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Title: Haunted and the Haunters
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron, 1803-1873
Language: English
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A STRANGE STORY.

TO WHICH IS ADDED,

THE HAUNTED AND THE HAUNTERS.

BY

EDWARD BULWER LYTTON (_LORD LYTTON_.)


"To doubt and to be astonished is to recognize our ignorance. Hence it
is that the lover of wisdom is in a certain sort a lover of mythi
[Greek: phylomythos pôs], for the subject of mythi is the astonishing
and marvellous."--SIR W. HAMILTON (after Aristotle), _Lectures on
Metaphysics_, vol. i. p. 78.



IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. II.

BOSTON: LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY. 1897.



THE HAUNTED AND THE HAUNTERS;


OR, THE HOUSE AND THE BRAIN.



       *       *       *       *       *

A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to
me one day, as if between jest and earnest, "Fancy! since we last met
I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London."

"Really haunted,--and by what?--ghosts?"

"Well, I can't answer that question; all I know is this: six weeks ago
my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet
street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, 'Apartments,
Furnished.' The situation suited us; we entered the house, liked the
rooms, engaged them by the week,--and left them the third day. No
power on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I
don't wonder at it."

"What did you see?"

"Excuse me; I have no desire to be ridiculed as a superstitious
dreamer,--nor, on the other hand, could I ask you to accept on my
affirmation what you would hold to be incredible without the evidence
of your own senses. Let me only say this, it was not so much what we
saw or heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes
of our own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that
drove us away, as it was an undefinable terror which seized both of us
whenever we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which
we neither saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all
was, that for once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman
though she be,--and allowed, after the third night, that it was
impossible to stay a fourth in that house. Accordingly, on the fourth
morning I summoned the woman who kept the house and attended on us,
and told her that the rooms did not quite suit us, and we would not
stay out our week." She said dryly, "I know why; you have stayed
longer than any other lodger. Few ever stayed a second night; none
before you a third. But I take it they have been very kind to you."

"'They,--who?' I asked, affecting to smile.

"'Why, they who haunt the house, whoever they are. I don't mind them.
I remember them many years ago, when I lived in this house, not as a
servant; but I know they will be the death of me some day. I don't
care,--I'm old, and must die soon anyhow; and then I shall be with
them, and in this house still.' The woman spoke with so dreary a
calmness that really it was a sort of awe that prevented my conversing
with her further. I paid for my week, and too happy were my wife and I
to get off so cheaply."

"You excite my curiosity," said I; "nothing I should like better than
to sleep in a haunted house. Pray give me the address of the one which
you left so ignominiously."

My friend gave me the address; and when we parted, I walked straight
towards the house thus indicated.

It is situated on the north side of Oxford Street, in a dull but
respectable thoroughfare. I found the house shut up,--no bill at the
window, and no response to my knock. As I was turning away, a
beer-boy, collecting pewter pots at the neighboring areas, said to me,
"Do you want any one at that house, sir?"

"Yes, I heard it was to be let."

"Let!--why, the woman who kept it is dead,--has been dead these three
weeks, and no one can be found to stay there, though Mr. J---- offered
ever so much. He offered mother, who chars for him, £1 a week just to
open and shut the windows, and she would not."

"Would not!--and why?"

"The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in
her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her."

"Pooh! You speak of Mr. J----. Is he the owner of the house?"

"Yes."

"Where does he live?"

"In G---- Street, No. ----."

"What is he? In any business?"

"No, sir,--nothing particular; a single gentleman."

I gave the pot-boy the gratuity earned by his liberal information, and
proceeded to Mr. J----, in G---- Street, which was close by the street
that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to find Mr. J----
at home,--an elderly man with intelligent countenance and
prepossessing manners.

