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at Heidelberg and elsewhere, I put out to sea fbr the Inns of
America^ with their four hundred beds a-pieoe, and their
eight or nine hundred ladies and gentlemen at dinner evmtj
day. Again, I stood in the bar-rooms thereof, taking ny
evening cobbler, julep, sling, or cocktail Again, I listened
to my £riend the General — ^whom I had known for five uiiii^
utes, in the course of which period he had made me intimate
for life with two Ms^ors, who again had made me intimate
for life with three Colonels, who again had made me higher
to twenty-two civilians-^again, I say, I listened to my friend
the General, leisurely expounding the resources of the eetab>
lishment, as to gentlemen's moming-room, sir; ladies'
morning-room, sir; gentlemen's evening room, sir; ladies'
evening room, sir ; ladies' and gentlemen's evening reuniting-
room, sir ; music-room, sir ; reading room, sir ; over ftnir hna*
dred sleeping rooms, sir ; and the entire planned and flnited
within twelve calendar months from the first dearing off of
the old incumbrances on the plot, at a cost of five hundred
thousand dollars, sir. Again I found, as to my indrridual
way of thinking, that the greater, the more gorgeous, and the
more dollarous, the establishment was, the less desirable it
was. Nevertheless, again I drank my cobl^er, julep, slings or
cocktail, in all good-will, to iay friend the General, and my



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AKD OTHER 8T011I&S« 4#

friends tbe Majors, Colonels, and civilians, all ; fnll-well know-
ing that whatever little tncftes my beam j eyes may have des«
cried in theirs, they belonged to a kind, generous, large-
hearted, and great people*

I had beeft going on k^t^ly, at a quick pace, to keep my
BoHtnde out of my mind ; but, here I broke down for good^
and gave up the subject. What was I to do ? What wa« to
become of me ? Into wh»t extremity was I submiseively to
sink ? Supposing that, Kke Baron Trenck, I looked oat for a
mouse Of spider, and found one, and beguiled my imprison-^
ment by training it ? Even that might be dangerous with a
Tiew to the future. I might be so far gone when the road
did come to be cut through the snow, that, on my way forth^
I might burst into teaA^, and beseech, Hke the prisoiiEer who
was released in his old age from the Bastile, to be takea back
again to the fire windows, the t€tn ourtaias, and the sinuouA
drapery.

A desperate idea came iiito my head* Under any other
circumstances I should have rejected it ; hot, in the strait at
which I was, I held it ftst. Oould I so far overcome the inhe^
ir^nt bashfulness which wiiiiheld me from the landlord's table
and the company I might ^nd there^ aa to n^ke acquaintaiicev
mider various pretences, with some of the inmates of tiie
house, singly — ^with the objects of getting from each, either a
whole autobiography, or a passage or experience in one, with
which t oould cheat the tardy time : first of idl by seeking
out, then by listening to, then by remembering and writing
down ? Could I, t asked myself so far ovensome my retiring
nature as to do this. I could. I would. I did«

The Results of this coilception I proceed to give, in the
exact order in which I attained l^em. I begun my plan of
operations at once, and, by slow approaches and after overcom*
ing many obstacles (^1 of my 6wn making, I believe),
reached the story of:



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ift THE HOLLY-TBEE IKK;



THE OSTLER.

I rnsTD an old man, fast asleep, in one of the stalls of the
stable. It ia mid-day, and zather a stiange time for an osUer
to derote to sleep. Something onrious, too, about the man's
iace. A withered woe-begone face. The eyebrows painfoUj
contracted ; the month Hast set^ and drawn down at the cor-
ners ; the hollow cheeks sadly, and, as I cannot help £emcyingy
prematurely wrinkled; the scanty, grizzled hair, telling
weakly its own tale of some past sorrow or sujQfering. How
fast he draws his breath, too, f<» a man asleep I He is talk-
ing in his sleep.

'^ Wake np I '' I hear him say, in a qnick whisper throng
his fast-clenched teeth. <<Wake up there! Murder!
liord help me I Lord help me, alone in this place ! "

He stops, and sighs again — amoves one lean arm slowly, till
it rests oyer his throat — shudders a little, and turns on his
straw — ^the arm leaves his throat — ihe hand stretches itself
out, and dutdies at the side towards which he has turned, as
if he fancies himself to be grasping at the edge of something.
Is he waking ? No— there is the whisper again ; he is still
talking in his sleep.

