part of the
invalid, I inquired what reason she had for imagining, in the first
place, that anything of a poisonous nature had been administered at
all; and, secondly, what possible incitement any human being could
have for the perpetration of so foul a deed towards so innocent and
unoffending an individual? Her answer considerably relieved the
apprehensions I had begun to entertain lest the poor girl should, from
some unknown cause, have herself been attempting to rush uncalled into
the presence of her Creator; at the same time, it surprised me not a
little by its apparent want of rationality and common sense. She had
no reason to believe, she said, that her sister had taken poison, or
that any attempt upon her life had been made, or was, perhaps,
contemplated, but that "still malice was at work--the malice of
villains and fiends, or of both combined; that no causes purely
natural would suffice to account for the state in which her sister had
been now twice placed, or for the dreadful sufferings she had
undergone while in that state;" and that she was determined the whole
affair should undergo a thorough investigation. Seeing that the poor
girl was now herself labouring under a great degree of excitement, I
did not think it necessary to enter at that moment into a discussion
upon the absurdity of her opinion, but applied myself to the
tranquillising of her mind by assurances of a proper inquiry, and then
drew her attention to the symptoms of the indisposition, and the way
in which it had made its first appearance.

'The violence of the storm last night had, I found, induced the whole
family to sit up far beyond their usual hour, till, wearied out at
length, and, as their mother observed, "tired of burning fire and
candle to no purpose," they repaired to their several chambers.

'The sisters occupied the same room; Elizabeth was already at her
humble toilet, and had commenced the arrangement of her hair for the
night, when her attention was at once drawn from her employment by a
half-smothered shriek and exclamation from her sister, who, in her
delicate state of health, had found walking up two flights of stairs,
perhaps a little more quickly than usual, an exertion, to recover from
which she had seated herself in a large arm-chair.

'Turning hastily at the sound, she perceived Mary deadly pale,
grasping, as it were convulsively, each arm of the chair which
supported her, and bending forward in the attitude of listening; her
lips were trembling, and bloodless, cold drops of perspiration stood
upon her forehead, and in an instant after, exclaiming in a piercing
tone, "Hark! they are calling me again! it is--it is the same voice;
Oh, no, no!--Oh my God! save me, Betsy--hold me--save me!" she fell
forward upon the floor. Elizabeth flew to her assistance, raised her,
and by her cries brought both her mother, who had not yet got into
bed, and their only servant-girl, to her aid. The latter was
despatched at once for medical help; but, from the appearance of the
sufferer, it was much to be feared that she would soon be beyond the
reach of art. Her agonised parent and sister succeeded in bearing her
between them and placing her on a bed; a faint and intermittent
pulsation was for a while perceptible; but in a few moments a general
shudder shook the whole body; the pulse ceased, the eyes became fixed
and glassy, the jaw dropped, a cold clamminess usurped the place of
the genial warmth of life. Before Mr. I--arrived everything announced
that dissolution had taken place, and that the freed spirit had
quitted its mortal tenement.

'The appearance of the surgeon confirmed their worst apprehensions; a
vein was opened, but the blood refused to flow, and Mr. I--pronounced
that the vital spark was indeed extinguished.

'The poor mother, whose attachment to her children was perhaps the
more powerful, as they were the sole relatives or connexions she had
in the world, was overwhelmed with a grief amounting almost to frenzy;
it was with difficulty that she was removed to her own room by the
united strength of her daughter and medical adviser. Nearly an hour
had elapsed during the endeavour at calming her transports; they had
succeeded, however, to a certain extent, and Mr. I--had taken his
leave, when Elizabeth, re-entering the bedchamber in which her sister
lay, in order to pay the last sad duties to her corpse, was horror-
struck at seeing a crimson stream of blood running down the side of
the counterpane to the floor. Her exclamation brought the girl again
to her side, when it was perceived, to their astonishment, that the
sanguine stream proceeded from the arm of the body, which was now
manifesting signs of returning life. The half-frantic mother flew to
the room, and it was with difficulty that they could prevent her, in
her agitation, from so acting as to extinguish for ever the hope which
had begun to rise in their bosoms. A long-drawn sigh, amounting almost
to a groan, followed by several convulsive gaspings, was the prelude
to the restoration of the animal functions in poor Mary: a shriek,
almost preternaturally loud, considering her state of exhaustion,
succeeded; but she did recover, and, with the help of restoratives,
was well enough towards morning to express a strong desire that I
should be sent for--a desire the more readily complied with, inasmuch
as the strange expressions and declarations she had made since her
restoration to consciousness, had filled her sister with the most
horrible suspicions. The nature of these suspicions was such as would,
at any other time, perhaps, have raised a smile upon my lips; but the
distress, and even agony of the poor girl, as she half-hinted and
half-expressed them, were such as entirely to preclude every sensation
at all approaching to mirth. Without endeavouring, therefore, to
combat ideas, evidently too strongly impressed upon her mind at the
moment to admit of present refutation, I merely used a few encouraging
words, and requested her to precede me to the sick chamber.

'The invalid was lying on the outside of the bed, partly dressed, and
wearing a white dimity wrapping-gown, the colour of which corresponded
but too well with the deadly paleness of her complexion. Her cheek was
wan and sunken, giving an extraordinary prominence to her eye, which
gleamed with a lustrous brilliancy not unfrequently characteristic of
the aberration of intellect. I took her hand; it was chill and clammy,
the pulse feeble and intermittent, and the general debility of her
frame was such that I would fain have persuaded her to defer any
conversation which, in her present state, she might not be equal to
support. Her positive assurance that, until she had disburdened
herself of what she called her "dreadful secret," she could know no
rest either of mind or body, at length induced me to comply with her
wish, opposition to which, in her then frame of mind, might perhaps be
attended with even worse effects than its indulgence. I bowed
acquiescence, and in a low and faltering voice, with frequent
interruptions, occasioned by her weakness, she gave me the following
singular account of the sensations which, she averred, had been
experienced by her during her trance.

'"This, sir," she began, "is not the first time that the cruelty of
others has, for what purpose I am unable to conjecture, put me to a
degree of torture which I can compare to no suffering, either of body
or mind, which I have ever before experienced. On a former occasion I
was willing to believe it the mere effect of a hideous dream, or what
is vulgarly termed the nightmare; but this repetition, and the
circumstances under which I was last summoned, at a time, too, when I
had not even composed myself to rest, fatally convince me of the
reality of what I have seen and suffered.'

'"This is no time for concealment of any kind. It is now more than a
twelvemonth since I was in the habit of occasionally encountering in
my walks a young man of prepossessing appearance and gentlemanly
deportment. He was always alone, and generally reading; but I could
not be long in doubt that these rencounters, which became every week
more frequent, were not the effect of accident, or that his attention,
when we did meet, was less directed to his book than to my sister or
myself. He even seemed to wish to address us, and I have no doubt
would have taken some other opportunity of doing so, had not one been
afforded him by a strange dog attacking us one Sunday morning in our
way to church, which he beat off, and made use of this little service
to promote an acquaintance. His name, he said, was Francis Somers, and
added that he was on a visit to a relation of the same name, resident
a few miles from X--. He gave us to understand that he was himself
studying surgery with the view to a medical appointment in one of the
colonies. You are not to suppose, sir, that he had entered thus into
his concerns at the first interview; it was not till our acquaintance
had ripened, and he had visited our house more than once with my
mother's sanction, that these particulars were elicited. He never
disguised, from the first, that an attachment to myself was his object
originally in introducing himself to our notice. As his prospects were
comparatively flattering, my mother did not raise any impediment to
his attentions, and I own I received them with pleasure.'

'"Days and weeks elapsed; and although the distance at which his
relation resided prevented the possibility of an uninterrupted
intercourse, yet neither was it so great as to preclude his frequent
visits. The interval of a day, or at most of two, was all that
intervened, and these temporary absences certainly did not decrease
the pleasure of the meetings with which they terminated. At length a
pensive expression began to exhibit itself upon his countenance, and I
could not but remark that at every visit he became more abstracted and
reserved. The eye of affection is not slow to detect any symptom of
uneasiness in a quarter dear to it. I spoke to him, questioned him on
the subject; his answer was evasive, and I said no more. My mother,
too, however, had marked the same appearance of melancholy, and
pressed him more strongly. He at length admitted that his spirits were
depressed, and that their depression was caused by the necessity of an
early, though but a temporary, separation. His uncle, and only friend,
he said, had long insisted on his spending some months on the
Continent, with the view of completing his professional education, and
that the time was now fast approaching when it would be necessary for
him to commence his journey. A look made the inquiry which my tongue
refused to utter. 'Yes, dearest Mary,' was his reply, 'I have
communicated our attachment to him, partially at least; and though I
dare not say that the intimation was received as I could have wished,
yet I have, perhaps, on the whole, no fair reason to be dissatisfied
with his reply.'

'"'The completion of my studies, and my settlement in the world, must,
my uncle told me, be the first consideration; when these material
points were achieved, he should not interfere with any arrangement
that might be found essential to my happiness; at the same time he has
positively refused to sanction any engagement at present, which may,
he says, have a tendency to divert my attention from those pursuits,
on the due prosecution of which my future situation in life may
depend. A compromise between love and duty was eventually wrung from
me, though reluctantly; I have pledged myself to proceed immediately
to my destination abroad, with a full understanding that on my return,
a twelvemonth hence, no obstacle shall be thrown in the way of what
are, I trust, our mutual wishes.'

'"I will not attempt to describe the feelings with which I received
this communication, nor will it be necessary to say anything of what
passed at the few interviews which took place before Francis quitted
X--. The evening immediately previous to that of his departure he
passed in this house, and, before we separated, renewed his
protestations of an unchangeable affection, requiring a similar
assurance from me in return. I did not hesitate to make it. 'Be
satisfied, my dear Francis,' said I, 'that no diminution in the regard
I have avowed can ever take place, and though absent in body, my heart
and soul will still be with you.'--'Swear this,' he cried, with a
suddenness and energy which surprised, and rather startled me:
'promise that you will be with me in spirit, at least, when I am far
away.' I gave him my hand, but that was not sufficient. 'One of these
dark shining ringlets, my dear Mary,' said he, 'as a pledge that you
will not forget your vow!' I suffered him to take the scissors from my
work-box and to sever a lock of my hair, which he placed in his
bosom.--The next day he was pursuing his journey, and the waves were
already bearing him from England.

'"I had letters from him repeatedly during the first three months of
his absence; they spoke of his health, his prospects, and of his love,
but by degrees the intervals between each arrival became longer, and I
fancied I perceived some falling off from that warmth of expression
which had at first characterised his communications.'

'"One night I had retired to rest rather later than usual, having sat
by the bedside, comparing his last brief note with some of his earlier
letters, and was endeavouring to convince myself that my apprehensions
of his fickleness were unfounded, when an undefinable sensation of
restlessness and anxiety seized upon me. I cannot compare it to
anything I had ever experienced before; my pulse fluttered, my heart
beat with a quickness and violence which alarmed me, and a strange
tremor shook my whole frame. I retired hastily to bed, in hopes of
getting rid of so unpleasant a sensation, but in vain; a vague
apprehension of I know not what occupied my mind, and vainly did I
endeavour to shake it off. I can compare my feelings to nothing but
those which we sometimes experience when about to undertake a long and
unpleasant journey leaving those we love behind us. More than once did
I raise myself in my bed and listen, fancying that I heard myself
called, and on each of those occasions the fluttering of my heart
increased. Twice I was on the point of calling to my sister, who then
slept in an adjoining room, but she had gone to bed indisposed, and an
unwillingness to disturb either her or my mother checked me; the large
clock in the room below at this moment began to strike the hour of
twelve. I distinctly heard its vibrations, but ere its sounds had
ceased, a burning heat, as if a hot iron had been applied to my
temple, was succeeded by a dizziness,--a swoon,--a total loss of
consciousness as to where or in what situation I was.'

'"A pain, violent, sharp, and piercing, as though my whole frame were
lacerated by some keen-edged weapon, roused me from this stupor,--but
where was I? Everything was strange around me--a shadowy dimness
rendered every object indistinct and uncertain; methought, however,
that I was seated in a large, antique, high-backed chair, several of
which were near, their tall black carved frames and seats interwoven
with a lattice-work of cane. The apartment in which I sat was one of
moderate dimensions, and from its sloping roof, seemed to be the upper
story of the edifice, a fact confirmed by the moon shining without, in
full effulgence, on a huge round tower, which its light rendered
plainly visible through the open casement, and the summit of which
appeared but little superior in elevation to the room I occupied.
Rather to the right, and in the distance, the spire of some cathedral
or lofty church was visible, while sundry gable-ends, and tops of
houses, told me I was in the midst of a populous but unknown city.'

'"The apartment itself had something strange in its appearance; and,
in the character of its furniture and appurtenances, bore little or no
resemblance to any I had ever seen before. The fireplace was large and
wide, with a pair of what are sometimes called andirons, betokening
that wood was the principal, if not the only fuel consumed within its
recess; a fierce fire was now blazing in it, the light from which
rendered visible to most remotest parts of the chamber. Over a lofty
old-fashioned mantle-piece, carved heavily in imitation of fruits and
flowers, hung the half-length portrait of a gentleman, in a dark-
coloured foreign habit, with a peaked beard and mustaches, one hand
resting upon a table, the other supporting a sort of baton, or short
military staff, the summit of which was surmounted by a silver falcon.
Several antique chairs, similar in appearance to those already
mentioned, surrounded a massive oaken table, the length of which much
exceeded its width. At the lower end of this piece of furniture stood
the chair I occupied; on the upper, was placed a small chafing-dish
filled with burning coals, and darting forth occasionally long flashes
of various coloured fire, the brilliance of which made itself visible,
even above the strong illumination emitted from the chimney. Two huge,
black, japanned cabinets, with clawed feet, reflecting from their
polished surfaces the effulgence of the flame, were placed one on each
side the casement-window to which I have alluded, and with a few
shelves loaded with books, may of which were strewed in disorder on
the floor, completed the list of furniture in the apartment. Some
strange-looking instruments, of unknown form and purpose, lay on the
table near the chafing-dish, on the other side of which a miniature
portrait of myself hung, reflected by a small oval mirror in a dark-
coloured frame, while a large open volume, traced with strange
characters of the colour of blood, lay in front; a goblet, containing
a few drops of liquid of the same ensanguined hue, was by its side.'

'"But of the objects which I have endeavoured to describe, none
arrested my attention so forcibly as two others. These were the
figures of two young men, in the prime of life, only separated from me
by the table. They were dressed alike, each in a long flowing gown,
made of some sad-coloured stuff, and confined at the waist by a
crimson girdle; one of them, the shorter of the two, was occupied in
feeding the embers of the chafing-dish with a resinous powder, which
produced and maintained a brilliant but flickering blaze, to the
action of which his companion was exposing a long lock of dark
chestnut hair, that shrank and shrivelled as it approached the flame.
But, O God!--that hair!--and the form of him who held it! that face!
those features! not for one instant could I entertain a doubt--it was
He! Francis!--the lock he grasped was mine, the very pledge of
affection I had given him, and still, as it partially encountered the
fire, a burning heat seemed to scorch the temple from which it had
been taken, conveying a torturing sensation that affected my very

'"How shall I proceed?--but no, it is impossible,--not even to you,
sir, can I--dare I--recount the proceedings of that unhallowed night
of horror and of shame. Were my life extended to a term commensurate
with that of the Patriarchs of old, never could its detestable, its
damning pollutions be effaced from my remembrance; and oh! above all,
never could I forget the diabolical glee which sparkled in the eyes of
my fiendish tormentors, as they witnessed the worse than useless
struggles of their miserable victim. Oh! why was it not permitted me
to take refuge in unconsciousness--nay, in death itself, from the
abominations of which I was compelled to be, not only a witness, but a
partaker? But it is enough, sir; I will not further shock your nature
by dwelling longer on a scene, the full horrors of which, words, if I
even dared employ any, would be inadequate to express; suffice it to
say, that after being subjected to it, how long I knew not, but
certainly for more than an hour, a noise from below seemed to alarm my
persecutors; a pause ensued,--the lights were extinguished,--and, as
the sound of a footstep ascending a staircase became more distinct, my
forehead felt again the excruciating sensation of heat, while the
embers, kindling into a momentary flame, betrayed another portion of
the ringlet consuming in the blaze. Fresh agonies succeeded, not less
severe, and of a similar description to those which had seized upon me
at first; oblivion again followed, and on being at length restored to
consciousness, I found myself as you see me now, faint and exhausted,
weakened in every limb, and every fibre quivering with agitation. My
groans soon brought my sister to my aid; it was long before I could
summon resolution to confide, even to her, the dreadful secret, and
when I had done so, her strongest efforts were not wanting to persuade
me that I had been labouring under a severe attack of nightmare. I
ceased to argue, but I was not convinced: the whole scene was then too
present, too awfully real, to permit me to doubt the character of the
transaction; and if, when a few days had elapsed, the hopelessness of
imparting to others the conviction I entertained myself, produced in
me an apparent acquiescence with their opinion, I have never been the
less satisfied that no cause reducible to the known laws of nature
occasioned my sufferings on that hellish evening. Whether that firm
belief might have eventually yielded to time, whether I might at
length have been brought to consider all that had passed, and the
circumstances which I could never cease to remember, as a mere
phantasm, the offspring of a heated imagination, acting upon an
enfeebled body, I know not--last night, however, would in any case
have dispelled the flattering illusion--last night--last night was the
whole horrible scene acted over again. The place--the actors--the
whole infernal apparatus were the same;--the same insults, the same
torments, the same brutalities--all were renewed, save that the period
of my agony was not so prolonged. I became sensible to an incision in
my arm, though the hand that made it was not visible; at the same
moment my persecutors paused; they were manifestly disconcerted, and
the companion of him, whose name shall never more pass my lips,
muttered something to his abettor in evident agitation; the formula of
an oath of horrible import was dictated to me in terms fearfully
distinct. I refused it unhesitatingly; again and again was it
proposed, with menaces I tremble to think on--but I refused; the same
sound was heard--interruption was evidently apprehended--the same
ceremony was hastily repeated, and I again found myself released,
lying on my own bed, with my mother and my sister weeping over me. O
God! O God! when and how is this to end? When will my spirit be left
in peace?--Where, or with whom shall I find refuge?"'

'It is impossible to convey any adequate idea of the emotions with
which this unhappy girl's narrative affected me. It must not be
supposed that her story was delivered in the same continuous and
uninterrupted strain in which I have transcribed its substance. On the
contrary, it was not without frequent intervals, of longer or shorter
duration, that her account was brought to a conclusion; indeed, many
passages of her strange dream were not without the greatest difficulty
and reluctance communicated at all. My task was no easy one; never, in
the course of a long life spent in the active duties of my Christian
calling,--never had I been summoned to such a conference before.'

'To the half-avowed, and palliated confession of committed guilt I had
often listened, and pointed out the only road to secure its
forgiveness. I had succeeded in cheering the spirit of despondency,
and sometimes even in calming the ravings of despair; but here I had a
different enemy to combat, an ineradicable prejudice to encounter,
evidently backed by no common share of superstition, and confirmed by
the mental weakness attendant upon severe bodily pain. To argue the
sufferer out of an opinion so rooted was a hopeless attempt. I did,
however, essay it; I spoke to her of the strange and mysterious
connexion maintained between our waking images and those which haunt
us in our dreams, and more especially during that morbid oppression
commonly called nightmare. I was even enabled to adduce myself as a
strong and living instance of the excess to which fancy sometimes
carries her freaks on those occasions; while, by an odd coincidence,
the impression made upon my own mind, which I adduced as an example,
bore no slight resemblance to her own. I stated to her, that on my
recovery from the fit of epilepsy, which had attacked me about two
years since, just before my grandson Frederick left Oxford, it was
with the greatest difficulty that I could persuade myself that I had
not visited him, during the interval, in his rooms at Brazenose, and
even conversed with himself and his friend W--, seated in his arm-
chair, and gazing through the window full upon the statue of Cain, as
it stands in the centre of the quadrangle. I told her of the pain I
underwent both at the commencement and termination of my attack; of
the extreme lassitude that succeeded; but my efforts were all in vain:
she listened to me, indeed, with an interest almost breathless,
especially when I informed her of my having actually experienced the
very burning sensation in the brain alluded to, no doubt a strong
attendant symptom of this peculiar affection, and a proof of the
identity of the complaint: but I could plainly perceive that I failed
entirely in shaking the rooted opinion which possessed her, that her
spirit had, by some nefarious and unhallowed means, been actually
subtracted for a time from its earthly tenement.'

* * * * *

The next extract which I shall give from my old friend's memoranda is
dated August 24th, more than a week subsequent to his first visit at
Mrs. Graham's. He appears, from his papers, to have visited the poor
young woman more than once during the interval, and to have afforded
her those spiritual consolations which no one was more capable of
communicating. His patient, for so in a religious sense she may well
be termed, had been sinking under the agitation she had experienced;
and the constant dread she was under of similar sufferings, operated
so strongly on a frame already enervated that life at length seemed to
hang only by a thread. His papers go on to say--

'I have just seen poor Mary Graham--I fear for the last time. Nature
is evidently quite worn out; she is aware that she is dying, and looks
forward to the termination of her existence here, not only with
resignation but with joy. It is clear that her dream, or what she
persists in calling her "subtraction," has much to do with this. For
the last three days her behaviour has been altered; she has avoided
conversing on the subject of her delusion, and seems to wish that I
should consider her as a convert to my view of her case. This may,
perhaps, be partly owing to the flippancies of her medical attendant
upon the subject, for Mr. I--has, somehow or other, got an inkling
that she has been much agitated by a dream, and thinks to laugh off
the impression--in my opinion injudiciously; but though a skilful, and
a kind-hearted, he is a young man, and of a disposition, perhaps,
rather too mercurial for the chamber of a nervous invalid. Her manner
has since been much more reserved to both of us: in my case, probably
because she suspects me of betraying her secret.'

* * * * *

August 26th.--Mary Graham is yet alive, but sinking fast; her
cordiality towards me has returned since her sister confessed
yesterday that she had herself told Mr. I--that his patient's mind
"had been affected by a terrible vision." I am evidently restored to
her confidence.--She asked me this morning, with much earnestness,
"What I believed to be the state of departed spirits during the
interval between dissolution and the final day of account? And whether
I thought they would be safe, in another world, from the influence of
wicked persons employing an agency more than human?" Poor child! One
cannot mistake the prevailing bias of her mind. Poor child!

* * * * *

August 27th.--It is nearly over; she is sinking rapidly, but quietly
and without pain. I have jus administered to her the sacred elements,
of which her mother partook. Elizabeth declined doing the same: she
cannot, she says, yet bring herself to forgive the villain who has
destroyed her sister. It is singular that she, a young woman of good
plain sense in ordinary matters, should so easily adopt, and so
pertinaciously retain, a superstition so puerile and ridiculous. This
must be a matter of a future conversation between us; at present, with
the form of the dying girl before her eyes, it were vain to argue with
her. The mother, I find, has written to young Somers, stating the
dangerous situation of his affianced wife; indignant, as she justly
is, at his long silence, it is fortunate that she has no knowledge of
the suspicions entertained by her daughter. I have seen her letter; it
is addressed to Mr. Francis Somers, in the Hogewoert, at Leyden--a
fellow student, then, of Frederick's. I must remember to inquire if he
is acquainted with this young man.'

