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Title: Two Ghostly Mysteries - A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family; and the Murdered Cousin
Author: Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan, 1814-1873
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Two Ghostly Mysteries - A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family; and the Murdered Cousin" ***

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Two stories by J.S. LeFanu

A Chapter in the History was first published in 1836.
The Murdered Cousin was first published in 1851.


Being a Tenth Extract from the Legacy of the Late Francis Purcell,
P.P. of Drumcoolagh

INTRODUCTION. In the following narrative, I have endeavoured to give
as nearly as possible the "_ipsissima verba_" of the valued friend
from whom I received it, conscious that any aberration from her mode
of telling the tale of her own life, would at once impair its accuracy
and its effect. Would that, with her words, I could also bring before
you her animated gesture, her expressive countenance, the solemn and
thrilling air and accent with which she related the dark passages
in her strange story; and, above all, that I could communicate the
impressive consciousness that the narrator had seen with her own
eyes, and personally acted in the scenes which she described; these
accompaniments, taken with the additional circumstance, that she
who told the tale was one far too deeply and sadly impressed with
religious principle, to misrepresent or fabricate what she repeated as
fact, gave to the tale a depth of interest which the events recorded
could hardly, themselves, have produced. I became acquainted with
the lady from whose lips I heard this narrative, nearly twenty years
since, and the story struck my fancy so much, that I committed it
to paper while it was still fresh in my mind, and should its perusal
afford you entertainment for a listless half hour, my labour shall not
have been bestowed in vain. I find that I have taken the story down as
she told it, in the first person, and, perhaps, this is as it should
be. She began as follows.

My maiden name was Richardson,[A] the designation of a family of
some distinction in the county of Tyrone. I was the younger of two
daughters, and we were the only children. There was a difference in
our ages of nearly six years, so that I did not, in my childhood,
enjoy that close companionship which sisterhood, in other
circumstances, necessarily involves; and while I was still a child, my
sister was married. The person upon whom she bestowed her hand, was a
Mr. Carew, a gentleman of property and consideration in the north
of England. I remember well the eventful day of the wedding; the
thronging carriages, the noisy menials, the loud laughter, the merry
faces, and the gay dresses. Such sights were then new to me, and
harmonized ill with the sorrowful feelings with which I regarded the
event which was to separate me, as it turned out, for ever, from a
sister whose tenderness alone had hitherto more than supplied all that
I wanted in my mother's affection. The day soon arrived which was to
remove the happy couple from Ashtown-house. The carriage stood at the
hall-door, and my poor sister kissed me again, and again, telling me
that I should see her soon. The carriage drove away, and I gazed
after it until my eyes filled with tears, and, returning slowly to my
chamber, I wept more bitterly, and so, to speak more desolately, than
ever I had done before. My father had never seemed to love, or to
take an interest in me. He had desired a son, and I think he never
thoroughly forgave me my unfortunate sex. My having come into the
world at all as his child, he regarded as a kind of fraudulent
intrusion, and, as his antipathy to me had its origin in an
imperfection of mine, too radical for removal, I never even hoped to
stand high in his good graces. My mother was, I dare say, as fond of
me as she was of any one; but she was a woman of a masculine and
a worldly cast of mind. She had no tenderness or sympathy for the
weaknesses, or even for the affections of woman's nature, and her
demeanour towards me was peremptory, and often even harsh. It is not
to be supposed, then, that I found in the society of my parents much
to supply the loss of my sister. About a year after her marriage, we
received letters from Mr. Carew, containing accounts of my sister's
health, which, though not actually alarming, were calculated to
make us seriously uneasy. The symptoms most dwelt upon, were loss of
appetite and cough. The letters concluded by intimating that he would
avail himself of my father and mother's repeated invitation to spend
some time at Ashtown, particularly as the physician who had been
consulted as to my sister's health had strongly advised a removal
to her native air. There were added repeated assurances that nothing
serious was apprehended, as it was supposed that a deranged state of
the liver was the only source of the symptoms which seemed to intimate
consumption. In accordance with this announcement, my sister and Mr.
Carew arrived in Dublin, where one of my father's carriages awaited
them, in readiness to start upon whatever day or hour they might
choose for their departure. It was arranged that Mr. Carew was, as
soon as the day upon which they were to leave Dublin was definitely
fixed, to write to my father, who intended that the two last stages
should be performed by his own horses, upon whose speed and safety
far more reliance might be placed than upon those of the ordinary
_post-horses_, which were, at that time, almost without exception, of
the very worst order. The journey, one of about ninety miles, was to
be divided; the larger portion to be reserved for the second day. On
Sunday, a letter reached us, stating that the party would leave Dublin
on Monday, and, in due course, reach Ashtown upon Tuesday evening.
Tuesday came: the evening closed in, and yet no carriage appeared;
darkness came on, and still no sign of our expected visitors. Hour
after hour passed away, and it was now past twelve; the night was
remarkably calm, scarce a breath stirring, so that any sound, such
as that produced by the rapid movement of a vehicle, would have
been audible at a considerable distance. For some such sound I was
feverishly listening. It was, however, my father's rule to close the
house at nightfall, and the window-shutters being fastened, I was
unable to reconnoitre the avenue as I would have wished. It was nearly
one o'clock, and we began almost to despair of seeing them upon that
night, when I thought I distinguished the sound of wheels, but so
remote and faint as to make me at first very uncertain. The noise
approached; it become louder and clearer; it stopped for a moment. I
now heard the shrill screaking of the rusty iron, as the avenue
gate revolved on its hinges; again came the sound of wheels in rapid

"It is they," said I, starting up, "the carriage is in the avenue." We
all stood for a few moments, breathlessly listening. On thundered
the vehicle with the speed of a whirlwind; crack went the whip, and
clatter went the wheels, as it rattled over the uneven pavement of
the court; a general and furious barking from all the dogs about the
house, hailed its arrival. We hurried to the hall in time to hear
the steps let down with the sharp clanging noise peculiar to the
operation, and the hum of voices exerted in the bustle of arrival. The
hall-door was now thrown open, and we all stepped forth to greet our
visitors. The court was perfectly empty; the moon was shining broadly
and brightly upon all around; nothing was to be seen but the tall
trees with their long spectral shadows, now wet with the dews of
midnight. We stood gazing from right to left, as if suddenly awakened
from a dream; the dogs walked suspiciously, growling and snuffing
about the court, and by totally and suddenly ceasing their former
loud barking, as also by carrying their tails between their legs,
expressing the predominance of fear. We looked one upon the other
in perplexity and dismay, and I think I never beheld more pale faces
assembled. By my father's direction, we looked about to find anything
which might indicate or account for the noise which we had heard; but
no such thing was to be seen--even the mire which lay upon the avenue
was undisturbed. We returned to the house, more panic struck than
I can describe. On the next day, we learned by a messenger, who had
ridden hard the greater part of the night, that my sister was dead. On
Sunday evening, she had retired to bed rather unwell, and, on Monday,
her indisposition declared itself unequivocally to be malignant
fever. She became hourly worse, and, on Tuesday night, a little after
midnight, she expired.[B] I mention this circumstance, because it was
one upon which a thousand wild and fantastical reports were founded,
though one would have thought that the truth scarcely required to be
improved upon; and again, because it produced a strong and lasting
effect upon my spirits, and indeed, I am inclined to think, upon my
character. I was, for several years after this occurrence, long after
the violence of my grief subsided, so wretchedly low-spirited and
nervous, that I could scarcely be said to live, and during this time,
habits of indecision, arising out of a listless acquiescence in the
will of others, a fear of encountering even the slightest opposition,
and a disposition to shrink from what are commonly called amusements,
grew upon me so strongly, that I have scarcely even yet, altogether
overcome them. We saw nothing more of Mr. Carew. He returned to
England as soon as the melancholy rites attendant upon the event
which I have just mentioned were performed; and not being altogether
inconsolable, he married again within two years; after which, owing to
the remoteness of our relative situations, and other circumstances, we
gradually lost sight of him. I was now an only child; and, as my elder
sister had died without issue, it was evident that, in the ordinary
course of things, my father's property, which was altogether in his
power, would go to me, and the consequence was, that before I was
fourteen, Ashtown-house was besieged by a host of suitors; however,
whether it was that _I_ was too young, or that none of the aspirants
to my hand stood sufficiently high in rank or wealth, I was suffered
by both parents to do exactly as I pleased; and well was it for me,
as I afterwards found that fortune, or, rather Providence, had so
ordained it, that I had not suffered my affections to become in any
degree engaged, for my mother would never have suffered any _silly
fancy_ of mine, as she was in the habit of styling an attachment,
to stand in the way of her ambitious views; views which she was
determined to carry into effect, in defiance of every obstacle, and in
order to accomplish which, she would not have hesitated to sacrifice
anything so unreasonable and contemptible as a girlish passion.

When I reached the age of sixteen, my mother's plans began to develope
themselves, and, at her suggestion, we moved to Dublin to sojourn for
the winter, in order that no time might be lost in disposing of me to
the best advantage. I had been too long accustomed to consider myself
as of no importance whatever, to believe for a moment that I was in
reality the cause of all the bustle and preparation which surrounded
me, and being thus relieved from the pain which a consciousness of my
real situation would have inflicted, I journeyed towards the capital
with a feeling of total indifference.

My father's wealth and connection had established him in the best
society, and, consequently, upon our arrival in the metropolis, we
commanded whatever enjoyment or advantages its gaieties afforded. The
tumult and novelty of the scenes in which I was involved did not fail
considerably to amuse me, and my mind gradually recovered its tone,
which was naturally cheerful. It was almost immediately known and
reported that I was an heiress, and of course my attractions were
pretty generally acknowledged. Among the many gentlemen whom it was my
fortune to please, one, ere long, established himself in my mother's
good graces, to the exclusion of all less important aspirants.
However, I had not understood, or even remarked his attentions, nor,
in the slightest degree, suspected his or my mother's plans respecting
me, when I was made aware of them rather abruptly by my mother
herself. We had attended a splendid ball, given by Lord M----, at his
residence in Stephen's-green, and I was, with the assistance of
my waiting-maid, employed in rapidly divesting myself of the rich
ornaments which, in profuseness and value, could scarcely have found
their equals in any private family in Ireland. I had thrown myself
into a lounging chair beside the fire, listless and exhausted, after
the fatigues of the evening, when I was aroused from the reverie into
which I had fallen, by the sound of footsteps approaching my chamber,
and my mother entered.

"Fanny, my dear," said she, in her softest tone. "I wish to say a word
or two with you before I go to rest. You are not fatigued, love, I

"No, no, madam, I thank you," said I, rising at the same time from my
seat with the formal respect so little practised now.

"Sit down, my dear," said she, placing herself upon a chair beside me;
"I must chat with you for a quarter of an hour or so. Saunders (to the
maid), you may leave the room; do not close the room door, but shut
that of the lobby."

This precaution against curious ears having been taken as directed, my
mother proceeded.

"You have observed, I should suppose, my dearest Fanny; indeed, you
_must_ have observed, Lord Glenfallen's marked attentions to you?"

"I assure you, madam," I began.

"Well, well, that is all right," interrupted my mother; "of course you
must be modest upon the matter; but listen to me for a few moments, my
love, and I will prove to your satisfaction that your modesty is quite
unnecessary in this case. You have done better than we could have
hoped, at least, so very soon. Lord Glenfallen is in love with you. I
give you joy of your conquest," and saying this, my mother kissed my

"In love with me!" I exclaimed, in unfeigned astonishment.

"Yes, in love with you," repeated my mother; "devotedly, distractedly
in love with you. Why, my dear, what is there wonderful in it; look in
the glass, and look at these," she continued, pointing with a smile to
the jewels which I had just removed from my person, and which now lay
a glittering heap upon the table.

"May there not," said I, hesitating between confusion and real alarm;
"is it not possible that some mistake may be at the bottom of all

"Mistake! dearest; none," said my mother. "None, none in the world;
judge for yourself; read this, my love," and she placed in my hand a
letter, addressed to herself, the seal of which was broken. I read
it through with no small surprise. After some very fine complimentary
flourishes upon my beauty and perfections, as, also, upon the
antiquity and high reputation of our family, it went on to make
a formal proposal of marriage, to be communicated or not to me at
present, as my mother should deem expedient; and the letter wound up
by a request that the writer might be permitted, upon our return to
Ashtown-house, which was soon to take place, as the spring was now
tolerably advanced, to visit us for a few days, in case his suit was

"Well, well, my dear," said my mother, impatiently; "do you know who
Lord Glenfallen is?"

"I do, madam," said I rather timidly, for I dreaded an altercation
with my mother.

"Well, dear, and what frightens you?" continued she; "are you afraid
of a title? What has he done to alarm you? he is neither old nor

I was silent, though I might have said, "He is neither young nor

"My dear Fanny," continued my mother, "in sober seriousness you have
been most fortunate in engaging the affections of a nobleman such as
Lord Glenfallen, young and wealthy, with first-rate, yes, acknowledged
_first-rate_ abilities and of a family whose influence is not exceeded
by that of any in Ireland--of course you see the offer in the same
light that I do--indeed I think you _must_."

This was uttered in no very dubious tone. I was so much astonished
by the suddenness of the whole communication that I literally did not
know what to say.

"You are not in love?" said my mother, turning sharply, and fixing her
dark eyes upon me, with severe scrutiny.

"No, madam," said I, promptly; horrified, as what young lady would not
have been, at such a query.

"I am glad to hear it," said my mother, dryly. "Once, nearly twenty
years ago, a friend of mine consulted me how he should deal with a
daughter who had made what they call a love match, beggared herself,
and disgraced her family; and I said, without hesitation, take no care
of her, but cast her off; such punishment I awarded for an offence
committed against the reputation of a family not my own; and what
I advised respecting the child of another, with full as small
compunction I would _do_ with mine. I cannot conceive anything more
unreasonable or intolerable than that the fortune and the character of
a family should be marred by the idle caprices of a girl."

She spoke this with great severity, and paused as if she expected some
observation from me. I, however, said nothing.

"But I need not explain to you, my dear Fanny," she continued, "my
views upon this subject; you have always known them well, and I have
never yet had reason to believe you likely, voluntarily, to offend me,
or to abuse or neglect any of those advantages which reason and duty
tell you should be improved--come hither, my dear, kiss me, and do not
look so frightened. Well, now, about this letter, you need not answer
it yet; of course you must be allowed time to make up your mind; in
the mean time I will write to his lordship to give him my permission
to visit us at Ashtown--good night, my love."