I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the
house was considered to be haunted,--that I had a strong desire to
examine a house with so equivocal a reputation; that I should be
greatly obliged if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a
night. I was willing to pay for that privilege whatever he might be
inclined to ask. "Sir," said Mr. J----, with great courtesy, "the
house is at your service, for as short or as long a time as you
please. Rent is out of the question,--the obligation will be on my
side should you be able to discover the cause of the strange phenomena
which at present deprive it of all value. I cannot let it, for I
cannot even get a servant to keep it in order or answer the door.
Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may use that expression, not only
by night, but by day; though at night the disturbances are of a more
unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming character. The poor old
woman who died in it three weeks ago was a pauper whom I took out of a
workhouse; for in her childhood she had been known to some of my
family, and had once been in such good circumstances that she had
rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior education
and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce to remain
in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and the
coroner's inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighborhood, I
have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house,
much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent free for a year
to any one who would pay its rates and taxes."

"How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?"

"That I can scarcely tell you, but very many years since. The old
woman I spoke of, said it was haunted when she rented it between
thirty and forty years ago. The fact is, that my life has been spent
in the East Indies, and in the civil service of the Company. I
returned to England last year, on inheriting the fortune of an uncle,
among whose possessions was the house in question. I found it shut up
and uninhabited. I was told that it was haunted, that no one would
inhabit it. I smiled at what seemed to me so idle a story. I spent
some money in repairing it, added to its old-fashioned furniture a few
modern articles,--advertised it, and obtained a lodger for a year. He
was a colonel on half-pay. He came in with his family, a son and a
daughter, and four or five servants: they all left the house the next
day; and, although each of them declared that he had seen something
different from that which had scared the others, a something still was
equally terrible to all. I really could not in conscience sue, nor
even blame, the colonel for breach of agreement. Then I put in the old
woman I have spoken of, and she was empowered to let the house in
apartments. I never had one lodger who stayed more than three days. I
do not tell you their stories,--to no two lodgers have there been
exactly the same phenomena repeated. It is better that you should
judge for yourself, than enter the house with an imagination
influenced by previous narratives; only be prepared to see and to hear
something or other, and take whatever precautions you yourself
please."

"Have you never had a curiosity yourself to pass a night in that
house?" "Yes. I passed not a night, but three hours in broad daylight
alone in that house. My curiosity is not satisfied, but it is
quenched. I have no desire to renew the experiment. You cannot
complain, you see, sir, that I am not sufficiently candid; and unless
your interest be exceedingly eager and your nerves unusually strong, I
honestly add, that I advise you _not_ to pass a night in that house."

"My interest _is_ exceedingly keen," said I; "and though only a coward
will boast of his nerves in situations wholly unfamiliar to him, yet
my nerves have been seasoned in such variety of danger that I have the
right to rely on them,--even in a haunted house."

Mr. J---- said very little more; he took the keys of the house out of
his bureau, gave them to me,--and, thanking him cordially for his
frankness, and his urbane concession to my wish, I carried off my
prize.

Impatient for the experiment, as soon as I reached home, I summoned my
confidential servant,--a young man of gay spirits, fearless temper,
and as free from superstitious prejudice as any one I could think of.

"F----," said I, "you remember in Germany how disappointed we were at
not finding a ghost in that old castle, which was said to be haunted
by a headless apparition? Well, I have heard of a house in London
which, I have reason to hope, is decidedly haunted. I mean to sleep
there to-night. From what I hear, there is no doubt that something
will allow itself to be seen or to be heard,--something, perhaps,
excessively horrible. Do you think if I take you with me, I may rely
on your presence of mind, whatever may happen?"

"Oh, sir, pray trust me," answered F----, grinning with delight.

"Very well; then here are the keys of the house,--this is the address.
Go now,--select for me any bedroom you please; and since the house has
not been inhabited for weeks, make up a good fire, air the bed
well,--see, of course, that there are candles as well as fuel. Take
with you my revolver and my dagger,--so much for my weapons; arm
yourself equally well; and if we are not a match for a dozen ghosts,
we shall be but a sorry couple of Englishmen."

I was engaged for the rest of the day on business so urgent that I had
not leisure to think much on the nocturnal adventure to which I had
plighted my honor. I dined alone, and very late, and while dining,
read, as is my habit. I selected one of the volumes of Macaulay's
Essays. I thought to myself that I would take the book with me; there
was so much of healthfulness in the style, and practical life in the
subjects, that it would serve as an antidote against the influences of
superstitious fancy.