* * * * *

Mary Graham, it appears, died the same night. Before her departure,
she repeated to my friend the singular story she had before told him,
without any material variation from the detail she had formerly given.
To the last she persisted in believing that her unworthy lover had
practised upon her by forbidden arts. She once more described the
apartment with great minuteness, and even the person of Francis's
alleged companion, who was, she said, about the middle height, hard-
featured, with a rather remarkable scar upon his left cheek, extending
in a transverse direction from below the eye to the nose. Several
pages of my reverend friend's manuscript are filled with reflections
upon this extraordinary confession, which, joined with its melancholy
termination, seems to have produced no common effect upon him. He
alludes to more than one subsequent discussion with the surviving
sister, and piques himself on having made some progress in convincing
her of the folly of her theory respecting the origin and nature of the
illness itself.

His memoranda on this, and other subjects, are continued till about
the middle of Spetember, when a break ensues, occasioned, no doubt, by
the unwelcome news of his grandson's dangerous state, which induces
him to set out forthwith for Holland. His arrival at Leyden was, as I
have already said, too late. Frederick S--had expired after thirty
hours' intense suffering, from a wound received in a duel with a
brother student. The cause of the quarrel was variously related; but
according to his landlord's version, it had originated in some silly
dispute about a dream of his antagonist's, who had been the
challenger. Such, at least, was the account given to him, as he said,
by Frederick's friend and fellow-lodger, W--, who had acted as second
on the occasion, thus acquitting himself of an obligation of the same
kind due to the deceased, whose services he had put in requisition
about a year before on a similar occasion, when he had himself been
severely wounded in the face.

From the same authority I learned that my poor friend was much
affected on finding that his arrival had been deferred too long. Every
attention was shown him by the proprietor of the house, a respctable
tradesman, and a chamber was prepared for his accommodation; the
books, and few effects of his deceased grandson, were delivered over
to him, duly inventoried, and, late as it was in the evening when he
reached Leyden, he insisted on being conducted immediately to the
apartments which Frederick had occupied, there to indulge the first
ebullitions of his sorrows, before he retired to his own. Madame
Mller accordingly led the way to an upper room, which, being situated
at the top of the house, had been, from its privacy and distance from
the street, been selected by Frederick as his study. The Doctor
entered, and taking the lamp from his conductress motioned to be left
alone. His implied wish was of course complied with: and nearly two
hours had elapsed before his kindhearted hostess reascended, in the
hope of prevailing upon him to return with her, and partake of that
refreshment which he had in the first instance peremptorily declined.
Her application for admission was unnoticed:--she repeated it more
than once, without success; then becoming somewhat alarmed at the
continued silence, opened the door and perceived her new inmate
stretched on the floor in a fainting fit. Restoratives were instantly
administered, and prompt medical aid succeeded at length in restoring
him to consciousness. But his mind had received a shock from which,
during the few weeks he survived, it never entirely recovered. His
thoughts wandered perpetually: and though, from the very slight
acquaintance which his hosts had with the English language, the
greater part of what fell from him remained unknown, yet enough was
understood to induce them to believe that something more than the mere
death of his grandson had contributed thus to paralyse his faculties.

When his situation was first discovered, a small miniature was found
tightly grasped in his right hand. It had been the property of
Frederick, and had more than once been seen by the Mllers in his
possession. To this the patient made continued reference, and would
not suffer it one moment from his sight: it was in his hand when he
expired. At my request it was produced to me. The portrait was of a
young woman, in an English morning dress, whose pleasing and regular
features, with their mild and somewhat pensive expression, were not, I
thought, altogether unknown to me. Her age was apparently about
twenty. A profusion of dark chestnut hair was arranged in the Madonna
style, above a brow of unsullied whiteness, a single ringlet depending
on the left side. A glossy lock of the same colour, and evidently
belonging to the original, appeared beneath a small crystal, inlaid in
the back of the picture, which was plainly set in gold, and bore in a
cypher the letters M.G. with the date 18--. From the inspection of
this portrait, I could at the time collect nothing, nor from that of
the Doctor himself, which, also, I found the next morning in
Frederick's desk, accompanied by two separate portions of hair. One of
them was a lock, short, and deeply tinged with grey, and had been
taken, I have little doubt, from the head of my old friend himself;
the other corresponded in colour and appearance with that of the back
of the miniature. It was not until a few days had elapsed, and I had
seen the worthy Doctor's remains quietly consigned to the narrow
house, that while arranging his papers previous to my intended return
upon the morrow, I encountered the narrative I have already
transcribed. The name of the unfortunate young woman connected with it
forcibly arrested my attention. I recollected it immediately as one
belonging to a parishioner of my own, and at once recognised the
original of the female portrait as its owner.

I rose not from the perusal of his very singular statement till I had
gone through the whole of it. It was late,--and the rays of the single
lamp by which I was reading did but very faintly illumine the remoter
parts of the room in which I sat. The brilliancy of an unclouded
November moon, then some twelve nights old, and shining full into the
apartment, did much towards remedying the defect. My thoughts filled
with the melancholy details I had read, I rose and walked to the
window. The beautiful planet rose high in the firmament, and gave to
the snowy roofs of the houses, and pendant icicles, all the sparkling
radiance of clustering gems. The stillness of the scene harmonized
well with the state of my feelings. I threw open the casement and
looked abroad. Far below me, the waters of the principal canal shone
like a broad mirror in the moonlight. To the left rose the Burght, a
huge round tower of remarkable appearance, pierced with embrasures at
its summit; while a little to the right and in the distance, the spire
and pinnacles of the Cathedral of Leyden rose in all their majesty,
presenting a coup d'oueil of surpassing beauty. To a spectator of
calm, unoccupied mind, the scene would have been delightful. On me it
acted with an electric effect. I turned hastily to survey the
apartment in which I had been sitting. It was the one designated as
the study of the late Frederick S--. The sides of the room were
covered with dark wainscot; the spacious fireplace opposite to me,
with its polished andirons, was surmounted by a large old-fashioned
mantlepiece, heavily carved in the Dutch style with fruits and
flowers; above it frowned a portrait, in a Vandyke dress, with a
peaked beard and mustaches; one hand of the figure rested on a table,
while the other bore a marshal's staff, surmounted with a silver
falcon; and--either my imagination, already heated by the scene,
deceived me,--or a smile as of a malicious triumph curled the lip and
glared in the cold leaden eye that seemed fixed upon my own. The
heavy, antique, cane-backed chairs,--the large oaken table,--the
bookshelves, the scattered volumes--all, all, were there; while, to
complete the picture, to my right and left, as half-breathless I
leaned my back against the casement, rose, on each side, a tall, dark,
ebony cabinet, in whose polished sides the single lamp upon the table
shone reflected as in a mirror.

* * * * *

What am I to think?--Can it be that the story I have been reading was
written by my poor friend here, and under the influence of delirium?--
Impossible! Besides they all assure me, that from the fatal night of
his arrival he never left his bed--never put pen to paper. His very
directions to have me summoned from England were verbally given,
during one of those few and brief intervals in which reason seemed
partially to resume her sway. Can it then be possible that--? W--?
where is he who alone may be able to throw light on this horrible
mystery? No one knows. He absconded, it seems immediately after the
duel. No trace of him exists, nor, after repeated and anxious
inquiries, can I find that any student has ever been known in the
University of Leyden by the name Francis Somers.

'There are more things in heaven and earth
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy!!'


'He won't--won't he? Then bring me my boots!' said the Baron.

Consternation was at its height in the castle of Shurland--a caitiff
had dared to disobey the Baron! and--the Baron had called for his

A few days before, a notable miracle had been wrought in the
nieghbourhood; and in those times miracles were not so common as they
are now; no royal balloons, no steam, no railroads,--while the few
Saints who took the trouble to walk with their heads under their arms,
or to pull the Devil by the nose, scarcely appeared above once in a
century;--so the affair made the greater sensation.

The clock had done striking twelve, and the Clerk of Chatham was
untrussing his points preparatory to seeking his truckle-bed; a half-
emptied tankard of mild ale stood at his elbow, the roasted crab yet
floating on its surface. Midnight had surprised the worthy functionary
while occupied in dliscussing it, and with his task yet
unaccomplished. He meditated a mighty draft: one hand was fumbling
with his tags, while the other was extended in the act of grasping the
jorum, when a knock on the portal, solemn and sonorous, arrested his
fingers. It was repeated thrice ere Emmanuel Saddleton had presence of
mind sufficient to inquire who sought admittance at that untimeous

'Open! open! good Clerk of St. Bridget's,' said a female voice small,
yet distinct and sweet--an excellent thing in woman.

The Clerk arose, crossed to the doorway, and undid the latchet.

On the threshold stood a Lady of surpassing beauty: her robes wore
rich, and large, and full; and a diadem, sparkling with gems that shed
a halo around, crowned her brow: she beckoned the Clerk as he stood in
astonishment before her.

'Emmanuel!' said the Lady; and her tones sounded like those of a
silver flute. 'Emmanuel Saddleton,' truss up your points, and follow

The worthy Clerk stood aghast at the vision; the purple robe, the
cymar, the coronet,--above all, the smile; no, there was no mistaking
her; it was the blessed Saint Bridget herself!

And what could have brought the sainted Lady out of her warm shrine at
such a time of night? and on such a night? for it was as dark as
pitch, and metaphroically speaking, 'rained cats and dogs.'

Emmanuel could not speak, so he looked the question.

'No matter for that,' said the saint, answering to his thought. 'No
matter for that, Emmanuel Saddleton; only follow me, and you'll see!'

The Clerk turned a wistful eye at the corner cupboard.

'Oh! never mind the lantern, Emmanuel: you'll not want it: bring a
mattock and a shovel.' As she spoke, the apparition held up her
delicate hand. From the tip of each of her long taper fingers issued a
lambent flame of such surpassing brilliancy as would have plunged a
whole gas company into despair--it was a 'Hand of Glory,' such a one
as tradition tells us yet burns in Rochester Castle every St. Mark's
Eve. Many are the daring individuals who have watched Gundolf's Tower,
hoping to find it, and the treasure it guards;--but none of them ever

'This way, Emmanuel!' and a flame of peculiar radiance streamed from
her little finger as it pointed to the pathway leading to the

Saddleton shouldered his tools, and followed in silence.

The cemetery of Saint Bridget's was some half-mile distant from the
Clerk's domicile, and adjoined a chapel dedicated to that illustrious
lady, who, after leading but a so-so life, died in the odour of
sanctity. Emmanuel Saddleton was fat and scant of breath, the mattock
was heavy, and the Saint walked too fast for him: he paused to take
second wind at the end of the first furlong.

'Emmanuel,' said the holy lady, good-humouredly, for she heard him
puffing; 'rest awhile, Emmanuel, and I'll tell you what I want with

Her auditor wiped his brow with the back of his hand, and looked all
attention and obedience.

'Emmanuel,' continued she, 'what did you and Father Fothergill, and
the rest of you, mean yesterday by burying that drowned man so close
to me? He died in mortal sin, Emmanuel; no shrift, no unction, no
absolution: why, he might as well have been excommunicated. He plagues
me with his grinning, and I can't have any peace in my shrine. You
must howk him up again, Emmanuel!'

'To be sure, madam,--my lady,--that is, your holiness,' stammered
Saddleton, trembling at the thought of the task assigned him. 'To be
sure, your ladyship; only--that is--'

'Emmanuel,' said the saint, 'you'll do my bidding; or it would be
better you had! and her eye changed from a dove's eye to that of a
hawk, and a flash came from it as bright as the one from her little
finger. The Clerk shook in his shoes; and, again dashing the cold
perspiration from his brow, followed the footsteps of his mysterious

* * * * *

The next morning all Chatham was in an uproar. The Clerk of St.
Bridget's had found himself at home at daybreak, seated in his own
armchair, the fire out, and--the tankard of ale out too! Who had drunk
it?--where had he been?--and how had he got home?--all was a
mystery!--he remembered 'a mass of things, but nothing distinctly;'
all was fog and fantasy. What he could clearly recollect was that he
had dug up the Grinning Sailor, and that the Saint had helped to throw
him into the river again. All was thenceforth wonderment and devotion.
Masses were sung, tapers were kindled, bells were tolled; the monks of
Saint Romuald had a solemn procession, the abbot at their head, the
sacristan at their tail, and the holy breeches of St. Thomas  Beckett
in the centre;--Father Fothergill brewed a XXX puncheon of holy water.
The Rood of Gillingham was deserted; the chapel of Rainham forsaken;
everyone who had a soul to be saved, flocked with his offering to
Saint Bridget's shrine, and Emmanuel Saddleton gathered more fees from
the promiscuous piety of that one week than he had pocketed during the
twelve preceding months.

Meanwhile the corpse of the ejected reprobate oscillated like a
pendulum between Sheerness and Gillingham Reach. Now borne by the
Medway into the Western Swale,--now carried by the fluent tide back to
the vicinity of its old quarters, it seemed as though the River god
and Neptune were amusing themselves with a game of subaqueous
battledore, and had chosen this unfortunate carcass as a marine
shuttlecock. For some time the alternation was kept up with great
spirit, till Boreas, interfering in the shape of a stiffish 'Nor'-
wester,' drifted the bone (and flesh) of contention ashore on the
Shurland domain, where it lay in all the majesty of mud. It was soon
discovered by the retainers, and dragged from its oozy bed, grinning
worse than ever. Tidings of the godsend were of course carried
instantly to the castle; for the Baron was a very great man; and if a
dun cow had flown across his property unannounced by a warder, the
Baron would have kicked him, the said warder, from the topmost
battlement into the bottommost ditch,--a descent of peril, and one
which 'Ludwig the Leaper,' or the illustrious Trenck himself might
well have shrunk from encountering.

'An't please your lordship--' said Peter Periwinkle.

'No, villain! it does not please me!' roared the Baron.

His lordship was deeply engaged with a peck of Feversham oysters,--he
doted on shellfish, hated interruptions at meals, and had not yet
dispatched more than twenty dozens of the 'natives.'

'There's a body, my lord, washed ashore in the lower creek,' said the

The Baron was going to throw the shells at his head; but paused in the
act, and said with much dignity--

'Turn out the fellow's pockets!'

But the defunct had before been subjected to the double scrutiny of
Father Fothergill and the Clerk of St. Bridget! It was ill gleaning
after such hands; there was not a single maravedi.

We have already said that Sir Robert de Shurland, Lord of the Isle of
Sheppey, and of many a fair manor on the mainland, was a man of
worship. He had rights of freewarren, saccage and sockage, cuisage and
jambage, fosse and fork, infang theofe and outfang theofe; and all the
waifs and strays belonged to him in fee simple.

'Turn out his pockets!' said the knight.

'An't please you, my lord, I must say as how they was turned out
afore, and the devil a rap's left.'

'Then bury the blackguard!'

'Please your lordship, he has been buried once.'

'Then bury him again, and be--!' The Baron bestowed a benediction.

The seneschal bowed low as he left the room, and the Baron went on
with his oysters.

Scarcely ten dozen had vanished when Periwinkle reappeared.

'An't please you, my lord, Father Fothergill says as how that it's the
Grinning Sailor, and he won't bury him anyhow.'

Oh! he won't--won't he?' said the Baron. Can it be wondered that he
called for his boots?

Sir Robert de Shurland, Lord of Shurland and Minster, Baron of Sheppey
in comitatukent, was, as has been before hinted, a very great man. He
was also a very little man; that is, he was relatively great, and
relatively little--or physically little, and metaphorically great--
like Sir Sidney Smith and the late M. Bonaparte. To the frame of a
dwarf he united the soul of a giant, and the valour of a gamecock.
Then, for so small a man, his strength was prodigious; his fist would
fell an ox, and his kick--oh! his kick was tremendous, and, when he
had his boots on, would--to use an expression of his own, which he had
picked up in the holy wars--would 'send a man from Jericho to June.'
He was bull-necked and bandy-legged; his chest was broad and deep, his
head large and uncommonly thick, his eyes a little bloodshot, and his
nose retrouss with a remarkably red tip. Strictly speaking, the Baron
could not be called handsome; but his tout ensemble was singularly
impressive; and when he called for his boots, everybody trembled and
dreaded the worst.

'Periwinkle,' said the Baron, as he encased his better leg, 'let the
grave be twenty feet deep!'

Your lordship's command is law.'

'And, Periwinkle' Sir Robert stamped his left heel into its
receptacle--' and, Periwinkle, see that it be wide enough to hold not
exceeding two!'

'Y--y--yes, my lord?'

'And, Periwinkle!--tell Father Fothergill I would fain speak with his

'Y--y--yes, my lord.'

The Baron's beard was peaked; and his moustaches, stiff and stumpy,
projected horizontally like those of a Tom Cat; he twirled the one; he
stroked the other, he drew the buckle of his surcingle a thought
tighter, and strode down the great staircase three steps at a stride.

The vassals were assembled in the great hall of Shurland Castle; every
cheek was pale, every tongue was mute: expectation and perplexity were
visible on every brow. What would his lordship do? Were the recusant
anybody else, gyves to the heels and hemp to the throat were but too
good for him: but it was Father Fothergill who had said 'I won't;' and
though the Baron was a very great man, the rope was a greater; and the
Pope was Father Fothergill's great friend--some people said he was his

Father Fothergill was busy in the refectory trying conclusions with a
venison pasty, when he received the summons of his patron to attend
him in the chapel cemetery. Of course he lost notime obeying it for
obedience was the general rule in Shurland Castle. If anybody ever
said 'I won't,' it was the exception; and like all other exceptions,
only proved the rule the stronger. The Father was a friar of the
Augustine persuasion; a brotherhood which, having been planted in Kent
some few centuries earlier, had taken very kindly to the soil, and
overspread the county much as hops did some few centuries later. He
was plump and portly, a little thick-winded, especially after dinner;
stood five feet four in his sandals; and weighed hard upon eighteen
stone. He was moreover a personage of singular piety; and the iron
girdle, which, he said, he wore under his cassock to mortify withal,
might have been well mistaken for the tire of a cartwheel. When he
arrived, Sir Robert was pacing up and down by the side of a newly
opened grave.

'Benedicite!' fair son '--(the Baron was as brown as a cigar)--
'Benedicite!' said the Chaplain.

The Baron was too angry to stand upon compliment. 'Bury me that
grining caitiff there!' quoth he, pointing to the defunct.

'It may not be, fair son,' said the friar, 'he hath perished without

'Bury the body!' reared Sir Robert

'Water and earth alike reject him,' returned the Chaplain; 'holy St
Bridget herself--'

'Bridget me no Bridgets!--do me thine office quickly, Sir Shaveling!
or, by the Piper that played before Moses--' The oath was a fearful
one; and whenever the Baron swore to do mischief, he was never known
to perjure himself. He was playing with the hilt of his sword. 'Do me
thine office, I say. Give him his passport to Heaven.'

'He is already gone to Hell!' stammered the Friar.

'Then do you go after him!' thundered the Lord of Shurland.

His sword half leaped from its scabbard. No! the trenchant blade, that
had cut Suleman Ben Malek Ben Buckskin from helmet to chine, disdained
to daub itself with the cerebellum of a miserable monk;--it leaped
back again;--and as The Chaplain, scared at its flash, turned him in
terror, the Baron gave him a kick!--one kick!--it was but one!--but
such a one! Despite its obesity, up flew his holy body in an angle of
forty five degrees; then having reached its highest point of
elevation, sunk headlong into the open grave that yawned to receive
it. If the reverend gentleman had possessed such a thing as a neck, he
had infallibly broken it! as he did not, he only dislocated his
vertebrae--but that did quite as well. He was as dead as ditch-water!

'In with the other rascal!' said the Baron; and he was obeyed; for
there he stood in his boots. Mattock and shovel made short work of it;
twenty feet of superincumbent mould pressed dawn alike the saint and
the sinner. 'Now sing a requiem who list!' said the Baron, and his
lordship went back to his oysters.

The vassals at Castle Shurland were astounded, or, as the Seneschal
Hugh better expressed it, 'perfectly conglomerated,' by this event.
What! murder a monk in the odour of sanctity and on consecrated ground
too! They trembled for the health of the Baron's soul. To the
unsophisticated many it seemed that matters could not have been much
worse had he shot a bishop's coach-horse--all looked for some signal
judgment. The melancholy catastrophe of their neighbours at Canterbury
was yet rife in their memories: not two centuries had elapsed since
those miserable sinners had cut off the tail of the blessed St
Thomas's mule. The tail of the mule, it was well known, had been
forthwith affixed to that of the Mayor; and rumour said it had since
been hereditary in the the corporation. The least that could be
expected was, that Sir Robert should have a friar tacked on to his for
the term of his natural life! Some bolder spirits there were, 'tis
true who viewed the matter in various lights, according to their
different temperaments and positions; for perfect unanimity existed
not even in the good old times. The verderer, roistering Hob Roebuck,
swore roundly, 'Twere as good a deed as eat to kick down the chapel as
well as the monk.' Hob had stood there in a white sheet for kissing
Giles Miller's daughter. On the other hand, Simpkin Agnew, the bell-
ringer, doubted if the devil's cellar, which runs under the bottomless
abyss, were quite deep enough for the delinquent, and speculated on
the probability of a hole being dug in it for his especial
accommodation. The philosophers and economists thought, with Saunders
McBullock, the Baron's bagpiper, that a 'feckless monk more or less
was nae great subject for a clamjamphry,' especially as the supply
considerably exceeded the demand; while Malthouse, the tapster, was
arguing to Dame Martin that a murder now and then was a seasonable
check to population, without which the Isle of Sheppey would in time
be devoured, like a mouldy cheese, by inhabitants of its own
producing. Meanwhile, the Baron ate his oysters, and thought no more
of the matter.

But this tranquillity of his lordship was not to last. A couple of
Saints had been seriously offended; and we have all of us read at
school that celestial minds are by no means insensible to the
provocations of anger. There were those who expected that St Bridget
would come in person, and have the friar up again, as she did the
sailor; but perhaps her ladyship did not care to trust herself within
the walls of Shurland Castle. To say the truth, it was scarcely a
decent house for a female Saint to be seen in. The Baron's
gallantries, since he became a widower, had been but too notorious;
and her own reputation was a little blown upon in the earlier days of
her earthly pilgrimage: then things were so apt to be misrepresented--
in short, she would leave the whole affair to St Austin, who, being a
gentleman, could interfere with propriety, avenge her affront as well
as his own, and leave no loop-hole for scandal. St Austin himself
seems to have had his scruples, though of their precise nature it
would be difficult to determine, for it were idle to suppose him at
all afaid of the Baron's boots. Be this as it may, the mode which he
adopted was at once prudent and efficacious. As an ecclesiastic, he
could not well call the Baron out--had his boots been out of the
question; so he resolved to have recourse to the law. Instead of
Shurland Castle, therefore, he repaired forthwith to his own
magnificent monastery, situate just without the walls of Canterbury,
and presented himself in a vision to its abbot. No one who has ever
visited that ancient city can fail to recollect the splendid gateway
which terminates the vista of St Paul's-street, and stands there yet
in all its pristine beauty. The tiny train of miniature artillery
which now adorns its battlements is, it is true, an ornament of a
later date; and is said to have been added some centuries after by a
learned but jealous proprietor, for the purpose of shooting any wiser
man than himself, who might chance to come that way. Tradition is
silent as to any discharge having taken place, nor can the oldest
inhabitant of modern days recollect any such occurrence. Here it was,
in a handsome chamber, immediately over the lofty archway, that the
Superior of the monastery lay buried in a brief slumber, snatched from
his accustomed vigils. His mitre--for he was a mitred Abbot, and had a
seat in Parliament--rested on a table beside him; near it stood a
silver flagon of Gascony wine, ready, no doubt, for the pious uses of
the morrow. Fasting and watching had made him more than usually
somnolent, than which nothing could have been better for the purpose
of the Saint who now appeared to him radiant in all the colours of the

'Anselm!' said the beatific vision,--' Anselm! are you not a pretty
fellow to lie snoring there when your brethren are being knocked at
head, and Mother Church herself is menaced?--It is a sin and a shame,

'What's the matter?--Who are you?' cried the Abbot, rubbing his eyes,
which the celestial splendour of his visitor had set a-winking. 'Ave
Maria! St Austin himself! Speak, Beatissime! What would you with the
humblest of your votaries?'