And thus ended one of the most disagreeable, not to say astounding,
conversations I had ever had; it would not be easy to describe exactly
what were my feelings towards Lord Glenfallen; whatever might have
been my mother's suspicions, my heart was perfectly disengaged;
and hitherto, although I had not been made in the slightest degree
acquainted with his real views, I had liked him very much, as an
agreeable, well informed man, whom I was always glad to meet in
society; he had served in the navy in early life, and the polish which
his manners received in his after intercourse with courts and cities
had not served to obliterate that frankness of _manner_ which belongs
proverbially to the sailor. Whether this apparent candour went deeper
than the outward bearing I was yet to learn; however there was no
doubt that as far as I had seen of Lord Glenfallen, he was, though
perhaps not so young as might have been desired in a lover, a
singularly pleasing man, and whatever feeling unfavourable to him had
found its way into my mind, arose altogether from the dread, not
an unreasonable one, that constraint might be practised upon my
inclinations. I reflected, however, that Lord Glenfallen was a wealthy
man, and one highly thought of; and although I could never expect to
love him in the romantic sense of the term, yet I had no doubt but
that, all things considered, I might be more happy with him than I
could hope to be at home. When next I met him it was with no small
embarrassment, his tact and good breeding, however, soon reassured me,
and effectually prevented my awkwardness being remarked upon; and I
had the satisfaction of leaving Dublin for the country with the full
conviction that nobody, not even those most intimate with me, even
suspected the fact of Lord Glenfallen's having made me a formal
proposal. This was to me a very serious subject of self gratulation,
for, besides my instinctive dread of becoming the topic of the
speculations of gossip, I felt that if the situation which I occupied
in relation to him were made publicly known, I should stand committed
in a manner which would scarcely leave me the power of retraction. The
period at which Lord Glenfallen had arranged to visit Ashtown-house
was now fast approaching, and it became my mother's wish to form
me thoroughly to her will, and to obtain my consent to the proposed
marriage before his arrival, so that all things might proceed smoothly
without apparent opposition or objection upon my part; whatever
objections, therefore, I had entertained were to be subdued; whatever
disposition to resistance I had exhibited or had been supposed to
feel, were to be completely eradicated before he made his appearance,
and my mother addressed herself to the task with a decision and energy
against which even the barriers, which her imagination had created,
could hardly have stood. If she had, however, expected any determined
opposition from me, she was agreeably disappointed; my heart was
perfectly free, and all my feelings of liking and preference were in
favour of Lord Glenfallen, and I well knew that in case I refused to
dispose of myself as I was desired, my mother had alike the power and
the will to render my existence as utterly miserable as any, even
the most ill-assorted marriage could possibly have done. You will
remember, my good friend, that I was very young and very completely
under the controul of my parents, both of whom, my mother
particularly, were unscrupulously determined in matters of this kind,
and willing, when voluntary obedience on the part of those within
their power was withheld, to compel a forced acquiescence by an
unsparing use of all the engines of the most stern and rigorous
domestic discipline. All these combined, not unnaturally, induced me
to resolve upon yielding at once, and without useless opposition, to
what appeared almost to be my fate. The appointed time was come,
and my now accepted suitor arrived; he was in high spirits, and, if
possible, more entertaining than ever. I was not, however, quite in
the mood to enjoy his sprightliness; but whatever I wanted in gaiety
was amply made up in the triumphant and gracious good humour of my
mother, whose smiles of benevolence and exultation were showered
around as bountifully as the summer sunshine. I will not weary you
with unnecessary prolixity. Let it suffice to say, that I was married
to Lord Glenfallen with all the attendant pomp and circumstance of
wealth, rank, and grandeur. According to the usage of the times, now
humanely reformed, the ceremony was made until long past midnight, the
season of wild, uproarious, and promiscuous feasting and revelry. Of
all this I have a painfully vivid recollection, and particularly of
the little annoyances inflicted upon me by the dull and coarse jokes
of the wits and wags who abound in all such places, and upon all such
occasions. I was not sorry, when, after a few days, Lord Glenfallen's
carriage appeared at the door to convey us both from Ashtown; for any
change would have been a relief from the irksomeness of ceremonial
and formality which the visits received in honour of my newly acquired
titles hourly entailed upon me. It was arranged that we were to
proceed to Cahergillagh, one of the Glenfallen estates, lying,
however, in a southern county, so that a tedious journey (then owing
to the impracticability of the roads,) of three days intervened. I set
forth with my noble companion, followed by the regrets of some, and by
the envy of many, though God knows I little deserved the latter; the
three days of travel were now almost spent, when passing the brow of a
wild heathy hill, the domain of Cahergillagh opened suddenly upon
our view. It formed a striking and a beautiful scene. A lake of
considerable extent stretching away towards the west, and reflecting
from its broad, smooth waters, the rich glow of the setting sun, was
overhung by steep hills, covered by a rich mantle of velvet sward,
broken here and there by the grey front of some old rock, and
exhibiting on their shelving sides, their slopes and hollows, every
variety of light and shade; a thick wood of dwarf oak, birch, and
hazel skirted these hills, and clothed the shores of the lake, running
out in rich luxuriance upon every promontory, and spreading upward
considerably upon the side of the hills.

"There lies the enchanted castle," said Lord Glenfallen, pointing
towards a considerable level space intervening between two of the
picturesque hills, which rose dimly around the lake. This little plain
was chiefly occupied by the same low, wild wood which covered the
other parts of the domain; but towards the centre a mass of taller and
statelier forest trees stood darkly grouped together, and among them
stood an ancient square tower, with many buildings of an humbler
character, forming together the manor-house, or, as it was more
usually called, the court of Cahergillagh. As we approached the level
upon which the mansion stood, the winding road gave us many glimpses
of the time-worn castle and its surrounding buildings; and seen as it
was through the long vistas of the fine old trees, and with the
rich glow of evening upon it, I have seldom beheld an object more
picturesquely striking. I was glad to perceive, too, that here and
there the blue curling smoke ascended from stacks of chimneys now
hidden by the rich, dark ivy, which, in a great measure, covered the
building; other indications of comfort made themselves manifest as
we approached; and indeed, though the place was evidently one of
considerable antiquity, it had nothing whatever of the gloom of decay
about it.

"You must not, my love," said Lord Glenfallen, "imagine this place
worse than it is. I have no taste for antiquity, at least I should
not choose a house to reside in because it is old. Indeed I do not
recollect that I was even so romantic as to overcome my aversion to
rats and rheumatism, those faithful attendants upon your noble relics
of feudalism; and I much prefer a snug, modern, unmysterious bed-room,
with well-aired sheets, to the waving tapestry, mildewed cushions,
and all the other interesting appliances of romance; however, though
I cannot promise you all the discomfort generally pertaining to an old
castle, you will find legends and ghostly lore enough to claim your
respect; and if old Martha be still to the fore, as I trust she is,
you will soon have a supernatural and appropriate anecdote for every
closet and corner of the mansion; but here we are--so, without more
ado, welcome to Cahergillagh."

We now entered the hall of the castle, and while the domestics were
employed in conveying our trunks and other luggage which we had
brought with us for immediate use to the apartments which Lord
Glenfallen had selected for himself and me, I went with him into a
spacious sitting room, wainscoted with finely polished black oak,
and hung round with the portraits of various of the worthies of
the Glenfallen family. This room looked out upon an extensive level
covered with the softest green sward, and irregularly bounded by the
wild wood I have before mentioned, through the leafy arcade formed
by whose boughs and trunks the level beams of the setting sun were
pouring; in the distance, a group of dairy maids were plying their
task, which they accompanied throughout with snatches of Irish songs
which, mellowed by the distance, floated not unpleasingly to the ear;
and beside them sat or lay, with all the grave importance of conscious
protection, six or seven large dogs of various kinds; farther in the
distance, and through the cloisters of the arching wood, two or
three ragged urchins were employed in driving such stray kine as had
wandered farther than the rest to join their fellows. As I looked
upon this scene which I have described, a feeling of tranquillity and
happiness came upon me, which I have never experienced in so strong
a degree; and so strange to me was the sensation that my eyes filled
with tears. Lord Glenfallen mistook the cause of my emotion, and
taking me kindly and tenderly by the hand he said, "Do not suppose, my
love, that it is my intention to _settle_ here, whenever you desire
to leave this, you have only to let me know your wish and it shall
be complied with, so I must entreat of you not to suffer any
circumstances which I can controul to give you one moment's
uneasiness; but here is old Martha, you must be introduced to her, one
of the heirlooms of our family."

A hale, good-humoured, erect, old woman was Martha, and an agreeable
contrast to the grim, decrepit hag, which my fancy had conjured up, as
the depository of all the horrible tales in which I doubted not this
old place was most fruitful. She welcomed me and her master with
a profusion of gratulations, alternately kissing our hands and
apologising for the liberty, until at length Lord Glenfallen put
an end to this somewhat fatiguing ceremonial, by requesting her to
conduct me to my chamber if it were prepared for my reception. I
followed Martha up an old-fashioned, oak stair-case into a long, dim
passage at the end of which lay the door which communicated with the
apartments which had been selected for our use; here the old woman
stopped, and respectfully requested me to proceed. I accordingly
opened the door and was about to enter, when something like a mass of
black tapestry as it appeared disturbed by my sudden approach, fell
from above the door, so as completely to screen the aperture; the
startling unexpectedness of the occurrence, and the rustling noise
which the drapery made in its descent, caused me involuntarily to step
two or three paces backwards, I turned, smiling and half ashamed to
the old servant, and said, "You see what a coward I am." The woman
looked puzzled, and without saying any more, I was about to draw aside
the curtain and enter the room, when upon turning to do so, I was
surprised to find that nothing whatever interposed to obstruct the
passage. I went into the room, followed by the servant woman, and was
amazed to find that it, like the one below, was wainscoted, and that
nothing like drapery was to be found near the door.

"Where is it," said I; "what has become of it?"

"What does your ladyship wish to know?" said the old woman.

"Where is the black curtain that fell across the door, when I
attempted first to come to my chamber," answered I.

"The cross of Christ about us," said the old woman, turning suddenly

"What is the matter, my good friend," said I; "you seem frightened."

"Oh, no, no, your ladyship," said the old woman, endeavouring to
conceal her agitation; but in vain, for tottering towards a chair, she
sunk into it, looking so deadly pale and horror-struck that I thought
every moment she would faint.

"Merciful God, keep us from harm and danger," muttered she at length.

"What can have terrified you so," said I, beginning to fear that she
had seen something more than had met my eye, "you appear ill, my poor

"Nothing, nothing, my lady," said she, rising; "I beg your ladyship's
pardon for making so bold; may the great God defend us from

"Martha," said I, "something _has_ frightened you very much, and I
insist on knowing what it is; your keeping me in the dark upon the
subject will make me much more uneasy than any thing you could tell
me; I desire you, therefore, to let me know what agitates you; I
command you to tell me." "Your ladyship said you saw a black curtain
falling across the door when you were coming into the room," said the
old woman.

"I did," said I; "but though the whole thing appears somewhat strange
I cannot see any thing in the matter to agitate you so excessively.

"It's for no good you saw that, my lady," said the crone; "something
terrible is coming; it's a sign, my lady--a sign that never fails."

"Explain, explain what you mean, my good woman," said I, in spite of
myself, catching more than I could account for, of her superstitious

"Whenever something--something _bad_ is going to happen to the
Glenfallen family, some one that belongs to them sees a black
handkerchief or curtain just waved or falling before their faces; I
saw it myself," continued she, lowering her voice, "when I was only
a little girl, and I'll never forget it; I often heard of it before,
though I never saw it till then, nor since, praised be God; but I
was going into Lady Jane's room to waken her in the morning; and sure
enough when I got first to the bed and began to draw the curtain,
something dark was waved across the division, but only for a moment;
and when I saw rightly into the bed, there was she lying cold and
dead, God be merciful to me; so, my lady, there is small blame to me
to be daunted when any one of the family sees it, for it's many's the
story I heard of it, though I saw it but once."

I was not of a superstitious turn of mind; yet I could not resist a
feeling of awe very nearly allied to the fear which my companion had
so unreservedly expressed; and when you consider my situation, the
loneliness, antiquity, and gloom of the place, you will allow that
the weakness was not without excuse. In spite of old Martha's boding
predictions, however, time flowed on in an unruffled course; one
little incident, however, though trifling in itself, I must relate as
it serves to make what follows more intelligible. Upon the day after
my arrival, Lord Glenfallen of course desired to make me acquainted
with the house and domain; and accordingly we set forth upon our
ramble; when returning, he became for some time silent and moody, a
state so unusual with him as considerably to excite my surprise, I
endeavoured by observations and questions to arouse him--but in vain;
at length as we approached the house, he said, as if speaking to
himself, "'twere madness--madness--madness," repeating the word
bitterly--"sure and speedy ruin." There was here a long pause; and at
length turning sharply towards me in a tone very unlike that in which
he had hitherto addressed me, he said, "Do you think it possible that
a woman can keep a secret?"

"I am sure," said I, "that women are very much belied upon the score
of talkativeness, and that I may answer your question with the same
directness with which you put it; I reply that I _do_ think a woman
can keep a secret."

"But I do not," said he, drily.

We walked on in silence for a time; I was much astonished at his
unwonted abruptness; I had almost said rudeness. After a considerable
pause he seemed to recollect himself, and with an effort resuming his
sprightly manner, he said, "well, well, the next thing to keeping
a secret well is, not to desire to possess one--talkativeness and
curiosity generally go together; now I shall make test of you in the
first place, respecting the latter of these qualities. I shall be your
_Bluebeard_--tush, why do I trifle thus; listen to me, my dear
Fanny, I speak now in solemn earnest; what I desire is, intimately,
inseparably, connected with your happiness and honour as well as my
own; and your compliance with my request will not be difficult; it
will impose upon you a very trifling restraint during your sojourn
here, which certain events which have occurred since our arrival, have
determined me shall not be a long one. You must promise me, upon your
sacred honour, that you will visit _only_ that part of the castle
which can be reached from the front entrance, leaving the back
entrance and the part of the building commanded immediately by it, to
the menials, as also the small garden whose high wall you see yonder;
and never at any time seek to pry or peep into them, nor to open the
door which communicates from the front part of the house through the
corridor with the back. I do not urge this in jest or in caprice, but
from a solemn conviction that danger and misery will be the certain
consequences of your not observing what I prescribe. I cannot explain
myself further at present--promise me, then, these things as you hope
for peace here and for mercy hereafter."

I did make the promise as desired, and he appeared relieved; his
manner recovered all its gaiety and elasticity, but the recollection
of the strange scene which I have just described dwelt painfully upon
my mind. More than a month passed away without any occurrence worth
recording; but I was not destined to leave Cahergillagh without
further adventure; one day intending to enjoy the pleasant sunshine in
a ramble through the woods, I ran up to my room to procure my bonnet
and shawl; upon entering the chamber, I was surprised and somewhat
startled to find it occupied; beside the fireplace and nearly opposite
the door, seated in a large, old-fashioned elbow-chair, was placed the
figure of a lady; she appeared to be nearer fifty than forty, and was
dressed suitably to her age, in a handsome suit of flowered silk; she
had a profusion of trinkets and jewellery about her person, and many
rings upon her fingers; but although very rich, her dress was not
gaudy or in ill taste; but what was remarkable in the lady was, that
although her features were handsome, and upon the whole pleasing, the
pupil of each eye was dimmed with the whiteness of cataract, and she
was evidently stone blind. I was for some seconds so surprised at this
unaccountable apparition, that I could not find words to address her.

"Madam," said I, "there must be some mistake here--this is my

"Marry come up," said the lady, sharply; "_your_ chamber! Where is
Lord Glenfallen?"

"He is below, madam," replied I; "and I am convinced he will be not a
little surprised to find you here."

"I do not think he will," said she; "with your good leave, talk of
what you know something about; tell him I want him; why does the minx
dilly dally so?"

In spite of the awe which this grim lady inspired, there was something
in her air of confident superiority which, when I considered our
relative situations, was not a little irritating.

"Do you know, madam, to whom you speak?" said I.

"I neither know nor care," said she; "but I presume that you are some
one about the house, so, again, I desire you, if you wish to continue
here, to bring your master hither forthwith."

"I must tell you madam," said I, "that I am Lady Glenfallen."

"What's that?" said the stranger, rapidly.

"I say, madam," I repeated, approaching her, that I might be more
distinctly heard, "that I am Lady Glenfallen."

"It's a lie, you trull," cried she, in an accent which made me start,
and, at the same time, springing forward, she seized me in her grasp
and shook me violently, repeating, "it's a lie, it's a lie," with
a rapidity and vehemence which swelled every vein of her face;
the violence of her action, and the fury which convulsed her face,
effectually terrified me, and disengaging myself from her grasp, I
screamed as loud as I could for help; the blind woman continued to
pour out a torrent of abuse upon me, foaming at the mouth with rage,
and impotently shaking her clenched fists towards me. I heard Lord
Glenfallen's step upon the stairs, and I instantly ran out; as I past
him I perceived that he was deadly pale, and just caught the words, "I
hope that demon has not hurt you?" I made some answer, I forget what,
and he entered the chamber, the door of which he locked upon the
inside; what passed within I know not; but I heard the voices of the
two speakers raised in loud and angry altercation. I thought I heard
the shrill accents of the woman repeat the words, "let her look to
herself"; but I could not be quite sure. This short sentence, however,
was, to my alarmed imagination, pregnant with fearful meaning; the
storm at length subsided, though not until after a conference of more
than two long hours. Lord Glenfallen then returned, pale and agitated,
"That unfortunate woman," said he, "is out of her mind; I dare say she
treated you to some of her ravings, but you need not dread any further
interruption from her, I have brought her so far to reason. She did
not hurt you, I trust."