'^ Light grey eyes,'' he says now, '' and a droop in the left
eyelid. Yes ! yes 1 — flaxen hair with a gold-yellow streak in
it — all right, mother — ^fair, white arms with a down on them
— ^little lady's hand, with a reddish look under the finger^
nails — and the knife — always the cursed knife — ^first on one
side, then on the other. Aha! you she-devil, whereas the
knife? Never mind, mother — too late now. I've promised
to many, and marry I must* Murder 1 wake up there! for
Clod's sake, wake up ! "

At the last words his voice rises, and he grows so restless
on a sudden, that I draw back quietly to the door. I see him
shudder on the straw — his withered face grows distorted — he
throws up both his hands with a quick, hysterical gaasp ; they



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AND OTHBS STORIES, 47

strike against the bottom of the manger under which he lies ;
the blow awakens him ; I have just time to slip throngh the
door b^re his eyes are £uriy open and his senses are his own
again.

What I have seen and heard has so startled and shocked
me, that I fed mj heart beating fiast^ as I softly and quickly
ratmee my steps across the inn-yard. The discomposure that
is going on within me, apparently shows itself in my &ce ;
l»r, as I get back to tine covered way leading to the Inn stairs,
the landlord, who is just coming out of the house to ring
lome bell in the yard, stops astonished, and asks what is the
matter with me ? I teE him what I have just seen.

<<Ahal" says the laodtord, with an air of reiki <<I
THideistand now. Poor old chi^ I He was only dreaming his
dd dream ores again. There's the queerest story - of a
dieadlal kind, too, mind you^— connected with him and his
dream thait ever was told."

I entreat the landkcd to tell me the story. After a little
hesitation he complies wrth my request

Seme years ago, Hiere tived in the suburbs of a large sea*
port town, on the west coast of England, a man in humble
cireomstanees, by name Isaac Scatchard. His means of
Bubeistenee were derived £K)m any employment tiiat he could
get» as an ostler; and, occasionally, when times went well
with him, from temporary engagements in service, as stable-
helper in private houses. Though a faithful, steady, and
konest man, he got on badly in his calling. His ill-ludc was
pioverUal among his neighbors. He was always missing
good opportunities, by no fault of his own ; and always living
Ingest in serrioe with amiaUe people who were not punctual
payers of wages^ '^ Unlucky Isaac " was his nickname in his
own neighborhood — and no one could say that he did not
richly deserve it.

With fuc move tlum one man's £air share of adversity to
sadnte, Isaac had but ona ooinscdation to support him — and
that waa<tf tha dreaciest and most negative kind. He had



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48 TfiTE HOLLY-TRKE IKN;

no w]£a and children to increaee hk anideties and add to the
bittemess of his various fiulnres in life. It mig^t hacve been
from mere insensibility, or it might have been from ^weroas
unwillingness to inyolve another in his own unlucky deetmy
*— but the £kct undoubtedly was, that he amved at the middle
term of life without marrying; and, what is mti<di men
remarikabky without once exposing himself from eighteen to
eight and thirty, to the genial imputation of emr having had
a swee^eart. When he was out «f semoe, he Hved alone
with his widowed mother. Mrs. Soatcluurd was a wsonuui
above the average in her lowly station, as to eapacifcies and
manners. She had seen better days, as i^e j^rase is; but
she never referred to them in the prceence of coiious visitors;
and, though perfectiy poHte to every one w3io approached bee,
never cultivated any intimacies among her neighbon. She
contrived to provide,, hardly enough, for her simfde wants, by
doing rough work for the tailors ; mmiS, ahrays managed to
keep a decent home for her sen to retom to, whenever his ill
luck drove him out helpless into the weiid.

One bleak autumn, when Isaac was getting on ft»t towavds
forty, dnd when he was, as usual, out ci |rfaee^ thieogh no
feult of his own, he set forth frem hk mother's eettage on a
long walk inland to a gentleman's seat, where he had heari
that a stable-belper was required. It wanted tiien bat two
days of his bir^-day ; and Mrs. Scatohard, with her usoal
fondness, made him promise, before he started, that be weoU
be back in time to keep that anniversary with her, in as
festive a way as their poor means would aUbw. It wae easy
for him to comply with this request, even supposing he slept a
night each way on the road. He was to start from hone ea
Monday morning ; and, whether he got the new place or nofe,
he was to be bade for his birth«day disaer -on Wednesday at
two o'clock.

Arriving at his destination too late on the Monday nJght to
make application for the stable^helpei^s P^*^^) ^ slept aft
the village inn, and, in good time on die Xueeday memiag,



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AND OTHER STORIBS* 40

pteaented himself a6 the gentleman's house, to fill the vacant
KtiwUon. Here, again, his ill-luck pursued him as inexor-
ably as ever. The excellent written testimonials, as to cliar-
aeter, whidi he was able to produce, availed him nothing ; his
long walk had been taken in vain — only the day before, the
stable-helper's place had been given to another man.