'Anselm!' said the saint, 'a brother of our order, whose soul Heaven
assoilzie! hath been foully murdered. He hath been ignominiously
kicked to the death, Anselm; and there he lieth cheek-by-jowl with a
wretched carcass, which our sister Bridget has turned out of her
cemetery for unseemly grinning. Arouse thee, Anselm!'

'Ay, so please you, Sanctissime!' said he Abbot. 'I will order
forthwith that thirty mases be said, thirty Paters, and thirty Aves.'

'Thirty fools' heads!' interrupted his patron, who was a little

'I will send for bell, book, and candle--'

'Send for an ink-horn, Anselm. Write me now a letter to his Holiness
the Pope in good round terms, and another to the Coroner, and another
to the Sheriff, and seize me the never-enough-to-be-anathematised
villain who hath done this deed! Hang him as high as Haman, Anselm!--
up with him!--down with his dwelling-place, root and branch, hearth-
stone and roof-tree,--down with it all, and sow the site with salt and

St Austin, it will be perceived, was a radical reformer.

'Marry will I,' quoth the Abbot, warming with the Saint's eloquence;
'ay, marry will I, and that instanter. But there is one thing you have
forgotten, most Beatified--the name of the culprit.'

'Robert de Shurland.'

'The Lord of Sheppey! Bless me!' said the Abbot, crossing himself,
'won't that be rather inconvenient? Sir Robert is a bold baron, and a
powerful; blows will come and go, and crowns will be cracked and--'

'What is that to you, since yours will not be of the number?'

'Very true, Beatissime!--I will don me with speed, and do your

'Do so, Anselm!--fail me not to hang the Baron, burn his castle,
confiscate his estate, and buy me two large wax candles for my own
particular shrine out of your share of the property.'

With this solemn injunction the vision began to fade.

'One thing morel' cried the Abbot grasping his rosary.

'What is that? asked the Saint.

'O Beate Augustine, ora pro nobis!'

'Of course I shall,' said St. Austin, 'Pax vobiscum!'--and Abbot
Anselm was left alone.

Within an hour all Canterbury was in commotion. A friar had been
murdered,--two friars--ten--twenty; a whole convent had been
assaulted, attacked, burnt,--all the monks had been killed, and all
the nuns had been kissed! Murder! fire! sacrilege! Never was city in
such an uproar. From St George's-gate to St Dunstan's suburb, from the
Donjon to the borough of Staplegate, it was noise and hubbub. 'Where
was it?--' When was it?--'How was it?' The Mayor caught up his chain,
the Aldermen donned their furred gowns, the Town Clerk put on his
spectacles. 'Who was he?'--'What was he?'--' Where was he?'--He
should be hanged,--he should be burned,--he should be broiled,--he
should be fried,--he should be scraped to death with red-hot oyster
shells! 'Who was he?'--' What was his name?'

The Abbot's Apparitor drew forth his roll and read aloud:--'Sir
Robert de Shurland, Knight banneret, Baron of Shurland and Minster,
and Lord of Sheppey.'

The Mayor put his chain in his pocket, the Aldermen took off their
gowns, the Town Clerk put his pen behind his ear. It was a county
business altogether--the Sheriff had better call out the posse

While saints and sinners were thus leaguing against him, the Baron de
Shurland was quietly eating his breakfast. He had passed a tranquil
night, undisturbed by dreams of cowl or capuchin; nor was his appetite
more affected than his conscience. On the contrary, he sat rather
longer over his meal than usual: luncheon-time came, and he was ready
as ever for his oysters: but scarcely had Dame Martin opened his first
half-dozen when the warder's horn was heard from the barbican.

'Who the devil's that?' said Sir Robert. 'I'm not at home, Periwinkle.
I hate to be disturbed at meals, and I won't be at home to anybody.'

'An't please your lordship,' answered the Seneschal, 'Paul Prior hath
given notice that there is a body--'

'Another body!' roared the Baron. 'Am I to be everlastingly plagued
with bodies? No time allowed me to swallow a morsel. Throw it into the

'So please you, my lord, it is a body of horse--and Paul say there is
a larger body of foot behind it; and he thinks, my lord,--that is, he
does not know, but he thinks--and we all think my lord, that they are
coming to--to besiege the castle!'

'Besiege the castle! Who? what? What for?'

'Paul says, my lord, that he can see the banner of St Austin, and the
bleeding heart of Hamo de Crevecoeur, the Abbot's chief vassal; and
there is John de Northwood, the sheriff, with his red cross engrailed;
and Hever, and Leybourne, and Heaven knows how many more; and they are
all coming on as fast as ever they can.'

'Periwinkle,' said the Baron' 'up with the drawbridge; down with the
portcullis; bring me a cup of canary, and my nightcap. I won't
bothered with them. I shall go to bed.'

'To bed, my lord?' cried Periwinkle, with a look that seemed to say,
'He's crazy!'

At this moment the shrill tones of a trumpct were heard to sound
thrice from the champaign. It was the signal for parley: the Baron
changed his mind; instead of going to bed, he went to the ramparts.

'Well, rapscallions! and what now?' said the Baron.

A herald, two pursuivants, and a trumpeter, occupied the foreground of
the scene: behind them, some three hundred paces off, upon a rising
ground, was drawn up in battle array the main body of the
ecclesiastical forces.

'Hear you, Robert de Shurland, Knight, Baron of Shurland and Minster,
and lord of Sheppey, and know all men, by these presents, that I do
hereby attach roll, the said Robert, of murder and sacrilege, new, or
of late, done and committed by you, the said Robert, contrary to the
peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, his crown and dignity: and I do
hereby require and charge you, the said Robert, to forthwith surrender
and give up your own proper person, together with the castle of
Shurland aforesaid, in order that the same may be duly dealt with
according to law. And here standeth John de Northwood, Esquire, good
man and true, sheriff of this his Majesty's most loyal county of Kent,
to enforce the same, if need be, with his posse comitatus--'

'His what?' said the Baron.

'His posse comitatus, and--'

'Go to Bath!' said the Baron.

A defiance so contemptuous roused the ire of the adverse commanders. A
volley of missiles rattled about the Baron's ears. Nightcaps avail
little against contusions. He left the walls, and returned to the
great hall.

'Let them pelt away; quoth the Baron: 'there are no windows to break,
and they can't get in.' So he took his afterooon nap, and the siege
went on.

Towards evening his lordship awoke, and grew tired of the din. Guy
Pearson, too, had got a black eye from a brickbat, and the assailants
were clambering over the outer wall. So the Baron called for his
Sunday hauberk of Milan steel, and his great two-handed sword with the
terrible name:--it was the fashion in feudal times to give names to
swords: King Arthur's was christened Excalibar; the Baron called his
Tickletoby, and whenever he took it in hand it was no joke.

'Up with the portcullis! down with the drawbridge!' said Sir Robert;
and out he sallied, followed by the lite of his retainers. Then there
was a pretty to do. Heads flew one way--arms and legs another; round
went Tickletoby; and, wherever it alighted, down came horse and man:
the Baron excelled himself that day. All that he had done in Palestine
faded in the comparison; he had fought for fun there, but now it was
for life and lands. Away went John de Northwood; away went William of
Hever, and Roger of Leybourne. Hamo de Crevecoeur, with the church
vassals and the banner of St. Austin, had been gone some time. The
siege was raised, and the Lord of Sheppey was left alone in his glory.

But, brave as the Baron undoubtedly was, and total as had been the
defeat of his enemies, it cannot be supposed that La Stoccata would be
allowed to carry it away thus. It has before been hinted that Abbot
Anselm had written to the Pope, and Boniface the Eighth piqued himself
on his punctuality as a correspondent in all matters connected with
church discipline. He sent back an answer by return of post; and by it
all Christian people were strictly enjoined to aid in exterminating
the offender, on pain of the greater excommunication in this world,
and a million of years of purgatory in the next. But then, again,
Boniface the Eighth was rather at a discount in England just then. He
had affronted Longshanks, as the royal lieges had nicknamed their
monarch; and Longshanks had been rather sharp upon the clergy in
consequence. If the Baron de Shurland could but get the King's pardon
for what, in his cooler moments, he admitted to be a peccadillo, he
might sniff at the Pope, and bid him 'do his devilmost.'

Fortune, who, as the poet says, delights to favour the bold, stood his
friend on this occasion. Edward had been for some time collecting a
large force on the coast of Kent, to carry on his French wars for the
recovery of Guienne; he was expected shortly to review it in person;
but, then, the troops lay principally in cantonments about the mouth
of the Thames, and his Majesty was to come down by water. What was to
he done?--the royal barge was in sight, and John de Northwood and Hamo
de Crevecur had broken up all the boats to boil their camp-kettles. A
truly great mind is never without resources.

'Bring me my boots!' said the Baron.

They brought him his boots, and his dapple-grey steed along with them;
such a courser! all blood and bone, short-backed, broad-chested, and--
but that be was a little ewe-necked--faultless in form and figure. The
Baron sprung upon his back, and dashed at once into the river.

The barge which carried Edward Longshanks and his fortunes had by this
time nearly reached the Nore; the stream was broad, and the current
strong, but Sir Robert and his steed were almost as broad, and a great
deal stronger. After breasting the tide gallantly for a couple of
miles, the knight was near enough to hail the steersman.

'What have we got here?' said the King. 'It's a mermaid,' said one.
'It's a grampus,' said another. 'It's the devil,' said a third. But
they were all wrong; it was only Robert de Shurland. 'Gramercy,' said
the King, 'that fellow was never born to be drowned!'

It has been said before that the Baron had fought in The Holy Wars; in
fact, he had accompanied Longshanks, when only heir apparent in his
expedition twenty-five years before, although his name is unacountably
omitted by Sir Harris Nicolas in his list of crusaders. He had been
present at Acre when Amirand of Joppa stabbed the prince with a
poisoned dagger, and had lent Princess Eleanor his own tooth-brush
after she had sucked out the venom from the wound. He had slain
certain Saracens, contented himself with his own plunder, and never
dunned the commissariat for arrears of pay. Of course he ranked high
in Edward's good graces, and had received the honour of knghthood at
his hands on the field of battle.

In one so circumstanced, it canot be supposed that such a trifle as
the killing of a frowsy friar would be much resented, even had he not
taken so bold a measure to obtain his pardon. His petition was
granted, of course, as soon as asked; and so it would have been had
the indictment drawn up by the Canterbury town-clerk, viz., 'That he,
the said Robert de Shurland, had then and there,, with several, to
wit, one thousand, pairs of boots, given sundry, to wit, two thousand,
kicks, and therewith and thereby killed divers; to wit, ten thousand,
Austin Friars,' been true to the letter.

Thrice did the gallant grey circumnavigate the barge, while Robert de
Winchelsey, the chancellor and archbishop to boot was making out,
albeit with great reluctance, the royal pardon. The interval was
sufficiently long to enable his Majesty, who, gracious as he was had
always an eye to business, just to hint that the gratitude he felt
towards the Baron was not unmixed with a lively sense of services to
come; and that if life were now spared him, common decency must oblige
him make himself useful. Before the archbishop, who had scalded his
fingers with the wax in affixing the great-seal, had time to take them
out of his mouth, all was settled, and the Baron de Shurland had
pledged himself to be forthwith in readiness, cum suis, to accompany
his lord to Guienne.

With the royal pardon secured in his vest, boldly did his lordship
turn again to the shore; and as boldly did his courser oppose his
breadth of chest to the stream. It was a work of no common difficulty
or danger; a steed of less 'mettle and bone' had long since sunk in
the effort: as it was, the Baron's boots were full of water, and Grey
Dolphin's chamfrain more than once dipped beneath the wave. The
covvulsive snorts of the noble animal showed his distress; each
instant they became more loud and frequent; when his hoof touched the
strand, and the horse and his rider stood once again in safety on the

Rapidly dismounting, the Baron was loosening the girths of his demi-
pique, to give the panting animal breath, when he was aware of as ugly
an oldwoman as he had ever clapped eyes upon, peeping at him under the
horse's belly.

'Make much of your steed, Robert Shurland! Make much of your steed!'
cried the hag; shaking at him her long and bony finger. 'Groom to the
hide, and corn to the manger! He has saved your life, Robert Shurland,
for the nonce; but he shall yet be the means of your losing it for all

The Baron started: 'What's that you say, you old faggot?' He ran round
by his horse's tail; The woman was gone!

The Baron paused; his great soul was not to be shaken by trifles; he
looked around him and solemnly ejaculated the word 'Humbug!' then
slinging the bridle acrosss his arm, walked slowly on in the direction
of the castle.

The appearance, and still more, the disappearance of the crone, had,
however, made an impresslon; every step he took he became more
thoughtful. "Twould be deuced provoking, though, if he should break my
neck after all.' He turned and gazed at Dolphin with the scrutinising
eye of a veterinary surgeon. 'I'll be shot if he is not groggy! said
the Baron.

With his lordship, like another great commander, 'Once to be in doubt
was once to be resolved:' it would never do to go to the wars on a
ricketty prad. He dropped he rein, drew forth Tickletoby, and, as the
enfranchised Dolphin, good easy horse, stretched out his ewe-neck to
the herbage; struck off his head at a single blow. 'There, you lying
old beldame!' said the Baron; 'now take him away to the knacker's.'

* * *

Three years were come and gone. King Edward's French wars were over;
both parties having fought till they came to a stand-still, shook
hands, and the quarrel, as usual, was patched up by a royal marriage.
This happy event gave his Majesty leisure to turn his attention to
Scotland, where things, through the intervention of William Wallace,
were looking rather queerish. As his reconciliation with Philip now
allowed of his fighting the Scotch in peace and quietness, the monarch
lost no time in marching his long legs across the border, and the
short ones of the Baron followed him of course. At Falkirk, Tickletoby
was in great request; and in the year following, we find a
contemporary poet hinting at his master's prowess under the walls of

Ovec eus fu achiminez
Li beau Robert de Shurland
Ki kant seoit sur le cheval
Ne sembloit home de someille.

A quatrain which Mr. Simpkinson translates.

'With them was marching
The good Robert de Shurland,
Who, when seated on horseback,
does not resemble a man asleep!'

So thoroughly awake, indeed, does he seem to have proved himself, that
the bard subsequently exclaims in an ecstacy of admiration:

Si ie estoie une pucelette
Je li donroie ceur et cors
Tant est de lu bons lu recors.

'If I were a young maiden;
I would give my heart and person,
So great is his fame!'

Fortunately the poet was a tough old monk of Exeter; since such a
present to a nobleman, now in his grand climacteric, would hardly have
been worth the carriage. With the reduction of this stronghold of the
Maxwells seem to have concluded the Baron's military services; as on
the very first day of the fourteenth century we find him once more
landed on his native shore, and marching, with such of his retainers
as the wars had left him, towards the hospitable shelter of Shurland
Castle. It was then, upon that very beach, some hundred yards distant
from high-water mark, that his eye fell upon something like an ugly
old woman in a red cloak. She was seated on what seemed to be a large
stone, in an interesting attitude, with her elbows resting upon her
knees, and her chin upon her thumbs. The Baron started: the
remembrance of his interview with a similar personage in the same
place, some three years since; flashed upon his recollection. He
rushed towards the spot but the form was gone--nothing remained but
the seat it had appeared to occupy. This, on examination, turned out
to be no stone, but the whitened skull of a dead horse! A tender
remembrance of the deceased Grey Dolphin shot a momentary pang into
the Baron's bosom; he drew the back of his hand across his face; the
thought of the hag's prediction in an instant rose, and banished all
softer emotions. In utter contempt of his own weakness, yet with a
tremor that deprived his redoubtable kick of half its wonted force, he
spurned the relic with his foot. One word alone issued from his lips,
elucidatory of what was passing in his mind--it long remained
imprinted on the memory of his faithful followers--that word was
'Gammon!' The skull bounded across the beach till it reached the very
margin of the stream;--one instant more and it would be engulfed for
ever. At that moment a loud 'Ha! ha! ha!' was distinctly heard by the
whole train to issue from its bleached 'and toothless jaws: it sank
beneath the flood in a horse laugh.

Meanwhile Sir Robert de Shurland felt an odd sort of sensation in his
right foot. His boots had suffered in the wars. Great pains had been
token for their preservation. They bed been 'soled' and 'heeled' more
than once--had they been 'goloshed,' their owner might have defied
Fate! Well has it been said that 'There is no such thing as a trifle.'
A nobleman's life depended upon a question of ninepence.

The Baron marched on; the uneasiness in his feat increased. He plucked
off his boot;--a horse's tooth was sticking in his great toe!

The result may be anticipated. Lame as he was, his lordship, with
characteristic decision, would hobble on to Shurland; his walk
increased the inflammation; a flagon of aqua vitae did not mend
matters. He was in a high fever; he took to his bed. Next morning the
toe presented the appearance of a Bedfordshire carrot; by dinner time
it had deepened to beetroot; and when Bargrave, the leech, at last
sliced it off, the gangrene was too confirmed to admit of remedy. Dame
Martin thought it high time to send for Miss Margaret who, ever since
her mother's death, had been living with her maternal aunt, the
abbess, in the Ursuline convent at Greenwich. The young lady came, and
with her came one Master Ingoldsby, her Cousin-german by the mother's
side; but the Baron was too far gone in the dead-thraw to recognise
either. He died as he lived, unconquered and unconquerable. His last
words were 'Tell the old hag she may go to--' Whither remains a
secret. He expired without fully articulating the place of her

But who and what was the crone who prophesied the catastrophe? Ay,
'that is the mystery of this wonderful history.'--Some say it was Dame
Fothergill, the late confessor's mamma; others, St Bridget herself;
others thought it was nobody at all, but only a phantom conjured up by
conscience. As we do not know, we decline giving an opinion.

And what became of the Clerk of Chatham?--Mr. Simpkinson avers that he
lived to a good old age, and was at last hanged by Jack Cade, with his
inkhorn about his neck, for 'setting boys copies.' In support of this
he adduces his name 'Emmanuel,' and refers to the historian
Shakspeare. Mr. Peters, on the contrary, considers this to be what he
calls one of Mr. Simpkinson's 'Anacreonisms,' inasmuch as, at the
introduction of Mr. Cade's reform measure, the Clerk, if alive, would
have been hard upon two hundred years old. The probability is that the
unfortunate alluded to was his great-grandson.

Margaret Shurland in due course became Margaret Ingoldsby: her
portrait still hangs in the gallery at Tappington. The features are
handsome, but shrewish, betraying, as it were, a touch of the old
Baron's temperament; but we never could learn that she actually kicked
her husband. She brought him a very pretty fortune in chains, owches,
and Saracen ear-rings; the barony being a male fief; reverted to the

In the abbey-church at Minster may yet be seen the tomb of a recumbent
warrior, clad in the chain-mail of the 13th century. His hands are
clasped in prayer, his legs, crossed in that position so prized by
Templars in ancient, and tailors in modern days, bespeak him a soldier
of the faith in Palestine. Close behind his dexter calf lies
sepultured in bold relief a horse's head: and a respectable elderly
lady, as she shows the monument, fails not to read her auditors a fine
moral lesson on the sin of ingratitude, or to claim a sympathising
tear to the memory of poor 'Grey Dolphin!'


The Lady Rohesia lay on her death-bed!

So said the doctor, and doctors are generally allowed to be judges in
these matters; besides Doctor Butts was the Court Physician: he
carried a crutch-handled staff, with its cross of the blackest
ebony,--raison de plus.

'Is there no hope, Doctor?' said Beatrice Grey.

'Is there no hope?' said Everard Ingoldsby.

'Is there no hope?' said Sir Guy de Montgomeri. He was the Lady
Rohesia's husband;--he spoke the last.

The doctor shook his head. He looked at the disconsolate widower in
posse then at the hour-glass; its waning sand seemed sadly to shadow
forth the sinking pulse of his patient. Dr. Butts was a very learned
man. 'Ars longa, vita brevis!' said Doctor Butts.

'I am very sorry to hear it,' quoth Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

Sir Guy was a brave knight, and a tall; but he was no scholar.

'Alas! my poor sister!' sighed Ingoldsby.

'Alas! my poor mistress!' sobbed Beatrice.

Sir Guy neither sighed nor sobbed; his grief was too deep-seated for
outward manifestation.

'And how long, Doctor--?' The afflicted husband could not finish the

Dr. Butts withdrew his hand from the wrist of the dying lady. He
pointed to the horologe; scarcely a quarter of its sand remained in
the upper moiety. Again he shook his head; the eye of the patient
waxed dimmer, the rattling in the throat increased.

'What's become of Father Francis?' whimpered Beatrice.

'The last consolations of the church--' suggested Everard.

A darker shade came over the brow of Sir Guy.

'Where is the Confessor?' continued his grieving brother-in-law.

'In the pantry,' cried Marion Hacket pertly, as she tripped downstairs
in search of that venerable ecclesiastic;--'in the pantry, I warrant
me.' The bower-woman was not wont to be in the wrong; in the pantry
was the holy man was discovered,--at his devotions.

'Pax vobiscum,' said Father Francis, as he entered the chamber of

'Vita brevis!' retorted Doctor Butts. He was not a man to be browbeat
out of his Latin,--and by a paltry Friar Minim, too. Had it been a
Bishop, indeed, or even a mitred Abbot,--but a miserable Franciscan!

'Benedicite!' said the Friar

'Ars longa!' returned the Leech.

Doctor Butts adjusted the tassels of his falling band; drew his short
sad-coloured cloak closer around him; and, grasping his cross-handled
walking-staff, stalked majestically out of the apartment. Father
Francis had the field to himself.

The worthy chaplain hastened to administer the last rites of the
church. To all appearance he had little time to lose; as he concluded,
the dismal toll of the passing-bell sounded from the belfry tower,--
little Hubert, the bandy-legged sacristan, was pulling with all his
might. It was a capital contrivance that same passing-bell,--which of
the Urbans or Innocents invented it is a query; but whoever he was, he
deserved well of his country and of Christendom.