"No, no," said I; "but she terrified me beyond measure." "Well," said
he, "she is likely to behave better for the future, and I dare swear
that neither you nor she would desire after what has passed to meet

This occurrence, so startling and unpleasant, so involved in mystery,
and giving rise to so many painful surmises, afforded me no very
agreeable food for rumination. All attempts on my part to arrive at
the truth were baffled; Lord Glenfallen evaded all my enquiries, and
at length peremptorily forbid any further allusion to the matter. I
was thus obliged to rest satisfied with what I had actually seen,
and to trust to time to resolve the perplexities in which the whole
transaction had involved me. Lord Glenfallen's temper and spirits
gradually underwent a complete and most painful change; he became
silent and abstracted, his manner to me was abrupt and often harsh,
some grievous anxiety seemed ever present to his mind; and under
its influence his spirits sunk and his temper became soured. I
soon perceived that his gaiety was rather that which the stir and
excitement of society produces, than the result of a healthy habit of
mind; and every day confirmed me in the opinion, that the considerate
good nature which I had so much admired in him was little more than
a mere manner; and to my infinite grief and surprise, the gay, kind,
open-hearted nobleman who had for months followed and flattered me,
was rapidly assuming the form of a gloomy, morose, and singularly
selfish man; this was a bitter discovery, and I strove to conceal it
from myself as long as I could, but the truth was not to be denied,
and I was forced to believe that Lord Glenfallen no longer loved
me, and that he was at little pains to conceal the alteration in his
sentiments. One morning after breakfast, Lord Glenfallen had been for
some time walking silently up and down the room, buried in his
moody reflections, when pausing suddenly, and turning towards me, he

"I have it, I have it; we must go abroad and stay there, too, and
if that does not answer, why--why we must try some more effectual
expedient. Lady Glenfallen, I have become involved in heavy
embarrassments; a wife you know must share the fortunes of her
husband, for better for worse, but I will waive my right if you prefer
remaining here--here at Cahergillagh; for I would not have you seen
elsewhere without the state to which your rank entitled you; besides
it would break your poor mother's heart," he added, with sneering
gravity, "so make up your mind--Cahergillagh or France, I will start
if possible in a week, so determine between this and then."

He left the room and in a few moments I saw him ride past the window,
followed by a mounted servant; he had directed a domestic to inform
me that he should not be back until the next day. I was in very great
doubt as to what course of conduct I should pursue, as to accompanying
him in the continental tour so suddenly determined upon, I felt that
it would be a hazard too great to encounter; for at Cahergillagh I had
always the consciousness to sustain me, that if his temper at any time
led him into violent or unwarrantable treatment of me, I had a remedy
within reach, in the protection and support of my own family, from
all useful and effective communication with whom, if once in France,
I should be entirely debarred. As to remaining at Cahergillagh in
solitude, and for aught I knew, exposed to hidden dangers, it appeared
to me scarcely less objectionable than the former proposition; and yet
I feared that with one or other I must comply, unless I was prepared
to come to an actual breach with Lord Glenfallen; full of these
unpleasing doubts and perplexities, I retired to rest. I was wakened,
after having slept uneasily for some hours, by some person shaking
me rudely by the shoulder; a small lamp burned in my room, and by its
light, to my horror and amazement, I discovered that my visitant was
the self-same blind, old lady who had so terrified me a few weeks
before. I started up in the bed, with a view to ring the bell, and
alarm the domestics, but she instantly anticipated me by saying, "Do
not be frightened, silly girl; if I had wished to harm you I could
have done it while you were sleeping, I need not have wakened you;
listen to me, now, attentively and fearlessly; for what I have to say,
interests you to the full as much as it does me; tell me, here, in
the presence of God, did Lord Glenfallen marry you, _actually marry_
you?--speak the truth, woman."

"As surely as I live and speak," I replied, "did Lord Glenfallen marry
me in presence of more than a hundred witnesses."

"Well," continued she, "he should have told you _then_, before you
married him, that he had a wife living, which wife I am; I feel you
tremble--tush! do not be frightened. I do not mean to harm you--mark
me now--you are not his wife. When I make my story known you will be
so, neither in the eye of God nor of man; you must leave this house
upon to-morrow; let the world know that your husband has another wife
living; go, you, into retirement, and leave him to justice, which will
surely overtake him. If you remain in this house after to-morrow you
will reap the bitter fruits of your sin," so saying, she quitted the
room, leaving me very little disposed to sleep.

Here was food for my very worst and most terrible suspicions; still
there was not enough to remove all doubt. I had no proof of the truth
of this woman's statement. Taken by itself there was nothing to induce
me to attach weight to it; but when I viewed it in connection with the
extraordinary mystery of some of Lord Glenfallen's proceedings, his
strange anxiety to exclude me from certain portions of the mansion,
doubtless, lest I should encounter this person--the strong influence,
nay, command, which she possessed over him, a circumstance clearly
established by the very fact of her residing in the very place, where
of all others, he should least have desired to find her--her thus
acting, and continuing to act in direct contradiction to his wishes;
when, I say, I viewed her disclosure in connection with all these
circumstances, I could not help feeling that there was at least a
fearful verisimilitude in the allegations which she had made. Still I
was not satisfied, nor nearly so; young minds have a reluctance almost
insurmountable to believing upon any thing short of unquestionable
proof, the existence of premeditated guilt in any one whom they have
ever trusted; and in support of this feeling I was assured that if the
assertion of Lord Glenfallen, which nothing in this woman's manner had
led me to disbelieve, were true, namely, that her mind was unsound,
the whole fabric of my doubts and fears must fall to the ground.
I determined to state to Lord Glenfallen freely and accurately the
substance of the communication which I had just heard, and in his
words and looks to seek for its proof or refutation; full of these
thoughts I remained wakeful and excited all night, every moment
fancying that I heard the step, or saw the figure of my recent visitor
towards whom I felt a species of horror and dread which I can hardly
describe. There was something in her face, though her features had
evidently been handsome, and were not, at first sight, unpleasing,
which, upon a nearer inspection, seemed to indicate the habitual
prevalence and indulgence of evil passions, and a power of expressing
mere animal anger, with an intenseness that I have seldom seen
equalled, and to which an almost unearthly effect was given by the
convulsive quivering of the sightless eyes. You may easily suppose
that it was no very pleasing reflection to me to consider, that
whenever caprice might induce her to return, I was within the reach of
this violent, and, for aught I knew, insane woman, who had, upon that
very night, spoken to me in a tone of menace, of which her mere words,
divested of the manner and look with which she uttered them, can
convey but a faint idea. Will you believe me when I tell you that I
was actually afraid to leave my bed in order to secure the door, lest
I should again encounter the dreadful object lurking in some corner or
peeping from behind the window curtains, so very a child was I in my

The morning came, and with it Lord Glenfallen. I knew not, and
indeed I cared not, where he might have been; my thoughts were wholly
engrossed by the terrible fears and suspicions which my last
night's conference had suggested to me; he was, as usual, gloomy and
abstracted, and I feared in no very fitting mood to hear what I had
to say with patience, whether the charges were true or false. I was,
however, determined not to suffer the opportunity to pass, or Lord
Glenfallen to leave the room, until, at all hazards, I had unburdened
my mind.

"My Lord," said I, after a long silence, summoning up all my firmness,
"my lord, I wish to say a few words to you upon a matter of very great
importance, of very deep concernment to you and to me." I fixed my
eyes upon him to discern, if possible, whether the announcement
caused him any uneasiness, but no symptom of any such feeling was

"Well, my dear," said he, "this is, no doubt, a very grave preface,
and portends, I have no doubt, something extraordinary--pray let us
have it without more ado."

He took a chair, and seated himself nearly opposite to me.

"My lord," said I, "I have seen the person who alarmed me so much a
short time since, the blind lady, again, upon last night"; his face,
upon which my eyes were fixed, turned pale, he hesitated for a moment,
and then said--

"And did you, pray madam, so totally forget or spurn my express
command, as to enter that portion of the house from which your
promise, I might say, your oath, excluded you--answer me that?" he
added, fiercely.

"My lord," said I, "I have neither forgotten your _commands_, since
such they were, nor disobeyed them. I was, last night, wakened from my
sleep, as I lay in my own chamber, and accosted by the person whom I
have mentioned--how she found access to the room I cannot pretend to

"Ha! this must be looked to," said he, half reflectively; "and pray,"
added he, quickly, while in turn he fixed his eyes upon me, "what did
this person say, since some comment upon her communication forms, no
doubt, the sequel to your preface."

"Your lordship is not mistaken," said I, "her statement was so
extraordinary that I could not think of withholding it from you; she
told me, my lord, that you had a wife living at the time you married
me, and that she was that wife."

Lord Glenfallen became ashy pale, almost livid; he made two or three
efforts to clear his voice to speak, but in vain, and turning suddenly
from me, he walked to the window; the horror and dismay, which, in
the olden time, overwhelmed the woman of Endor, when her spells
unexpectedly conjured the dead into her presence, were but types
of what I felt, when thus presented with what appeared to be almost
unequivocal evidence of the guilt, whose existence I had before so
strongly doubted. There was a silence of some moments, during which it
were hard to conjecture whether I or my companion suffered most. Lord
Glenfallen soon recovered his self command; he returned to the table,
again sat down and said--

"What you have told me has so astonished me, has unfolded such a
tissue of motiveless guilt, and in a quarter from which I had
so little reason to look for ingratitude or treachery, that your
announcement almost deprived me of speech; the person in question,
however, has one excuse, her mind is, as I told you before, unsettled.
You should have remembered that, and hesitated to receive as
unexceptionable evidence against the honour of your husband, the
ravings of a lunatic. I now tell you that this is the last time I
shall speak to you upon this subject, and, in the presence of the God
who is to judge me, and as I hope for mercy in the day of judgment,
I swear that the charge thus brought against me, is utterly false,
unfounded, and ridiculous; I defy the world in any point to taint my
honour; and, as I have never taken the opinion of madmen touching
your character or morals, I think it but fair to require that you will
evince a like tenderness for me; and now, once for all, never again
dare to repeat to me your insulting suspicions, or the clumsy and
infamous calumnies of fools. I shall instantly let the worthy lady who
contrived this somewhat original device, understand fully my opinion
upon the matter--good morning"; and with these words he left me again
in doubt, and involved in all horrors of the most agonizing suspense.
I had reason to think that Lord Glenfallen wreaked his vengeance upon
the author of the strange story which I had heard, with a violence
which was not satisfied with mere words, for old Martha, with whom I
was a great favourite, while attending me in my room, told me that she
feared her master had ill used the poor, blind, Dutch woman, for that
she had heard her scream as if the very life were leaving her, but
added a request that I should not speak of what she had told me to any
one, particularly to the master.

"How do you know that she is a Dutch woman?" inquired I, anxious to
learn anything whatever that might throw a light upon the history
of this person, who seemed to have resolved to mix herself up in my

"Why, my lady," answered Martha, "the master often calls her the Dutch
hag, and other names you would not like to hear, and I am sure she
is neither English nor Irish; for, whenever they talk together, they
speak some queer foreign lingo, and fast enough, I'll be bound; but I
ought not to talk about her at all; it might be as much as my place is
worth to mention her--only you saw her first yourself, so there can be
no great harm in speaking of her now."

"How long has this lady been here?" continued I.

"She came early on the morning after your ladyship's arrival,"
answered she; "but do not ask me any more, for the master would think
nothing of turning me out of doors for daring to speak of her at all,
much less to _you_, my lady."

I did not like to press the poor woman further; for her reluctance to
speak on this topic was evident and strong. You will readily believe
that upon the very slight grounds which my information afforded,
contradicted as it was by the solemn oath of my husband, and derived
from what was, at best, a very questionable source, I could not
take any very decisive measure whatever; and as to the menace of the
strange woman who had thus unaccountably twice intruded herself into
my chamber, although, at the moment, it occasioned me some uneasiness,
it was not, even in my eyes, sufficiently formidable to induce my
departure from Cahergillagh.

A few nights after the scene which I have just mentioned, Lord
Glenfallen having, as usual, early retired to his study, I was left
alone in the parlour to amuse myself as best I might. It was not
strange that my thoughts should often recur to the agitating scenes in
which I had recently taken a part; the subject of my reflections,
the solitude, the silence, and the lateness of the hour, as also the
depression of spirits to which I had of late been a constant prey,
tended to produce that nervous excitement which places us wholly
at the mercy of the imagination. In order to calm my spirits, I was
endeavouring to direct my thoughts into some more pleasing channel,
when I heard, or thought I heard, uttered, within a few yards of me,
in an odd half-sneering tone, the words, "There is blood upon your
ladyship's throat." So vivid was the impression, that I started to my
feet, and involuntarily placed my hand upon my neck. I looked around
the room for the speaker, but in vain. I went then to the room-door,
which I opened, and peered into the passage, nearly faint with horror,
lest some leering, shapeless thing should greet me upon the threshold.
When I had gazed long enough to assure myself that no strange object
was within sight.

"I have been too much of a rake, lately; I am racking out my nerves,"
said I, speaking aloud, with a view to reassure myself. I rang the
bell, and, attended by old Martha, I retired to settle for the night.
While the servant was, as was her custom, arranging the lamp which I
have already stated always burned during the night in my chamber,
I was employed in undressing, and, in doing so, I had recourse to a
large looking-glass which occupied a considerable portion of the wall
in which it was fixed, rising from the ground to a height of about
six feet; this mirror filled the space of a large pannel in the
wainscoting opposite the foot of the bed. I had hardly been before it
for the lapse of a minute, when something like a black pall was slowly
waved between me and it.

"Oh, God! there it is," I exclaimed wildly. "I have seen it again,
Martha--the black cloth."

"God be merciful to us, then!" answered she, tremulously crossing
herself. "Some misfortune is over us."

"No, no, Martha," said I, almost instantly recovering my
collectedness; for, although of a nervous temperament, I had never
been superstitious. "I do not believe in omens. You know, I saw, or
fancied I saw, this thing before, and nothing followed."

"The Dutch lady came the next morning," replied she.

"Methinks, such an occurrence scarcely deserved a supernatural
announcement," I replied.

"She is a strange woman, my lady," said Martha, "and she is not _gone_
yet--mark my words."