Isaac accepted this new disappointment resignedly, and as
a matter of course. Naturally slow in capacity, he had the
blentness of sensibility and phlegmatic patience of disposi-
tion which frequently distinguish men with slugglishly-
working mental powers. He thanked Um gentleman's
stewavd^ with his usual quiet civility, for granting him an
interview, and took his departure with no appearamse of
oansiial depression in his fiu^e or manner. Sefore starting on
his hoQiewaid walk, he made some inquijries at the inn, and
ascertained that he might save a iew miles, on his return, by
IbUowmg a new road. Famished with full instructions, sev-
eral times repeated, as to the various turnings he was to take,
he set forth for his homeward journey, and walked on all day
wkh only one sto]^>age for bread and cheese* Just as it was
getting towards dark, the rain came on and the wind began to
rise ; and he found himself to make matters worse, in a part
of the e(mntry with which he was entirely muicquainted,
though he knew himself to be some fifteen miles from home.
The first house he found to inquire at was a lonely road-side
inn, standing on the outskirts of a thick wood. Solitary as
tiie place looked, it was welcoaie to a lost man who was also
bungiy, thirsty, footsore, and wet. The IsAdlord was a civil,
tespeotable-lookiog man; and the prioe he asked for a bed
was reasonable enoogh. Isaac, therefore, decided on stopping
oemfortaUy at the inn for that night.

He was oonstitutionally a temperate man. His supper
simply consisted of two rashers of baoon, a slice of home-
Qiade bread, and a pint of ale. He did not go to bed imme-
diately after this moderate meal, but sat up with the landk>rd
Mking ahoui his bad projects and his long run of ill-luck^
3



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60 THE HOLLT-TBEE INN;

and diverging from these topics to the suhject of hone-fleth
and racing. Nothing was said either hy himself his host, or
the few laborers who strayed into the tap-room, which ooold,
in the slightest degree, excite the very small and veiy doll
imaginative faculty whidi Isaac Scatchaid possessed.

At a little after eleven the house was closed. Isaac went
round with the landlord and held the candle while the doors
and lower windows were being secured. He noticed with
surprise the strength of the bolts, bars and iion-ahetthed
shutters.

'^You see, we are rather lonely heie,^ said the landloid.
^' We never have had any attempts made to break in yet, bul
its always as well to be on the safe side. Whea nobody is
sleeping here, I am the only man in ihe house. My wife and
daughter are timid, and the serrant^giil takes after her
missusses. Another glass of ale, belcne you turn in ? HoU-^
Well, how such a sober man as you comes to be out of jdaos
is more than I can make out, fer one. Here's where you'ie
to sleep. Tou're our only lodger to-night, and I think youll
say my missus has done her best to make you oomfoctabkw
You're quite sure you won't have another glaas of ale ? Yoy
welL Good night."

It was half-past eleven by t^^look in the passage as they
went up stairs to the bed-foom, the window of which locked
ou to the wood at the bade of the house. Isaac locked the
door, set his candle on the chest of drawers, and wearily gol
ready for bed. The bleak autumn wind was still bioving,
and the solemn, m<motonous, surging moan of it in the wood
was dreary and awful to hear through the night-«ilMMe.
Isaac felt strangely wakeful, and resolved, as he lay down in
bod, to keep the candle a-light until be begaa to grow sleepy ;
for there was something unendurably depressing in the bare
idea of lying awake in the darkness, listening to the disnuJ)
ceaseless moaning of the wind in the wood.

Sleep stole en him before he was aware of it. His eyes
dosed, and he fell aS insensibly to rest, without having so
much <is thought of extinguishing the candle.



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AKD OTHER STORIES. 61

The first sensation of which he was conscious affcer sinking
Bito slnmb^, was a strange shivering tJwt ran through him
Bsddenly firom head to loot, and a dreadful sinking pain at
the heart, such as he had never felt hefore« The shivering
only disturbed his slumbers— the pa&a woke him instantly*
In a moment he passed from a state of sleep to a state of
wakefulness — ^his eyes wide open— his mental perceptions
cleared on a sudden as if by a miracle.

The candle had burned down nearly to the last morsel of
tallow ; but the top of the unsnuffed wick had just fallen off,
and the light in the little room was, lor the moment, fair and
fiilL Between the ioot of his bed and the dosed door there
stood a woman with a knife in hex hand, looking at him. He
was stiM^en speechless with terror, but he did not lose the
pKtoniatural deamess of his faculties ; and he never took his
^res off the woman.. She said not <me word as they stazed
each other in the face ; but she began to move slowly towards
the left-hand side of the bed.