Accordingly, about half-past nine, I put the book into my pocket, and
strolled leisurely towards the haunted house. I took with me a
favorite dog: an exceedingly sharp, bold, and vigilant
bull-terrier,--a dog fond of prowling about strange, ghostly corners
and passages at night in search of rats; a dog of dogs for a ghost.

It was a summer night but chilly, the sky somewhat gloomy and
overcast. Still there was a moon, faint and sickly but still a moon,
and if the clouds permitted, after midnight it would be brighter.

I reached the house, knocked, and my servant opened with a cheerful
smile.

"All right, sir, and very comfortable."

"Oh!" said I, rather disappointed; "have you not seen nor heard
anything remarkable?"

"Well, sir, I must own I have heard something queer."

"What?--what?"

"The sound of feet pattering behind me; and once or twice small noises
like whispers close at my ear,--nothing more."

"You are not at all frightened?"

"I! not a bit of it, sir;" and the man's bold look reassured me on one
point,--namely, that happen what might, he would not desert me.

We were in the hall, the street-door closed, and my attention was now
drawn to my dog. He had at first run in eagerly enough, but had
sneaked back to the door, and was scratching and whining to get out.
After patting him on the head, and encouraging him gently, the dog
seemed to reconcile himself to the situation, and followed me and
F---- through the house, but keeping close at my heels instead of
hurrying inquisitively in advance, which was his usual and normal
habit in all strange places. We first visited the subterranean
apartments,--the kitchen and other offices, and especially the
cellars, in which last there were two or three bottles of wine still
left in a bin, covered with cobwebs, and evidently, by their
appearance, undisturbed for many years. It was clear that the ghosts
were not winebibbers. For the rest we discovered nothing of interest.
There was a gloomy little backyard, with very high walls. The stones
of this yard were very damp; and what with the damp, and what with the
dust and smoke-grime on the pavement, our feet left a slight
impression where we passed. And now appeared the first strange
phenomenon witnessed by myself in this strange abode. I saw, just
before me, the print of a foot suddenly form itself, as it were. I
stopped, caught hold of my servant, and pointed to it. In advance of
that footprint as suddenly dropped another. We both saw it. I advanced
quickly to the place; the footprint kept advancing before me, a small
footprint,--the foot of a child: the impression was too faint
thoroughly to distinguish the shape, but it seemed to us both that it
was the print of a naked foot. This phenomenon ceased when we arrived
at the opposite wall, nor did it repeat itself on returning. We
remounted the stairs, and entered the rooms on the ground-floor, a
dining parlor, a small back-parlor, and a still smaller third room
that had been probably appropriated to a footman,--all still as death.
We then visited the drawing-rooms, which seemed fresh and new. In the
front room I seated myself in an arm-chair. F----  placed on the table
the candlestick with which he had lighted us. I told him to shut the
door. As he turned to do so a chair opposite to me moved from the wall
quickly and noiselessly, and dropped itself about a yard from my own
chair, immediately fronting it.

"Why, this is better than the turning-tables," said I, with a
half-laugh; and as I laughed, my dog put back his head and howled.

F---, coming back, had not observed the movement of the chair. He
employed himself now in stilling the dog. I continued to gaze on the
chair, and fancied I saw on it a pale, blue, misty outline of a human
figure, but an outline so indistinct that I could only distrust my own
vision. The dog now was quiet.

"Put back that chair opposite to me," said I to F---; "put it back to
the wall."

F---- obeyed. "Was that you, sir?" said he, turning abruptly.

"I!--what?"

"Why, something struck me. I felt it sharply on the shoulder,--just
here."

"No," said I. "But we have jugglers present, and though we may not
discover their tricks, we shall catch _them_ before they frighten
_us_."

