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ings, he left the room, and then the house.

He wandered into the Ghost's Walk; and, finding
himself there, walked up and down in it. This was
certainly throwing the lady a bold challenge, seeing he
was going to spend the night in her room.

The excitement into which jealousy had thrown
him, had been suddenly checked by the sight of
Euphra's tears. The reaction, too, after his partial in-
toxication, had already begun to set in; to be ac-
counted for partly by the fact that its source had been
chiefly champagne, and partly by the other fact, that
he had bound himself in honour, to dare a spectre in
her own favourite haunt.

On the other hand, the sight of Euphra's emotion
had given him a far better courage than jealousy or
wine could afford. Yet, after ten minutes .passed in
the shadows of the Ghost's Walk, he would not have
taken the bet at ten times its amount. ^

But to lose it now would have been a serious affair
for him, the disgrace of failure unconsidered. If he
could have lost a hundred guineas, it would have been
comparatively a slight matter; but to lose a bet, and
be utterly unable to pay it, would be disgraceful — no
better than positive cheating. He had not thought of
this at the time. Nor, even now, was it more than a
passing thought; for he had not the smallest desire to
recede. The ambition of proving his courage to Euphra,
and, far more, the strength just afforded him by the
sight of her tears, were quite sufficient to carry him on
to the ordeal. Whether they would carry him through
it with dignity, he did not ask himself.

And, after all, would the ghost appear? At the

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best, she might not come; at the very worst, she would
be but a ghost; and he could say with Hamlet —

''for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing as immortal as itself?"

But then, his jealousy having for the moment in-
termitted, Hugh was not able to say with Hamlet —

*'I do not set my life at a pin^s fee;"

and that had much to do with Hamlet's courage in the
affair of the ghost.

He walked up and down the avenue, till, beginning
to feel the night chilly, he began to feel the avenue
eerie; for cold is very antagonistic to physical courage.
But what refuge would he find in the ghost's room?

He returned to the drawing-room. Von Funkelstein
and Euphra were there alone, but in no proximity.
Mr. Arnold soon entered.

"Shall I have the bed prepared for you, Mr. Suther-
land?" said Euphra.

"Which of your maids will you persuade to that
office?" said Mr. Arnold, with a facetious expression. \

"I must do it myself," answered Euphra, "if Mr.
Sutherland persists."

Hugh saw, or thought he saw, the Bohemian dart
an angry glance at Euphra, who shrank under it. But
before he could speak, Mr. Arnold rejoined:

"You can make a bed, then? That is the house-
maid's phrase, is it not?"

"I can do anything another can, uncle."

"Bravo! Can you see the ghost?"

"Yes," she answered, with a low lingering on the
sibilant; looking round, at the same time, with an ex-

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pression that implied a hope that Hugh had heard it;
as indeed he had.

"What! Euphra too?" said Mr. Arnold, in a tone
of gentle contempt.

"Do not disturb the ghost's bed for me," said
Hugh. "It would be a pity to disarrange it, after it has
lain so for an age. Besides, I need not rouse the
wrath of the poor spectre more than can't be helped.
If I must sleep in her room, I need not sleep in her
bed. I will lie on the old couch. Herr von Funkel-
stein, what proof shall I give you?"

"Your word; Mr. Sutherland," replied Funkelstein,
with a bow.

"Thank you. At what hour must I be there."

"Oh! I don't know. By eleven I should think.
Oh! any time before midnight. That's the ghost's
own, is it not? It is now — let me see — almost ten."

"Then I will go at once," said Hugh, thinking it
better to meet the gradual approach of the phantom-
hour in the room itself, than to walk there through the
desolate house, and enter the room just as the fear
would be gathering thickest within it. Besides, he was
afraid that his courage might have broken down a little
by that time, and that he would not be able to con-
ceal entirely the anticipative dread, whose inroad he
had reason to apprehend.

"I have one good cup of tea yet, Mr. Sutherland," .
said Euphra. "Will you not strengthen your nerves
with that, before we lead you to the tomb?"

"Then she will go with me," thought Hugh. "I
will, thank you. Miss Cameron."

He approached the table at which'she stood pouring

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out the cup of tea. She said, low and hurriedly, with-
out raising her head :

"Doii't go, dear Hugh. You don't know what
may happen."