His eyes followed her. She was a fair, fine woman, with
yellowish flaxen hair, and light grey eyes^ with a droc^ in the
Mt eye*lid. He noticed these things and fixed them on his
mind, before she was round at the side of the bed. Speech*
less, with no ex^essiom in her £sce^ with no noise following
her footfidl, — she came doser and doser — stopped — and slowly
raised tiM knife. He laid his right arm over his throat to
save it; hot, as he saw the knife comiag down, threw his
hand serosa the bed to the right side, mxd jerked his body over
Ihat way, just m the knife descended on Hhe mattrefas vithiii
an inch of his shoulder.

His eyes fixed on her arm and hand, as she slowly drew
the knife out of the bed. A white, wellHshaped arm, with i^
pretty down lying lightly over the fiiir akin. A delioate^
lady's hand, with the crowning beauty of a jHuak flush under
and round the flnger nails.

%e drew the knifa out, and passed back agajn slowly to
the fM>t of the bed ; stopped there for a moment looking at



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Id THE HOLLT-TRKE IKJST;

him ; then oame (m— ^till speechless, still with no expiesdon
on the blank, beautiiiil face, still with no sound following the
stealthy footfalls— Msame on to the right side of i^e bed wbeis
he now lay. As she appiosu^hed, she raised the knxfo ftgsuif
and he drew himself away to the 1^ side. She stnck^aa
before, right into the mattress, with a deliberate, popendicur
larly downward action of the arm. This time his eyes wan-
dered from her to the knife. It was like the large d»<p
knives which he had often seen laboring men use to cot tbeir
bread and baoon with. Her delicate little fingers did not
eonceal more than two-thirds of i^e handle; he noticed that
it was made of buck-horn, olean and shining as the Uade ira8»
and looking like new.

For the second time she drew the knifo out, concealed it ia
the wide sleeve of her gown, then stopped by the bedside^
watching him. For an instant he saw her standing in that
position — dien the wick of ihe spent caadie foil over into tba
socket. The flame diminished to a little blue point, and the
room grew dark. A moment, or less, if possible, passed so—
and then the wick flamed up, smokily, for the laat time. Htf
eyes were still looking eageriy over the right-iiand aide of the
bed when the flnal flash of light eame, but they diaonrnd
nothing. The feAr woman with the knife was gone.

The conviction that he was alone again, waakoned the held
of the terror that had struck him dumb tdp to this tine. The
preternatural sharpness which the very iirtennty of hia panie
hnd mysteriously imparted to his faculties, left tkem suddedljr.
His brain grew eonfused***4iis .heart beat viUly— 4|]S ears
opened for the first time since the appearance of the womas^
to a sense of the woIbI, ceaseless moudng of the wind aiaoag
the trees. With the dreadful conrietion of the laality of
what he had seen, still strong within hin^ heJet^^d oatef
bed, and screaming — ^'Murder! — Wake up, tbeie, wake upl*
— dasheil headlong through the darkness to tbe door.

It was last looked; e»w% as he had left it ea goung to
beA



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AND OTBEB STORISSI. »

His cries on stasrting up, had alarmed tbe house. He
heard the terrified, conAised^ esdamatiotis of women ; he saw
^e master of the house appsoaching along the passage, with
his burning rush^^ndle in one hand, and his gun in the
other.

** What b it? '' acdced the landlord, breathlessly.

Isaac would only answer in a whisper : '^ A woman with a
knife in her hand," he gasped out. '' In my room — a fair,
yellow-haired womflm \ ^e jobbed at me with the knife, twice
oyer."

The landlord's pale dieeks grew paler. He looked at Isaac
eagerly by the flickering light of his candle; and his face
began to get red again — ^his voice altesed, too, as well as bis
complexion.

" She seems to have missed you twice," he said.

'^ I dodged the knife as it came down^^ Isaao went on, in
the same soared whisper.— ^^ It struck the bed each tim«."

The landlord took his candle into the bed*ioom immediately.
In less than a minute he came out again into the pi^sage in
a violent passion.

" The devil fly away with you and your woman with the
knife ! What do you mean by coming into a man's place and
frightening hb funily out of their wits about a dream ? "

" ini leave your house," said Isaac, funtly. ^' Better out
on the toad, in rain and daik, on my way home, than back
agahi in that room - after what I've seen in it. Lend me a
light to get on my Rothes by, and tell me what I'm to pay."