Ah! our ancestors were not such fools, after all, as we, their
degenerate children, conceit them to have been. The passing-bell! a
most solemn warning to imps of every description, is not to be
regarded with impunity; the most impudent Succubus of them all dare as
well dip his claws in holy water as come within the verge of its
sound. Old Nick himself, if he sets any value at all upon his tail,
had best convey himself clean out of hearing, and leave the way open
to Paradise. Little Hubert continued pulling with all his might,--and
St. Peter began to look out for a customer.

The knell seemed to have some effect even upon the Lady Rohesia; she
raised her head slightly; inarticulate sounds issued from her lips,--
inarticulate, that is, to the profaner ears of the laity. Those of
Father Francis, indeed, were sharper; nothing, as he averred, could be
more distinct than the words, 'A thousand marks to the priory of Saint
Mary Rouncival.'

Now the Lady Rohesia Ingoldsby had brought her husband broad lands and
large possessions; much of her ample dowry, too, was at her own
disposal; and nuncupative wills had not yet been abolished by Act of

'Pious soul!' ejaculated Father Francis. 'A thousand marks, she

'If she did, I'll be shot!' said Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

'--A thousand marks!' continued the Confessor, fixing his, cold grey
eye upon the knight, as he went on heedless of the interruption; '--a
thousand marks! and as many Aves and Paters shall be duly said--as
soon as the money is paid down.'

Sir Guy shrank from the monk's gaze; he turned to the window, gaze,
and muttered to himself something that sounded like 'Don't you wish
you may get it?'


The bell continued to toll. Father Francia had quitted the room,
taking with him the remains of the holy oil he had been using for
Extreme Unction. Everard Ingoldsby waited on him down stairs.

'A thousand thanks!' said the latter.

'A thousand marks!' said the friar.

'A thousand devils!' growled Sir Guy de Montgomeri, from the top of
the landing-place.

But his accents fell unheeded; his brother-in-law and the friar were
gone; he was left alone with his departing lady and Beatrice Grey.

Sir Guy de Montgomeri stood pensively at the foot of the bed; his arms
were crossed upon his bosom, his chin was sunk upon his breast; his
eyes were filled with tears; the dim rays of the fading watchlight
gave a darker shade to the furrows on his brow, and a brighter tint to
the little bald patch on the top of his head,--for Sir Guy was a
middle-aged gentleman, tall and portly withal, with a slight bend in
his shoulders, but not that much; his complexion was somewhat florid--
especially about the nose; but his lady was in extremis, and at this
particular moment he was paler than usual.

'Bim! bome!' went the bell. The knight groaned audibly; Beatrice Grey
wiped her eye with her little square apron of lace de Maslines; there
was a moment's pause,--a moment of intense affliction; she let it
fall,--all but one corner, which remained between her finger and
thumb. She looked at Sir Guy; drew the thumb and forefinger of her
other hand slowly along its border, till they reached the opposite
extremity. She sobbed aloud. 'So kind a lady!' said Beatrice Grey.--
'So excellent a wife!' responded Sir Guy.--'So good!' said the
damsel.--'So dear!' said the knight.--'So pious!' said she.--'So
humble!' said he.--'So good to the poor!'--'So capital a manager!'--
'So punctual at matins!'--' Dinner dished to moment!--'So devout!'
said Beatrice.--'So fond of me!' said Sir Guy.--'And of Father
Francis!'--'What the devil do you mean by that?' said Sir Guy de

The knight and the maiden had rung their antiphonic changes on the
fine qualities of the departing Lady, like the Strophe and Antistrophe
of a Greek play. The cardinal virtues at once disposed of, her minor
excellences came under review. She would drown a witch, drink lamb's
wool at Christmas, beg Domine Dump's boys a holiday, and dine upon
sprats on Good Friday! A low moan from the subject of these eulogies
seemed to intimate that the enumeration of her good deeds was not
altogether lost on her,--that the parting spirit felt and rejoiced in
the testimony.

'She was too good for earth!' continued Sir Guy.

'Ye-ye-yes!' sobbed Beatrice.

'I did not deserve her!' said the knight.

'No-o-o-o!' cried the damsel.

'Not but that I made her an excellent husband and a kind; but she is
going, and--and--where, or when, or how--shall I get such another?'

'Not in broad England--not in the whole wide world!' responded
Beatrice Grey; 'that is, not just such another!' Her voice still
faltered, but her accents on the whole were more articulate; she
dropped the corner of her apron, and had recourse to her handkerchief;
in fact, her eyes were getting red, and so was the tip of her nose.

Sir Guy was silent; he gazed for a few moments steadfastly on the face
of his lady. The single word, 'Another!' fell from his lips like
distant echo;--it is not often that the viewless nymph repeats more
than is necessary.

'Bim! bome!' went the bell. Bandy-legged Hubert been toiling for half
an hour; he began to grow tired, and St. Peter fidgety.

'Beatrice Grey!' said Sir Guy de Montgomeri, 'what's to be done?
What's to become of Montgomeri Hall?--and the buttery,--and the
servants?--And what--what's to become of me, Beatrice Grey?'--There
was pathos in his tones, and a solemn pause succeeded. 'I'll turn monk
myself!' said Sir Guy.

'Monk?' said Beatrice.

'I'll be a Carthusianl' repeated the knight, but in a tone less
assured: he relapsed into a reverie.--Shave his head!--he did not so
much mind that,--he was getting rather bald already;--but, beans for
dinner,--and those without butter--and then a horse-hair shirt!

The knight seemed undecided: his eye roamed gloomily around the
apartment; it paused upon different objects, but as if it saw them
not; its sense was shut, and there was no speculation in its glance:
it rested at last upon the fair face of the sympathising damsel at his
side, beautiful in her grief.

Her tears had ceased; but her eyes were cast down, mournfully fixed
upon her delicate little foot, which was beating the tattoo.

There is no talking to a female when she does not look at you. Sir Guy
turned round--he seated himself on the edge of the bed; and, placing
his hand beneath the chin of the lady, turned up her face in an angle
of fifteen degrees.

'I don't think I shall take the vows, Beatrice; but what's to become
of me? Poor, miserable, old--that is poor, miserable, middle-aged man
that I am!--No one to comfort, no one to care for me!'--Beatrice's
tears flowed afresh, but she opened not her lips.--"Pon my life,'
continued he, 'I don't believe there is a single creature now would
care a button if I were hanged to-morrow!'

'Oh! don't say so, Sir Guy!' sighed Beatrice; 'you know there's--
there's Master Everard, and--and Father Francis--'

'Pish!' cried Sir Guy, testily.

'And--there's your favourite old bitch.'

'I am not thinking of old bitches!' quoth Sir Guy de Montgomeri.

Another pause ensued: the knight had released her chin, and taken her
hand; it was a pretty little hand, with long taper fingers and
filbert-formed nails, and the softness of the palm said little for its
owner's industry.

'Beatrice,' said the knight, thoughtfully; 'You must be fatigued with
your long watching. Take a seat, my child.'--Sir Guy did not
relinquish her hand; but he sidled along the counterpane, and made
room for his companion between himself and the bed-post.

Now this is a very awkward position for two people to be placed in,
especially when the right hand of the one holds the right hand of the
other:--in such an attitude, what the deuce can the gentleman do with
his left? Sir Guy closed his till it became an absolute fist, and his
knuckles rested on the bed a little in the rear of his companion.

'Another!' repeated Sir Guy, musing; 'if indeed I could find such
another!' He was talking to his thought, but Beatrice Grey answered

'There's Madam Fitzfoozle.'

'A frump!' said Sir Guy.

'Or the Lady Bumbarton.'

'With her hump!' muttered he.

'There's the Dowager--'

'Stop--stop!' said the knight, 'stop one moment!'--He paused; he was
all on the tremble; something seemed rising in his throat; but he gave
a great gulp, and swallowed it. 'Beatrice,' said he, what think you
of--' his voice sank into a most sedutive softness,--'what think you
of--Beatrice Grey?'

The murder was out:--the knight felt infinitely relieved; the knuckles
of his left hand unclosed spontaneously; and the arm he had felt such
a difficulty in disposing of, found itself,--nobody knows how,
encircling the jimp waist of the pretty Beatrice. The young lady's
reply was expressed in three syllables. They were,--'Oh, Sir Guy!' The
words might be somewhat indefinite, but there was no mistaking the
look. Their eyes met; Sir Guy's left arm contracted itself
spasmodically; when the eyes meet,--at least, as theirs met,--the lips
are very apt to follow the example. The knight had taken one long,
loving kiss--nectar and ambrosia! He thought on Doctor Butts and his
repetatur haustus,--a prescription Father Francis had taken infinite
pains to translate for him; he was about to repeat it, but the dose
was interrupted in transitu. Doubtless the adage.

'There's many a slip

'Twixt the cup and the lip,'

hath reference to medicine. Sir Guy's lip was again all but in
conjunction with that of his bride elect. It has been hinted already
that there was a little round polished patch on the summit of the
knight's pericranium, from which his locks had gradually receded; a
sort of oasis,--or rather a Mont Blanc in miniature, rising above the
highest point of vegetation. It was on this little spot, undefended
alike by Art and Nature, that at this interesting moment the blow
descended, such as we must borrow a term from the Sister Island
adequately to describe,--it was a 'Whack!'

Sir Guy started upon his feet; Beatrice Grey started upon hers: but a
single glance to the rear reversed her position,--she fell upon her
knees and screamed.

The knight, too, wheeled about, and beheld a sight which might have
turned a bolder man to stone.--It was She!--the all-but-defunct
Rohesia--there she sat, bolt upright!--her eyes no longer glazed with
the film of impending dissolution, but scintillating like flint and
steel; while in her hand she grasped the bed-staff,--a weapon of
mickle might, as her husband's bloody coxcomb could now well testify.
Words were yet wanting, for the quinzy, which her rage had broken,
still impeded her utterance; but the strength and rapidity of her
gutteral intonations augured well for her future eloquence.

Sir Guy de Montgomeri stood for awhile like a man distraught; this
resurrection--for such it seemed,--had quite overpowered him. 'A
husband ofttimes makes the best physician,' says the proverb; he was a
living personification of its truth. Still it was whispered he had
been content with Dr. Butts; but his lady was restored to bless him
for many years.--Heavens, what a life he led!

The Lady Rohesia mended apace; her quinsy was cured; the bell was
stopped; and little Hubert, the sacristan, kicked out of the chapelry.
St. Peter opened his wicket, and looked out;--there was nobody there;
so he flung-to the gate in a passion, and went back to his lodge,
grumbling at being hoaxed by a runaway ring.

Years rolled on.--The improvement of Lady Rohesia's temper did not
keep pace with that of her health; and one fine morning Sir Guy de
Montgomery was seen to enter the porte-cochre of Durham House, at
that time the town residence of Sir Walter Raleigh. Nothing more was
ever heard of him; but a boat full of adventurers was known to have
dropped down with the tide that evening to Deptford Hope; where lay
the ship the Darling, commanded by Captain Keymis, who sailed next
morning on the Virginia voyage.

A brass plate, some eighteen inches long, may yet be seen in Denton
chancel, let into a broad slab of Bethersden marble; it represents a
lady kneeling, in her wimple and hood; her hands are clasped in
prayer, and beneath is an inscription in the characters of the age--

'Praie for ye sowle of ye Lady Royse.

And for all Christen sowles!'

The date is illegible; but it appears that she survived King Henry the
Eighth, and that the dissolution of monasteries had lost St. Mary
Rouncival her thousand marks.--As for Beatrice Grey, it is well known
that she was alive in 1559, and then had virginity enough left to be a
maid of honour to 'good Queen Bess.'


"IT is very odd, though; what can have become of them?" said Charles
Seaforth, as he peeped under the valance of an old-fashioned bedstead,
in an old-fashioned apartment of a still more old-fashioned manor-
house; "'tis confoundedly odd, and I can't make it out at all. Why,
Barney, where are they?--and where the d--l are you?"

No answer was returned to this appeal; and the lieutenant, who was,
in the main, a reasonable person,--at least as reasonable a person as
any young gentleman of twenty-two in "the service" can fairly be
expected to be,--cooled when he reflected that his servant could
scarcely reply extempore to a summons which it was impossible he
should hear.

An application to the bell was the considerate result; and the
footsteps of as tight a lad as ever put pipe-clay to belt sounded
along the gallery.

"Come in!" said his master.--An ineffectual attempt upon the door
reminded Mr Seaforth that he had locked himself in.--"By Heaven! this
is the oddest thing of all," said he, as he turned the key and
admitted Mr Maguire into his dormitory.

"Barney, where are my pantaloons?"

"Is it the breeches?" asked the valet, casting an inquiring eye
round the apartment;--"is it the breeches, sir?"

"Yes; what have you done with them?"

"Sure then your honour had them on when you went to bed, and it's
hereabout they'll be, I'll be bail;" and Barney lifted a fashionable
tunic from a cane-backed arm-chair, proceeding in his examination. But
the search was vain: there was the tunic aforesaid,--there was a
smart-looking kerseymere waistcoat; but the most important article of
all in a gentleman's wardrobe was still wanting.

"Where can they be?" asked the master, with a strong accent on the
auxiliary verb.

"Sorrow a know I knows," said the man.

"It must have been the devil, then, after all, who has been here and
carried them off!" cried-Seaforth, staring full into Barney's face.

Mr Maguire was not devoid of the superstition of his countrymen,
still he looked as if he did not quite subscribe to the sequitur.

His master read incredulity in his countenance. "Why, I tell you,
Barney, I put them there, on that arm-chair, when I got into bed; and,
by Heaven! I distinctly saw the ghost of the old fellow they told me
of, come in at midnight, put on my pantaloons, and walk away with

"May be so," was the cautious reply.

"I thought, of course, it was a dream; but then,--where the d--l are
the breeches?"

The question was more easily asked than answered. Barney renewed his
search, while the lieutenant folded his arms, and, leaning against the
toilet, sunk into a reverie.

"After all, it must be some trick of my laughter-loving cousins,"
said Seaforth.

"Ah! then, the ladies!" chimed in Mr Maguire, though the observation
was not addressed to him; "and will it be Miss Caroline, or Miss
Fanny, that's stole your honour's things?"

"I hardly know what to think of it," pursued the bereaved
lieutenant, still speaking in soliloquy, with his eye resting
dubiously on the chamber-door. "I locked myself in, that's certain;
and--but there must be some other entrance to the room--pooh! I
remember--the private staircase; how could I be such a fool?" and he
crossed the chamber to where a low oaken doorcase was dimly visible in
a distant corner. He paused before it. Nothing now interfered to
screen it from observation; but it bore tokens of having been at some
earlier period concealed by tapestry, remains of which yet clothed the
walls on either side the portal.

"This way they must have come," said Seaforth; "I wish with all my
heart I had caught them!"

"Och! the kittens!" sighed Mr Barney Maguire.

But the mystery was yet as far from being solved as before. True,
there was the "other door;" but then that, too, on examination, was
even more firmly-secured than the one which opened on the gallery,--
two heavy bolts on the inside effectually prevented any coup de main
on the lieutenant's bivouac from that quarter. He was more puzzled
than ever; nor did the minutest inspection of the walls and floor
throw any light upon the subject! one thing only was clear,--the
breeches were gone! "It is very singular," said the lieutenant.

* * * * *

Tappington (generally called Tapton) Everard is an antiquated but
commodious manor-house in the eastern division of the county of Kent.
A former proprietor had been High-sheriff in the days of Elizabeth,
and many a dark and dismal tradition was yet extant of the
licentiousness of his life, and the enormity of his offences. The
Glen, which the keeper's daughter was seen to enter, but never known
to quit, still frowns darkly as of yore; while an ineradicable
bloodstain on the oaken stair yet bids defiance to the united energies
of soap and sand. But it is with one particular apartment that a deed
of more especial atrocity is said to be connected. A stranger guest--
so runs the legend--arrived unexpectedly at the mansion of the "Bad
Sir Giles." They met in apparent friendship; but the ill-concealed
scowl on their master's brow told the domestics that the visit was not
a welcome one; the banquet, however, was not spared; the wine-cup
circulated freely,--too freely, perhaps,--for sounds of discord at
length reached the ears of even the excluded serving-men as they were
doing their best to imitate their betters in the lower hall. Alarmed,
some of them ventured to approach the parlour; one, an old and
favoured retainer of the house, went so far as to break in upon his
master's privacy. Sir Giles, already high in oath, fiercely enjoined
his absence, and he retired; not, however, before he had distinctly
heard from the stranger's lips a menace that "There was that within
his pocket which could disprove the knight's right to issue that or
any other command within the walls of Tapton."

The intrusion, though momentary, seemed to have produced a
beneficial effect; the voices of the disputants fell, and the
conversation was carried on thenceforth in a more subdued tone, till,
as evening closed in, the domestics, when summoned to attend with
lights, found not only cordiality restored, but that a still deeper
carouse was meditated. Fresh stoups, and from the choicest bins, were
produced; nor was it till at a late, or rather early hour, that the
revellers sought their chambers.

The one allotted to the stranger occupied the first floor of the
eastern angle of the building, and had once been the favourite
apartment of Sir Giles himself. Scandal-ascribed this preference to
the facility which a private staircase, communicating with the
grounds, had afforded him, in the old knight's time, of following his
wicked courses unchecked by parental observation; a consideration
which ceased to be of weight when the death of his father left him
uncontrolled master of his estate and actions. From that period Sir
Giles had established himself in what were called the "state
apartments;" and the "oaken chamber" was rarely tenanted, save on
occasions of extraordinary festivity, or when the yule log drew an
unusually large accession of guests around the Christmas hearth.

On this eventful night it was prepared for the unknown visitor, who
sought his couch heated and inflamed from his midnight orgies, and in
the morning was found in his bed a swollen and blackened corpse. No
marks of violence appeared upon the body; but the livid hue of the
lips, and certain dark-coloured spots visible on the skin, aroused
suspicions which those who entertained them were too timid to express.
Apoplexy, induced by the excesses of the preceding night, Sir Giles's
confidential leech pronounced to be the cause of his sudden
dissolution; the body was buried in peace; and though some shook their
heads as they witnessed the haste with which the funeral rites were
hurried on, none ventured to murmur. Other events arose to distract
the attention of the retainers; men's minds became occupied by the
stirring politics of the day, while the near approach of that
formidable armada, so vainly arrogating to itself a title which the
very elements joined with human valour to disprove, soon interfered to
weaken, if not obliterate, all remembrance of the nameless stranger
who had died within the walls of Tapton Everard.

Years rolled on: the "Bad Sir Giles" had--himself long since gone to
his account, the last, as it was believed, of his immediate line;
though a few of the older tenants were sometimes heard to speak of an
elder brother, who had disappeared in early life, and never inherited
the estate. Rumours, too, of his having left a son in foreign lands
were at one time rife: but they died away, nothing occurring to
support them: the property passed unchallenged to a collateral branch
of the family, and the secret, if secret there were, was buried in
Denton churchyard, in the lonely grave of the mysterious stranger. One
circumstance alone occurred, after a long-intervening period, to
revive the memory of these transactions. Some workmen employed in
grubbing an old plantation, for the purpose of raising on it site a
modern shrubbery, dug up, in the execution of their task, the mill-
dewed remnants of what seemed to have been once a garment. On more
minute inspection, enough remained of silken slashes and a coarse
embroidery to identify the relics as having once formed part of a pair
of trunk hose; while a few papers which fell from them, altogether
illegible from damp and age, were by the unlearned rustics conveyed to
the then owner of the estate.

Whether the squire was more successful in deciphering them was never
known; he certainly never alluded to their contents; and little would
have been thought of the matter but for the inconvenient memory of one
old woman, who declared she heard her grandfather say that when the
"stranger guest" was poisoned, though all the rest of his clothes were
there, his breeches, the supposed repository of the supposed
documents, could never be found. The master of Tapton Everard smiled
when he heard Dame Jones's hint of deeds which might impeach the
validity of his own title in favour of some unknown descendant of some
unknown heir; and the story was rarely alluded to, save by one or two
miracle-mongers, who had heard that others had seen the ghost of old
Sir Giles, in his night-cap, issue from the postern, enter the
adjoining copse, and wring his shadowy hands in agony, as he seemed to
search vainly for something hidden among the evergreens. The
stranger's death-room had, of course, been occasionally haunted from
the time of his decease; but the periods of visitation had latterly
became very rare,--even Mrs Botherby, the house-keeper, being forced
to admit that, during her long sojourn at the manor, she had never
"met with anything worse than herself;" though, as the old lady
afterwards added upon more mature reflection, "I must say I think I
saw the devil once."

Such was the legend attached to Tapton Everard, and such the story
which the lively Caroline Ingoldsby detailed to her equally mercurial
cousin Charles Seaforth, lieutenant in the Hon. East India Company's
second regiment of Bombay Fencibles, as arm-in-arm they promenaded a
gallery decked with some dozen grim-looking ancestral portraits, and,
among others, with that of the redoubted Sir Giles himself. The
gallant commander had that very morning paid his first visit to the
house of his maternal uncle, after an absence of several years passed
with his regiment on the arid plains of Hindostan, whence he was now
returned on a three years' furlough. He had gone out a boy, he--
returned a man, but the impression made upon his youthful fancy by his
favourite cousin remained unimpaired, and to Tapton he directed his
steps, even before he sought the home of his widowed mother,--
comforting himself in this breach of filial decorum by the reflection
that, as the manor was so little out of his way, it would be unkind to
pass, as it were, the door of his relatives without just looking in
for a few hours.

But he found his uncle as hospitable and his cousin more charming
than ever, and the looks of one, and the requests of the other, soon
precluded the possibility of refusing to lengthen the "few hours" into
a few days, though the house was at the moment full of visitors.

The Peterses were there from Ramsgate; and Mr, Mrs, and the two Miss
Simpkinsons, from Bath, had come to pass a month with the family; and
Tom Ingoldsby had brought down his college friend the Honourable
Augustus Sucklethumbkin, with his groom and pointers, to take a
fortnight's shooting. And then there was Mrs Ogleton, the rich young
widow, with her large black eyes, who, people did say, was setting her
cap at the young squire, though Mrs Botherby did not believe it; and,
above all, here was Mademoiselle Pauline, her femme de chambre, who
"mon Dieu'd" everything and everybody, and cried, "Quel horreur!" at
Mrs Botherby's cap. In short, to use the last-named and much-respected
lady's own expression, the house was "choke-full" to the very
attics,--all, save the "oaken chamber," which, as the lieutenant
expressed a most magnanimous disregard of ghosts, was forthwith
appropriated to his particular accommodation. Mr Maguire meanwhile was
fain to share the apartment of Oliver Dobbs, the squire's own man: a
jocular proposal of joint occupancy having been first indignantly
rejected by "Mademoiselle," though preferred with the "laste taste in
life" of Mr Barney's most insinuating brogue.

* * * * *

"Come, Charles, the urn is absolutely getting cold; your breakfast
will be quite spoiled: what can have made you so idle?" Such was the
morning salutation of Miss Ingoldsby to the militaire as he entered
the breakfast-room half an hour after the latest of the party.

"A pretty gentleman, truly, to make an appointment with," chimed in
Miss Frances. "What is become of our ramble to the rocks before

"Oh! the young men never think of keeping a promise now," said Mrs
Peters, a little ferret-faced woman with underdone eyes.