"Well, well, Martha," said I, "I have not wit enough to change your
opinions, nor inclination to alter mine; so I will talk no more of the
matter. Good night," and so I was left to my reflections. After lying
for about an hour awake, I at length fell into a kind of doze; but my
imagination was still busy, for I was startled from this unrefreshing
sleep by fancying that I heard a voice close to my face exclaim as
before, "There is blood upon your ladyship's throat." The words were
instantly followed by a loud burst of laughter. Quaking with horror, I
awakened, and heard my husband enter the room. Even this was a relief.
Scared as I was, however, by the tricks which my imagination had
played me, I preferred remaining silent, and pretending to sleep, to
attempting to engage my husband in conversation, for I well knew
that his mood was such, that his words would not, in all probability,
convey anything that had not better be unsaid and unheard. Lord
Glenfallen went into his dressing-room, which lay upon the right-hand
side of the bed. The door lying open, I could see him by himself, at
full length upon a sofa, and, in about half an hour, I became aware,
by his deep and regularly drawn respiration, that he was fast asleep.
When slumber refuses to visit one, there is something peculiarly
irritating, not to the temper, but to the nerves, in the consciousness
that some one is in your immediate presence, actually enjoying the
boon which you are seeking in vain; at least, I have always found it
so, and never more than upon the present occasion. A thousand annoying
imaginations harassed and excited me, every object which I looked
upon, though ever so familiar, seemed to have acquired a strange
phantom-like character, the varying shadows thrown by the flickering
of the lamp-light, seemed shaping themselves into grotesque and
unearthly forms, and whenever my eyes wandered to the sleeping figure
of my husband, his features appeared to undergo the strangest and most
demoniacal contortions. Hour after hour was told by the old clock, and
each succeeding one found me, if possible, less inclined to sleep than
its predecessor. It was now considerably past three; my eyes, in their
involuntary wanderings, happened to alight upon the large mirror which
was, as I have said, fixed in the wall opposite the foot of the bed. A
view of it was commanded from where I lay, through the curtains, as I
gazed fixedly upon it, I thought I perceived the broad sheet of glass
shifting its position in relation to the bed; I rivetted my eyes
upon it with intense scrutiny; it was no deception, the mirror, as
if acting of its own impulse moved slowly aside, and disclosed a dark
aperture in the wall, nearly as large as an ordinary door; a figure
evidently stood in this; but the light was too dim to define it
accurately. It stepped cautiously into the chamber, and with so little
noise, that had I not actually seen it, I do not think I should
have been aware of its presence. It was arrayed in a kind of woollen
night-dress, and a white handkerchief or cloth was bound tightly about
the head; I had no difficulty spite of the strangeness of the attire
in recognising the blind woman whom I so much dreaded. She stooped
down, bringing her head nearly to the ground, and in that attitude she
remained motionless for some moments, no doubt in order to ascertain
if any suspicious sound were stirring. She was apparently satisfied by
her observations, for she immediately recommenced her silent progress
towards a ponderous mahogany dressing table of my husband's; when she
had reached it, she paused again, and appeared to listen attentively
for some minutes; she then noiselessly opened one of the drawers from
which, having groped for some time, she took something which I soon
perceived to be a case of razors; she opened it and tried the edge
of each of the two instruments upon the skin of her hand; she quickly
selected one, which she fixed firmly in her grasp; she now stooped
down as before, and having listened for a time, she, with the hand
that was disengaged, groped her way into the dressing room where Lord
Glenfallen lay fast asleep. I was fixed as if in the tremendous spell
of a night mare. I could not stir even a finger; I could not lift my
voice; I could not even breathe, and though I expected every moment to
see the sleeping man murdered, I could not even close my eyes to shut
out the horrible spectacle, which I had not the power to avert. I saw
the woman approach the sleeping figure, she laid the unoccupied hand
lightly along his clothes, and having thus ascertained his identity,
she, after a brief interval, turned back and again entered my chamber;
here she bent down again to listen. I had now not a doubt but that the
razor was intended for my throat; yet the terrific fascination which
had locked all my powers so long, still continued to bind me fast. I
felt that my life depended upon the slightest ordinary exertion, and
yet I could not stir one joint from the position in which I lay, nor
even make noise enough to waken Lord Glenfallen. The murderous woman
now, with long, silent steps, approached the bed; my very heart seemed
turning to ice; her left hand, that which was disengaged, was upon
the pillow; she gradually slid it forward towards my head, and in
an instant, with the speed of lightning, it was clutched in my hair,
while, with the other hand, she dashed the razor at my throat. A
slight inaccuracy saved me from instant death; the blow fell short,
the point of the razor grazing my throat; in a moment I know not how,
I found myself at the other side of the bed uttering shriek after
shriek; the wretch was, however, determined if possible to murder me;
scrambling along by the curtains, she rushed round the bed towards me;
I seized the handle of the door to make my escape; it was, however,
fastened; at all events I could not open it, from the mere instinct
of recoiling terror, I shrunk back into a corner--she was now within
a yard of me--her hand was upon my face--I closed my eyes fast,
expecting never to open them again, when a blow, inflicted from behind
by a strong arm, stretched the monster senseless at my feet; at the
same moment the door opened, and several domestics, alarmed by my
cries, entered the apartment. I do not recollect what followed, for I
fainted. One swoon succeeded another so long and death-like, that my
life was considered very doubtful. At about ten o'clock, however, I
sunk into a deep and refreshing sleep, from which I was awakened at
about two, that I might swear my deposition before a magistrate, who
attended for that purpose. I, accordingly, did so, as did also Lord
Glenfallen; and the woman was fully committed to stand her trial
at the ensuing assizes. I shall never forget the scene which the
examination of the blind woman and of the other parties afforded. She
was brought into the room in the custody of two servants; she wore
a kind of flannel wrapper which had not been changed since the night
before; it was torn and soiled, and here and there smeared with blood,
which had flowed in large quantities from a wound in her head; the
white handkerchief had fallen off in the scuffle; and her grizzled
hair fell in masses about her wild and deadly pale countenance.
She appeared perfectly composed, however, and the only regret she
expressed throughout, was at not having succeeded in her attempt, the
object of which she did not pretend to conceal. On being asked her
name, she called herself the Countess Glenfallen, and refused to give
any other title.

"The woman's name is Flora Van-Kemp," said Lord Glenfallen.

"It _was_, it _was_, you perjured traitor and cheat," screamed the woman;
and then there followed a volley of words in some foreign language.
"Is there a magistrate here?" she resumed; "I am Lord Glenfallen's
wife--I'll prove it--write down my words. I am willing to be hanged or
burned, so _he_ meets his deserts. I did try to kill that doll of his;
but it was he who put it into my head to do it--two wives were too
many--I was to murder her, or she was to hang me--listen to all I have
to say."

Here Lord Glenfallen interrupted.

"I think, sir," said he, addressing the magistrate, "that we
had better proceed to business, this unhappy woman's furious
recriminations but waste our time; if she refuses to answer your
questions, you had better, I presume, take my depositions."

"And are you going to swear away my life, you black perjured
murderer?" shrieked the woman. "Sir, sir, sir, you must hear me," she
continued, addressing the magistrate, "I can convict him--he bid
me murder that girl, and then when I failed, he came behind me, and
struck me down, and now he wants to swear away my life--take down all
I say."

"If it is your intention," said the magistrate, "to confess the crime
with which you stand charged, you may, upon producing sufficient
evidence, criminate whom you please."

"Evidence!--I have no evidence but myself," said the woman. "I will
swear it all--write down my testimony--write it down, I say--we shall
hang side by side, my brave Lord--all your own handy--work, my gentle
husband." This was followed by a low, insolent, and sneering laugh,
which, from one in her situation, was sufficiently horrible.

"I will not at present hear anything," replied he, "but distinct
answers to the questions which I shall put to you upon this matter."

"Then you shall hear nothing," replied she sullenly, and no inducement
or intimidation could bring her to speak again.

Lord Glenfallen's deposition and mine were then given, as also those
of the servants who had entered the room at the moment of my rescue;
the magistrate then intimated that she was committed, and must proceed
directly to gaol, whither she was brought in a carriage of Lord
Glenfallen's, for his lordship was naturally by no means indifferent
to the effect which her vehement accusations against himself might
produce, if uttered before every chance hearer whom she might meet
with between Cahergillagh and the place of confinement whither she was

During the time which intervened between the committal and the trial
of the prisoner, Lord Glenfallen seemed to suffer agonies of mind
which baffle all description, he hardly ever slept, and when he did,
his slumbers seemed but the instruments of new tortures, and his
waking hours were, if possible, exceeded in intensity of terrors by
the dreams which disturbed his sleep. Lord Glenfallen rested, if
to lie in the mere attitude of repose were to do so, in his
dressing-room, and thus I had an opportunity of witnessing, far
oftener than I wished it, the fearful workings of his mind; his agony
often broke out into such fearful paroxysms that delirium and total
loss of reason appeared to be impending; he frequently spoke of flying
from the country, and bringing with him all the witnesses of the
appalling scene upon which the prosecution was founded; then again
he would fiercely lament that the blow which he had inflicted had not
ended all.

The assizes arrived, however, and upon the day appointed, Lord
Glenfallen and I attended in order to give our evidence. The cause was
called on, and the prisoner appeared at the bar. Great curiosity and
interest were felt respecting the trial, so that the court was crowded
to excess. The prisoner, however, without appearing to take the
trouble of listening to the indictment, pleaded guilty, and no
representations on the part of the court availed to induce her to
retract her plea. After much time had been wasted in a fruitless
attempt to prevail upon her to reconsider her words, the court
proceeded according to the usual form, to pass sentence. This having
been done, the prisoner was about to be removed, when she said in a
low, distinct voice--

"A word--a word, my Lord:--is Lord Glenfallen here in the court?" On
being told that he was, she raised her voice to a tone of loud menace,
and continued--

"Hardress, Earl of Glenfallen, I accuse you here in this court of
justice of two crimes--first, that you married a second wife, while
the first was living, and again, that you prompted me to the murder,
for attempting which I am to die--secure him--chain him--bring him

There was a laugh through the court at these words, which were
naturally treated by the judge as a violent extemporary recrimination,
and the woman was desired to be silent.

"You won't take him, then," she said, "you won't try him? You'll let
him go free?"

It was intimated by the court that he would certainly be allowed "to
go free," and she was ordered again to be removed. Before, however,
the mandate was executed, she threw her arms wildly into the air, and
uttered one piercing shriek so full of preternatural rage and despair,
that it might fitly have ushered a soul into those realms where hope
can come no more. The sound still rang in my ears, months after the
voice that had uttered it was for ever silent. The wretched woman was
executed in accordance with the sentence which had been pronounced.

For some time after this event, Lord Glenfallen appeared, if possible,
to suffer more than he had done before, and altogether, his language,
which often amounted to half confessions of the guilt imputed to him,
and all the circumstances connected with the late occurrences, formed
a mass of evidence so convincing that I wrote to my father, detailing
the grounds of my fears, and imploring him to come to Cahergillagh
without delay, in order to remove me from my husband's control,
previously to taking legal steps for a final separation. Circumstanced
as I was, my existence was little short of intolerable, for, besides
the fearful suspicions which attached to my husband, I plainly
perceived that if Lord Glenfallen were not relieved, and that
speedily, insanity must supervene. I therefore expected my father's
arrival, or at least a letter to announce it, with indescribable

About a week after the execution had taken place, Lord Glenfallen one
morning met me with an unusually sprightly air--

"Fanny," said he, "I have it now for the first time, in my power to
explain to your satisfaction every thing which has hitherto appeared
suspicious or mysterious in my conduct. After breakfast come with me
to my study, and I shall, I hope, make all things clear."

This invitation afforded me more real pleasure than I had experienced
for months; something had certainly occurred to tranquillize my
husband's mind, in no ordinary degree, and I thought it by no means
impossible that he would, in the proposed interview, prove himself the
most injured and innocent of men. Full of this hope I repaired to his
study at the appointed hour; he was writing busily when I entered the
room, and just raising his eyes, he requested me to be seated. I took
a chair as he desired, and remained silently awaiting his leisure,
while he finished, folded, directed, and sealed his letter; laying it
then upon the table, with the address downward, he said--

"My dearest Fanny, I know I must have appeared very strange to you and
very unkind--often even cruel; before the end of this week I will show
you the necessity of my conduct; how impossible it was that I should
have seemed otherwise. I am conscious that many acts of mine must have
inevitably given rise to painful suspicions--suspicions, which indeed,
upon one occasion you very properly communicated to me. I have
gotten two letters from a quarter which commands respect, containing
information as to the course by which I may be enabled to prove the
negative of all the crimes which even the most credulous suspicion
could lay to my charge. I expected a third by this morning's post,
containing documents which will set the matter for ever at rest, but
owing, no doubt, to some neglect, or, perhaps, to some difficulty in
collecting the papers, some inevitable delay, it has not come to hand
this morning, according to my expectation. I was finishing one to the
very same quarter when you came in, and if a sound rousing be worth
anything, I think I shall have a special messenger before two days
have passed. I have been thinking over the matter within myself,
whether I had better imperfectly clear up your doubts by submitting to
your inspection the two letters which I have already received, or
wait till I can triumphantly vindicate myself by the production of
the documents which I have already mentioned, and I have, I think, not
unnaturally decided upon the latter course; however, there is a person
in the next room, whose testimony is not without its value--excuse me
for one moment."

So saying, he arose and went to the door of a closet which opened from
the study, this he unlocked, and half opening the door, he said, "It
is only I," and then slipped into the room, and carefully closed and
locked the door behind him. I immediately heard his voice in animated
conversation; my curiosity upon the subject of the letter was
naturally great, so smothering any little scruples which I might have
felt, I resolved to look at the address of the letter which lay as my
husband had left it, with its face upon the table. I accordingly drew
it over to me, and turned up the direction. For two or three moments I
could scarce believe my eyes, but there could be no mistake--in
large characters were traced the words, "To the Archangel Gabriel in
heaven." I had scarcely returned the letter to its original position,
and in some degree recovered the shock which this unequivocal proof
of insanity produced, when the closet door was unlocked, and Lord
Glenfallen re-entered the study, carefully closing and locking the
door again upon the outside.

"Whom have you there?" inquired I, making a strong effort to appear

"Perhaps," said he musingly, "you might have some objection to seeing
her, at least for a time."

"Who is it?" repeated I.

"Why," said he, "I see no use in hiding it--the blind Dutchwoman; I
have been with her the whole morning. She is very anxious to get
out of that closet, but you know she is odd, she is scarcely to be

A heavy gust of wind shook the door at this moment with a sound as if
something more substantial were pushing against it.

"Ha, ha, ha!--do you hear her," said he, with an obstreperous burst
of laughter. The wind died away in a long howl, and Lord Glenfallen,
suddenly checking his merriment, shrugged his shoulders, and

"Poor devil, she has been hardly used."

"We had better not tease her at present with questions," said I, in as
unconcerned a tone as I could assume, although I felt every moment as
if I should faint.

"Humph! may be so," said he, "well, come back in an hour or two, or
when you please, and you will find us here."

He again unlocked the door, and entered with the same precautions
which he had adopted before, locking the door upon the inside, and
as I hurried from the room, I heard his voice again exerted as if in
eager parley. I can hardly describe my emotions; my hopes had been
raised to the highest, and now in an instant, all was gone--the
dreadful consummation was accomplished--the fearful retribution had
fallen upon the guilty man--the mind was destroyed--the power to
repent was gone. The agony of the hours which followed what I would
still call my _awful_ interview with Lord Glenfallen, I cannot describe;
my solitude was, however, broken in upon by Martha, who came to inform
me of the arrival of a gentleman, who expected me in the parlour. I
accordingly descended, and to my great joy, found my father seated by
the fire. This expedition, upon his part, was easily accounted for:
my communications had touched the honour of the family. I speedily
informed him of the dreadful malady which had fallen upon the wretched
man. My father suggested the necessity of placing some person to watch
him, to prevent his injuring himself or others. I rang the bell, and
desired that one Edward Cooke, an attached servant of the family,
should be sent to me. I told him distinctly and briefly, the nature
of the service required of him, and, attended by him, my father and I
proceeded at once to the study; the door of the inner room was still
closed, and everything in the outer chamber remained in the same order
in which I had left it. We then advanced to the closet door, at which
we knocked, but without receiving any answer. We next tried to open
the door, but in vain--it was locked upon the inside; we knocked more
loudly, but in vain. Seriously alarmed, I desired the servant to force
the door, which was, after several violent efforts, accomplished, and
we entered the closet. Lord Glenfallen was lying on his face upon a

"Hush," said I, "he is asleep"; we paused for a moment.

"He is too still for that," said my father; we all of us felt a strong
reluctance to approach the figure.

"Edward," said I, "try whether your master sleeps."

The servant approached the sofa where Lord Glenfallen lay; he leant
his ear towards the head of the recumbent figure, to ascertain whether
the sound of breathing was audible; he turned towards us, and said--

"My lady, you had better not wait here, I am sure he is dead!"