^ Pay ! " cried the landlord, leading the way with his light
sulkily into hb bedroom. ^ You^ And your score on the slate
when you go down stafrs. I wouldn't have taken you in for
all the money you've got about you, if I'd know your dream-
ing, screeehing ways beforehand. Look at the bed. Where's
tiie cut of a knife in it ? Look at the window — ^is the lock
bnrsted ? Look at the door (which I heard you fasten myself)
— is it broke in ? A mirdering woman with a knife in my
house ? You ought to be ashamed of yourself! "



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J



64 THE HOLLY-TBEE INJf;

Isaac answered not a word. He hnddled on his clothes;
and then they went down staiis together.

'' Nigh on twenty minntes past two I " said the landkidy m
they passed the dock. ^^ A nice time in the nKNcniag to
frighten honest people out of their wits ! "

Isaac paid his hill, and the hindlord let him out of the front
door, asking with a grin of contempt, as he undid the strimg
fastenings, whether the <^ murdering w<»nan got in that
way ? '' They parted without a word on either side. Tfa«
rain had ceased; hut the night was dark, and the wind
hleaker than ever. Little did the darkness, or the cold, or
the uncertainty about his way home, matter to Isaac If he
had been turned out into a wilderness in a thunder-stonu, it
would have been a relief, after what he had suffered in the
bedroom of the inn.

What was the fair wcanan with the knife ? The creature
of a dream, or that other creature from the uxUcnown worid
called among men by the name of ghost ? He could make
nothing of the mystery — had made nothing of it, eren when
it was mid day on Wednesday, and when he stood, at last,
after many times missing his road, once more on the doorstep
of home.

His mother came out early to receive him. His h4» told
her in a moment that something was wrong.

" IVe lost the place ; but that's my luck. I dreamed an ill
dream last night, mother — or^ may be^ I saw a ghost Take
it either way, it scared me out of my senses, and I'm not mj
own man again yet

^^ Isaac! your face frightens me. Come in to the fixe.
Come in, and tell mother all about it"

He was as anxious to tell aa she was to hear ; for it had
been his hope, all the way home, that his mother, with her
quicker capacity and superior knowledge, might be able to
throw some light on the mystery which he oooid not dear
up for himself. His memory of the dream was still mechan
ically vivid, though his thoughts were entirely confused by it



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AKD OTQER STORIES. 55

His mother's fitce grew paler and paler as be went on. She
nerer interrupted him by so much as a single word; but
when he had done, she moved her chair dose to his, put her
ann round his neck, and said to him :

^ Isaac, you dreamed youx ill dream on this Wednesday
morning. What time was it when you saw the faix woman
with the knijfe in her hand ? ''

Isaac reflected on what the landlord had said when they
passed by the dock on his leaving the inn — allowed as nearly
as he could iot the time that must have elapsed between the
unlocking of his bedroom door and the paying of his biU just
before going away and answered :

^ Somewhere about two o'clock in the morning.''

His mother suddenly quitted her hold of his neck, and
struck her hands together with a gesture of despair.

<< This Wednesday is your birthday Isaac; and two o'dock
in the morning was the time when you were bom 1

Isaac's capadties were not quick enough to catch the infec-
tion of his mother's superstitious dread. He was amazed and
a little stadled also, when she suddenly rose from her chair,
qpened bar old writing-desk, took out pen ink and paper, and
then said to him : —

^ Your memory is but a poor one, Isaac, and now I'm an
old woman, mine's not mocb better. I want all about this
dream of yours to be as well known to both of us, years
hence, as it is now. Tell me over again all you told me a
minute ago, when you spoke of what the woman with the
knife looked like."

Isaac obeyed, and marvelled much as he saw his mother
carefdlly set down on ysiipet the very words that he was say-
ing. << Light grey eyes," she wrote, as they came to the de-
scriptive part, '^ with a droop in the left eyelid. Elaxen hair,
with a gold-yellow streak in it. White arms, with a down on
them. Little lady's hand, with a reddish look about the
finger nails. Clasp knife with a buck-horn handle, that
seemed as good as new." To these partaculars, Mrs. Scab-



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M THE HOLLT-TREE INl^;

chard added the year, month, day of the week, and time m
the morning, when the wonmn of the dream a^»eared to her
son. She then locked np tiie paper carefully in her writiBg^
desk.

Neither on that day, nor <m any day after, eonld her son in-
duce her to return to the matter of the dream. She obstinately
kept her thoughts about it to herself and eren refused to refer
again to tiie paper in her writing-desk. Ere long, Isaac grew
weary of attempting to make her break her resc^te sflelice ;



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