"When I was a young man," said Mr Peters, I remember I always made a
point of--"

"Pray how long ago was that?" asked Mr Simpkinson from Bath.

"Why, sir, when I married Mrs Peters, I was--let me see--I was--"

"Do pray hold your tongue, P., and eat your breakfast!" interrupted
his better half, who had a mortal horror of chronological references;
"it's very rude to tease people with your family-affairs."

The lieutenant had by this time taken his seat in silence--a good-
humoured nod, and a glance, half-smiling, half-inquisitive, being the
extent of his salutation. Smitten as he was, and in the immediate
presence of her who had made so large a hole in his heart, his manner
was evidently distrait, which the fair Caroline in her secret soul
attributed to his being solely occupied by her agrmens,--how would
she have bridled had she known that they only shared his meditations
with a pair of breeches!

Charles drank his coffee and spiked some half-dozen eggs, darting
occasionally a penetrating glance at the ladies, in hope of detecting
the supposed waggery by the evidence of some furtive smile or
conscious look. But in vain; not dimple moved indicative of roguery,
nor did the slightest elevation of eyebrow rise confirmative of his
suspicions. Hints and insinuations passed unheeded,--more particular
inquiries were out of the question:--the subject was unapproachable.

In the meantime, "patent cords" were just the thing for a morning's
ride; and, breakfast ended, away cantered the party over the downs,
till, every faculty absorbed by the beauties, animate and inanimate,
which surrounded him, Lieutenant Seaforth of the Bombay Fencibles
bestowed no more thought upon his breeches than if he had been born
the top of Ben Lomond.

Another night had passed away; the sun rose brilliantly, forming
with his level beams a splendid rainbow in the far off west, whither
the heavy cloud, which for the last two hours had been pouring its
waters on the earth, was now flying before him.

"Ah! then, and it's little good it'll be the claning of ye,"
apostrophised Mr Barney Maguire, as he deposited, in front of his
master's toilet, a pair of "bran-new" jockey boots, one of Hoby's
primeest fits, which the lieutenant had purchased in his way through
town. On that very morning had they come for the first time under the
valet's depuriating hand, so little soiled, indeed, from the turfy
ride of the preceding day, that a less scrupulous domestic might,
perhaps, have considered the application of "Warren's Matchless," or
oxalic acid, altogether superfluous. Not so Barney: with the nicest
care had he removed the slightest impurity from each polished surface
and there they stood, rejoicing in their sable radiance. No wonder a
pang shot across Mr Maguire s breast, as he thought on the work now
cut out for them, so different from the light labours of the day
before, no wonder he murmured with a sigh, as the scarce-dried window-
panes disclosed a road now inch-deep in mud, "Ah! then, it's little
good the claning of ye!"--for well had he learned in the hall below
that eight miles of a stiff clay soil lay between the Manor and
Bolsover Abbey, whose picturesque ruins.

"Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay.
the party had determined to explore. The master-had already commenced
dressing, and the man was fitting straps upon a light pair of crane-
necked spurs, when his hand was arrested by the old question, "Barney,
where are the breeches?"

They were nowhere to be found!

* * * * *

Mr Seaforth descended that morning, whip in hand, and equipped in a
handsome green riding-frock, but no "breeches and boots to match" were
there: loose jean trowsers, surmounting a pair of diminutive
Wellingtons, embraced, somewhat incongruously, his nether man, vice
the "patent cords," returned, like yesterday's pantaloons, absent
without leave. The "top-boots" had a holiday.

"A fine morning after the rain," said Mr Simpkinson from Bath.

"Just the thing for the 'ops," said Mr Peters. "I remember when I
was a boy--"

"Do hold your tongue, P.," said Mrs Peters, advice which that
exemplary matron was in the constant habit of administering to "her
P.," as she called him, whenever he prepared to vent his
reminiscences. Her precise reason for this it would be difficult to
determine, unless, indeed, the story be true which a little bird had
whispered into Mrs Botherby's ear,--Mr Peters, though now a wealthy
man, had received a liberal education at a charity-school and was apt
to recur to the days of his muffin cap and leathers. As usual, he took
his wife's hint in good part, and "paused in his reply."

"A glorious day for the ruins!" said young Ingoldsby. "But, Charles,
what the deuce are you about?--you don't mean to ride through our
lanes in such toggey as that?"

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "won't you be very wet?"

"You had better take Tom's cab," quoth the squire.

But this proposition was at once overruled; Mrs Ogleton had already
nailed the cab, a vehicle of all others the best adapted for a snug

"Or drive Miss Julia in the phaeton?" No; that was the post of Mr
Peters, who, indifferent as an equestrian, had acquired some fame as a
whip while travelling through the midland counties for the firm of
Bagshaw, Snivelby, and Ghrimes.

"Thank you, I shall ride with my cousins," said Charles, with as
much nonchalance as he could assume,--and he did so; Mr Ingoldsby, Mrs
Peters, Mr Simpkinson from Bath, and his eldest daughter with her
album, following in the family coach. The gentleman-commoner voted the
affair d--d slow, and declined the party altogether in favour of the
gamekeeper and a cigar. There was 'no fun' in looking at old houses!
Mrs Simpkinson preferred a short sjour in the still-room with Mrs
Botherby, who had promised to initiate her in that grand arcanum, the
transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly.

* * * * *

"Did you ever see an old abbey before, Mr Peters?"

"Yes, miss, a French one; we have got one at Ramsgate; he teaches
the Miss Joneses to parley-voo, and is turned of sixty."

Miss Simpkinson closed her album with an air of ineffable disdain.

Mr Simpkinson from Bath was a professed antiquary and one of the
first water; he was master of Gwillim's Heraldry, and Milles's History
of the Crusades; knew every plate the Monasticon; had written an essay
on the origin and dignity of the office of overseer, and settled the
date of a Queen Anne's farthing. An influential member of the
Antiquarian Society, to whose "Beauties of Bagnigge Wells" he had been
a liberal subscriber, procured him a seat at the board of that learned
body, since which happy epoch Sylvanus Urban had not a more
indefatigable correspondent. His inaugural essay on the President's
cocked hat was considered a miracle of erudition: and his account of
the earliest application of gilding to gingerbread, a masterpiece of
antiquarian research. His eldest daughter was of a kindred spirit: if
her father's mantle had not fallen upon her, it was only because he
had not thrown it off himself; she had caught hold of its tail,
however, while it yet hung upon his honoured shoulders. To souls so
congenial, what a sight was the magnificent ruin of Bolsover! its
broken arches, its mouldering pinnacles, and the airy tracery of its
half-demolished windows. The party were in raptures; Mr Simpkinson
began to meditate an essay, and his daughter an ode: even Seaforth, as
he gazed on these lonely relics of the olden time, was betrayed into a
momentary forgetfulness of his love and losses; the widow's eye-glass
turned from her cicisbeo's whiskers to the mantling ivy: Mrs Peters
wiped her spectacles; and "her P." supposed the central tower "had
once been the county jail." The squire was a philosopher, and had been
there often before, so he ordered out the cold tongue and chickens.

"Bolsover Priory," said Mr Simpkinson, with the air of a
connoisseur,--"Bolsover Priory was founded in the reign of Henry the
Sixth, about the beginning of the eleventh century. Hugh de Bolsover
had accompanied that monarch to the Holy Land, in the expedition
undertaken by way of penance for the murder of his young nephews in
the Tower. Upon the dissolution of the monasteries, the veteran was
enfeoffed in the lands and manor, to which he gave his own name of
Bowlsover, or Bee-owls-over (by corruption Bolsover),--a Bee in chief,
over three Owls, all proper, being the armorial ensigns borne by this
distinguished crusader at the siege of Acre."

"Ah! that was Sir Sidney Smith," said Mr Peters; "I've heard tell of
him, and all about Mrs Partington, and--"

"P., be quiet, and don't expose yourself!" sharply interrupted his
lady. P. was silenced, and betook himself to the bottled stout.

"These lands," continued the antiquary, "were held in grand
serjeantry by the presentation of three white owls and a pot of

"Lassy me! how nice!" said Miss Julia. Mr Peters licked his lips.

"Pray give me leave, my dear--owls and honey, whenever the king
should come a rat-catching into this part of the country."

"Rat-catching!" ejaculated the squire, pausing abruptly in the
mastication of a drumstick.

"To be sure, my dear sir: don't you remember that rats once came
under the forest law--a minor species of venison? 'Rats and mice, and
such small deer,' eh?--Shakspear, you know. Our ancestors ate rats
("The nasty fellows!" shuddered Miss Julia in a parenthesis); and
owls, you now, are capital mousers--"

"I've seen a howl," said Mr Peters; "there's one in the Sohological
Gardens,--a little hook-nosed chap in a wig,--only its feathers and--"

Poor P. was destined never to finish a speech.

"Do be quiet!" cried the authoritative voice, and the would-be
naturalist shrank into his shell, like a snail in the "Sohological

"You should read Blount's 'Jocular Tenures,' Mr Ingoldsby," pursued
Simpkinson. "A learned man was Blount! Why, sir, his Royal Highness
the Duke of York once paid a silver horse-shoe to Lord Ferrers--"

"I've heard of him," broke in the incorrigible Peters; "he was
hanged at the old Bailey in a silk rope for shooting Dr Johnson."

The antiquary vouchsafed no notice of the interruption; but, taking
a pinch of snuff, continued his harangue.

"A silver horse-shoe, sir, which is due from every scion of royalty
who rides across one of his manors; and if you look into the penny
county histories, now publishing by an eminent friend of mine, you
will find that Langhale in Co. Norf. was held by one Baldwin per
saltum sufflatum, et pettem; that is, he was to come every Christmas
into Westminster Hall, there to take a leap, cry hem! and--"

"Mr Simpkinson, a glass of sherry?" cried Tom Ingoldsby, hastily.

"Not any, thank you, sir. This Baldwin, surnamed Le--"

"Mrs Ogleton challenges you, sir; she insists upon it," said Tom,
still more rapidly; at the same time filling a glass, and forcing it
on the savant, who, thus arrested in the very crisis of his
narrative, received and swallowed the potation as if it had been

"What on earth has Miss Simpkinson discovered there?" continued Tom;
"something of interest. See how fast she is writing."

The diversion was effectual: every one looked towards Miss
Simpkinson, who, far too ethereal for "creature comforts," was seated
apart on the dilapidated remains of an altar-tomb, committing eagerly
to paper something that had strongly impressed her: the air,--the eye
"in a fine frenzy rolling,"--all betokened that the divine afflatus
was come. Her father rose, and stole silently towards her.

"What an old boar!" muttered young Ingoldsby; alluding, perhaps, to
a slice of brawn which he had just begun to operate upon, but which,
from the celerity with which it disappeared, did not seem so very
difficult of mastication.

But what had become of Seaforth and his fair Caroline all this
while? Why, it so happened that they had been simultaneously stricken
with the picturesque appearance of one of those high and pointed
arches, which that eminent antiquary, Mr Horseley Curties, has
described in his "Ancient Records" as "a Gothic window of the Saxon
order;"--and then the ivy clustered so thickly and so beautifully on
the other side, that they went round to look at that;--and then their
proximity deprived it of half its effect, and so they walked across to
a little knoll, a hundred yards off, and in crossing a small ravine,
they came to what in Ireland they call a "bad step," and Charles had
to carry his cousin over it,--and then, when they had to come back,
she would not give him the trouble again for the world, so they
followed a better but more circuitous route and there were hedges and
ditches in the way, and stiles to get over, and gates to get through;
so that an hour or more had elapsed before they were able to rejoin
the party.

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "how long you have been

And so they had. The remark was a very just as well as a very
natural one. They were gone a long while, and a nice cosey chat they
had; and what do you think it was all about, my dear miss?

"O, lassy me! love, no doubt, and the moon, and eyes, and
nightingales, and--"

Stay, stay, my sweet young lady; do not let the fervour of your
feelings run away with you! I do not pretend to say, indeed, that one
or more of these pretty subjects might not have been introduced; but
the most important and leading topic of the conference was--Lieutenant
Seaforth's breeches.

"Caroline," said Charles, "I have had some very odd dreams since I
have been at Tappington."

"Dreams, have you?" smiled the young lady, arching her taper neck
like a swan in pluming. "Dreams, have you?"

"Ay, dreams,--or dream, perhaps, I should say; for, though repeated,
it was still the same. And what do you imagine was its subject?"

"It is impossible for me to divine," said the tongue;--"I have not
the least difficulty in guessing," said the eye, as plainly as ever
eye spoke.

"I dreamt--of your great grandfather!"

There was a change in the glance--"My great grandfather?" "Yes, the
old Sir Giles, or Sir John, you told me about the other day: he walked
into my bedroom in his short, cloak of murrey-coloured velvet, his
long rapier, and his Raleigh-looking hat and feather, just as the
picture represents him: but with one exception."

"And what was that?"

"Why, his lower extremities, which were visible, were--those of a


"Well, after taking a turn or two about the room, and looking round
him with a wistful air, he came to the bed's foot, stared at me in a
manner impossible to describe,--and then he--he laid hold of my
pantaloons; whipped his long bony legs into them in a twinkling; and
strutting up to the glass, seemed to view himself in it with great
complacency. I tried to speak, but in vain. The effort, however,
seemed to excite his attention; for, wheeling about, he showed me the
grimmest-looking death's head you can well imagine, and with an
indescribable grin strutted out of the room."

"Absurd! Charles. How can you talk such nonsense?"

"But, Caroline,--the breeches are really gone."

* * * * *

On the following morning, contrary to his usual custom, Seaforth was
the first person in the breakfast parlour. As no one else was present,
he did precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have
done; he walked up to the mantel-piece, established himself upon the
rug, and subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards
the fire that portion of the human frame which it is considered
equally indecorous to present to a friend or enemy. A serious, not to
say anxious, expression was visible upon his good-humoured
countenance, and his mouth was fast buttoning itself up for an
incipient whistle when little Flo, a tiny spaniel of the Blenheim
breed,--the-: pet object of Miss Julia Simpkinson's affections,
bounced from beneath a sofa, and began to bark at--his pantaloons.

They were cleverly "built," of a light grey mixture, a broad stripe
of the most vivid scarlet traversing each seam in a perpendicular
direction from hip to ankle,--in short, the regimental costume of the
Royal Bombay Fencibles. The animal, educated in the country, had never
seen such a pair of breeches in her life--Omne ignotum pro magnifico!
The scarlet streak, inflamed as it was by the reflection of the fire,
seemed to act on Flora's nerves as the same colour does on those of
bulls and turkeys; she advanced at the pas de charge, and her
vociferation, like her amazement, was unbounded. A sound kick from the
disgusted officer changed its character, and induced a retreat at the
very moment when the mistress of the pugnacious quadruped entered to
the rescue.

"Lassy me! Flo! what is the matter?" cried the sympathising lady,
with a scrutinising glance levelled at the gentleman.

It might as well have lighted on a feather bed.--His air of
imperturbable unconsciousness defied examination; and as he would not,
and Flora could not expound, that injured individual was compelled to
pocket up her wrongs. Others of the household soon dropped in, and
clustered round the board dedicated to the most sociable of meals; the
urn was paraded "hissing hot," and the cups which "cheer, but not
inebriate," steamed redolent of hyson and pekoe; muffins and
marmalade, newspapers and Finnon haddies, left little room for
observation on the character of Charles's warlike "turn-out." At
length a look from Caroline, followed by a smile that nearly ripened
to a titter, caused him to turn abruptly and address his neighbour. It
was Miss Simpkinson, who, deeply engaged in sipping her tea and
turning over her album, seemed, like a female Chrononotonthologos,
"immersed in cogibundity of cogitation." An interrogatory on the
subject of her studies drew from her the confession that she was at
that moment employed in putting the finishing touches to a poem
inspired by the romantic shades of Bolsover. The entreaties of the
company were of course urgent. Mr Peters, "who liked verses," was
especially persevering, and Sappho at length compliant. After a
preparatory hem! and a glance at the mirror to ascertain that her look
was sufficiently sentimental, the poetess began:--

     "There is a calm, a holy feeling.
      Vulgar minds can never know.
     O'er the bosom softly stealing--
      Chasten'd grief, delicious woe!
     Oh! how sweet at eve regaining
      Yon lone tower's sequester'd shade--
     Sadly mute and uncomplaining--"

Yow!--yeough!--yeough!--yow!--yow! yelled a hapless sufferer from
beneath the table.--It was an unlucky hour for quadrupeds; and if
"every dog will have his day," he could not have selected a more
unpropitious one than this. Mrs Ogleton, too, had a pet,--a favourite
pug,--whose squab figure, black muzzle, and tortuosity of tail, that
curled like a head of celery in a salad-bowl, bespoke his Dutch
extraction. Yow! yow! yow! continued the brute,--a chorus in which Flo
instantly joined. Sooth to say, pug had more reason to express his
dissatisfaction than was given him by the muse of Simpkinson; the
other only barked for company. Scarcely had the poetess got through
her first stanza, when Tom Ingoldsby, in the enthusiasm of the moment,
became so lost in the material world, that, in his abstraction, he
unwarily laid his hand on the cock of the urn. Quivering with emotion,
he gave it such an unlucky twist, that the full stream of its scalding
contents descended on the gingerbread hide of the unlucky Cupid.--The
confusion was complete;--the whole economy of the table disarranged;--
the company broke up most admired disorder;--and "Vulgar minds will
never know" anything more of Miss Simpkinson's ode till they peruse it
in some forthcoming Annual.

Seaforth profited by the confusion to take the delinquent who had
caused this "stramash" by the arm, and to lead him to the lawn, where
he had a word or two for his private ear. The conference between the
young gentlemen was neither brief in its duration nor unimportant in
its result. The subject was what the lawyers call tripartite,
embracing the information that Charles Seaforth was over head and ears
in love with Tom Ingoldsby's sister; secondly, that the lady had
referred him to "papa" for his sanction; thirdly and lastly, his
nightly visitations, and consequent bereavement. At the two first
items Tom smiled auspiciously; at the last he burst out into an
absolute "guffaw."

"Steal your breeches!--Miss Bailey over again, by Jove," shouted
Ingoldsby. "But a gentleman, you say,--and Sir Giles too.--I am not
sure, Charles, whether I ought not to call you out for aspersing the
honour of the family."

"Laugh as you will, Tom,--be as incredulous as you please. One fact
is incontestible,--the breeches are gone! Look here--I am reduced to
my regimentals, and if these go, to-morrow I must borrow of you!"

Rochefoucault says, there is something in the misfortunes of our
very best friends that does not displease us;--assuredly we can, most
of us, laugh at their petty inconveniences, till called upon to supply
them. Tom composed his features on the instant, and replied with more
gravity, as well as with an expletive, which, if my Lord Mayor had
been within hearing, might have cost him five shillings.

"There is something very queer in this, after all. The clothes, you
say, have positively disappeared. Somebody is playing you a trick,
and, ten to one, your servant has a hand in it. By the way, I heard
something yesterday of his kicking up a bobbery in the kitchen, and
seeing a ghost, or something of that kind, himself. Depend upon it,
Barney is in the plot."

It now struck the lieutenant at once, that the usually buoyant
spirits of his attendant had of late been materially sobered down, his
loquacity obviously circumscribed, and that he, the said lieutenant,
had actually rung his bell several times that very morning before he
could procure his attendance. Mr Maguire was forthwith summoned, and
underwent a close examination. The "bobbery" was easily-explained. Mr
Oliver Dobbs hinted his disapprobation of a flirtation carrying on
between the gentleman from Minster and the lady from the Rue St
Honor. Mademoiselle had boxed Mr Maguire's ears, and Mr Maguire had
pulled Mademoiselle upon his knee, and the lady had not cried Mon
Dieu! And Mr Oliver Dobbs said it was very wrong; and Mrs Botherby
said it was "scandalous," and what ought not to be done in any moral
kitchen; and Mr Maguire had got hold of the Honourable Augustus
Sucklethumbkin's powder-flask, and had put large pinches of the best
double Dartford into Mr Dobbs's tobacco-box;--and Mr Dobbs's pipe had
exploded, and set fire to Mrs Botherby's Sunday cap;--and Mr Maguire
had put it out with the slop-basin, "barring the wig";--and then they
were all so "cantankerous," that Barney had gone to take a walk in the
garden; and then--then Mr Barney had seen a ghost!

"A what? you blockhead!" asked Tom Ingoldsby.

"Sure then, and it's meself will tell your honour the rights of it,"
said the ghost-seer. "Meself and Miss Pauline, sir, or Miss Pauline
and meself, for the ladies comes first anyhow, we got tired of the
hobstroppylous skrimmaging among the ould servants, that didn't know a
joke when they seen one: and we went out to look at the comet,--that's
the rory-bory-alehouse, they calls him in this country,--and we walked
upon the lawn--and divil of any alehouse there was there at all; and
Miss Pauline said it was because of the shrubbery maybe, and why
wouldn't we see it better beyonst the trees?--and so we went to the
trees, but sorrow a comet did meself see there, barring a big ghost
instead of it."

"A ghost? And what sort of a ghost, Barney?"

"Och, then, divil a lie I'll tell your honour. A tall ould gentleman
he was, all in white, with a shovel on the shoulder of him, and a big
torch in his fist,--though what he wanted with that it's meself can't
tell, for his eyes were like gig-lamps, let alone the moon and the
comet, which wasn't there at all,--and 'Barney,' says he to me,--
'cause why he knew me,--'Barney,' says he, 'what is it you're doing
with the colleen there, Barney?'--Divil a word did I say. Miss Pauline
screeched, and cried murther in French, and ran off with herself; and
of course meself was in a mighty hurry after the lady, and had no time
to stop palavering with him any way; so I dispersed at once, and the
ghost vanished in a flame of fire!"

Mr Maguire's account was received with avowed incredulity by both
gentlemen; but Barney stuck to his text with unflinching pertinacity.
A reference to Mademoiselle was suggested, but abandoned, as neither
party had a taste for delicate investigations.

"I'll tell you what, Seaforth," said Ingoldsby, after Barney had
received his dismissal, "that there is a trick here, is evident; and
Barney's vision may possibly be a part of it. Whether he is most knave
or fool, you best know. At all events, I will sit up with you to-night
and see if I can convert my ancestor into a visiting acquaintance.
Meanwhile your finger on your lip!"

  "'Twas now the very witching time of night.
  When churchyards yawn, and graves give up their dead."

Gladly would I grace my tale with decent horror, and therefore I do
beseech the "gentle reader" to believe, that if all the succedanea to
this mysterious narrative are not in strict keeping, he will ascribe
it only to the disgraceful innovations of modern degeneracy upon the
sober and dignified habits of our ancestors. I can introduce him, it
is true, into an old and high-roofed chamber, its walls covered on
three sides with black oak wainscotting, adorned with carvings of
fruit and flowers long anterior to those of Grinling Gibbons; the
fourth side is clothed with a curious remnant of dingy tapestry, once
elucidatory of some Scriptural history, but of which not even Mrs
Botherby could determine. Mr Simpkinson, who had examined it
carefully, inclined to believe the principal figure to be either
Bathsheba, or Daniel in the lions' den; while Tom Ingoldsby decided in
favour of the King of Bashan. All, however, was conjecture, tradition
being silent on the subject.--A lofty arched portal led into, and a
little arched portal led out of, this apartment; they were opposite
each other, and each possessed the security of massy bolts on its
interior. The bedstead, too, was not one of yesterday, but manifestly
coeval with days ere Seddons was, and, when a good four-post "article"
was deemed worthy of being a royal bequest. The bed itself, with all
the appurtenances of palliasse, mattresses, etc., was of far later
date, and looked most incongruously comfortable; the casements, too,
with their little diamond-shaped panes and iron binding, had given way
to the modern heterodoxy of the sash-window. Nor was this all that
conspired to ruin the costume, and render the room a meet haunt for
such "mixed spirits" only as could condescend to don at the same time
an Elizabethan doublet and Bond Street inexpressibles.