"I will go, Euphra. Not even you shall prevent me."

"1 will pay the wager for you — lend you the money."

^^EuphraV^ — The tone implied many things.

Mr. Arnold approached. Other conversation fol-
lowed. As half-past ten chimed from the clock on the
chimney-piece, Hugh rose to go.

"1 will just get a book from my room," he said;
"and then perhaps Herr von Funkelstein will be kind
enough to see me make a beginning at least."

** Certainly I will. And I advise you to let the book
be Edgar Poe's Tales."

"No. I shall need all the courage I have, I assure
you. I shall find you here?"
' "Yes."

Hugh went to his room, and washed his face and
hands. Before doing so, he pulled off his finger a
ring of considerable value, which had belonged to his
father. As he was leaving the room to return to the
company, he remembered that he had left the ring on
the washhand-stand. He generally left it there at
night; but now he bethought himself that, as he was
not going to sleep in the room, it might be as well to
place it in the escritoire. He opened the secret place,
and laid the diamond beside his poems and the crystal
ring belonging to Mr. Arnold. This done, he took up
his book again, and, returning to the drawing-room,
found the whole party prepared to accompany him.
Mr. Arnold had the keys. Vori Funkelstein and he
went first, and Hugh followed with Euphra,

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"We will not contribute to your discomfiture by
locking the doors on the way, Mr, Sutherland," said
Mr. Arnold.

"That is, you will not compel me to win the wager
in spite of my fears," said Hugh.

"But you will let the ghost loose on the household,"
said the Bohemian, laughing.

"I will be responsible for that," replied Mr. Arnold.

Euphra dropped a little behind with Hugh.

"Remember the secret passage," said she. "You
can giet out when you will, whether they lock the door,
or not. Don't carry it too far, Hugh."

"The ghost you mean, Euphra. — I don't think I
shall," said Hugh, laughing. But as he laughed, an
involuntary shudder passed through him.

"Have I stepped over my own grave?" thought he.

They reached the room, and entered. Hugh would
have begged them to lock him in, had he not felt that
his knowledge of the secret door, would, although he
intended no use of it, render such a proposal dis-
honourable. They gave him the key of the door, to
lock it on the inside, and bade him good night. They
were just leaving him, when Hugh, on whom a new
light had broken at last, in the gradual restoration of
his faculties, said to the Bohemian:

"One word with you, Herr von Funkelstein, if you

Funkelstein followed him into the room; when Hugh,
half-closing the door, said:

"I trust to your sympathy, as a gentleman, not to
misunderstand me. I wagered a hundred guineas with
you in the heat of after-dinner talk. I am not at
present worth a hundred shillings."

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__ ^, ^


"Oh!" began Funkelstein, with a sneer, "if you
wish to get off on that ground "

"Herr von Funkelstein," interrupted Hugh, in a
very decided tone, "I pointed to your sympathy as a
gentleman, as the ground on which I had hoped to
meet you now. If you have difficulty in finding that
ground, another may be found to-morrow without much

Hugh paused for a moment after making this grand
speech; but Funkelstein did not seem to understand
him: he stood in a waiting attitude. Hugh therefore
went on:

"Meantime, what I wanted to say is this:— I have
just left a ring in my room, which, though in value
considerably below the sum mentioned between us,
may yet be a pledge of my good faith, in as far as it
is of infinitely more value to me than can be reckoned
in money. It was the property of one who by birth,
and perhaps by social position as well, was Herr
von Funkelstein's equal. The ring is a diamond, and
belonged to my father."

Von Funkelstein merely replied:

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Sutherland, for misunder-
standing you. The ring is quite an equivalent." And
making 'him a respectful bow, he turned and lejfl him.

y Google



The black jades of swart night trot foggy rings
'Boat heaven's brow. 'Tis now stark dead night.