"Let me see the face," said I, terribly agitated, "you _may_ be

The man then, in obedience to my command, turned the body round, and,
gracious God! what a sight met my view--he was, indeed, perfectly
dead. The whole breast of the shirt, with its lace frill, was drenched
with gore, as was the couch underneath the spot where he lay. The head
hung back, as it seemed almost severed from the body by a frightful
gash, which yawned across the throat. The instrument which had
inflicted it, was found under his body. All, then, was over; I was
never to learn the history in whose termination I had been so deeply
and so tragically involved.

The severe discipline which my mind had undergone was not bestowed in
vain. I directed my thoughts and my hopes to that place where there is
no more sin, nor danger, nor sorrow.

Thus ends a brief tale, whose prominent incidents many will recognize
as having marked the history of a distinguished family, and though
it refers to a somewhat distant date, we shall be found not to have
taken, upon that account, any liberties with the facts, but in our
statement of all the incidents, to have rigorously and faithfully
adhered to the truth.

[Footnote A: I have carefully altered the names as they appear in the
original MSS., for the reader will see that some of the circumstances
recorded are not of a kind to reflect honour upon those involved
in them; and, as many are still living, in every way honoured and
honourable, who stand in close relation to the principal actors in
this drama, the reader will see the necessity of the course which we
have adopted.]

[Footnote B: The residuary legatee of the late Francis Purcell,
who has the honour of selecting such of his lamented old friend's
manuscripts as may appear fit for publication, in order that the lore
which they contain may reach the world before scepticism and utility
have robbed our species of the precious gift of credulity, and
scornfully kicked before them, or trampled into annihilation, those
harmless fragments of picturesque superstition, which it is our object
to preserve, has been subjected to the charge of dealing too largely
in the marvellous; and it has been half insinuated that such is his
love for _diablerie_, that he is content to wander a mile out of his
way, in order to meet a fiend or a goblin, and thus to sacrifice all
regard for truth and accuracy to the idle hope of affrighting the
imagination, and thus pandering to the bad taste of his reader. He
begs leave, then, to take this opportunity of asserting his perfect
innocence of all the crimes laid to his charge, and to assure his
reader that he never _pandered to his bad taste_, nor went one inch
out of his way to introduce witch, fairy, devil, ghost, or any other
of the grim fraternity of the redoubted Raw-head and bloody-bones. His
province, touching these tales, has been attended with no difficulty
and little responsibility; indeed, he is accountable for nothing more
than an alteration in the names of persons mentioned therein, when
such a step seemed necessary, and for an occasional note, whenever he
conceived it possible, innocently, to edge in a word. These tales have
been _written down_, as the heading of each announces, by the Rev.
Francis Purcell, P.P. of Drumcoolagh; and in all the instances,
which are many, in which the present writer has had an opportunity
of comparing the manuscript of his departed friend with the actual
traditions which are current amongst the families whose fortunes
they pretend to illustrate, he has uniformly found that whatever
of supernatural occurred in the story, so far from having been
exaggerated by him, had been rather softened down, and, wherever it
could be attempted, accounted for.]


    "And they lay wait for their own blood: they lurk privily for
    their own lives.

    "So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh
    away the life of the owner thereof."

This story of the Irish peerage is written, as nearly as possible,
in the very words in which it was related by its "heroine," the late
Countess D----, and is therefore told in the first person.

My mother died when I was an infant, and of her I have no
recollection, even the faintest. By her death my education was left
solely to the direction of my surviving parent. He entered upon his
task with a stern appreciation of the responsibility thus cast
upon him. My religious instruction was prosecuted with an almost
exaggerated anxiety; and I had, of course, the best masters to perfect
me in all those accomplishments which my station and wealth might seem
to require. My father was what is called an oddity, and his treatment
of me, though uniformly kind, was governed less by affection and
tenderness, than by a high and unbending sense of duty. Indeed I
seldom saw or spoke to him except at meal-times, and then, though
gentle, he was usually reserved and gloomy. His leisure hours, which
were many, were passed either in his study or in solitary walks;
in short, he seemed to take no further interest in my happiness or
improvement, than a conscientious regard to the discharge of his own
duty would seem to impose.

Shortly before my birth an event occurred which had contributed much
to induce and to confirm my father's unsocial habits; it was the fact
that a suspicion of _murder_ had fallen upon his younger brother, though
not sufficiently definite to lead to any public proceedings, yet
strong enough to ruin him in public opinion. This disgraceful and
dreadful doubt cast upon the family name, my father felt deeply and
bitterly, and not the less so that he himself was thoroughly convinced
of his brother's innocence. The sincerity and strength of this
conviction he shortly afterwards proved in a manner which produced the
catastrophe of my story.

Before, however, I enter upon my immediate adventures, I ought to
relate the circumstances which had awakened that suspicion to which
I have referred, inasmuch as they are in themselves somewhat
curious, and in their effects most intimately connected with my own

My uncle, Sir Arthur Tyrrell, was a gay and extravagant man, and,
among other vices, was ruinously addicted to gaming. This unfortunate
propensity, even after his fortune had suffered so severely as to
render retrenchment imperative, nevertheless continued to engross him,
nearly to the exclusion of every other pursuit. He was, however, a
proud, or rather a vain man, and could not bear to make the diminution
of his income a matter of triumph to those with whom he had hitherto
competed; and the consequence was, that he frequented no longer the
expensive haunts of his dissipation, and retired from the gay world,
leaving his coterie to discover his reasons as best they might. He
did not, however, forego his favourite vice, for though he could
not worship his great divinity in those costly temples where he was
formerly wont to take his place, yet he found it very possible to
bring about him a sufficient number of the votaries of chance to
answer all his ends. The consequence was, that Carrickleigh, which
was the name of my uncle's residence, was never without one or more of
such visiters as I have described. It happened that upon one occasion
he was visited by one Hugh Tisdall, a gentleman of loose, and, indeed,
low habits, but of considerable wealth, and who had, in early youth,
travelled with my uncle upon the Continent. The period of this visit
was winter, and, consequently, the house was nearly deserted excepting
by its ordinary inmates; it was, therefore, highly acceptable,
particularly as my uncle was aware that his visiter's tastes accorded
exactly with his own.

Both parties seemed determined to avail themselves of their mutual
suitability during the brief stay which Mr. Tisdall had promised; the
consequence was, that they shut themselves up in Sir Arthur's private
room for nearly all the day and the greater part of the night, during
the space of almost a week, at the end of which the servant having one
morning, as usual, knocked at Mr. Tisdall's bed-room door repeatedly,
received no answer, and, upon attempting to enter, found that it was
locked. This appeared suspicious, and the inmates of the house having
been alarmed, the door was forced open, and, on proceeding to the bed,
they found the body of its occupant perfectly lifeless, and hanging
halfway out, the head downwards, and near the floor. One deep wound
had been inflicted upon the temple, apparently with some blunt
instrument, which had penetrated the brain, and another blow, less
effective--probably the first aimed--had grazed his head, removing
some of the scalp. The door had been double locked upon the _inside_,
in evidence of which the key still lay where it had been placed in the
lock. The window, though not secured on the interior, was closed; a
circumstance not a little puzzling, as it afforded the only other
mode of escape from the room. It looked out, too, upon a kind of
court-yard, round which the old buildings stood, formerly accessible
by a narrow doorway and passage lying in the oldest side of the
quadrangle, but which had since been built up, so as to preclude all
ingress or egress; the room was also upon the second story, and the
height of the window considerable; in addition to all which the stone
window-sill was much too narrow to allow of any one's standing upon it
when the window was closed. Near the bed were found a pair of razors
belonging to the murdered man, one of them upon the ground, and both
of them open. The weapon which inflicted the mortal wound was not to
be found in the room, nor were any footsteps or other traces of the
murderer discoverable. At the suggestion of Sir Arthur himself, the
coroner was instantly summoned to attend, and an inquest was held.
Nothing, however, in any degree conclusive was elicited. The walls,
ceiling, and floor of the room were carefully examined, in order to
ascertain whether they contained a trap-door or other concealed mode
of entrance, but no such thing appeared. Such was the minuteness of
investigation employed, that, although the grate had contained a
large fire during the night, they proceeded to examine even the very
chimney, in order to discover whether escape by it were possible. But
this attempt, too, was fruitless, for the chimney, built in the old
fashion, rose in a perfectly perpendicular line from the hearth, to
a height of nearly fourteen feet above the roof, affording in its
interior scarcely the possibility of ascent, the flue being smoothly
plastered, and sloping towards the top like an inverted funnel;
promising, too, even if the summit were attained, owing to its great
height, but a precarious descent upon the sharp and steep-ridged roof;
the ashes, too, which lay in the grate, and the soot, as far as it
could be seen, were undisturbed, a circumstance almost conclusive upon
the point.

Sir Arthur was of course examined. His evidence was given with
clearness and unreserve, which seemed calculated to silence all
suspicion. He stated that, up to the day and night immediately
preceding the catastrophe, he had lost to a heavy amount, but that,
at their last sitting, he had not only won back his original loss,
but upwards of £4,000 in addition; in evidence of which he produced
an acknowledgment of debt to that amount in the handwriting of the
deceased, bearing date the night of the catastrophe. He had mentioned
the circumstance to Lady Tyrrell, and in presence of some of his
domestics; which statement was supported by _their_ respective
evidence. One of the jury shrewdly observed, that the circumstance of
Mr. Tisdall's having sustained so heavy a loss might have suggested to
some ill-minded persons, accidentally hearing it, the plan of robbing
him, after having murdered him in such a manner as might make it
appear that he had committed suicide; a supposition which was strongly
supported by the razors having been found thus displaced and removed
from their case. Two persons had probably been engaged in the attempt,
one watching by the sleeping man, and ready to strike him in case of
his awakening suddenly, while the other was procuring the razors and
employed in inflicting the fatal gash, so as to make it appear to have
been the act of the murdered man himself. It was said that while the
juror was making this suggestion Sir Arthur changed colour. There
was nothing, however, like legal evidence to implicate him, and the
consequence was that the verdict was found against a person or persons
unknown, and for some time the matter was suffered to rest, until,
after about five months, my father received a letter from a person
signing himself Andrew Collis, and representing himself to be the
cousin of the deceased. This letter stated that his brother, Sir
Arthur, was likely to incur not merely suspicion but personal risk,
unless he could account for certain circumstances connected with
the recent murder, and contained a copy of a letter written by the
deceased, and dated the very day upon the night of which the murder
had been perpetrated. Tisdall's letter contained, among a great deal
of other matter, the passages which follow:--

"I have had sharp work with Sir Arthur: he tried some of his stale
tricks, but soon found that _I_ was Yorkshire, too; it would not
do--you understand me. We went to the work like good ones, head,
heart, and soul; and in fact, since I came here, I have lost no time.
I am rather fagged, but I am sure to be well paid for my hardship; I
never want sleep so long as I can have the music of a dice-box, and
wherewithal to pay the piper. As I told you, he tried some of his
queer turns, but I foiled him like a man, and, in return, gave him
more than he could relish of the genuine _dead knowledge_. In short,
I have plucked the old baronet as never baronet was plucked before; I
have scarce left him the stump of a quill. I have got promissory notes
in his hand to the amount of ----; if you like round numbers, say
five-and-twenty thousand pounds, safely deposited in my portable
strong box, alias, double-clasped pocket-book. I leave this ruinous
old rat-hole early on to-morrow, for two reasons: first, I do not
want to play with Sir Arthur deeper than I think his security would
warrant; and, secondly, because I am safer a hundred miles away from
Sir Arthur than in the house with him. Look you, my worthy, I tell
you this between ourselves--I may be wrong--but, by ----, I am sure
as that I am now living, that Sir A---- attempted to poison me last
night. So much for old friendship on both sides. When I won the last
stake, a heavy one enough, my friend leant his forehead upon his
hands, and you'll laugh when I tell you that his head literally smoked
like a hot dumpling. I do not know whether his agitation was produced
by the plan which he had against me, or by his having lost so heavily;
though it must be allowed that he had reason to be a little funked,
whichever way his thoughts went; but he pulled the bell, and ordered
two bottles of Champagne. While the fellow was bringing them, he wrote
a promissory note to the full amount, which he signed, and, as the
man came in with the bottles and glasses, he desired him to be off. He
filled a glass for me, and, while he thought my eyes were off, for I
was putting up his note at the time, he dropped something slyly into
it, no doubt to sweeten it; but I saw it all, and, when he handed
it to me, I said, with an emphasis which he might easily understand,
'There is some sediment in it, I'll not drink it.' 'Is there?' said
he, and at the same time snatched it from my hand and threw it into
the fire. What do you think of that? Have I not a tender bird in
hand? Win or lose, I will not play beyond five thousand to-night, and
to-morrow sees me safe out of the reach of Sir Arthur's Champagne."

Of the authenticity of this document, I never heard my father express
a doubt; and I am satisfied that, owing to his strong conviction
in favour of his brother, he would not have admitted it without
sufficient inquiry, inasmuch as it tended to confirm the suspicions
which already existed to his prejudice. Now, the only point in this
letter which made strongly against my uncle, was the mention of the
"double-clasped pocket-book," as the receptacle of the papers likely
to involve him, for this pocket-book was not forthcoming, nor anywhere
to be found, nor had any papers referring to his gaming transactions
been discovered upon the dead man.

But whatever might have been the original intention of this man,
Collis, neither my uncle nor my father ever heard more of him; he
published the letter, however, in Faulkner's newspaper, which was
shortly afterwards made the vehicle of a much more mysterious attack.
The passage in that journal to which I allude, appeared about four
years afterwards, and while the fatal occurrence was still fresh in
public recollection. It commenced by a rambling preface, stating that
"a _certain person_ whom _certain_ persons thought to be dead, was not
so, but living, and in full possession of his memory, and moreover,
ready and able to make _great_ delinquents tremble": it then went on
to describe the murder, without, however, mentioning names; and in
doing so, it entered into minute and circumstantial particulars of
which none but an _eye-witness_ could have been possessed, and by
implications almost too unequivocal to be regarded in the light of
insinuation, to involve the "_titled gambler_" in the guilt of the

My father at once urged Sir Arthur to proceed against the paper in
an action of libel, but he would not hear of it, nor consent to my
father's taking any legal steps whatever in the matter. My father,
however, wrote in a threatening tone to Faulkner, demanding a
surrender of the author of the obnoxious article; the answer to this
application is still in my possession, and is penned in an apologetic
tone: it states that the manuscript had been handed in, paid for,
and inserted as an advertisement, without sufficient inquiry, or any
knowledge as to whom it referred. No step, however, was taken to
clear my uncle's character in the judgment of the public; and, as he
immediately sold a small property, the application of the proceeds of
which were known to none, he was said to have disposed of it to enable
himself to buy off the threatened information; however the truth might
have been, it is certain that no charges respecting the mysterious
murder were afterwards publicly made against my uncle, and, as far as
external disturbances were concerned, he enjoyed henceforward perfect
security and quiet.

A deep and lasting impression, however, had been made upon the public
mind, and Sir Arthur Tyrrell was no longer visited or noticed by the
gentry of the county, whose attentions he had hitherto received. He
accordingly affected to despise those courtesies which he no longer
enjoyed, and shunned even that society which he might have commanded.
This is all that I need recapitulate of my uncle's history, and I now
recur to my own.