With their green morocco slippers on a modern fender in front of a
disgracefully modern grate, sat two young gentlemen, clad in "shawl
pattern" dressing gowns and black silk stocks, much at variance with
the high cane-backed chairs which supported them. A bunch of
abomination, called a cigar, reeked in the left-hand corner of the
mouth of one, and in the right-hand corner of the mouth of the
other;--an arrangement happily adapted for the escape of the noxious
fumes up the chimney, without that unmerciful "funking" each other,
which a less scientific disposition of the weed would have induced. A
small pembroke table filled up the intervening space between them,
sustaining at each extremity, an elbow and a glass of toddy;--thus in
"lonely pensive contemplation" were the two worthies occupied, when
the "iron tongue of midnight had tolled twelve."

"Ghost-time's come!" said Ingoldsby, taking from his waistcoat
pocket a watch like a gold half-crown, and consulting it as though he
suspected the turret-clock over the stables of mendacity.

"Hush!" said Charles; "did I not hear a footstep?"

There was a pause:--there was a footstep--it sounded distinctly--it
reached the door--it hesitated, stopped, and...

Tom darted across the room, threw open the door, and became aware of
Mrs Botherby toddling to her chamber, at the other end of the gallery,
after dosing one of the housemaids with an approved, julep from the
Countess of Kent's "Choice Manual."

"Good night, sir!" said Mrs Botherby.

"Go to the d--l!" said the disappointed ghost-hunter.

An hour--two--rolled on, and still no spectral visitation; nor did
aught intervene to make night hideous; and when the turret-clock
sounded at length the hour of three, Ingoldsby, whose patience and
grog were alike exhausted, sprang from his chair, saying,--

"This is all infernal nonsense, my good fellow. Deuce of any ghost
shall we see to-night; it's long past the canonical hour. I'm off to
bed; and as to your breeches, I'll insure them for the next twenty-
four hours at least, at the price of the buckram."

"Certainly.--Oh! thankee;--to be sure!" stammered Charles, rousing
himself from a reverie, which had degenerated into an absolute snooze.

"Good-night, my boy! Bolt the door behind me; and defy the Pope, the
Devil and the Pretender!--"

Seaforth followed his friend's advice, and the next morning came
down to breakfast dressed in the habiliments of the preceding day. The
charm was broken, the demon defeated; the light greys with the red
stripe down the seams were yet in rerum natur, and adorned the person
of their lawful proprietor.

Tom felicitated himself and his partner of the watch on the result
of their vigilance; but there is a rustic adage, which warns us
against self-gratulation before we are quite "out of the wood."--
Seaforth was yet within its verge.

* * * * *

A rap at Tom Ingoldsby's door the following morning startled him as
he was shaving;--he cut his chin.

"Come in,-and be d--d to you!" said the martyr, pressing his thumb
on the scarified epidermis.--The door opened, and exhibited Mr Barney

"Well, Barney, what is it?" quoth the sufferer, adopting the
vernacular of his visitant.

"The master, sir--"

"Well, what does he want?"

"The loanst of a breeches, plase your honour."

"Why, you don't mean to tell me--By Heaven, this is too good!"
shouted Tom, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. "Why,
Barney, you don't mean to say the ghost has got them again!"

Mr Maguire did not respond to the young squire's risibility; the
cast of his countenance was decidedly serious.

"Faith, then, it's gone they are, sure enough! Hasn't meself been
looking over the bed, and under the bed, and in the bed, for the
matter of that, and divil a ha'p'orth of breeches is there to the fore
at all:--I'm bothered entirely!"

"Hark'ee! Mr Barney," said Tom, incautiously removing his thumb, and
letting a crimson stream "incarnadine the multitudinous" lather that
plastered his throat,--"this may be all very well with your master,
but you don't humbug me, sir:--tell me instantly what have you done
with the clothes?"

This abrupt transition from "lively to severe" certainly took
Maguire by surprise, and he seemed for an instant as much disconcerted
as it is possible to disconcert an Irish gentleman's gentleman.

"Me? is it meself, then, that's the ghost to your honour's
thinking?" said he, after a moment's pause, and with a slight shade of
indignation in his tones: "is it I would stale the master's things?--
and what would I do with them?"

"That you best know:--what your purpose is I can't guess, for I
don't think you mean to 'stale' them, as you call it; but that you are
concerned in their disappearance, I am satisfied. Confound this
blood!--give me a towel, Barney."

Maguire acquitted himself of the commission. "As I've a sowl, your
honour," said he solemnly, "little it is meself knows of the matter:
and after what I seen--"

"What you've seen! Why, what have you seen?--Barney, I don't want to
enquire into your flirtations; but don't suppose you can palm off your
saucer eyes and gig-lamps upon me!"

"Then, as sure as your honour's standing there I saw him: and why
wouldn't I, when Miss Pauline was to the fore as well as meself, and--

"Get along with your nonsense,leave the room, sir!"

"But the master?" said Barney imploringly; "and without a
breeches?--sure he'll be catching cowld!--"

"Take that, rascal!" replied Ingoldsby, throwing a pair of
pantaloons at, rather than to, him: "but don't suppose, sir, you shall
carry on your tricks here with impunity; recollect there is such a
thing as a tread-mill, and that my father is a county magistrate."

Barney's eye flashed fire,--he stood erect, and was about to speak;
but, mastering himself, not without an effort, he took up the garment,
and left the room as perpendicular as a Quaker.

* * * * *

"Ingoldsby;" said Charles Seaforth, after breakfast, "this is now
past a joke; to-day is the last of my stay; for, notwithstanding the
ties which detain me, common decency obliges me to visit home after so
long an absence. I shall come to an immediate explanation with your
father on the subject nearest my heart, and depart while I have a
change of dress left. On his answer will my return depend! In the
meantime tell me candidly,--I ask it in all seriousness and as a
friend,--am I not a dupe to your well-known propensity to hoaxing?
have you not a hand in--"

"No, by heaven I Seaforth; I see what you mean: on my honour, I am
as much mystified as yourself: and if your servant--"

"Not he:--if there be a trick, he at least is not privy to it."

"If there be a trick? Why, Charles, do you think--"

"I know not what to think, Tom. As surely as you are a living man,
so surely did that spectral anatomy visit my room again last night,
grin in my face, and walk away with my trousers, nor was I able to
spring from my bed, or break the chain which seemed to bind me to my

"Seaforth!" said Ingoldsby, after a short pause, "I will--But hush!
here are the girls and my father.--I will carry off the females, and
leave you a clear field with the governor: carry your point with him,
and we will talk about your breeches afterwards."

Tom's diversion was successful; he carried off the ladies en masse
to look at a remarkable specimen of the class Dodecandria Monogynia,--
which they could not find:--while Seaforth marched boldly up to the
encounter, and carried "the governor's" outworks by a coup de main. I
shall not stop to describe the progress of the attack: suffice it that
it was as successful as could have been wished, and that Seaforth was
referred back again to the lady. The happy lover was off at a tangent;
the botanical party was soon overtaken; and the arm of Caroline, whom
a vain endeavour to spell out the Linnan name of a daffy-down-dilly
had detained a little in the rear of the others, was soon firmly
locked in his own.

"What was the world to them.
Its noise, its nonsense, and its 'breeches' all?"

Seaforth was in the seventh heaven; he retired to his room that night
as happy as if no such thing as a goblin had ever been heard of, and
personal chattels were as well fenced in by law as real property. Not
so Tom Ingoldsby: the mystery,--for mystery there evidently was,--had
not only piqued his curiosity, but ruffled his temper. The watch of
the previous night had been unsuccessful, probably because it was
undisguised. To-night he would "ensconce himself,"--not indeed "behind
the arras,"--for the little that remained was, as we have seen, nailed
to the wall,--but in a small closet which opened from one corner of
the room, and, by leaving the door ajar, would give to its occupant a
view of all that might pass in the apartment. Here did the young
ghost-hunter take up a position with a good stout sapling under his
arm, a full half-hour before Seaforth retired for the night. Not even
his friend did he let into his confidence, fully determined that if
his plan did not succeed, the failure should be attributed to himself

At the usual hour of separation for the night, Tom saw, from his
concealment, the lieutenant enter his room, and after taking a few
turns in it, with an expression so joyous as to betoken that his
thoughts were mainly occupied by his approaching happiness, proceed
slowly to disrobe himself. The coat, the waistcoat, the black silk
stock, were gradually discarded* the green morocco slippers were
kicked off, and then--ay, and then--his countenance grew grave; it
seemed to occur to him all at once that this was his last stake,--nay,
that very breeches he had on were not his own,--that to-morrow morning
was his last, and that if he lost them--A glance showed that his mind
was made up: he replaced the single button he had just subducted, and
threw himself upon the bed in a state of transition--half chrysalis,
half grub.

Wearily did Tom Ingoldsby watch the sleeper by the flickering light
of the night-lamp, till the clock, striking one, induced him to
increase the narrow opening which he had left for the purpose of
observation. The motion, slight as it was, seemed to attract Charles's
attention; for he raised. himself suddenly to a sitting posture,
listened for a moment, and then stood upright upon the floor.
Ingoldsby was on the point of discovering himself, when, the light,
flashing full upon his friend's countenance, he perceived that, though
his eyes were open, "their sense was shut,"--that he was yet under the
influence of sleep. Seaforth advanced slowly to the toilet, lit his
candle at the lamp that stood on it, then, going back to the bed's
foot, appeared to search eagerly for something which he could not
find.--For a few moments he seemed restless and uneasy,walking round
the apartment and examining the chairs, till, coming fully in front of
a large swing-glass that flanked the dressing-table, he paused, as if
contemplating his figure in it. He now returned towards the bed; put
on his slippers; and, with cautious and stealthy steps, proceeded
towards the little arched doorway that opened on the private

As he drew the bolt, Tom Ingoldsby emerged from his hiding-place;
but the sleep-walker heard him not; he proceeded softly down stairs,
followed at a due distance by his friend; opened the door which led
out upon the gardens; and stood at once among the thickest of the
scrubs, which here clustered round the base of a corner turret, and
screened the postern from common observation. At this moment Ingoldsby
had nearly spoiled all by making a false step: the sound attracted
Seaforth's attention,--he paused and turned: and as the full moon shed
her light directly upon his pale and troubled features, Tom marked,
almost with dismay, the fixed and rayless appearance of his eyes:

"There was no speculation in those orbs
That he did glare withal."

The perfect stillness preserved by his follower seemed to reassure
him; he turned aside; and from the midst of a thickset laurustinus,
drew forth a gardener's spade, shouldering which he proceeded with
great rapidity into the midst of the shrubbery. Arrived at a certain
point where the earth seemed to have been recently disturbed, he set
himself heartily to the task of digging, till, having thrown up
several shovelfuls of mould, he stopped, flung down his tool, and very
composedly began to disencumber himself of his pantaloons.

Up to this moment Tom had watched him with a wary eye: he now
advanced cautiously, and, as his friend was busily engaged in
disentangling himself from his garment, made himself master of the
spade. Seaforth, meanwhile, had accomplished his purpose: he stood for
a moment with:

"His streamers waving in the wind."

occupied in carefully rolling up the small-clothes into as compact a
form as possible, and all heedless of the breath of heaven, which
might certainly be supposed, at such a moment, and in such a plight,
to "visit his frame too roughly."

He was in the act of stooping low to deposit the pantaloons in the
grave which he had been digging for them, when Tom Ingoldsby came
close behind him, and with the flat side of the spade--

* * * * *

The shock was effectual,--never again was Lieutenant Seaforth known
to act the part of a somnambulist. One by one, his breeches,--his
trousers,--his pantaloons,--his silk-net tights,--his patent cords,--
his showy greys with the broad red stripe of the Bombay Fencibles were
brought to light,--rescued from the grave in which they had been
buried, like the strata of a Christmas pie; and, after having been
well aired by Mrs Botherby, became once again effective.

The family, the ladies especially, laughed;--the Peterses laughed;--
the Simpkinsons laughed;--Barney Maguire cried "Botheration!" and
Ma'mselle Pauline "Mon Dieu!"

Charles Seaforth, unable to face the quizzing which awaited him on
all sides, started off two hours earlier than he had proposed--he
soon returned, however; and having, at his father-in-law's request,
given up the occupation of Rajah-hunting and shooting Nabobs, led his
blushing bride to the altar.

Mr Simpkinson from Bath did not attend the ceremony, being engaged
at the Grand Junction Meeting of Savans, then congregating from all
parts of the known world in the city of Dublin. His essay,
demonstrating that the globe is a great custard, whipped into
coagulation by whirlwinds, and cooked by electricity,--a little too
much baked in the Isle of Portland, and a thought underdone about the
Bog of Allen,--was highly spoken of, and narrowly escaped obtaining a
Bridgewater prize.

Miss Simpkinson and her sister acted as bridesmaids on the occasion;
the former wrote an epithalamium, and the latter cried "Lassy me!" at
the clergyman's wig.--Some years have since rolled on; the union has
been crowned with two or three tidy little offshoots from the family
tree of whom Master Neddy is "grandpapa's darling," and Mary-Anne
mamma's particular "Sock." I shall only add that Mr and Mrs Seaforth
are living together quite as happily as two good-hearted, good-
tempered bodies, very fond, of each other, can possibly do: and, that
since the day of his marriage Charles has shown no disposition to jump
out of bed, or ramble out of doors o' nights,--though, from his entire
devotion to every wish and whim of his young wife, Tom insinuates that
the fair Caroline does still occasionally take advantage of it so far
as to "slip on the breeches."


READER, were you ever bewitched?--I do not mean by a 'white wench's
black eye,' or by love-potions imbibed from a ruby lip;--but, were you
ever really and bon fide bewitched, in the true Matthew Hopkins's
sense of the word? Did you ever, for instance, find yourself from head
to heel one vast complication of cramps?--or burst out into sudorific
exudation like a cold thaw, with the thermometer at zero?--Were your
eyes ever turned upside down, exhibiting nothing but their whites?--
Did you ever vomit a paper of crooked pins?--or expectorate
Whitechapel needles?--These are genuine and undoubted marks of
possession; and if you never experienced any of them,--why, 'happy man
be his dole!'

Yet such things have been; yea, we are assured, and that on no mean
authority, still are.

The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe,
Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh. In this last-named, and
fifth, quarter of the globe, a Witch may still be occasionally
discovered in favourable, i.e. stormy, seasons, weathering Dungeness
Point in an egg-shell, or careering on her broomstick over Dymchurch
wall. A cow may yet be sometimes seen galloping like mad, with tail
erect, and an old pair of breeches on her horns, an unerring guide to
the door of the crone whose magic arts have drained her udder. I do
not, however, remember to have heard that any Conjuror has of late
been detected in the district.

Not many miles removed from the verge of this recondite region,
stands a collection of houses, which its maligners call a fishing-
town, and its well-wishers a Watering-place. A limb of one of the
Cinque Ports, it has (or lately had) a corporation of its own, and has
been thought considerable enough to give a second title to a noble
family. Rome stood on seven hills; Folkestone seems to have been built
upon seventy. Its streets, lanes, and alleys,--fanciful distinctions
without much real difference,--are agreeable enough to persons who do
not mind running up and down stairs; and the only inconvenience at all
felt by such of its inhabitants as are not asthmatic, is when some
heedless urchin tumbles down a chimney, or an impertinent pedestrian
peeps into a garret window.

At the eastern extremity of the town, on the sea-beach, and scarcely
above high-water mark, stood, in the good old times, a row of houses
then denominated 'Frog-hole.' Modern refinement subsequently
euphonized the name into 'East-street'; but 'what's in a name?'--the
encroachments of Ocean have long since levelled all in one common

Here, in the early part of the seventeenth century, flourished, in
somewhat doubtful reputation but comparative opulence, a compounder of
medicines, one Master Erasmus Buckthorne; the effluvia of whose drugs
from within, mingling agreeably with the 'ancient and fish-like
smells' from without, wafted a delicious perfume throughout the

At seven of the clock, on the morning when Mrs. Botherby's narrative
commences, a stout Suffolk 'punch,' about thirteen hands and a half in
height, was slowly led up and down before the door of the
pharmacopolist by a lean and withered lad, whose appearance warranted
an opinion, pretty generally expressed, that his master found him as
useful in experimentalizing as in household drudgery; and that, for
every pound avoirdupois of solid meat, he swallowed, at the least, two
pounds troy-weight of chemicals and galenicals. As the town clock
struck the quarter Master Buckthorne emerged from his laboratory, and,
putting the key carefully into his pocket, mounted the sure-footed cob
aforesaid, and proceeded up and down the acclivities and declivities
of the town with the gravity due to his station and profession. When
he reached the open country his pace was increased to a sedate canter,
which, in somewhat more than half an hour, brought 'the horse and his
rider' in front of a handsome and substantial mansion, the numerous
gable-ends and bayed windows of which bespoke the owner a man of
worship and one well to do in the world.

'How now, Hodge Gardener?' quoth the Leech, scarcely drawing bit; for
Punch seemed to be aware that he had reached his destination and
paused of his own accord;'how now, man? How fares thine employer,
worthy Master Marsh? How hath he done? How hath he slept?--My potion
hath done its office? Ha!'

'Alack! ill at ease worthy sir--ill at ease,' returned the hind; 'his
honour is up and stirring; but he hath rested none, and complaineth
that the same gnawing pain devoureth, as it were, his very vitals in
sooth he is ill at ease.'

'Morrow, doctor!' interrupted a voice from a casement opening on the
lawn. 'Good morrow! I have looked for, longed for, thy coming this
hour and more enter at once; the pasty and tankard are impatient for
thine attack!'

'Marry, Heaven forbid that I should baulk their fancy!' quoth the
Leech sotto voce, as, abandoning the bridle to honest Hodge, he
dismounted, and followed a buxom-looking handmaiden into the breakfast

There, at the head of his well-furnished board, sat Master Thomas
Marsh, of Marston Hall, a Yeoman well respected in his degree one of
that sturdy and sterling class which, taking rank immediately below
the Esquire (a title in its origin purely military), occupied, in the
wealthier counties, the position in society now filled by the Country
Gentleman. He was one of those of whom the proverb ran:

 'A Knight of Cales.
 A Gentleman of Wales.
  And a Laird of the North Countree;
 A Yeoman of Kent.
 With his yearly rent.
  Will buy them out all three!'

A cold sirloin, big enough to frighten a Frenchman, filled the place
of honour, counter-checked by a game-pie of no stinted dimensions;
while a silver flagon of 'humming-bub,'--viz. ale strong enough to
blow a man's beaver off,--smiled opposite in treacherous amenity. The
sideboard groaned beneath sundry massive cups and waiters of the
purest silver; while the huge skull of a fallow deer, with its
branching horns, frowned majestically above. All spoke of affluence,
of comfort,--all save the master, whose restless eye and feverish look
hinted but too plainly the severest mental or bodily disorder. By the
side of the proprietor of the mansion sat his consort, a lady now past
the bloom of youth, yet still retaining many of its charms. The clear
olive of her complexion and 'the darkness of her Andalusian eye' at
once betrayed her foreign origin; in fact, her 'lord and master,' as
husbands were even then, by a legal fiction, denominated, had taken
her to his bosom in a foreign country. The cadet of his family, Master
Thomas Marsh had early in life been engaged in commerce. In the
pursuit of his vocation he had visited Antwerp, Hamburg, and most of
the Hanse Towns; and had already formed a tender connexion with the
orphan offspring of one of old Alva's officers, when the unexpected
deaths of one immediate and two presumptive heirs placed him next in
succession to the family acres. He married and brought home his bride;
who, by the decease of the venerable possessor, heart-broken at the
loss of his elder children, became eventually lady of Marston Hall. It
has been said that she was beautiful, yet was her beauty of a
character that operates on the fancy more than the affections; she was
one to be admired rather than loved. The proud curl of her lip, the
firmness of her tread, her arched brow and stately carriage, showed
the decision, not to say haughtiness, of her soul; while her glances,
whether lightening with anger or melting in extreme softness, betrayed
the existence of passions as intense in kind as opposite in quality.
She rose as Erasmus entered the parlour, and bestowing on him a look
fraught with meaning quitted the room, leaving him in unrestrained
communication with his patient.

'Fore George, Master Buckthorne!' exclaimed the latter, as the Leech
drew near, 'I will no more of your pharmacy;--burn, burn,--gnaw,
gnaw,--I had as lief the foul fiend were in my gizzard as one of your
drugs. Tell me, in the devil's name, what is the matter with me!'

Thus conjured, the practitioner paused and even turned somewhat pale
There was a perceptible faltering in his voice, as, evading the
question, he asked, 'What say your other physicians?'

'Doctor Phiz says it is wind,--Doctor Fuz says it is water,--and
Doctor Buz says it is something between wind and water.'

'They are all of them wrong,' said Erasmus Buckthorne.

'Truly, I think so,' returned the patient. 'They are manifest asses;
but you, good Leech, you are a horse of another colour. The world
talks loudly of your learning, your skill, and cunning in arts the
most abstruse; nay, sooth to say, some look coldly on you therefore,
and stickle not to aver that you are cater-cousin with Beelzebub

'It is ever the fate of science,' murmured the professor, 'to be
maligned by the ignorant and superstitious. But a truce with such
folly;--let me examine your palate.'

Master Marsh thrust out a tongue long, clear, and red as beet-root.
'There is nothing wrong there,' said the Leech. 'Your wrist:--no;--the
pulse is firm and regular, the skin cool and temperate Sir, there is
nothing the matter with you!'

'Nothing the matter with me, Sir 'Potecary? But I tell you there is
the matter with me,--much the matter with me. Why is it that something
seems ever gnawing at my heart-strings? Whence this pain in the region
of the liver? Why is it that I sleep not o' nights,--rest not o' days?

'You are fidgety, Master Marsh,' said the doctor.

Master Marsh's brow grew dark; he half rose from his seat, supported
himself by both hands on the arms of his elbowchair, and in accents of
mingled anger and astonishment repeated the word 'Fidgety!'

'Ay, fidgety,' returned the doctor calmly. 'Tut, man, there is nought
ails thee save thine own overweening fancies. Take less of food, more
air, put aside thy flagon, call for thy horse; be boot and saddle the
word! Why,--hast thou not youth?'

'I have,' said the patient.

'Wealth and a fair domain?'

'Granted,' quoth Marsh cheerily.

'And a fair wife?'

'Yea,' was the response, but in a tone something less satisfied.

'Then arouse thee, man, shake off this fantasy, betake thyself to thy
lawful occasions,--use thy good hap,--follow thy pleasures, and think
no more of these fancied ailments.'