We did not stay long in the drawing-rooms,--in fact, they felt so damp
and so chilly that I was glad to get to the fire upstairs. We locked
the doors of the drawing-rooms,--a precaution which, I should observe,
we had taken with all the rooms we had searched below. The bedroom my
servant had selected for me was the best on the floor,--a large one,
with two windows fronting the street. The four-posted bed, which took
up no inconsiderable space, was opposite to the fire, which burned
clear and bright; a door in the wall to the left, between the bed and
the window, communicated with the room which my servant appropriated
to himself. This last was a small room with a sofa-bed, and had no
communication with the landing-place,--no other door but that which
conducted to the bedroom I was to occupy. On either side of my
fireplace was a cupboard without locks, flush with the wall, and
covered with the same dull-brown paper. We examined these
cupboards,--only hooks to suspend female dresses, nothing else; we
sounded the walls,--evidently solid, the outer walls of the building.
Having finished the survey of these apartments, warmed myself a few
moments, and lighted my cigar, I then, still accompanied by F----,
went forth to complete my reconnoitre. In the landing-place there was
another door; it was closed firmly. "Sir," said my servant, in
surprise, "I unlocked this door with all the others when I first came;
it cannot have got locked from the inside, for--"

Before he had finished his sentence, the door, which neither of us
then was touching, opened quietly of itself. We looked at each other a
single instant. The same thought seized both,--some human agency might
be detected here. I rushed in first, my servant followed. A small,
blank, dreary room without furniture; a few empty boxes and hampers in
a corner; a small window; the shutters closed; not even a fireplace;
no other door but that by which we had entered; no carpet on the
floor, and the floor seemed very old, uneven, worm-eaten, mended here
and there, as was shown by the whiter patches on the wood; but no
living being, and no visible place in which a living being could have
hidden. As we stood gazing round, the door by which we had entered
closed as quietly as it had before opened; we were imprisoned.

For the first time I felt a creep of undefinable horror. Not so my
servant. "Why, they don't think to trap us, sir; I could break that
trumpery door with a kick of my foot."

"Try first if it will open to your hand," said I, shaking off the
vague apprehension that had seized me, "while I unclosed the shutters
and see what is without."

I unbarred the shutters,--the window looked on the little backyard I
have before described; there was no ledge without,--nothing to break
the sheer descent of the wall. No man getting out of that window would
have found any footing till he had fallen on the stones below.

F----, meanwhile, was vainly attempting to open the door. He now
turned round to me and asked my permission to use force. And I should
here state, in justice to the servant, that, far from evincing any
superstitious terrors, his nerve, composure, and even gayety amidst
circumstances so extraordinary, compelled my admiration, and made me
congratulate myself on having secured a companion in every way fitted
to the occasion. I willingly gave him the permission he required. But
though he was a remarkably strong man, his force was as idle as his
milder efforts; the door did not even shake to his stoutest kick.
Breathless and panting, he desisted. I then tried the door myself,
equally in vain. As I ceased from the effort, again that creep of
horror came over me; but this time it was more cold and stubborn. I
felt as if some strange and ghastly exhalation were rising up from the
chinks of that rugged floor, and filling the atmosphere with a
venomous influence hostile to human life. The door now very slowly and
quietly opened as of its own accord. We precipitated ourselves into
the landing-place. We both saw a large, pale light--as large as the
human figure, but shapeless and unsubstantial--move before us, and
ascend the stairs that led from the landing into the attics. I
followed the light, and my servant followed me. It entered, to the
right of the landing, a small garret, of which the door stood open. I
entered in the same instant. The light then collapsed into a small
globule, exceedingly brilliant and vivid, rested a moment on a bed in
the corner, quivered, and vanished. We approached the bed and examined
it,--a half-tester, such as is commonly found in attics devoted to
servants. On the drawers that stood near it we perceived an old faded
silk kerchief, with the needle still left in a rent half repaired. The
kerchief was covered with dust; probably it had belonged to the old
woman who had last died in that house, and this might have been her
sleeping-room. I had sufficient curiosity to open the drawers: there
were a few odds and ends of female dress, and two letters tied round
with a narrow ribbon of faded yellow. I took the liberty to possess
myself of the letters. We found nothing else in the room worth
noticing,--nor did the light reappear; but we distinctly heard, as we
turned to go, a pattering footfall on the floor, just before us. We
went through the other attics (in all four), the footfall still
preceding us. Nothing to be seen,--nothing but the footfall heard. I
had the letters in my hand; just as I was descending the stairs I
distinctly felt my wrist seized, and a faint, soft effort made to draw
the letters from my clasp. I only held them the more tightly, and the
effort ceased.