Although my father had never, within my recollection, visited, or
been visited by my uncle, each being of unsocial, procrastinating,
and indolent habits, and their respective residences being very far
apart--the one lying in the county of Galway, the other in that
of Cork--he was strongly attached to his brother, and evinced his
affection by an active correspondence, and by deeply and proudly
resenting that neglect which had branded Sir Arthur as unfit to mix in

When I was about eighteen years of age, my father, whose health had
been gradually declining, died, leaving me in heart wretched
and desolate, and, owing to his habitual seclusion, with few
acquaintances, and almost no friends. The provisions of his will were
curious, and when I was sufficiently come to myself to listen to, or
comprehend them, surprised me not a little: all his vast property was
left to me, and to the heirs of my body, for ever; and, in default
of such heirs, it was to go after my death to my uncle, Sir Arthur,
without any entail. At the same time, the will appointed him my
guardian, desiring that I might be received within his house, and
reside with his family, and under his care, during the term of my
minority; and in consideration of the increased expense consequent
upon such an arrangement, a handsome allowance was allotted to him
during the term of my proposed residence. The object of this last
provision I at once understood; my father desired, by making it the
direct apparent interest of Sir Arthur that I should die without
issue, while at the same time he placed my person wholly in his power,
to prove to the world how great and unshaken was his confidence in
his brother's innocence and honour. It was a strange, perhaps an
idle scheme, but as I had been always brought up in the habit of
considering my uncle as a deeply injured man, and had been taught,
almost as a part of my religion, to regard him as the very soul of
honour, I felt no further uneasiness respecting the arrangement than
that likely to affect a shy and timid girl at the immediate prospect
of taking up her abode for the first time in her life among strangers.
Previous to leaving my home, which I felt I should do with a heavy
heart, I received a most tender and affectionate letter from my uncle,
calculated, if anything could do so, to remove the bitterness of
parting from scenes familiar and dear from my earliest childhood,
and in some degree to reconcile me to the measure. It was upon a fine
autumn day that I approached the old domain of Carrickleigh. I shall
not soon forget the impression of sadness and of gloom which all that
I saw produced upon my mind; the sunbeams were falling with a rich
and melancholy lustre upon the fine old trees, which stood in lordly
groups, casting their long sweeping shadows over rock and sward; there
was an air of neglect and decay about the spot, which amounted almost
to desolation, and mournfully increased as we approached the building
itself, near which the ground had been originally more artificially
and carefully cultivated than elsewhere, and where consequently
neglect more immediately and strikingly betrayed itself.

As we proceeded, the road wound near the beds of what had been
formerly two fish-ponds, which were now nothing more than stagnant
swamps, overgrown with rank weeds, and here and there encroached upon
by the straggling underwood; the avenue itself was much broken; and in
many places the stones were almost concealed by grass and nettles; the
loose stone walls which had here and there intersected the broad park,
were, in many places, broken down, so as no longer to answer their
original purpose as fences; piers were now and then to be seen, but
the gates were gone; and to add to the general air of dilapidation,
some huge trunks were lying scattered through the venerable old trees,
either the work of the winter storms, or perhaps the victims of some
extensive but desultory scheme of denudation, which the projector had
not capital or perseverance to carry into full effect.

After the carriage had travelled a full mile of this avenue, we
reached the summit of a rather abrupt eminence, one of the many which
added to the picturesqueness, if not to the convenience of this rude
approach; from the top of this ridge the grey walls of Carrickleigh
were visible, rising at a small distance in front, and darkened by the
hoary wood which crowded around them; it was a quadrangular building
of considerable extent, and the front, where the great entrance was
placed, lay towards us, and bore unequivocal marks of antiquity; the
time-worn, solemn aspect of the old building, the ruinous and deserted
appearance of the whole place, and the associations which connected
it with a dark page in the history of my family, combined to depress
spirits already predisposed for the reception of sombre and dejecting
impressions. When the carriage drew up in the grass-grown court-yard
before the hall-door, two lazy-looking men, whose appearance well
accorded with that of the place which they tenanted, alarmed by
the obstreperous barking of a great chained dog, ran out from some
half-ruinous outhouses, and took charge of the horses; the hall-door
stood open, and I entered a gloomy and imperfectly-lighted apartment,
and found no one within it. However, I had not long to wait in this
awkward predicament, for before my luggage had been deposited in the
house, indeed before I had well removed my cloak and other muffles,
so as to enable me to look around, a young girl ran lightly into the
hall, and kissing me heartily and somewhat boisterously exclaimed, "My
dear cousin, my dear Margaret--I am so delighted--so out of breath, we
did not expect you till ten o'clock; my father is somewhere about the
place, he must be close at hand. James--Corney--run out and tell your
master; my brother is seldom at home, at least at any reasonable hour;
you must be so tired--so fatigued--let me show you to your room; see
that Lady Margaret's luggage is all brought up; you must lie down and
rest yourself. Deborah, bring some coffee--up these stairs; we are
so delighted to see you--you cannot think how lonely I have been; how
steep these stairs are, are not they? I am so glad you are come--I
could hardly bring myself to believe that you were really coming;
how good of you, dear Lady Margaret." There was real good nature
and delight in my cousin's greeting, and a kind of constitutional
confidence of manner which placed me at once at ease, and made me feel
immediately upon terms of intimacy with her. The room into which
she ushered me, although partaking in the general air of decay which
pervaded the mansion and all about it, had, nevertheless, been fitted
up with evident attention to comfort, and even with some dingy attempt
at luxury; but what pleased me most was that it opened, by a second
door, upon a lobby which communicated with my fair cousin's apartment;
a circumstance which divested the room, in my eyes, of the air of
solitude and sadness which would otherwise have characterised it, to a
degree almost painful to one so depressed and agitated as I was.

After such arrangements as I found necessary were completed, we both
went down to the parlour, a large wainscotted room, hung round with
grim old portraits, and, as I was not sorry to see, containing, in its
ample grate, a large and cheerful fire. Here my cousin had leisure to
talk more at her ease; and from her I learned something of the manners
and the habits of the two remaining members of her family, whom I had
not yet seen. On my arrival I had known nothing of the family
among whom I was come to reside, except that it consisted of three
individuals, my uncle, and his son and daughter, Lady Tyrrell having
been long dead; in addition to this very scanty stock of information,
I shortly learned from my communicative companion, that my uncle was,
as I had suspected, completely retired in his habits, and besides
that, having been, so far back as she could well recollect, always
rather strict, as reformed rakes frequently become, he had latterly
been growing more gloomily and sternly religious than heretofore. Her
account of her brother was far less favourable, though she did not say
anything directly to his disadvantage. From all that I could gather
from her, I was led to suppose that he was a specimen of the idle,
coarse-mannered, profligate "_squirearchy_"--a result which might
naturally have followed from the circumstance of his being, as it
were, outlawed from society, and driven for companionship to grades
below his own--enjoying, too, the dangerous prerogative of spending
a good deal of money. However, you may easily suppose that I found
nothing in my cousin's communication fully to bear me out in so very
decided a conclusion.

I awaited the arrival of my uncle, which was every moment to be
expected, with feelings half of alarm, half of curiosity--a sensation
which I have often since experienced, though to a less degree, when
upon the point of standing for the first time in the presence of one
of whom I have long been in the habit of hearing or thinking with
interest. It was, therefore, with some little perturbation that I
heard, first a slight bustle at the outer door, then a slow step
traverse the hall, and finally witnessed the door open, and my uncle
enter the room. He was a striking looking man; from peculiarities both
of person and of dress, the whole effect of his appearance amounted to
extreme singularity. He was tall, and when young his figure must have
been strikingly elegant; as it was, however, its effect was marred by
a very decided stoop; his dress was of a sober colour, and in fashion
anterior to any thing which I could remember. It was, however,
handsome, and by no means carelessly put on; but what completed the
singularity of his appearance was his uncut, white hair, which hung
in long, but not at all neglected curls, even so far as his shoulders,
and which combined with his regularly classic features, and fine dark
eyes, to bestow upon him an air of venerable dignity and pride, which
I have seldom seen equalled elsewhere. I rose as he entered, and
met him about the middle of the room; he kissed my cheek and both my
hands, saying--

"You are most welcome, dear child, as welcome as the command of this
poor place and all that it contains can make you. I am rejoiced to see
you--truly rejoiced. I trust that you are not much fatigued; pray be
seated again." He led me to my chair, and continued, "I am glad to
perceive you have made acquaintance with Emily already; I see, in your
being thus brought together, the foundation of a lasting friendship.
You are both innocent, and both young. God bless you--God bless you,
and make you all that I could wish."

He raised his eyes, and remained for a few moments silent, as if
in secret prayer. I felt that it was impossible that this man, with
feelings manifestly so tender, could be the wretch that public opinion
had represented him to be. I was more than ever convinced of his
innocence. His manners were, or appeared to me, most fascinating.
I know not how the lights of experience might have altered this
estimate. But I was then very young, and I beheld in him a perfect
mingling of the courtesy of polished life with the gentlest and
most genial virtues of the heart. A feeling of affection and respect
towards him began to spring up within me, the more earnest that I
remembered how sorely he had suffered in fortune and how cruelly in
fame. My uncle having given me fully to understand that I was most
welcome, and might command whatever was his own, pressed me to take
some supper; and on my refusing, he observed that, before bidding me
good night, he had one duty further to perform, one in which he was
convinced I would cheerfully acquiesce. He then proceeded to read a
chapter from the Bible; after which he took his leave with the same
affectionate kindness with which he had greeted me, having repeated
his desire that I should consider every thing in his house as
altogether at my disposal. It is needless to say how much I was
pleased with my uncle--it was impossible to avoid being so; and I
could not help saying to myself, if such a man as this is not safe
from the assaults of slander, who is? I felt much happier than I
had done since my father's death, and enjoyed that night the first
refreshing sleep which had visited me since that calamity. My
curiosity respecting my male cousin did not long remain unsatisfied;
he appeared upon the next day at dinner. His manners, though not so
coarse as I had expected, were exceedingly disagreeable; there was an
assurance and a forwardness for which I was not prepared; there was
less of the vulgarity of manner, and almost more of that of the mind,
than I had anticipated. I felt quite uncomfortable in his presence;
there was just that confidence in his look and tone, which would read
encouragement even in mere toleration; and I felt more disgusted and
annoyed at the coarse and extravagant compliments which he was pleased
from time to time to pay me, than perhaps the extent of the atrocity
might fully have warranted. It was, however, one consolation that he
did not often appear, being much engrossed by pursuits about which
I neither knew nor cared anything; but when he did, his attentions,
either with a view to his amusement, or to some more serious object,
were so obviously and perseveringly directed to me, that young and
inexperienced as I was, even _I_ could not be ignorant of their
significance. I felt more provoked by this odious persecution than I
can express, and discouraged him with so much vigour, that I did
not stop even at rudeness to convince him that his assiduities were
unwelcome; but all in vain.

This had gone on for nearly a twelvemonth, to my infinite annoyance,
when one day, as I was sitting at some needlework with my companion,
Emily, as was my habit, in the parlour, the door opened, and my cousin
Edward entered the room. There was something, I thought, odd in his
manner, a kind of struggle between shame and impudence, a kind of
flurry and ambiguity, which made him appear, if possible, more than
ordinarily disagreeable.

"Your servant, ladies," he said, seating himself at the same time;
"sorry to spoil your _tête-à-tête_; but never mind, I'll only take
Emily's place for a minute or two, and then we part for a while, fair
cousin. Emily, my father wants you in the corner turret; no shilly,
shally, he's in a hurry." She hesitated. "Be off--tramp, march, I
say," he exclaimed, in a tone which the poor girl dared not disobey.

She left the room, and Edward followed her to the door. He stood there
for a minute or two, as if reflecting what he should say, perhaps
satisfying himself that no one was within hearing in the hall. At
length he turned about, having closed the door, as if carelessly, with
his foot, and advancing slowly, in deep thought, he took his seat at
the side of the table opposite to mine. There was a brief interval of
silence, after which he said:--

"I imagine that you have a shrewd suspicion of the object of my early
visit; but I suppose I must go into particulars. Must I?"

"I have no conception," I replied, "what your object may be."

"Well, well," said he becoming more at his ease as he proceeded, "it
may be told in a few words. You know that it is totally impossible,
quite out of the question, that an off-hand young fellow like me, and
a good-looking girl like yourself, could meet continually as you and
I have done, without an attachment--a liking growing up on one side or
other; in short, I think I have let you know as plainly as if I spoke
it, that I have been in love with you, almost from the first time
I saw you." He paused, but I was too much horrified to speak. He
interpreted my silence favourably. "I can tell you," he continued,
"I'm reckoned rather hard to please, and very hard to _hit_. I can't
say when I was taken with a girl before, so you see fortune reserved

Here the odious wretch actually put his arm round my waist: the
action at once restored me to utterance, and with the most indignant
vehemence I released myself from his hold, and at the same time

"I _have_, sir, of course, perceived your most disagreeable
attentions; they have long been a source of great annoyance to me; and
you must be aware that I have marked my disapprobation, my disgust, as
unequivocally as I possibly could, without actual indelicacy."

I paused, almost out of breath from the rapidity with which I had
spoken; and without giving him time to renew the conversation, I
hastily quitted the room, leaving him in a paroxysm of rage and
mortification. As I ascended the stairs, I heard him open the
parlour-door with violence, and take two or three rapid strides in the
direction in which I was moving. I was now much frightened, and ran
the whole way until I reached my room, and having locked the door, I
listened breathlessly, but heard no sound. This relieved me for
the present; but so much had I been overcome by the agitation and
annoyance attendant upon the scene which I had just passed through,
that when my cousin Emily knocked at the door, I was weeping in great
agitation. You will readily conceive my distress, when you reflect
upon my strong dislike to my cousin Edward, combined with my youth and
extreme inexperience. Any proposal of such a nature must have agitated
me; but that it should come from the man whom, of all others, I
instinctively most loathed and abhorred, and to whom I had, as clearly
as manner could do it, expressed the state of my feelings, was almost
too annoying to be borne; it was a calamity, too, in which I could not
claim the sympathy of my cousin Emily, which had always been extended
to me in my minor grievances. Still I hoped that it might not be
unattended with good; for I thought that one inevitable and most
welcome consequence would result from this painful _éclaircissement_,
in the discontinuance of my cousin's odious persecution.

When I arose next morning, it was with the fervent hope that I
might never again behold his face, or even hear his name; but such
a consummation, though devoutedly to be wished, was hardly likely to
occur. The painful impressions of yesterday were too vivid to be
at once erased; and I could not help feeling some dim foreboding of
coming annoyance and evil. To expect on my cousin's part anything like
delicacy or consideration for me, was out of the question. I saw that
he had set his heart upon my property, and that he was not likely
easily to forego such a prize, possessing what might have been
considered opportunities and facilities almost to compel my
compliance. I now keenly felt the unreasonableness of my father's
conduct in placing me to reside with a family, with all the members of
which, with one exception, he was wholly unacquainted, and I bitterly
felt the helplessness of my situation. I determined, however, in the
event of my cousin's persevering in his addresses, to lay all the
particulars before my uncle, although he had never, in kindness or
intimacy, gone a step beyond our first interview, and to throw myself
upon his hospitality and his sense of honour for protection against a
repetition of such annoyances.

My cousin's conduct may appear to have been an inadequate cause for
such serious uneasiness; but my alarm was awakened neither by his acts
nor by words, but entirely by his manner, which was strange and even
intimidating. At the beginning of our yesterday's interview, there was
a sort of bullying swagger in his air, which, towards the end,
gave place to something bordering upon the brutal vehemence of an
undisguised ruffian, a transition which had tempted me into a belief
that he might seek, even forcibly, to extort from me a consent to his
wishes, or by means still more horrible, of which I scarcely dared to
trust myself to think, to possess himself of my property.

I was early next day summoned to attend my uncle in his private
room, which lay in a corner turret of the old building; and thither
I accordingly went, wondering all the way what this unusual measure
might prelude. When I entered the room, he did not rise in his usual
courteous way to greet me, but simply pointed to a chair opposite to
his own; this boded nothing agreeable. I sat down, however, silently
waiting until he should open the conversation.

"Lady Margaret," at length he said, in a tone of greater sternness
than I thought him capable of using, "I have hitherto spoken to you as
a friend, but I have not forgotten that I am also your guardian, and
that my authority as such gives me a right to controul your conduct.
I shall put a question to you, and I expect and will demand a
plain, direct answer. Have I rightly been informed that you have
contemptuously rejected the suit and hand of my son Edward?"

I stammered forth with a good deal of trepidation:--

"I believe, that is, I have, sir, rejected my cousin's proposals; and
my coldness and discouragement might have convinced him that I had
determined to do so."