'But I tell you, master mine, these ailments are not fancied. I lose
my rest, I loathe my food, my doublet sits loosely on me,--these
racking pains. My wife, too! when I meet her gaze, the cold sweat
stands on my forehead, and I could almost think--' Marsh paused
abruptly, mused a while, then added, looking steadily at his visitor,
'These things are not right; they pass the common, Master Erasmus

A slight shade crossed the brow of the Leech, but its passage was
momentary; his features softened to a smile, in which pity seemed
slightly blended with contempt 'Have done with such follies, Master
Marsh. You are well, an you would but think so. Ride, I say, hunt,
shoot, do anything,--disperse these melancholic humours and become
yourself again.'

'Well, I will do your bidding,' said Marsh thoughtfully. 'It may be
so; and yet,--but I will do your bidding. Master Cobbe of Brenzet
writes me that he hath a score or two of fat ewes to be sold a
pennyworth; I had thought to have sent Ralph Looker, but I will essay
to go myself. Ho, there!--saddle me the brown mare, and bid Ralph be
ready to attend me on the gelding.'

An expression of pain contracted the features of Master Marsh as he
rose and slowly quitted the apartment to prepare for his journey;
while the Leech, having bidden him farewell, vanished through an
opposite door, and betook himself to the private boudoir of the fair
mistress of Marston, muttering as he went a quotation from a then
newly published play--

'Not poppy, nor mandragora.
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world.
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou own'dst yesterday.'

Of what passed at this interview between the Folkestone doctor and
the fair Spaniard Mrs. Botherby declares she could never obtain any
satisfactory elucidation Not that tradition is silent on the subject,
quite the contrary; it is the abundance, not paucity, of the materials
she supplies, and the consequent embarrassment of selection, that
makes the difficulty. Some have averred that the Leech, whose
character, as has been before hinted, was more than threadbare,
employed his time in teaching her the mode of administering certain
noxious compounds, the unconscious partaker whereof would pine and die
so slowly and gradually as to defy suspicion. Others there were who
affirmed that Lucifer himself was then and there raised in propri
person with all his terrible attributes of horn and hoof. In support
of this assertion, they adduce the testimony of the aforesaid buxom
housemaid, who protested that the Hall smelt that evening like a
manufactory of matches. All, however, seemed to agree that the
confabulation, whether human or infernal, was conducted with profound
secrecy and protracted to a considerable length; that its object, as
far as could be divined, meant anything but good to the head of the
family; that the lady, moreover, was heartily tired of her husband;
and that, in the event of his removal by disease or casualty, Master
Erasmus Buckthorne, albeit a great philosophist, would have no violent
objection to 'throw physic to the dogs,' and exchange his laboratory
for the estate of Marston, its live stock included. Some, too, have
inferred that to him did Madame Isabel 'seriously incline'; while
others have thought, induced perhaps by subsequent events, that she
was merely using him for her purposes; that one Jos, a tall, bright-
eyed, hook-nosed stripling from her native land, was a personage not
unlikely to put a spoke in the doctor's wheel; and that, should such a
chance arise, the Sage, wise as he was, would after all run no slight
risk of being 'bamboozled.'

Master Jos was a youth well-favoured and comely to look upon. His
office was that of page to the dame; an office which, after long
remaining in abeyance, has been of late years revived, as may well be
seen in the persons of sundry smart hobbledehoys, now constantly to be
met with on staircases and in boudoirs, clad, for the most part, in
garments fitted tightly to the shape, the lower moiety adorned with a
broad stripe of crimson or silver lace, and the upper with what the
first Wit of our times has described as 'a favourable eruption of
buttons.' The precise duties of this employment have never, as far as
we have heard, been accurately defined. The perfuming a handkerchief,
the combing a lap-dog, and the occasional presentation of a sippet-
shaped billet doux, are, and always have been, among them; but these a
young gentleman standing five foot ten, and aged nineteen 'last
grass,'might well be supposed to have outgrown Jos, however, kept his
place, perhaps because he was not fit for any other. To the conference
between his mistress and the physician he had not been admitted his
post was to keep watch and ward in the ante-room; and, when the
interview was concluded, he attended the lady and her visitor as far
as the courtyard, where he held, with all due respect, the stirrup for
the latter, as he once more resumed his position on the back of Punch.

Who is it that says 'little pitchers have large ears'? Some deep
metaphysician of the potteries,--who might have added that they have
also quick eyes, and sometimes silent tongues. There was a little
metaphorical piece of crockery of this class, who, screened by a huge
elbowchair, had sat a quiet and unobserved spectator of the whole
proceedings between her mamma and Master Erasmus Buckthorne. This was
Miss Marian Marsh, a rosy-cheeked, laughter-loving imp of some six
years old; but one who could be mute as a mouse when the fit was on
her. A handsome and highly polished cabinet of the darkest ebony
occupied a recess at one end of the apartment; this had long been a
great subject of speculation to little Miss. Her curiosity, however,
had always been repelled; nor had all her coaxing ever won her an
inspection of the thousand and one pretty things which its recesses no
doubt contained. On this occasion it was unlocked, and Marian was
about to rush forward in eager anticipation of a peep at its interior,
when, child as she was, the reflection struck her that she would stand
abetter chance of carrying her point by remaining perdue. Fortune for
once favoured her she crouched closer than before, and saw her mother
take something from one of the drawers, which she handed over to the
Leech. Strange mutterings followed and words whose sound was foreign
to her youthful ears. Had she been older, their import, perhaps, might
have been equally unknown.--After a while there was a pause; and then
the lady, as in answer to a requisition from the gentleman, placed in
his hand a something which she took from her toilet. The transaction,
whatever its nature, seemed now to be complete, and the article was
carefully replaced in the drawer from which it had been taken. A long
and apparently interesting conversation then took place between the
parties, carried on in a low tone. At its termination Mistress Marsh
and Master Erasmus Buckthorne quitted the boudoir together But the
cabinet!--ay, that was left unfastened; the folding-doors still
remained invitingly expanded, the bunch of keys dangling from the
lock. In an instant the spoiled child was in a chair; the drawer so
recently closed yielded at once to her hand, and her hurried
researches were rewarded by the prettiest little waxen doll imaginable
It was a first-rate prize, and Miss lost no time in appropriating it
to herself. Long before Madam Marsh had returned to her sanctum,
Marian was seated under a laurestinus in the garden, nursing her new
baby with the most affectionate solicitude.

'Susan, look here; see what a nasty scratch I have got on my hand,'
said the young lady, when routed out at length from her hiding-place
to her noontide meal.

'Yes, Miss, this is always the way with you! mend, mend, mend,--
nothing but mend! Scrambling about among the bushes, and tearing your
clothes to rags. What with you, and with Madam's farthingales and
kirtles, a poor bower-maiden has a fine time of it!'

'But I have not torn my clothes, Susan, and it was not the bushes; it
was the doll only see what a great ugly pin I have pulled out of it!
and look, here is another!' As she spoke, Marian drew forth one of
those extended pieces of black pointed wire, with which, in the days
of toupets and pompons, our foremothers were wont to secure their fly-
caps and head-gear from the impertinent assaults of 'Zephyrus and the
Little Breezes.'

'And pray, Miss, where did you get this pretty doll, as you call it?'
asked Susan, turning over the puppet and viewing it with a
scrutinizing eye.

'Mamma gave it me,' said the child.--This was a fib!

'Indeed!' quoth the girl thoughtfully; and then, in half soliloquy
and a lower key, 'Well! I wish I may die if it doesn't look like
master!--But come to your dinner, Miss! Hark! the bell is striking

Meanwhile Master Thomas Marsh and his man Ralph were threading the
devious paths--then, as now, most pseudonymously dignified with the
name of roads--that wound between Marston Hall and the frontier of
Romney Marsh. Their progress was comparatively slow; for, though the
brown mare was as good a roadster as a man might back and the gelding
no mean nag of his hands, yet the tracks, rarely traversed save by the
rude wains of the day, miry in the 'bottoms,' and covered with loose
and rolling stones on the higher grounds, rendered barely passable the
perpetual alternation of hill and valley.

The master rode on in pain, and the man in listlessness. Although the
intercourse between two individuals so situated was much less
restrained in those days than might suit the refinement of a later
age, little passed approximating to conversation beyond an occasional
and half-stifled groan from the one, or a vacant whistle from the
other. An hour's riding had brought them among the woods of Acryse;
and they were about to descend one of those green and leafy lanes,
rendered by matted and over-arching branches impervious alike to
shower or sunbeam, when a sudden and violent spasm seized on Master
Marsh and nearly caused him to fall from his horse. With some
difficulty he succeeded in dismounting and seating himself by the
road-side. Here he remained for a full half-hour in great apparent
agony; the cold sweat rolled in large round drops adown his clammy
forehead, a universal shivering palsied every limb, his eyeballs
appeared to be starting from their sockets, and to his attached,
though dull and heavy serving-man, he seemed as one struggling in the
pangs of impending dissolution. His groans rose thick and frequent;
and the alarmed Ralph was hesitating between his disinclination to
leave him and his desire to procure such assistance as one of the few
cottages, sparsely sprinkled in that wild country, might afford, when,
after along-drawn sigh, his master's features as suddenly relaxed; he
declared himself better, the pang had passed away and, to use his own
expression, he 'felt as if a knife had been drawn from out his very
heart.' With Ralph's assistance, after a while he again reached his
saddle; and though still ill at ease, from a deep-seated and gnawing
pain which ceased not, as he averred, to torment him, the violence of
the paroxysm was spent and it returned no more.

Master and man pursued their way with increased speed, as, emerging
from the wooded defiles, they at length neared the coast then, leaving
the romantic castle of Saltwood, with its neighbouring town of Hithe,
a little on their left, they proceeded along the ancient paved
causeway, and, crossing the old Roman road, or Watling, plunged again
into the woods that stretched between Lympne and Ostenhanger.

The sun rode high in the heavens and its meridian blaze was
powerfully felt by man and horse, when, again quitting their leafy
covert, the travellers debouched on the open plain of Aldington
Frith,(3) a wide tract of unenclosed country stretching down to the
very borders of 'the Marsh' itself.

(3) See Notes appended to the story.

Here it was, in the neighbouring chapelry, the site of which may yet
be traced by the curious antiquary, that Elizabeth Barton, the 'Holy
Maid of Kent,' had, something less than a hundred years previous to
the period of our narrative, commenced that series of supernatural
pranks which eventually procured for her head an unenvied elevation
upon London Bridge; and, though the parish had since enjoyed the
benefit of the incumbency of Master Erasmus's illustrious and
enlightened namesake, still, truth to tell, some of the old leaven was
even yet supposed to be at work. The place had, in fact, an ill name;
and, though Popish miracles had ceased to electrify its denizens,
spells and charms, operating by a no less wondrous agency, were said
to have taken their place Warlocks, and other unholy subjects of
Satan, were reported to make its wild recesses their favourite rendez-
vous, and that to an extent which eventually attracted the notice of
no less a personage than the sagacious Matthew Hopkins himself,
Witchfinder-General to the British Government.

A great portion of the Frith, or Fright, as the name was then, and is
still, pronounced, had formerly been a Chase, with rights of free-
warren, etc., appertaining to the Archbishops of the province. Since
the Reformation, however, it had been disparked; and, when Master
Thomas Marsh and his man Ralph entered upon its confines, the open
greensward exhibited a lively scene, sufficiently explanatory of
certain sounds that had already reached their ears while yet within
the sylvan screen which concealed their origin.

It was Fair-day booths, stalls, and all the rude paraphernalia of an
assembly, that then met as much for the purposes of traffic as
festivity, were scattered irregularly over the turf. Pedlars with
their packs, horse-croupers, pig-merchants, itinerant vendors of
crockery and cutlery, wandered promiscuously among the mingled groups,
exposing their several wares and commodities and soliciting custom. On
one side was the gaudy riband, making its mute appeal to rustic
gallantry; on the other the delicious brandy-ball and alluring
lollipop, compounded after the most approved receipt in the 'True
Gentlewoman's Garland,' and 'raising the waters' in the mouth of many
an expectant urchin.

Nor were rural sports wanting to those whom pleasure rather than
business had drawn from their humble homes. Here was the tall and
slippery pole, glittering in its grease and crowned with the ample
cheese, that mocked the hopes of the discomfited climber. There the
fugitive pippin, swimming in water not of the purest and bobbing from
the expanded lips of the juvenile Tantalus. In this quarter the car
was pierced by squeaks from some beleaguered porker, whisking his
well-soaped tail from the grasp of one already in fancy his captor. In
that, the eye rested, with undisguised delight, upon the grimaces of
grinning candidates for the honours of the horse-collar. All was fun,
frolic, courtship, junketing, and jollity.

Maid Marian, indeed, with her lieges, Robin Hood, Scarlet, and Little
John, was wanting; Friar Tuck was absent; even the Hobby-horse had
disappeared but the agile Morris-dancers yet were there, and jingled
their bells merrily among stalls well stored with gingerbread, tops,
whips, whistles, and all those noisy instruments of domestic torture
in which scenes like these are even now so fertile.--Had I a foe whom
I held at deadliest feud, I would entice his favourite child to a Fair
and buy him a whistle and a penny-trumpet.

In one corner of the green, a little apart from the thickest of the
throng, stood a small square stage, nearly level with the chins of the
spectators, whose repeated bursts of laughter seemed to intimate the
presence of something more than usually amusing. The platform was
divided into two unequal portions; the smaller of which, surrounded by
curtains of a coarse canvas, veiled from the eyes of the profane the
penetralia of this movable temple of Esculapius,--for such it was.
Within its interior, and secure from vulgar curiosity, the Quack-
salver had hitherto kept himself ensconced; occupied, no doubt, in the
preparation and arrangement of that wonderful panacea which was
hereafter to shed the blessings of health among the admiring crowd.
Meanwhile his attendant Jack-pudding was busily employed on the
proscenitum, doing his best to attract attention by a practical
facetiousness which took wonderfully with the spectators,
interspersing it with the melodious notes of a huge cow's horn. The
fellow's costume varied but little in character from that in which the
late (alas! that we should have to write the word--late!) Mr. Joseph
Grimaldi was accustomed to present himself before 'a generous and
enlightened public' the principal difference consisted in this, that
the upper garment was a long white tunic of a coarse linen, surmounted
by a caricature of the ruff then fast falling into disuse, and was
secured from the throat downwards by a single row of broad white metal
buttons, and his legs were cased in loose white trousers of the same
material; while his sleeves, prolonged to a most disproportionate
extent, descended far below the fingers, and acted as flappers in the
somersets and caracoles with which he diversified and enlivened his
antics Consummate impudence, not altogether unmixed with a certain sly
humour, sparkled in his eye through the chalk and ochre with which his
features were plentifully bedaubed; and especially displayed itself in
a succession of jokes, the coarseness of which did not seem to detract
from their merit in the eyes of his applauding audience.

He was in the midst of a long and animated harangue explanatory of
his master's high pretensions; he had informed his gaping auditors
that the latter was the seventh son of a seventh son, and of course,
as they very well knew, an Unborn Doctor; that to this happy accident
of birth he added the advantage of most extensive travel; that in his
search after science he had not only perambulated the whole of this
world, but had trespassed on the boundaries of the next; that the
depths of the Ocean and the bowels of the Earth were alike familiar to
him; that besides salves and cataplasms of sovereign virtue by
combining sundry mosses, gathered many thousand fathoms below the
surface of the sea, with certain unknown drugs found in an
undiscovered island, and boiling the whole in the lava of Vesuvius, he
had succeeded in producing his celebrated balsam of Crackapanoko, the
never-failing remedy for all human disorders, and which, a proper
trial allowed, would go near to reanimate the dead. 'Draw near!'
continued the worthy,'draw near, my masters! and you, my good
mistresses, draw near, every one of you. Fear not high and haughty
carriage: though greater than King or Kaiser, yet is the mighty
Aldrovando milder than mother's milk; flint to the proud, to the
humble he is as melting wax: he asks not your disorders, he sees them
himself at a glance--nay, without a glance; he tells your ailments
with his eyes shut!--Draw near! draw near! the more incurable the
better! List to the illustrious Doctor Aldrovando, first physician to
Prester John, Leech to the Grand Llama, and Hakim in Ordinary to
Mustapha Muley Bey!'

'Hath your master ever a charm for the toothache, an't please you?'
asked an elderly countryman, whose swollen cheek bespoke his interest
in the question.

'A charm!--a thousand, and every one of them infallible. Toothache,
quotha! I had hoped you had come with every bone in your body
fractured or out of joint. A toothache!--propound a tester,(4) master
o' mine--we ask not more for such trifles do my bidding, and thy jaws,
even with the word, shall cease to trouble thee!'

(4) A silver coin of the time of Henry VIII., borrowed from
France; of value from about 18d. originally to about 6d. later.

The clown, fumbling a while in a deep leathern purse, at length
produced a sixpence, which he tendered to the jester. 'Now to thy
master, and bring me the charm forthwith.'

'Nay, honest man; to disturb the mighty Aldrovando on such slight
occasion were pity of my life: areed my counsel aright, and I will
warrant thee for the nonce. Hie thee home, friend; infuse this powder
in cold spring-water, fill thy mouth with the mixture, and sit upon
thy fire till it boils!'

'Out on thee for a pestilent knave!' cried the cozened countryman;
but the roar of merriment around bespoke the bystanders well pleased
with the jape put upon him. He retired, venting his spleen in audible
murmurs; and the mountebank, finding the feelings of the mob enlisted
on his side, waxed more impudent every instant, filling up the
intervals between his fooleries with sundry capers and contortions,
and discordant notes from the cow's horn.

'Draw near, draw near, my masters! Here have ye a remedy for every
evil under the sun, moral, physical, natural and supernatural! Hath
any man a termagant wife?--here is that will tame her presently! Hath
anyone a smoky chimney?--here is an incontinent cure!'

To the first infliction no man ventured to plead guilty, though there
were those standing by who thought their neighbours might have
profited withal. For the last-named receipt started forth at least a
dozen candidates. With the greatest gravity imaginable, Pierrot,
having pocketed their groats, delivered to each a small packet
curiously folded and closely sealed, containing, as he averred,
directions which, if truly observed, would preclude any chimney from
smoking for a whole year. They whose curiosity led them to dive into
the mystery found that a sprig of mountain ash culled by moonlight was
the charm recommended, coupled, however, with the proviso that no fire
should be lighted on the hearth during its exercise.

The frequent bursts of merriment proceeding from this quarter at
length attracted the attention of Master Marsh, whose line of road
necessarily brought him near this end of the fair; he drew bit in
front of the stage just as its noisy occupant, having laid aside his
formidable horn, was drawing still more largely on the amazement of
'the public' by a feat of especial wonder,--he was eating fire!
Curiosity mingled with astonishment was at its height, and feelings
not unallied to alarm were beginning to manifest themselves, among the
softer sex especially, as they gazed on the flames that issued from
the mouth of the living volcano. All eyes indeed were fixed upon the
fire-eater with an intentness that left no room for observing another
worthy who had now emerged upon the scene. This was, however, no less
a personage than the Deus ex machin,--the illustrious Aldrovando

Short in stature and spare in form, the sage had somewhat increased
the former by a steeple-crowned hat adorned with a cock's feather;
while the thick shoulder-padding of a quilted doublet, surmounted by a
falling band, added a little to his personal importance in point of
breadth His habit was composed throughout of black serge, relieved
with scarlet slashes in the sleeves and trunks; red was the feather in
his hat, red were the roses in his shoes, which rejoiced moreover in a
pair of red heels. The lining of a short cloak of faded velvet, that
hung transversely over his left shoulder, was also red. Indeed, 'from
all that we could ever see or hear,' this agreeable alternation of red
and black appears to be the mixture of colours most approved at the
court of Beelzebub, and the one most generally adopted by his friends
and favourites. His features were sharp and shrewd, and a fire
sparkled in his keen grey eye, much at variance with the wrinkles that
ran their irregular furrows above his prominent and bushy brows. He
had advanced slowly from behind his screen while the attention of the
multitude was absorbed by the pyrotechnics of Mr. Merryman, and,
stationing himself at the extreme corner of the stage, stood quietly
leaning on a crutch-handle walking-staff of blackest ebony, his glance
steadily fixed on the face of Marsh, from whose countenance the
amusement he had insensibly begun to derive had not succeeded in
removing all traces of bodily pain.

For a while the latter was unobservant of the inquisitorial survey
with which he was regarded; the eyes of the parties, however, at
length met. The brown mare had a fine shoulder; she stood pretty
nearly sixteen hands. Marsh himself, though slightly bowed by ill-
health and the 'coming autumn' of life, was full six feet in height.
His elevation giving him an unobstructed view over the heads of the
pedestrians, he had naturally fallen into the rear of the assembly,
which brought him close to the diminutive Doctor, with whose face,
despite the red heels, his own was about upon a level.

'And what makes Master Marsh here?--what sees he in the mummeries of
a miserable buffoon to divert him when his life is in jeopardy?' said
a shrill cracked voice that sounded as in his very ear. It was the
Doctor who spoke.

'Knowest thou me, friend?' said Marsh, scanning with awakened
interest the figure of his questioner: 'I call thee not to mind; and
yet--stay, where have we met?'

'It skills not(5) to declare,' was the answer; 'suffice it we have
met,--in other climes perchance,--and now meet happily again--happily
at least for thee.'

 (5) An obsolete expression for it boots not, or it serves not.

'Why, truly the trick of thy countenance reminds me of somewhat I
have seen before; where or when I know not: but what wouldst thou with

'Nay, rather what wouldst thou here, Thomas Marsh? What wouldst thou
on the Frith of Aldington?--Is it a score or two of paltry sheep? or
is it something nearer to thy heart?'

Marsh started as the last words were pronounced with more than common
significance: a pang shot through him at the moment, and the vinegar
aspect of the charlatan seemed to relax into a smile half
compassionate, half sardonic.

'Grammercy,' quoth Marsh, after a long-drawn breath, 'what knowest
thou of me, fellow, or of my concerns? What knowest thou--'

'This know I, Master Thomas Marsh,' said the stranger gravely, 'that
thy life is even now perilled; evil practices are against thee; but no
matter, thou art quit for the nonce--other hands than mine have saved
thee! Thy pains are over. Hark! the clock strikes One!' As he spoke, a
single toll from the bell-tower of Bilsington came, wafted by the
western breeze, over the thick-set and lofty oaks which intervened
between the Frith and what had been once a priory. Doctor Aldrovando
turned as the sound came floating on the wind, and was moving as if
half in anger towards the other side of the stage, where the
mountebank, his fires extinct, was now disgorging to the admiring
crowd yard after yard of gaudy-coloured riband.

'Stay! Nay, prithee stay!' cried Marsh eagerly, 'I was wrong; in
faith I was. A change, and that a sudden and most marvellous, hath
indeed come over me; I am free; I breathe again; I feel as though a
load of years had been removed; and--is it possible?--hast thou done

'Thomas Marsh!' said the Doctor, pausing and turning for the moment
on his heel, 'I have not: I repeat, that other and more innocent hands
than mine have done this deed. Nevertheless heed my counsel well! Thou
art parlously encompassed; I, and I only, have the means of relieving
thee. Follow thy courses; pursue thy journey; but, as thou valuest
life and more than life, be at the foot of yonder woody knoll what
time the rising moon throws her first beam upon the bare and blighted
summit that towers above its trees.'