We regained the bedchamber appropriated to myself, and I then remarked
that my dog had not followed us when we had left it. He was thrusting
himself close to the fire, and trembling. I was impatient to examine
the letters; and while I read them, my servant opened a little box in
which he had deposited the weapons I had ordered him to bring, took
them out, placed them on a table close at my bed-head, and then
occupied himself in soothing the dog, who, however, seemed to heed him
very little.

The letters were short,--they were dated; the dates exactly
thirty-five years ago. They were evidently from a lover to his
mistress, or a husband to some young wife. Not only the terms of
expression, but a distinct reference to a former voyage, indicated the
writer to have been a seafarer. The spelling and handwriting were
those of a man imperfectly educated, but still the language itself was
forcible. In the expressions of endearment there was a kind of rough,
wild love; but here and there were dark unintelligible hints at some
secret not of love,--some secret that seemed of crime. "We ought to
love each other," was one of the sentences I remember, "for how every
one else would execrate us if all was known." Again: "Don't let any
one be in the same room with you at night,--you talk in your sleep."
And again: "What's done can't be undone; and I tell you there's
nothing against us unless the dead could come to life." Here there was
underlined in a better handwriting (a female's), "They do!" At the end
of the letter latest in date the same female hand had written these
words: "Lost at sea the 4th of June, the same day as--"

I put down the letters, and began to muse over their contents.

Fearing, however, that the train of thought into which I fell might
unsteady my nerves, I fully determined to keep my mind in a fit state
to cope with whatever of marvellous the advancing night might bring
forth. I roused myself; laid the letters on the table; stirred up the
fire, which was still bright and cheering; and opened my volume of
Macaulay. I read quietly enough till about half-past eleven. I then
threw myself dressed upon the bed, and told my servant he might retire
to his own room, but must keep himself awake. I bade him leave open
the door between the two rooms. Thus alone, I kept two candles burning
on the table by my bed-head. I placed my watch beside the weapons, and
calmly resumed my Macaulay. Opposite to me the fire burned clear; and
on the hearthrug, seemingly asleep, lay the dog. In about twenty
minutes I felt an exceedingly cold air pass by my cheek, like a sudden
draught. I fancied the door to my right, communicating with the
landing-place, must have got open; but no,--it was closed. I then
turned my glance to my left, and saw the flame of the candles
violently swayed as by a wind. At the same moment the watch beside the
revolver softly slid from the table,--softly, softly; no visible
hand,--it was gone. I sprang up, seizing the revolver with the one
hand, the dagger with the other; I was not willing that my weapons
should share the fate of the watch. Thus armed, I looked round the
floor,--no sign of the watch. Three slow, loud, distinct knocks were
now heard at the bed-head; my servant called out, "Is that you, sir?"

"No; be on your guard."

The dog now roused himself and sat on his haunches, his ears moving
quickly backwards and forwards. He kept his eyes fixed on me with a
look so strange that he concentred all my attention on himself. Slowly
he rose up, all his hair bristling, and stood perfectly rigid, and
with the same wild stare. I had no time, however, to examine the dog.
Presently my servant emerged from his room; and if ever I saw horror
in the human face, it was then. I should not have recognized him had
we met in the street, so altered was every lineament. He passed by me
quickly, saying, in a whisper that seemed scarcely to come from his
lips, "Run, run! it is after me!" He gained the door to the landing,
pulled it open, and rushed forth. I followed him into the landing
involuntarily, calling him to stop; but, without heeding me, he
bounded down the stairs, clinging to the balusters, and taking several
steps at a time. I heard, where I stood, the street-door open,--heard
it again clap to. I was left alone in the haunted house.

It was but for a moment that I remained undecided whether or not to
follow my servant; pride and curiosity alike forbade so dastardly a
flight. I re-entered my room, closing the door after me, and proceeded
cautiously into the interior chamber. I encountered nothing to justify
my servant's terror. I again carefully examined the walls, to see if
there were any concealed door. I could find no trace of one,--not even
a seam in the dull-brown paper with which the room was hung. How,
then, had the THING, whatever it was, which had so scared him,
obtained ingress except through my own chamber?