JoHir Mabston. — Second Part of Antonio and MeUida,

As soon as Hugh was alone, his first action was to
lock the door by which he had entered; his next to
take the key from the lock, and put it in his pocket.
He then looked if there were any other fastenings, and
finding an old tarnished brass bolt as well, succeeded
in making it do its duty for the first time that century,
which required some persuasion, as may be supposed.
He then turned towards the other door. As he crossed
the room, he found four candles, a decanter of port,
and some biscuits, on a table — placed there, no doubt,
by the kind hands of Euphra. He vowed to himself
that he would not touch the wine. "I have had enough
of that for one night," said he. But he lighted the
candles; and then saw that the couch was provided
with plenty of wraps for the night. One of them — he
recognised to his delight — was a Cameron tartan, often
worn by Euphra. He buried his face in it for a moment,
and drew from it fresh courage. He then went into
the furthest recess, lifted the tapestry, and proceeded
to fasten the concealed door. But, to his discomfiture,
he could find no fastening upon it. "No doubt,"
thought he, "it does fasten, in some secret Way or
other." But he could discover none. There was no
mark of bolt or socket to show whence one had been
removed, nor sign of friction to indicate that the door
had ever been made secure in such fashion. It closed
with a spring.

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"Then," said Hugh, apostrophising the door, "I
must watch you,"

As, however, it was not yet near the time when
ghosts are to be expected, and as he felt very tired,
he drank one glass of the wine, and throwing himself
on the couch, drew Euphra's sha^l over him, opened
his book, and began to read. But the words soon
vanished in a bewildering dance, and he slept.

He started awake in that agony of fear in which I
suppose most people have awaked in the night, once
or twice in their Uves. He felt that he was not alone.
But the feeling seemed, when he recalled it, to have
been altogether different from that wjth which we
recognise the presence of the most unwelcome bodily
visitor. The whole of his nervous skeleton seemed to
shudder and contract. Every sense was intensified to
the acme of its acuteness ; while the powers of volition
were inoperative. He could not move a finger.

The moment in which he first saw the object I am
about to describe, he could not recall. The impression
made -seemed to have been too strong for the object
receiving it, destroying thus its own traces, as an over-
heated brand-iron would in dry timber. Or it may be
that, after such a pre-sensation, the cause of it could
not surprise him.

He saw, a few paces off, bending as if looking
down upon him, a face which, if described as he de-
scribed it, would be pronounced as far past the most
liberal boundary-line of art, as itself had passed be-
yond that degree of change at which a human coun-
tenance is fit for the upper world no longer, and must
be hidden away out of sight. The lips were dark,
and drawn back from the closed teeth, which were

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white as those of a skull. There were spots — ^in fact,
tlie face corresponded exactly to the description given
by Funkelstein of the reported ghost of Lady Euphrasia.
The dress was point for point correspondent to that
in the picture. Had the portrait of Lady Euphrasia
been hanging on the wall above, instead of the portrait
of the unknown nun, Hugh would have thought, as far
as dress was concerned, that it had come alive, and
stepped from its frame — except for one thing: there
was no ring on the thumb.

It was wonderful to himself afterwards, that he
should have observed all these particulars; but the fact
was, that they rather burnt themselves in upon his
brain, than were taken notice of by him. They re-
turned upon him afterwards by degrees, as one becomes
sensible of the pain of a wound.

But there was one sign of life. Though the eyes
were closed, tears flowed from them; and seemed to
have worn channels for their constant flow down this
face of death, which ought to have been lying still in
the grave, returning to its dust, and was weeping above
ground instead. The figure stood for a moment, as
one who would gaze, could she but open her heavy,
death-rusted eyelids. Then, as if in hopeless defeat,
she turned away. And then, to crown the horror
literally as well as figuratively, Hugh saw that her hair
sparkled and gleaiAed goldenly, as the hair of a saint
might, if the aureole were combed down into it. She
moved towards the door with a fettered pace, such as
one might attribute to the dead if they walked; — to the
dead body, I say, not to the living ghost; to that which
has lain In the prison-hold, till the joints are decayed
with the grave-damps, and the muscles are stiff with

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more than deathly cold. She dragged one limb after
the other slowly and, to appearance, painfully, as she
moved towards the door which Hugh had locked.

When she had gone half-way to the door, Hugh,
lying as he was on a couch, could see her feet, for
her dress did not reach the ground. They were bare,
as the feet of the dead ought to be, which are about
to tread softly in the realm of Hades. But how stained
and mouldy and iron-spotted, as if the rjiin had been
soaking through the spongy coffin, did the dress show
beside the pure whiteness of those exquisite feet! Not
a sign of the tomb was upon them. Small, living,
delicately formed, Hugh, could he have forgot the face
they bore above, might have envied the floor which in
their nakedness they seemed to caress, so lingeringly
did they move from it in their noiseless progress.