He crossed abruptly to the opposite quarter of the scaffolding, and
was in an instant deeply engaged in listening to those whom the cow's
horn had attracted, and in prescribing for their real or fancied
ailments. Vain were all Marsh's efforts again to attract his notice;
it was evident that he studiously avoided him; and when, after an hour
or more spent in useless endeavour, he saw the object of his anxiety
seclude himself once more within his canvas screen, he rode slowly and
thoughtfully off the field.

What should he do? Was the man a mere quack? an impostor?--His name
thus obtained?--that might be easily done. But then, his secret
griefs: the Doctor's knowledge of them; their cure; for he felt that
his pains were gone, his healthful feelings restored!

True, Aldrovando, if that were his name, had disclaimed all co-
operation in his recovery: but he knew, or he at least announced it.
Nay, more: he had hinted that he was yet in jeopardy; that practices--
and the chord sounded strangely in unison with one that had before
vibrated within him--that practices were in operation against his
life! It was enough! He would keep tryst with the Conjuror, if
conjuror he were; and at least ascertain who and what he was, and how
he had become acquainted with his own person and secret afflictions.

When the late Mr. Pitt was determined to keep out Bonaparte and
prevent his gaining a settlement in the county of Kent, among other
ingenious devices adopted for that purpose, he caused to be
constructed what was then, and has ever since been, conventionally
termed a 'Military Canal.' This is a not very practicable ditch, some
thirty feet wide and nearly nine feet deep--in the middle,--extending
from the town and port of Hithe to within a mile of the town and port
of Rye, a distance of about twenty miles, and forming, as it were, the
cord of a bow, the arc of which constitutes that remote fifth quarter
of the globe spoken of by travellers. Trivial objections to the plan
were made at the time by cavillers; and an old gentleman of the
neighbourhood, who proposed as a cheap substitute to put up his own
cocked-hat upon a pole, was deservedly pooh-poohed down; in fact, the
job, though rather an expensive one, was found to answer remarkably
well. The French managed indeed to scramble over the Rhine, and the
Rhone, and other insignificant currents; but they never did, nor
could, pass Mr. Pitt's 'Military Canal.' At no great distance from the
centre of this cord rises abruptly a sort of woody promontory, in
shape almost conical; its sides covered with thick underwood, above
which is seen a bare and brown summit rising like an Alp in miniature.
The 'defence of the nation' not being then in existence, Master Marsh
met with no obstruction in reaching this place of appointment long
before the time prescribed.

So much indeed was his mind occupied by his adventure and
extraordinary cure that his original design had been abandoned, and
Master Cobbe remained unvisited. A rude hostel in the neighbourhood
furnished entertainment for man and horse; and here, a full hour
before the rising of the moon, he left Ralph and the other beasts,
proceeding to his rendezvous on foot and alone.

'You are punctual, Master Marsh,' squeaked the shrill voice of the
Doctor, issuing from the thicket as the first silvery gleam trembled
on the aspens above. "Tis well: now follow me and in silence.'

The first part of the command Marsh hesitated not to obey; the second
was more difficult of observance.

'Who and what are you? Whither are you leading me?' burst not
unnaturally from his lips; but all question was at once cut short by
the peremptory tones of his guide.

'Hush! I say; your finger on your lip, there be hawks abroad: follow
me, and that silently and quickly.' The little man turned as he spoke,
and led the way through a scarcely perceptible path or track which
wound among the underwood. The lapse of a few minutes brought them to
the door of a low building, so hidden by the surrounding trees that
few would have suspected its existence It was a cottage of rather
extraordinary dimensions, but consisting of only one floor. No smoke
rose from its solitary chimney; no cheering ray streamed from its
single window, which was, however, secured by a shutter of such
thickness as to preclude the possibility of any stray beam issuing
from within. The exact size of the building it was, in that uncertain
light, difficult to distinguish, a portion of it seeming buried in the
wood behind. The door gave way on the application of a key, and Marsh
followed his conductor resolutely, but cautiously, along a narrow
passage feebly lighted by a small taper that winked and twinkled at
its farther extremity. The Doctor, as he approached, raised it from
the ground, and, opening an adjoining door, ushered his guest into the
room beyond.

It was a large and oddly furnished apartment, insufficiently lighted
by an iron lamp that hung from the roof and scarcely illumined the
walls and angles, which seemed to be composed of some dark-coloured
wood. On one side, however, Master Marsh could discover an article
bearing strong resemblance to a coffin; on the other was a large oval
mirror in an ebony frame, and in the midst of the floor was described,
in red chalk, a double circle, about six feet in diameter, its inner
verge inscribed with sundry hieroglyphics, agreeably relieved at
intervals with an alternation of skulls and cross-bones. In the very
centre was deposited one skull of such surpassing size and thickness
as would have filled the soul of a Spurzheim or De Ville with
wonderment. A large book, a naked sword, an hour-glass, a chafing
dish, and a black cat, completed the list of movables; with the
exception of a couple of tapers which stood on each side of the
mirror, and which the strange gentleman now proceeded to light from
the one in his hand. As they flared up with what Marsh thought a most
unnatural brilliancy, he perceived, reflected in the glass behind, a
dial suspended over the coffin-like article already mentioned: the
hand was fast verging towards the hour of nine. The eyes of the little
Doctor seemed riveted on the horologe.

'Now strip thee, Master Marsh, and that quickly: untruss, I say!
discard thy boots, doff doublet and hose, and place thyself
incontinent in yonder bath.'

The visitor cast his eyes again upon the formidable-looking article,
and perceived that it was nearly filled with water. A cold bath, at
such an hour and under such auspices, was anything but inviting: he
hesitated, and turned his eyes alternately on the Doctor and the Black

'Trifle not the time, man, an you be wise,' said the former: 'Passion
of my heart! let but yon minute-hand reach the hour, and thou not
immersed, thy life were not worth a pin's fee!'

The Black Cat gave vent to a single Mew,--a most unnatural sound for
a mouser,--it seemed as it were mewed through a cow's horn.

'Quick, Master Marsh! uncase, or you perish!' repeated his strange
host, throwing as he spoke a handful of some dingy-looking powders
into the brasier. 'Behold the attack is begun!' A thick cloud rose
from the embers; a cold shivering shook the astonished yeoman; sharp
pricking pains penetrated his ankles and the palms of his hands, and,
as the smoke cleared away, he distinctly saw and recognised in the
mirror the boudoir of Marston Hall.

The doors of the well-known ebony cabinet were closed; but fixed
against them, and standing out in strong relief from the contrast
afforded by the sable background, was a waxen image--of himself! It
appeared to be secured, and sustained in an upright posture, by large
black pins driven through the feet and palms, the latter of which were
extended in a cruciform position. To the right and left stood his wife
and Jos; in the middle, with his back towards him, was a figure which
he had no difficulty in recognising as that of the Leech of
Folkestone. The letter had just succeeded in fastening the dexter hand
of the image, and was now in the act of drawing a broad and keen-edged
sabre from its sheath. The Black Cat mewed again. 'Haste or you die!'
said the Doctor:--Marsh looked at the dial; it wanted but four minutes
of nine: he felt that the crisis of his fate was come. Off went his
heavy boots; doublet to the right, galligaskins to the left; never was
man more swiftly disrobed: in two minutes, to use an Indian
expression, 'he was all face!' in another he was on his back and up to
his chin in a bath which smelt strongly as of brimstone and garlic.

'Heed well the clock!' cried the Conjuror: 'with the first stroke of
Nine plunge thy head beneath the water; suffer not a hair above the
surface; plunge deeply, or thou art lost!'

The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon
the large skull, elevating his legs at an angle of forty-five degrees.
In this position he spun round with a velocity to be equalled only by
that of a tee-totum, the red roses on his insteps seeming to describe
a circle of fire. The best buckskins that ever mounted at Melton had
soon yielded to such rotatory friction--but he spun on--the Cat mewed,
bats and obscene birds fluttered overhead; Erasmus was seen to raise
his weapon; the clock struck!--and Marsh, who had 'ducked' at the
instant, popped up his head again, spitting and sputtering, half-
choked with the infernal solution, which had insinuated itself into
his mouth, and ears, and nose. All disgust at his nauseous dip was,
however, at once removed, when, cast in, his eyes on the glass, he saw
the consternation of the party whose persons it exhibited. Erasmus had
evidently made his blow; and failed; the figure was unmutilated; the
hilt remained in the hand of the striker, while the shivered blade lay
in shining fragments on the floor.

The Conjuror ceased his spinning and brought himself to an anchor;
the Black Cat purred,--its purring seemed strangely mixed with the
self-satisfied chuckle of a human being.--Where had Marsh heard
something like it before?

He was rising from his unsavoury couch when a motion from the little
man checked him. 'Rest where you are, Thomas Marsh; so far all goes
well, but the danger is not yet over!' He looked again, and perceived
that the shadowy triumvirate were in deep and eager consultation; the
fragments of the shattered weapon appeared to undergo a close
scrutiny. The result was clearly unsatisfactory; the lips of the
parties moved rapidly, and much gesticulation might be observed, but
no sound fell upon the ear. The hand of the dial had nearly reached
the quarter at once the parties separated, and Buckthorne stood again
before the figure, his hand armed with a long and sharp-pointed
misricorde,--a dagger little in use of late, but such as, a century
before, often performed the part of a modern oyster-knife, in tickling
the osteology of a dismounted cavalier through the shelly defences of
his plate armour. Again he raised his arm 'Duck!' roared the Doctor,
spinning away upon his cephalic pivot:--the Black Cat cocked his tail,
and seemed to mew the word 'Duck!' Down went Master Marsh's head.--One
of his hands had unluckily been resting on the edge of the bath; he
drew it hastily in, but not altogether scathless; the stump of a rusty
nail, projecting from the margin of the bath, had caught and slightly
grazed it. The pain was more acute than is usually produced by such
trivial accidents; and Marsh, on once more raising his head, beheld
the dagger of the Leech sticking in the little finger of the wax
figure, which it had seemingly nailed to the cabinet door.

'By my life, truly, a scape o' the narrowest!' quoth the Conjuror:
'the next course, dive you not the readier, there is no more life in
you than in a pickled herring--What! courage, Master Marsh; but be
heedful; an they miss again let them bide the issue!'

He drew his hand athwart his brow as he spoke, and dashed off the
perspiration which the violence of his exercise had drawn from every
pore. Black Tom sprang upon the edge of the bath and stared full in
the face of the bather his sea-green eyes were lambent with unholy
fire, but their marvellous obliquity of vision was not to be mistaken;
the very countenance, too!--Could it be?--the features were feline,
but their expression was that of the Jack Pudding! Was the Mountebank
a Cat?--or the Cat a Mountebank?--It was all a mystery; and Heaven
knows how long Marsh might have continued staring at Grimalkin, had
not his attention been again called by Aldrovando to the magic mirror.

Great dissatisfaction, not to say dismay, seemed now to pervade the
conspirators Dame Isabel was closely inspecting the figure's wounded
hand, while Jos was aiding the pharmacopolist to charge a huge
petronel with powder and bullets. The load was a heavy one; but
Erasmus seemed determined this time to make sure of his object.
Somewhat of trepidation might be observed in his manner as he rammed
down the balls, and his withered cheek appeared to have acquired an
increase of paleness; but amazement rather than fear was the
prevailing symptom, and his countenance betrayed no jot of
irresolution. As the clock was about to chime half-past nine, he
planted himself with a firm foot in front of the image, waved his
unoccupied hand with a cautionary gesture to his companions, and, as
they hastily retired on either side, brought the muzzle of his weapon
within half a foot of his mark. As the shadowy form was about to draw
the trigger, Marsh again plunged his head beneath the surface; and the
sound of an explosion, as of fire-arms, mingled with the rush of water
that poured into his ears. His immersion was but momentary, yet did he
feel as though half suffocated he sprang from the bath, and, as his
eye fell on the mirror, he saw--or thought he saw--the Leech of
Folkestone lying dead on the floor of his wife's boudoir, his head
shattered to pieces, and his hand still grasping the stock of a
bursten petronel.

He saw no more; his head swam, his senses reeled, the whole room was
turning round; and, as he fell to the ground, the last impressions to
which he was conscious were the chucklings of a hoarse laughter and
the mewings of a Tom Cat!

Master Marsh was found the next morning by his bewildered serving-
man, stretched before the door of the humble hostel at which he
sojourned. His clothes were somewhat torn and much bemired: and deeply
did honest Ralph marvel that one so staid and grave as Master Marsh of
Marston should thus have played the roisterer, missing, perchance, a
profitable bargain for the drunken orgies of midnight wassail, or the
endearments of some rustic light-o'-love. Tenfold was his astonishment
increased when, after retracing in silence their journey of the
preceding day, the Hall, on their arrival about noon, was found in a
state of uttermost confusion.--No wife stood there to greet with the
smile of bland affection her returning spouse; no page to hold his
stirrup or receive his gloves, his hat and riding-rod.--The doors were
open, the rooms in most admired disorder; men and maidens peeping,
hurrying hither and thither, and popping in and out, like rabbits in a
warren.--The lady of the mansion was nowhere to be found.

Jos, too, had disappeared: he had been last seen riding furiously
towards Folkestone early in the preceding afternoon: to a question
from Hodge Gardener he had hastily answered that he bore a missive of
moment from his mistress. The lean apprentice of Erasmus Buckthorne
declared that the page had summoned his master, in haste, about six of
the clock, and that they had rode forth together, as he verily
believed on their way back to the Hall, where he had supposed Master
Buckthorne's services to be suddenly required on some pressing
emergency. Since that time he had seen nought of either of them: the
grey cob, however, had returned late at night, masterless, with his
girths loose and the saddle turned upside down.

Nor was Master Erasmus Buckthorne ever seen again. Strict search was
made through the neighbourhood, but without success; and it was at
length presumed that he must, for reasons which nobody could divine,
have absconded, together with Jos and his faithless mistress. The
latter had carried off with her the strong box, divers articles of
valuable plate and jewels of price. Her boudoir appeared to have been
completely ransacked; the cabinet and drawers stood open and empty;
the very carpet, a luxury then newly introduced into England, was
gone. Marsh, however, could trace no vestige of the visionary scene
which he affirmed to have been last night presented to his eyes.

Much did the neighbours marvel at his story:--some thought him mad;
others, that he was merely indulging in that privilege to which, as a
traveller, he had a right indefeasible. Trusty Ralph said nothing but
shrugged his shoulders, and, falling into the rear, imitated the
action of raising a wine-cup to his lips. An opinion, indeed, soon
prevailed that Master Thomas Marsh had gotten, in common parlance,
exceedingly drunk on the preceding evening, and had dreamt all that he
so circumstantially related. This belief acquired additional credit
when they whom curiosity induced to visit the woody knoll of Aldington
Mount declared that they could find no building such as that
described, nor any cottage near; save one, indeed--a low-roofed hovel,
once a house of public entertainment, but now half in ruins. The 'Old
Cat and Fiddle'--so was the tenement called--had been long
uninhabited, yet still exhibited the remains of a broken sign, on
which the keen observer might decipher something like a rude portrait
of the animal from which it derived its name. It was also supposed
still to afford an occasional asylum to the smugglers of the coast,
but no trace of any visit from sage or mountebank could be detected;
nor was the wise Aldrovando, whom many remembered to have seen at the
fair, ever found again on all that country-side.

Of the runaways nothing was ever certainly known. A boat, the
property of an old fisherman who plied his trade on the outskirts of
the town, had been seen to quit the bay that night; and there were
those who declared that she had more hands on board than Carden and
his son, her usual complement; but, as the gale came on, and the frail
bark was eventually found keel upwards on the Goodwin Sands, it was
presumed that she had struck on that fatal quicksand in the dark, and
that all on board had perished.

Little Marian, whom her profligate mother had abandoned, grew up to
be a fine girl and a handsome. She became, moreover, heiress to
Marston Hall, and brought the estate into the Ingoldsby family by her
marriage with one of its scions.

Thus far Mrs. Botherby.

It is a little singular that, on pulling down the old Hall in my
grandfather's time, a human skeleton was discovered among the rubbish;
under what particular part of the building I could never with any
accuracy ascertain; but it was found enveloped in a tattered cloth,
that seemed to have been once a carpet, and which fell to pieces
almost immediately on being exposed to the air. The bones were perfect
but those of one hand were wanting; and the skull, perhaps from the
labourer's pick-axe, had received considerable injury: the worm-eaten
stock of an old-fashioned pistol lay near, together with a rusty piece
of iron which a workman, more sagacious than his fellows, pronounced a
portion of the lock, but nothing was found which the utmost stretch of
human ingenuity could twist into a barrel.

The portrait of the fair Marian hangs yet in the gallery of
Tappington; and near it is another, of a young man in the prime of
life, which Mrs. Botherby affirms to be that of her father. It
exhibits a mild and rather melancholy countenance with a high
forehead, and the peaked beard and moustaches of the seventeenth
century. The signet-finger of the left hand is gone, and appears, on
close inspection, to have been painted out by some later artist;
possibly in compliment to the tradition, which, teste Botherby,
records that of Mr. Marsh to have gangrened, and to have undergone
amputation at the knuckle-joint. If really the resemblance of the
gentleman alluded to, it must have been taken at some period
antecedent to his marriage. There is neither date nor painter's name;
but, a little above the head, on the dexter side of the picture is an
escutcheon, bearing 'Quarterly, gules and argent, in the first quarter
a horse's head of the second'; beneath it are the words 'tatis su
26.' On the opposite side is the following mark, which Mr. Simpkinson
declares to be that of a Merchant of the Staple, and pretends to
discover, in the monogram comprised in it, all the characters which
compose the name of THOMAS MARSH, of MARSTON.


'Rome stood on seven hills; Folkestone seems to have been built upon
seventy.'--P. 123.

PEOPLE who run down in a couple of hours, 'by express,' to
Folkestone, and find a fashionable and flourishing watering-place,
have for the most part little idea of the quaint, narrow, dirty little
town which existed half a century ago, and some traces of which still
exist. Smuggling and fishing--smuggling for choice--comprised pretty
well the whole business of the inhabitants. Apart from these
occupations, in the conduct of which they exhibited unquestionable
abilities, the Folkestoners were said to be somewhat of the dullest,
and the place was regarded as the very Boetia of Kent. Subjoined are
some interesting particulars from the pen of the author.

'From the time of the celebrated couplet with which the Mayor
addressed Queen Elizabeth,--

 "O mighty Queene!
 Welcome to Folkesteene!"

and her Majesty's most gracious reply--

 "You great Fool!
 Get off that stool!"

a Folkestone Rhyme became a term of ridicule in the county. The
unlucky Folkestoners, however, bore up heroically against the gibes of
their neighbours, and many were the arguments advanced by them to
prove that their powers of versification had been unjustly
stigmatized. To convince the public of this they produced, as their
champion, a venerable cobbler, the poet-laureate of the place, who
undertook to compose two lines in a given period, which the first
judges of such matters should instantly acknowledge to be bon fide
rhymes. Accordingly, on the evening appointed, the bells pealed
joyously, the shops were shut, the windows illuminated, and precisely
as the clock struck eight the long-expected lines, written in red ink
upon gilt-edged vellum, were publicly read by the town-clerk as

 "Folkestone Church;
 Knives and Forks!"

Long and reiterated shouts of applause burst from the assembled
townsmen at this announcement of their poet's triumphant effusion.
But, alas! how fleeting are all human honours. A neighbouring tailor,
jealous of the cobbler's fame, produced a short tale in verse founded
on a circumstance which had recently occurred; and this, as it
recorded the prowess of their boatmen, was held by the people of
Folkestone to surpass in a literary point of view the distich of the
cobbler. It ran thus:--

 "A mighty whale
 Come down the chan-nale;
 The Dover men could not catch it
 But the Folkestoners did!"

In later times it happened to be discovered that Folkestone Church
stood in a sufficiently conspicuous situation to serve as a landmark
for ships entering the Downs or Dover harbour. Admiral Foley therefore
sent a polite note to the corporation, requesting, as a matter of
public utility, that they would whitewash the church steeple. This
communication was considered to be an affair of considerable
importance, and a deputation of the inhabitants accordingly waited
upon the Admiral to make a respectful inquiry as to what colour he
would please to have their church steeple whitewashed?--Yet more
recently, a poor old man was brought to the bar charged with stealing
a pair of leather breeches. There was not the slightest doubt about
his guilt; but luckily for him a Folkestone jury were appointed to try
the cause. Anxious to save the prisoner's life by avoiding a capital
conviction--men were hanged for trifling matters in those days--they
returned a verdict of Manslaughter! which was probably the first time
that term was applied to the purloining a pair of inexpressibles.'

'Aldington Frith.--P. 135.

Aldington Frith, locally pronounced 'Allington Fright,' is a tongue
of wild land projecting into the marsh from the higher ground, and was
formerly, according to Hasted, 'a chace for deer and wild beasts
belonging to the archbishop's manor at Aldington.'

Another legend appertaining to this wild district was commenced by
'Ingoldsby,' but I have been unable to discover more of the story than
is hinted at in the few following stanzas:--


 It is the Bell of Aldington!
 And it tolls at the midnight hour;--
 It tolls at One, and it tolls at Two.
 Dismally deep the whole night through
 It tolls from that old grey tower.
 Down is the moon, and dark is the night.
 Yet the belfry window has never a light.
 Sir Edmund rocks on his restless bed;
 He tosses, and tumbles, and turns his head
 To and again:--
 Seems as his brain

 Were addled with care, or with grief, or with pain.
 Yet his pillow is stuffed with the eider down.
 And his bed with feathers that no shop in town
 Would send you a pound of for less than a crown;
 And, go where you will, it's seldom one meets
 With such Whitney blankets or fine Holland sheets.
 Spite of it all, you may say what you please.
 But it's clear, if a host of unanimous fleas
 Had attacked him at once from his nose to his knees.
 Fully bent upon eating him up by degrees.
 Sir Edmund would not have been less at his ease.
 And he fidgets and kicks off the bed-clothes, and oft
 He beats the down pillow to make it more soft.
 In vain--sleep defies him! It seems rather odd.
 But he can't get so much as 'three winks and a nod.'
 So he roars to the poor little foot-page who still
 Keeps watch in the ante-room, waiting his will.
 'Hallo! you young monkey--come hither, you Bill!

   What means this noise
   That my rest destroys?

 I suppose it's some "lark" of you rascally boys.
 Go run to the church, sir--take with you a light.
 And see who 'tis daring the village to fright
 With his horrid bim-boming at this time of night.--
 Be off, you young--!' (something it wouldn't be right
 To record, or my readers might fancy the knight.
 Though a very great man, was not over-polite.)
 The page made a bow his obedience to show--
 As well-bred foot-pages ought always to do;

   He descended the stair.
   And, opening a pair

 Of huge folding-doors, stept out into the air;
 Then pausing and listening, said--'Well, I declare

   I don t hear any bell.
   It's all very well.

 But what he can mean I am sure I can't tell;
 Though I've not for my part seen a glass touch his lips, he
 Must somehow have managed to make himself tipsy!'


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