I returned to my room, shut and locked the door that opened upon the
interior one, and stood on the hearth, expectant and prepared. I now
perceived that the dog had slunk into an angle of the wall, and was
pressing himself close against it, as if literally striving to force
his way into it. I approached the animal and spoke to it; the poor
brute was evidently beside itself with terror. It showed all its
teeth, the slaver dropping from its jaws, and would certainly have
bitten me if I had touched it. It did not seem to recognize me.
Whoever has seen at the Zoological Gardens a rabbit, fascinated by a
serpent, cowering in a corner, may form some idea of the anguish which
the dog exhibited. Finding all efforts to soothe the animal in vain,
and fearing that his bite might be as venomous in that state as in the
madness of hydrophobia, I left him alone, placed my weapons on the
table beside the fire, seated myself, and recommenced my Macaulay.

Perhaps, in order not to appear seeking credit for a courage, or
rather a coolness, which the reader may conceive I exaggerate, I may
be pardoned if I pause to indulge in one or two egotistical remarks.

As I hold presence of mind, or what is called courage, to be precisely
proportioned to familiarity with the circumstances that lead to it, so
I should say that I had been long sufficiently familiar with all
experiments that appertain to the marvellous. I had witnessed many
very extraordinary phenomena in various parts of the world,--phenomena
that would be either totally disbelieved if I stated them, or ascribed
to supernatural agencies. Now, my theory is that the supernatural is
the impossible, and that what is called supernatural is only a
something in the laws of Nature of which we have been hitherto
ignorant. Therefore, if a ghost rise before me, I have not the right
to say, "So, then, the supernatural is possible;" but rather, "So,
then, the apparition of a ghost, is, contrary to received opinion,
within the laws of Nature,--that is, not supernatural."

Now, in all that I had hitherto witnessed, and indeed in all the
wonders which the amateurs of mystery in our age record as facts, a
material living agency is always required. On the Continent you will
find still magicians who assert that they can raise spirits. Assume
for the moment that they assert truly, still the living material form
of the magician is present; and he is the material agency by which,
from some constitutional peculiarities, certain strange phenomena are
represented to your natural senses.

Accept, again, as truthful, the tales of spirit-manifestation in
America,--musical or other sounds; writings on paper, produced by no
discernible hand; articles of furniture moved without apparent human
agency; or the actual sight and touch of hands, to which no bodies
seem to belong,--still there must be found the MEDIUM, or living
being, with constitutional peculiarities capable of obtaining these
signs. In fine, in all such marvels, supposing even that there is no
imposture, there must be a human being like ourselves by whom, or
through whom, the effects presented to human beings are produced. It
is so with the now familiar phenomena of mesmerism or electro-biology;
the mind of the person operated on is affected through a material
living agent. Nor, supposing it true that a mesmerized patient can
respond to the will or passes of a mesmerizer a hundred miles distant,
is the response less occasioned by a material being; it may be through
a material fluid--call it Electric, call it Odic, call it what you
will--which has the power of traversing space and passing obstacles,
that the material effect is communicated from one to the other. Hence,
all that I had hitherto witnessed, or expected to witness, in this
strange house, I believed to be occasioned through some agency or
medium as mortal as myself; and this idea necessarily prevented the
awe with which those who regard as supernatural things that are not
within the ordinary operations of Nature, might have been impressed by
the adventures of that memorable night.

As, then, it was my conjecture that all that was presented, or would
be presented to my senses, must originate in some human being gifted
by constitution with the power so to present them, and having some
motive so to do, I felt an interest in my theory which, in its way,
was rather philosophical than superstitious. And I can sincerely say
that I was in as tranquil a temper for observation as any practical
experimentalist could be in awaiting the effects of some rare, though
perhaps perilous, chemical combination. Of course, the more I kept my
mind detached from fancy, the more the temper fitted for observation
would be obtained; and I therefore riveted eye and thought on the
strong daylight sense in the page of my Macaulay.