She reached the door, put out her hand, and
touched it. Hugh saw it open outwards and let her
through. Nor did this strike him as in the smallest
degree marvellous. It closed again behind her, noise-
less as her footfalls.

The moment she vanished, the power of motion
returned to him, and Hugh sprang to his feet. He
leaped to the door. With trembling hand he inserted
the key, and the lock creaked as he turned it. *

In proof of his being in tolerable possession of his
faculties at the moment, and that what he was relating
to me actually occurred, he told me that he remem-
bered at once that he had heard that peculiar creak,
a few moments before Euphra and he discovered that
they were left alone in this very chamber. He had
never thought of it before.

Still the door would not open: it was bolted as

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well, and the bolt was very stiff to withdraw. But at
length he succeeded.

When he reached the passage outside, he thought
he saw the glimmer of a light, perhaps in the picture-
gallery beyond. Towards this he groped his way. —
He could never account for the fact, that he left the
candles burning in the room behind him and went
forward into the darkness, except by supposing that
his wits had gone astray, in consequence of the shock
the apparition had occasioned them. — When he reached
the gallery, there was no light there; but somewhere in
the distance he saw, or fancied, a faint shimmer.

The impulse to go towards it was too strong to be
disputed with. He advanced with outstretched arms,
groping. After a few steps , he hact lost all idea of
where he was, or how he*' ought to proceed in order
to reach any known quarter. The light had vanished.
He stood. — Was that a stealthy step he heard beside
him in the dark? He had no time to speculate, for
the next moment he fell senseless.


Darkness is fled : look, infant mom hath drawn
Bright silver curtains 'boat the couch of night;
And now Aurora's horse trots azure rings,
Breathing fair light about the firmament.
Stand; what's that?

John Maeston. — Second Part of Antonio and Mellida.

When he came to himself, it was with a slow
flowing of the tide of consciousness. His head ached.
Had he fallen down stairs? — or had he struck his head
against some projection, and so stunned himself? The

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last he remembered was — standing quite still in the
dark, and hearing something. Had he been knocked
down? ,He could not tell. — Where was he? Could the
ghost have been all a dream? and this headache be
nature's revenge upon last night's wine? — ^For he lay
on the couch in the haunted chamber, and on his
bosom lay the book over which he had dropped

Mingled with all this doubt, there was another.
For he remehabered that, when consciousness first
returned, he felt as if he had seen Euphra's face
bending down close over his. — Could it be possible?
Had Euphra herself come to see how he had fared? —
The room lay in the grey light of the dawn, but
Euphra was nowhere visible. Could she have vanished
ashamed through the secret door? Or had she been
only a phantasy, a projection outwards of the form
that dwelt in his brain; a phenomenon often occurring
when the last of sleeping and the fir^t of waking are
indistinguishably blended in a vague consciousness?

But if it was so, then the ghost? — what of it? Had
not his brain, by the events of the preceding evening,
been similarly prepared with regard to it? Was it not
more likely, after all, that she too was the offspring of
his own imagination — the power that makes images —
especially when considered, that she exactly corre-
sponded to the description given by the Bohemian? —
But had he not observed many points at which the
Count had not even hinted? — Still, it was as natural
to expect that an excited imagination should supply
the details of a wholly imaginary spectacle, as that,
given the idea of Euphra's presence, it should present
the detail of her countenance; for the creation of that

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which is not, belongs as much to the realm of the
imagination , as the reproduction of that which is.

It seemed very strange to Hugh himself, that he
should be able thus to theorize, before even he had
raised himself from the couch on which, perhaps, after
all, he had lain without moving, throughout that ter-
rible night, swarming with the horrors of the dead that
would not sleep. But the long unconsciousness, in
which he had himself visited the regions of death,
seemed to have restored him, in spite of his aching
head, to perfect mental equilibrium. Or, at least, his
brain was quiet enough to let his mind work. Still,
he felt very ghastly within. He raised himself on his
elbow, and looked into the room. Everything was the
same as it had been the night before, only with an
altered aspect in the dawn-light. The dawn has a
peculiar terror of its own, sometimes perhaps even
more real in character, but very different from the ter-
rors of the night and of candle-light. The room
looked as if no ghost could have passed through its
still old musty atmosphere, so perfectly reposeful did
it appear; and yet it seemed as if some umhra^ some
temporary and now cast-off body of the ghost, must
be lying or lingering somewhere about it. He rose,
and peeped into the recess where the cabinet stood.
Nothing was there but the well remembered carving
and blackness. Having once yielded to the impulse,
he could not keep from peering every moment, now
into one, and now into another of the many hidden
corners. The next suggesting itself for examination,
was always one he could not see from where he stood:
— after all, even in the daylight, there might be some
dead thing there — who could tell? But he remained