"Madame," replied he, with suppressed, but, as it appeared to me,
intense anger, "I have lived long enough to know that _coldness and
discouragement_, and such terms, form the common cant of a worthless
coquette. You know to the full, as well as I, that _coldness and
discouragement_ may be so exhibited as to convince their object that
he is neither distasteful nor indifferent to the person who wears that
manner. You know, too, none better, that an affected neglect, when
skillfully managed, is amongst the most formidable of the allurements
which artful beauty can employ. I tell you, madame, that having,
without one word spoken in discouragement, permitted my son's most
marked attentions for a twelvemonth or more, you have no _right_ to
dismiss him with no further explanation than demurely telling him that
you had always looked coldly upon him, and neither your wealth nor
_your ladyship_ (there was an emphasis of scorn on the word which
would have become Sir Giles Overreach himself) can warrant you in
treating with contempt the affectionate regard of an honest heart."

I was too much shocked at this undisguised attempt to bully me into
an acquiescence in the interested and unprincipled plan for their
own aggrandisement, which I now perceived my uncle and his son had
deliberately formed, at once to find strength or collectedness to
frame an answer to what he had said. At length I replied, with a
firmness that surprised myself:--

"In all that you have just now said, sir, you have grossly misstated
my conduct and motives. Your information must have been most
incorrect, as far as it regards my conduct towards my cousin; my
manner towards him could have conveyed nothing but dislike; and if
anything could have added to the strong aversion which I have long
felt towards him, it would be his attempting thus to frighten me into
a marriage which he knows to be revolting to me, and which is sought
by him only as a means for securing to himself whatever property is

As I said this, I fixed my eyes upon those of my uncle, but he was too
old in the world's ways to falter beneath the gaze of more searching
eyes than mine; he simply said--

"Are you acquainted with the provisions of your father's will?"

I answered in the affirmative; and he continued:--"Then you must be
aware that if my son Edward were, which God forbid, the unprincipled,
reckless man, the ruffian you pretend to think him"--(here he spoke
very slowly, as if he intended that every word which escaped him
should be registered in my memory, while at the same time the
expression of his countenance underwent a gradual but horrible change,
and the eyes which he fixed upon me became so darkly vivid, that
I almost lost sight of everything else)--"if he were what you have
described him, do you think, child, he would have found no shorter way
than marriage to gain his ends? A single blow, an outrage not a degree
worse than you insinuate, would transfer your property to us!!"

I stood staring at him for many minutes after he had ceased to speak,
fascinated by the terrible, serpent-like gaze, until he continued with
a welcome change of countenance:--

"I will not speak again to you, upon this topic, until one month has
passed. You shall have time to consider the relative advantages of the
two courses which are open to you. I should be sorry to hurry you to
a decision. I am satisfied with having stated my feelings upon the
subject, and pointed out to you the path of duty. Remember this day
month; not one word sooner."

He then rose, and I left the room, much agitated and exhausted.

This interview, all the circumstances attending it, but most
particularly the formidable expression of my uncle's countenance while
he talked, though hypothetically, of _murder_, combined to arouse all
my worst suspicions of him. I dreaded to look upon the face that
had so recently worn the appalling livery of guilt and malignity. I
regarded it with the mingled fear and loathing with which one looks
upon an object which has tortured them in a night-mare.

In a few days after the interview, the particulars of which I have
just detailed, I found a note upon my toilet-table, and on opening it
I read as follows:--

"_My Dear Lady Margaret_,

You will be, perhaps, surprised to see a strange face in your room
today. I have dismissed your Irish maid, and secured a French one to
wait upon you; a step rendered necessary by my proposing shortly to
visit the Continent with all my family.

Your faithful guardian, "_ARTHUR TYRELL_."

On inquiry, I found that my faithful attendant was actually gone, and
far on her way to the town of Galway; and in her stead there appeared
a tall, raw-boned, ill-looking, elderly Frenchwoman, whose sullen and
presuming manners seemed to imply that her vocation had never before
been that of a lady's-maid. I could not help regarding her as a
creature of my uncle's, and therefore to be dreaded, even had she been
in no other way suspicious.

Days and weeks passed away without any, even a momentary doubt upon my
part, as to the course to be pursued by me. The allotted period had
at length elapsed; the day arrived upon which I was to communicate my
decision to my uncle. Although my resolution had never for a moment
wavered, I could not shake off the dread of the approaching colloquy;
and my heart sank within me as I heard the expected summons. I had
not seen my cousin Edward since the occurrence of the grand
_éclaircissement_; he must have studiously avoided me; I suppose from
policy, it could not have been from delicacy. I was prepared for a
terrific burst of fury from my uncle, as soon as I should make known
my determination; and I not unreasonably feared that some act of
violence or of intimidation would next be resorted to. Filled with
these dreary forebodings, I fearfully opened the study door, and the
next minute I stood in my uncle's presence. He received me with
a courtesy which I dreaded, as arguing a favourable anticipation
respecting the answer which I was to give; and after some slight delay
he began by saying--

"It will be a relief to both of us, I believe, to bring this
conversation as soon as possible to an issue. You will excuse me,
then, my dear niece, for speaking with a bluntness which, under other
circumstances, would be unpardonable. You have, I am certain, given
the subject of our last interview fair and serious consideration;
and I trust that you are now prepared with candour to lay your answer
before me. A few words will suffice; we perfectly understand one

He paused; and I, though feeling that I stood upon a mine which might
in an instant explode, nevertheless answered with perfect composure:
"I must now, sir, make the same reply which I did upon the last
occasion, and I reiterate the declaration which I then made, that I
never can nor will, while life and reason remain, consent to a union
with my cousin Edward."

This announcement wrought no apparent change in Sir Arthur, except
that he became deadly, almost lividly pale. He seemed lost in dark
thought for a minute, and then, with a slight effort, said, "You have
answered me honestly and directly; and you say your resolution is
unchangeable; well, would it had been otherwise--would it had been
otherwise--but be it as it is; I am satisfied."

He gave me his hand--it was cold and damp as death; under an assumed
calmness, it was evident that he was fearfully agitated. He continued
to hold my hand with an almost painful pressure, while, as if
unconsciously, seeming to forget my presence, he muttered, "Strange,
strange, strange, indeed! fatuity, helpless fatuity!" there was here a
long pause. "Madness _indeed_ to strain a cable that is rotten to
the very heart; it must break--and then--all goes." There was again
a pause of some minutes, after which, suddenly changing his voice and
manner to one of wakeful alacrity, he exclaimed,

"Margaret, my son Edward shall plague you no more. He leaves this
country to-morrow for France; he shall speak no more upon this
subject--never, never more; whatever events depended upon your answer
must now take their own course; but as for this fruitless proposal, it
has been tried enough; it can be repeated no more."

At these words he coldly suffered my hand to drop, as if to express
his total abandonment of all his projected schemes of alliance; and
certainly the action, with the accompanying words, produced upon my
mind a more solemn and depressing effect than I believed possible to
have been caused by the course which I had determined to pursue; it
struck upon my heart with an awe and heaviness which _will_ accompany
the accomplishment of an important and irrevocable act, even though
no doubt or scruple remains to make it possible that the agent should
wish it undone.

"Well," said my uncle, after a little time, "we now cease to speak
upon this topic, never to resume it again. Remember you shall have
no farther uneasiness from Edward; he leaves Ireland for France
to-morrow; this will be a relief to you; may I depend upon your
_honour_ that no word touching the subject of this interview shall
ever escape you?" I gave him the desired assurance; he said, "It is
well; I am satisfied; we have nothing more, I believe, to say upon
either side, and my presence must be a restraint upon you, I shall
therefore bid you farewell." I then left the apartment, scarcely
knowing what to think of the strange interview which had just taken

On the next day my uncle took occasion to tell me that Edward had
actually sailed, if his intention had not been prevented by adverse
winds or weather; and two days after he actually produced a letter
from his son, written, as it said, _on board_, and despatched while
the ship was getting under weigh. This was a great satisfaction to me,
and as being likely to prove so, it was no doubt communicated to me by
Sir Arthur.

During all this trying period I had found infinite consolation in the
society and sympathy of my dear cousin Emily. I never, in after-life,
formed a friendship so close, so fervent, and upon which, in all its
progress, I could look back with feelings of such unalloyed pleasure,
upon whose termination I must ever dwell with so deep, so yet
unembittered a sorrow. In cheerful converse with her I soon recovered
my spirits considerably, and passed my time agreeably enough, although
still in the utmost seclusion. Matters went on smoothly enough,
although I could not help sometimes feeling a momentary, but horrible
uncertainty respecting my uncle's character; which was not altogether
unwarranted by the circumstances of the two trying interviews, the
particulars of which I have just detailed. The unpleasant impression
which these conferences were calculated to leave upon my mind was fast
wearing away, when there occurred a circumstance, slight indeed
in itself, but calculated irrepressibly to awaken all my worst
suspicions, and to overwhelm me again with anxiety and terror.

I had one day left the house with my cousin Emily, in order to take
a ramble of considerable length, for the purpose of sketching some
favourite views, and we had walked about half a mile when I perceived
that we had forgotten our drawing materials, the absence of which
would have defeated the object of our walk. Laughing at our own
thoughtlessness, we returned to the house, and leaving Emily outside,
I ran upstairs to procure the drawing-books and pencils which lay
in my bed-room. As I ran up the stairs, I was met by the tall,
ill-looking Frenchwoman, evidently a good deal flurried; "Que veut
Madame?" said she, with a more decided effort to be polite, than I
had ever known her make before. "No, no--no matter," said I, hastily
running by her in the direction of my room. "Madame," cried she, in a
high key, "restez ici s'il vous plaît, votre chambre n'est pas faite."
I continued to move on without heeding her. She was some way behind
me, and feeling that she could not otherwise prevent my entrance, for
I was now upon the very lobby, she made a desperate attempt to seize
hold of my person; she succeeded in grasping the end of my shawl,
which she drew from my shoulders, but slipping at the same time upon
the polished oak floor, she fell at full length upon the boards. A
little frightened as well as angry at the rudeness of this strange
woman, I hastily pushed open the door of my room, at which I now
stood, in order to escape from her; but great was my amazement on
entering to find the apartment preoccupied. The window was open, and
beside it stood two male figures; they appeared to be examining the
fastenings of the casement, and their backs were turned towards the
door. One of them was my uncle; they both had turned on my entrance,
as if startled; the stranger was booted and cloaked, and wore a heavy,
broad-leafed hat over his brows; he turned but for a moment, and
averted his face; but I had seen enough to convince me that he was no
other than my cousin Edward. My uncle had some iron instrument in his
hand, which he hastily concealed behind his back; and coming towards
me, said something as if in an explanatory tone; but I was too
much shocked and confounded to understand what it might be. He said
something about "_repairs_--window-frames--cold, and safety." I did
not wait, however, to ask or to receive explanations, but hastily left
the room. As I went down stairs I thought I heard the voice of
the Frenchwoman in all the shrill volubility of excuse, and others
uttering suppressed but vehement imprecations, or what seemed to me to
be such.

I joined my cousin Emily quite out of breath. I need not say that my
head was too full of other things to think much of drawing for that
day. I imparted to her frankly the cause of my alarms, but, at
the same time, as gently as I could; and with tears she promised
vigilance, devotion, and love. I never had reason for a moment to
repent the unreserved confidence which I then reposed in her. She was
no less surprised than I at the unexpected appearance of Edward, whose
departure for France neither of us had for a moment doubted, but
which was now proved by his actual presence to be nothing more than an
imposture practised, I feared, for no good end. The situation in which
I had found my uncle had very nearly removed all my doubts as to his
designs; I magnified suspicions into certainties, and dreaded night
after night that I should be murdered in my bed. The nervousness
produced by sleepless nights and days of anxious fears increased the
horrors of my situation to such a degree, that I at length wrote a
letter to a Mr. Jefferies, an old and faithful friend of my father's,
and perfectly acquainted with all his affairs, praying him, for
God's sake, to relieve me from my present terrible situation, and
communicating without reserve the nature and grounds of my suspicions.
This letter I kept sealed and directed for two or three days always
about my person, for discovery would have been ruinous, in expectation
of an opportunity, which might be safely trusted, of having it placed
in the post-office; as neither Emily nor I were permitted to pass
beyond the precincts of the demesne itself, which was surrounded by
high walls formed of dry stone, the difficulty of procuring such an
opportunity was greatly enhanced.

At this time Emily had a short conversation with her father, which she
reported to me instantly. After some indifferent matter, he had
asked her whether she and I were upon good terms, and whether I was
unreserved in my disposition. She answered in the affirmative; and
he then inquired whether I had been much surprised to find him in my
chamber on the other day. She answered that I had been both surprised
and amused. "And what did she think of George Wilson's appearance?"
"Who?" inquired she. "Oh! the architect," he answered, "who is to
contract for the repairs of the house; he is accounted a handsome
fellow." "She could not see his face," said Emily, "and she was in
such a hurry to escape that she scarcely observed him." Sir Arthur
appeared satisfied, and the conversation ended.

This slight conversation, repeated accurately to me by Emily, had the
effect of confirming, if indeed any thing was required to do so,
all that I had before believed as to Edward's actual presence; and I
naturally became, if possible, more anxious than ever to despatch the
letter to Mr. Jefferies. An opportunity at length occurred. As Emily
and I were walking one day near the gate of the demesne, a lad from
the village happened to be passing down the avenue from the house;
the spot was secluded, and as this person was not connected by service
with those whose observation I dreaded, I committed the letter to his
keeping, with strict injunctions that he should put it, without delay,
into the receiver of the town post-office; at the same time I added
a suitable gratuity, and the man having made many protestations of
punctuality, was soon out of sight. He was hardly gone when I began
to doubt my discretion in having trusted him; but I had no better
or safer means of despatching the letter, and I was not warranted in
suspecting him of such wanton dishonesty as a disposition to tamper
with it; but I could not be quite satisfied of its safety until I had
received an answer, which could not arrive for a few days. Before I
did, however, an event occurred which a little surprised me. I was
sitting in my bed-room early in the day, reading by myself, when I
heard a knock at the door. "Come in," said I, and my uncle entered the
room. "Will you excuse me," said he, "I sought you in the parlour, and
thence I have come here. I desired to say a word to you. I trust that
you have hitherto found my conduct to you such as that of a guardian
towards his ward should be." I dared not withhold my assent. "And,"
he continued, "I trust that you have not found me harsh or unjust,
and that you have perceived, my dear niece, that I have sought to make
this poor place as agreeable to you as may be?" I assented again;
and he put his hand in his pocket, whence he drew a folded paper, and
dashing it upon the table with startling emphasis he said, "Did you
write that letter?" The sudden and fearful alteration of his voice,
manner, and face, but more than all, the unexpected production of my
letter to Mr. Jefferies, which I at once recognised, so confounded and
terrified me, that I felt almost choking. I could not utter a word.
"Did you write that letter?" he repeated, with slow and intense
emphasis. "You did, liar and hypocrite. You dared to write that foul
and infamous libel; but it shall be your last. Men will universally
believe you mad, if I choose to call for an inquiry. I can make
you appear so. The suspicions expressed in this letter are the
hallucinations and alarms of a moping lunatic. I have defeated your
first attempt, madam; and by the holy God, if ever you make another,
chains, darkness, and the keeper's whip shall be your portion." With
these astounding words he left the room, leaving me almost fainting.

I was now almost reduced to despair; my last cast had failed; I had no
course left but that of escaping secretly from the castle, and placing
myself under the protection of the nearest magistrate. I felt if this
were not done, and speedily, that I should be _murdered_. No one, from
mere description, can have an idea of the unmitigated horror of my
situation; a helpless, weak, inexperienced girl, placed under the
power, and wholly at the mercy of evil men, and feeling that I had it
not in my power to escape for one moment from the malignant influences
under which I was probably doomed to fall; with a consciousness, too,
that if violence, if murder were designed, no human being would be
near to aid me; my dying shriek would be lost in void space.