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manfully at his post till the sun rose; till bell after bell
rang from the. turret; till, in short, Funkelstein came
to fetch him.

"Good morning, Mr. Sutherland," said he. "How
have you slept?"

"Like a — somnambulist," answered Hugh, choosing
the word for its intensity. "I slept so sound that I
woke quite early."

"I am glad to hear it. But it is nearly time for
breakfast, for which ceremony I am myself hardly in
trim yet."

So saying, Funkelstein turned, and walked away
with some precipitation. What occasioned Hugh a
little surprise, was, that he did not ask him one ques-
tion more as to how he had passed the night He
had, of course, slept in the house, seeing he presented
himself in deshabille.

Hugh hastened to his own room, where*, under
the antighostial influences of the bath, he made up
his mind not to say a word about the apparition to
any one.

"Well, Mr. Sutherland, how have you spent jthe
night?" said Mr. Arnold, greeting him.

"I slept with profound stupidity," answered Hugh;
"a stupidity, in fact, quite worthy of the folly of the
preceding wager."

This was true, as relating to the time during which
he had slept, but was, of course, false in the impres-
sion it gave.

"Bravo!" exclaimed Mr. Arnold, with an unwonted
impulsiveness. "The best mood, I consider, in which
to meet such creations of other people's brains! And
you positively passed a pleasant night in the awful

I>avid Elginbrod. II. 4

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chamber? That is something to tell Euphra. But she
is not down yet. You have restored the character
of my house, Mr. Sutherland; and next to his own
character, a man ought to care for that of his house.
I am greatly in your debt, sir."

At this moment, Euphra's maid brought the mes-
sage, that her mistress was sorry she was unable to
appear at breakfast.

Mrs. Elton took her place.

"The day is so warm and still, Mr, Arnold, that
I think Lady Emily might have a drive to-day. Per-
haps Miss Cameron may be able to join us by that

- "I cannot think what is the matter with Euphra,"
said Mr. Arnold. "She never used to be affected in
this way."

"Should you not seek some medical opinion?"
said Mrs. Elton. "These constant headaches must
indicate something wrong."

The constant headache - had occurred just once
before, since Mrs. £lton had formed one of the
family. After a pause, Mr. Arnold reverted to the
former subject.

"You are most welcome to the carriage, Mrs.
Elton. I am sorry I cannot accompany you myself;
but I must go to town to-day. You can take Mr.
Sutherland with you, if you like. He will take care of

"I shall be most happy," said Hugh.

"So shall we all," responded Mrs. Elton, kindly.
"Thank you, Mr. Arnold; though I am sorry you can't
go with us."

"What hour shall I order the carriage?"

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"About one, I think. Will Herr von Funkelstein
favour us with his company?"

"I am sorry," replied Funkelstein; "but I too must
leave for London to-day. Shall I have the pleasure of
accompanying you, Mr. Arnold?"

"With all my heart, if you can leave so early. I
must go at once to catch the express train/'

"I shall be ready in ten minutes."

"Very well."

"Pray, Mrs. Elton, make my adieus to Miss
Cameron. I am concerned to hear of her indisposi-

"With pleasure. I am going to her now. Good-

As soon as Mrs. Elton left the breakfast-room, Mr.
Arnold rose, saying;

"I will walk round to the stable, and order the
carriage myself. I shall -then be able, through your
means, Mr. Sutherland, to put a stop to these absurd
rumours in person. Not that I mean to say anything
direct, as if I placed any importance upon it; but, the
coachman being an old servant, I shall be able through

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Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldDavid Elginbrod, Volume 2 → online text (page 3 of 20)