I had seen Edward but once during his visit, and as I did not meet
him again, I began to think that he must have taken his departure; a
conviction which was to a certain degree satisfactory, as I regarded
his absence as indicating the removal of immediate danger. Emily also
arrived circuitously at the same conclusion, and not without good
grounds, for she managed indirectly to learn that Edward's black horse
had actually been for a day and part of a night in the castle stables,
just at the time of her brother's supposed visit. The horse had gone,
and as she argued, the rider must have departed with it.

This point being so far settled, I felt a little less uncomfortable;
when being one day alone in my bed-room, I happened to look out from
the window, and to my unutterable horror, I beheld peering through an
opposite casement, my cousin Edward's face. Had I seen the evil one
himself in bodily shape, I could not have experienced a more sickening
revulsion. I was too much appalled to move at once from the window,
but I did so soon enough to avoid his eye. He was looking fixedly down
into the narrow quadrangle upon which the window opened. I shrunk back
unperceived, to pass the rest of the day in terror and despair. I went
to my room early that night, but I was too miserable to sleep.

At about twelve o'clock, feeling very nervous, I determined to call
my cousin Emily, who slept, you will remember, in the next room, which
communicated with mine by a second door. By this private entrance I
found my way into her chamber, and without difficulty persuaded her to
return to my room and sleep with me. We accordingly lay down together,
she undressed, and I with my clothes on, for I was every moment
walking up and down the room, and felt too nervous and miserable to
think of rest or comfort. Emily was soon fast asleep, and I lay awake,
fervently longing for the first pale gleam of morning, and reckoning
every stroke of the old clock with an impatience which made every hour
appear like six.

It must have been about one o'clock when I thought I heard a slight
noise at the partition door between Emily's room and mine, as if
caused by somebody's turning the key in the lock. I held my breath,
and the same sound was repeated at the second door of my room, that
which opened upon the lobby; the sound was here distinctly caused
by the revolution of the bolt in the lock, and it was followed by a
slight pressure upon the door itself, as if to ascertain the security
of the lock. The person, whoever it might be, was probably satisfied,
for I heard the old boards of the lobby creak and strain, as if
under the weight of somebody moving cautiously over them. My sense
of hearing became unnaturally, almost painfully acute. I suppose
the imagination added distinctness to sounds vague in themselves. I
thought that I could actually hear the breathing of the person who was
slowly returning along the lobby.

At the head of the stair-case there appeared to occur a pause; and I
could distinctly hear two or three sentences hastily whispered;
the steps then descended the stairs with apparently less caution. I
ventured to walk quickly and lightly to the lobby door, and attempted
to open it; it was indeed fast locked upon the outside, as was
also the other. I now felt that the dreadful hour was come; but one
desperate expedient remained--it was to awaken Emily, and by our
united strength, to attempt to force the partition door, which was
slighter than the other, and through this to pass to the lower part of
the house, whence it might be possible to escape to the grounds, and
so to the village. I returned to the bedside, and shook Emily, but in
vain; nothing that I could do availed to produce from her more than
a few incoherent words; it was a death-like sleep. She had certainly
drunk of some narcotic, as, probably, had I also, in spite of all the
caution with which I had examined every thing presented to us to eat
or drink. I now attempted, with as little noise as possible, to force
first one door, then the other; but all in vain. I believe no strength
could have affected my object, for both doors opened inwards. I
therefore collected whatever moveables I could carry thither, and
piled them against the doors, so as to assist me in whatever attempts
I should make to resist the entrance of those without. I then returned
to the bed and endeavoured again, but fruitlessly, to awaken my
cousin. It was not sleep, it was torpor, lethargy, death. I knelt down
and prayed with an agony of earnestness; and then seating myself upon
the bed, I awaited my fate with a kind of terrible tranquillity.

I heard a faint clanking sound from the narrow court which I
have already mentioned, as if caused by the scraping of some iron
instrument against stones or rubbish. I at first determined not to
disturb the calmness which I now experienced, by uselessly watching
the proceedings of those who sought my life; but as the sounds
continued, the horrible curiosity which I felt overcame every
other emotion, and I determined, at all hazards, to gratify it. I,
therefore, crawled upon my knees to the window, so as to let the
smallest possible portion of my head appear above the sill.

The moon was shining with an uncertain radiance upon the antique grey
buildings, and obliquely upon the narrow court beneath; one side of
it was therefore clearly illuminated, while the other was lost in
obscurity, the sharp outlines of the old gables, with their nodding
clusters of ivy, being at first alone visible. Whoever or whatever
occasioned the noise which had excited my curiosity, was concealed
under the shadow of the dark side of the quadrangle. I placed my hand
over my eyes to shade them from the moonlight, which was so bright as
to be almost dazzling, and, peering into the darkness, I first dimly,
but afterwards gradually, almost with full distinctness, beheld the
form of a man engaged in digging what appeared to be a rude hole close
under the wall. Some implements, probably a shovel and pickaxe, lay
beside him, and to these he every now and then applied himself as the
nature of the ground required. He pursued his task rapidly, and with
as little noise as possible. "So," thought I, as shovelful after
shovelful, the dislodged rubbish mounted into a heap, "they are
digging the grave in which, before two hours pass, I must lie, a
cold, mangled corpse. I am _theirs_--I cannot escape." I felt as if
my reason was leaving me. I started to my feet, and in mere despair I
applied myself again to each of the two doors alternately. I strained
every nerve and sinew, but I might as well have attempted, with my
single strength, to force the building itself from its foundations. I
threw myself madly upon the ground, and clasped my hands over my eyes
as if to shut out the horrible images which crowded upon me.

The paroxysm passed away. I prayed once more with the bitter, agonised
fervour of one who feels that the hour of death is present and
inevitable. When I arose, I went once more to the window and looked
out, just in time to see a shadowy figure glide stealthily along the
wall. The task was finished. The catastrophe of the tragedy must soon
be accomplished. I determined now to defend my life to the last; and
that I might be able to do so with some effect, I searched the room
for something which might serve as a weapon; but either through
accident, or else in anticipation of such a possibility, every thing
which might have been made available for such a purpose had been

I must then die tamely and without an effort to defend myself. A
thought suddenly struck me; might it not be possible to escape through
the door, which the assassin must open in order to enter the room?
I resolved to make the attempt. I felt assured that the door through
which ingress to the room would be effected was that which opened
upon the lobby. It was the more direct way, besides being, for obvious
reasons, less liable to interruption than the other. I resolved, then,
to place myself behind a projection of the wall, the shadow would
serve fully to conceal me, and when the door should be opened, and
before they should have discovered the identity of the occupant of
the bed, to creep noiselessly from the room, and then to trust to
Providence for escape. In order to facilitate this scheme, I removed
all the lumber which I had heaped against the door; and I had
nearly completed my arrangements, when I perceived the room suddenly
darkened, by the close approach of some shadowy object to the window.
On turning my eyes in that direction, I observed at the top of the
casement, as if suspended from above, first the feet, then the legs,
then the body, and at length the whole figure of a man present itself.
It was Edward Tyrrell. He appeared to be guiding his descent so as to
bring his feet upon the centre of the stone block which occupied the
lower part of the window; and having secured his footing upon this, he
kneeled down and began to gaze into the room. As the moon was gleaming
into the chamber, and the bed-curtains were drawn, he was able to
distinguish the bed itself and its contents. He appeared satisfied
with his scrutiny, for he looked up and made a sign with his hand.
He then applied his hands to the window-frame, which must have
been ingeniously contrived for the purpose, for with apparently no
resistance the whole frame, containing casement and all, slipped from
its position in the wall, and was by him lowered into the room. The
cold night wind waved the bed-curtains, and he paused for a moment;
all was still again, and he stepped in upon the floor of the room.
He held in his hand what appeared to be a steel instrument, shaped
something like a long hammer. This he held rather behind him, while,
with three long, _tip-toe_ strides, he brought himself to the bedside.
I felt that the discovery must now be made, and held my breath in
momentary expectation of the execration in which he would vent his
surprise and disappointment. I closed my eyes; there was a pause, but
it was a short one. I heard two dull blows, given in rapid succession;
a quivering sigh, and the long-drawn, heavy breathing of the sleeper
was for ever suspended. I unclosed my eyes, and saw the murderer fling
the quilt across the head of his victim; he then, with the instrument
of death still in his hand, proceeded to the lobby-door, upon which
he tapped sharply twice or thrice. A quick step was then heard
approaching, and a voice whispered something from without. Edward
answered, with a kind of shuddering chuckle, "Her ladyship is past
complaining; unlock the door, in the devil's name, unless you're
afraid to come in, and help me to lift her out of the window." The
key was turned in the lock, the door opened, and my uncle entered the
room. I have told you already that I had placed myself under the shade
of a projection of the wall, close to the door. I had instinctively
shrunk down cowering towards the ground on the entrance of Edward
through the window. When my uncle entered the room, he and his son
both stood so very close to me that his hand was every moment upon the
point of touching my face. I held my breath, and remained motionless
as death.

"You had no interruption from the next room?" said my uncle.

"No," was the brief reply.

"Secure the jewels, Ned; the French harpy must not lay her claws upon
them. You're a steady hand, by G--d; not much blood--eh?"

"Not twenty drops," replied his son, "and those on the quilt."

"I'm glad it's over," whispered my uncle again; "we must lift the--the
_thing_ through the window, and lay the rubbish over it."

They then turned to the bedside, and, winding the bed-clothes round
the body, carried it between them slowly to the window, and exchanging
a few brief words with some one below, they shoved it over the
window-sill, and I heard it fall heavily on the ground underneath.

"I'll take the jewels," said my uncle; "there are two caskets in the
lower drawer."

He proceeded, with an accuracy which, had I been more at ease, would
have furnished me with matter of astonishment, to lay his hand upon
the very spot where my jewels lay; and having possessed himself of
them, he called to his son:--

"Is the rope made fast above?"

"I'm no fool; to be sure it is," replied he.

They then lowered themselves from the window; and I rose lightly and
cautiously, scarcely daring to breathe, from my place of concealment,
and was creeping towards the door, when I heard my uncle's voice, in a
sharp whisper, exclaim, "Get up again; G--d d--n you, you've forgot
to lock the room door"; and I perceived, by the straining of the rope
which hung from above, that the mandate was instantly obeyed. Not
a second was to be lost. I passed through the door, which was only
closed, and moved as rapidly as I could, consistently with stillness,
along the lobby. Before I had gone many yards, I heard the door
through which I had just passed roughly locked on the inside. I glided
down the stairs in terror, lest, at every corner, I should meet the
murderer or one of his accomplices. I reached the hall, and listened,
for a moment, to ascertain whether all was silent around. No sound was
audible; the parlour windows opened on the park, and through one
of them I might, I thought, easily effect my escape. Accordingly, I
hastily entered; but, to my consternation, a candle was burning in the
room, and by its light I saw a figure seated at the dinner-table, upon
which lay glasses, bottles, and the other accompaniments of a drinking
party. Two or three chairs were placed about the table, irregularly,
as if hastily abandoned by their occupants. A single glance satisfied
me that the figure was that of my French attendant. She was fast
asleep, having, probably, drank deeply. There was something malignant
and ghastly in the calmness of this bad woman's features, dimly
illuminated as they were by the flickering blaze of the candle. A
knife lay upon the table, and the terrible thought struck me--"Should
I kill this sleeping accomplice in the guilt of the murderer, and thus
secure my retreat?" Nothing could be easier; it was but to draw the
blade across her throat, the work of a second.

An instant's pause, however, corrected me. "No," thought I, "the God
who has conducted me thus far through the valley of the shadow of
death, will not abandon me now. I will fall into their hands, or I
will escape hence, but it shall be free from the stain of blood; His
will be done." I felt a confidence arising from this reflection, an
assurance of protection which I cannot describe. There were no other
means of escape, so I advanced, with a firm step and collected mind,
to the window. I noiselessly withdrew the bars, and unclosed the
shutters; I pushed open the casement, and without waiting to look
behind me, I ran with my utmost speed, scarcely feeling the ground
beneath me, down the avenue, taking care to keep upon the grass which
bordered it. I did not for a moment slacken my speed, and I had now
gained the central point between the park-gate and the mansion-house.
Here the avenue made a wider circuit, and in order to avoid delay, I
directed my way across the smooth sward round which the carriageway
wound, intending, at the opposite side of the level, at a point which
I distinguished by a group of old birch trees, to enter again upon the
beaten track, which was from thence tolerably direct to the gate. I
had, with my utmost speed, got about half way across this broad flat,
when the rapid tramp of a horse's hoofs struck upon my ear. My heart
swelled in my bosom, as though I would smother. The clattering of
galloping hoofs approached; I was pursued; they were now upon the
sward on which I was running; there was not a bush or a bramble to
shelter me; and, as if to render escape altogether desperate, the
moon, which had hitherto been obscured, at this moment shone forth
with a broad, clear light, which made every object distinctly visible.
The sounds were now close behind me. I felt my knees bending under
me, with the sensation which unnerves one in a dream. I reeled,
I stumbled, I fell; and at the same instant the cause of my alarm
wheeled past me at full gallop. It was one of the young fillies which
pastured loose about the park, whose frolics had thus all but maddened
me with terror. I scrambled to my feet, and rushed on with weak but
rapid steps, my sportive companion still galloping round and round me
with many a frisk and fling, until, at length, more dead than alive,
I reached the avenue-gate, and crossed the stile, I scarce knew how.
I ran through the village, in which all was silent as the grave, until
my progress was arrested by the hoarse voice of a sentinel, who
cried "Who goes there?" I felt that I was now safe. I turned in the
direction of the voice, and fell fainting at the soldier's feet. When
I came to myself, I was sitting in a miserable hovel, surrounded by
strange faces, all bespeaking curiosity and compassion. Many soldiers
were in it also; indeed, as I afterwards found, it was employed as a
guard-room by a detachment of troops quartered for that night in the
town. In a few words I informed their officer of the circumstances
which had occurred, describing also the appearance of the persons
engaged in the murder; and he, without further loss of time than was
necessary to procure the attendance of a magistrate, proceeded to the
mansion-house of Carrickleigh, taking with him a party of his men.
But the villains had discovered their mistake, and had effected their
escape before the arrival of the military.

The Frenchwoman was, however, arrested in the neighbourhood upon the
next day. She was tried and condemned at the ensuing assizes; and
previous to her execution confessed that "_she had a hand in making
Hugh Tisdall's bed_." She had been a housekeeper in the castle at the
time, and a _chère amie_ of my uncle's. She was, in reality, able
to speak English like a native, but had exclusively used the French
language, I suppose to facilitate her designs. She died the same
hardened wretch she had lived, confessing her crimes only, as she
alleged, that her doing so might involve Sir Arthur Tyrrell, the
great author of her guilt and misery, and whom she now regarded with
unmitigated detestation.

With the particulars of Sir Arthur's and his son's escape, as far
as they are known, you are acquainted. You are also in possession
of their after fate; the terrible, the tremendous retribution which,
after long delays of many years, finally overtook and crushed them.
Wonderful and inscrutable are the dealings of God with his creatures!

Deep and fervent as must always be my gratitude to heaven for my
deliverance, effected by a chain of providential occurrences, the
failing of a single link of which must have ensured my destruction,
it was long before I could look back upon it with other feelings than
those of bitterness, almost of agony. The only being that had
ever really loved me, my nearest and dearest friend, ever ready to
sympathise, to counsel, and to assist; the gayest, the gentlest, the
warmest heart; the only creature on earth that cared for me; _her_
life had been the price of my deliverance; and I then uttered the
wish, which no event of my long and sorrowful life has taught me to
recall, that she had been spared, and that, in her stead, _I_ were
mouldering in the grave, forgotten, and at rest.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Two Ghostly Mysteries - A Chapter in the History of a Tyrone Family; and the Murdered Cousin" ***

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