I now became aware that something interposed between the page and the
light,--the page was over-shadowed. I looked up, and I saw what I
shall find it very difficult, perhaps impossible, to describe.

It was a Darkness shaping itself forth from the air in very undefined
outline. I cannot say it was of a human form, and yet it had more
resemblance to a human form, or rather shadow, than to anything else.
As it stood, wholly apart and distinct from the air and the light
around it, its dimensions seemed gigantic, the summit nearly touching
the ceiling. While I gazed, a feeling of intense cold seized me. An
iceberg before me could not more have chilled me; nor could the cold
of an iceberg have been more purely physical. I feel convinced that it
was not the cold caused by fear. As I continued to gaze, I
thought--but this I cannot say with precision--that I distinguished
two eyes looking down on me from the height. One moment I fancied that
I distinguished them clearly, the next they seemed gone; but still two
rays of a pale-blue light frequently shot through the darkness, as
from the height on which I half believed, half doubted, that I had
encountered the eyes.

I strove to speak,--my voice utterly failed me; I could only think to
myself, "Is this fear? It is _not_ fear!" I strove to rise,--in vain;
I felt as if weighed down by an irresistible force. Indeed, my
impression was that of an immense and overwhelming Power opposed to my
volition,--that sense of utter inadequacy to cope with a force beyond
man's, which one may feel _physically_ in a storm at sea, in a
conflagration, or when confronting some terrible wild beast, or
rather, perhaps, the shark of the ocean, I felt _morally_. Opposed to
my will was another will, as far superior to its strength as storm,
fire, and shark are superior in material force to the force of man.

And now, as this impression grew on me,--now came, at last, horror,
horror to a degree that no words can convey. Still I retained pride,
if not courage; and in my own mind I said, "This is horror, but it is
not fear; unless I fear I cannot be harmed; my reason rejects this
thing; it is an illusion,--I do not fear." With a violent effort I
succeeded at last in stretching out my hand towards the weapon on the
table; as I did so, on the arm and shoulder I received a strange
shock, and my arm fell to my side powerless. And now, to add to my
horror, the light began slowly to wane from the candles,--they were
not, as it were, extinguished, but their flame seemed very gradually
withdrawn; it was the same with the fire,--the light was extracted
from the fuel; in a few minutes the room was in utter darkness. The
dread that came over me, to be thus in the dark with that dark Thing,
whose power was so intensely felt, brought a reaction of nerve. In
fact, terror had reached that climax, that either my senses must have
deserted me, or I must have burst through the spell. I did burst
through it. I found voice, though the voice was a shriek. I remember
that I broke forth with words like these, "I do not fear, my soul does
not fear;" and at the same time I found strength to rise. Still in
that profound gloom I rushed to one of the windows; tore aside the
curtain; flung open the shutters; my first thought was--LIGHT. And
when I saw the moon high, clear, and calm, I felt a joy that almost
compensated for the previous terror. There was the moon, there was
also the light from the gas-lamps in the deserted slumberous street. I
turned to look back into the room; the moon penetrated its shadow very
palely and partially,--but still there was light. The dark Thing,
whatever it might be, was gone,--except that I could yet see a dim
shadow, which seemed the shadow of that shade, against the opposite
wall.

My eye now rested on the table, and from under the table (which was
without cloth or cover,--an old mahogany round-table) there rose a
hand, visible as far as the wrist. It was a hand, seemingly, as much
of flesh and blood as my own, but the hand of an aged person, lean,
wrinkled, small too,--a woman's hand. That hand very softly closed on
the two letters that lay on the table; hand and letters both vanished.
There then came the same three loud, measured knocks I had heard at
the bedhead before this extraordinary drama had commenced.

As those sounds slowly ceased, I felt the whole room vibrate sensibly;
and at the far end there rose, as from the floor, sparks or globules
like bubbles of light, many colored,--green, yellow, fire-red, azure.
Up and down, to and fro, hither, thither, as tiny Will-o'-the-Wisps,
the sparks moved, slow or swift, each at its own caprice. A chair (as
in the drawing-room below) was now advanced from the wall without
apparent agency, and placed at the opposite side of the table.
Suddenly, as forth from the chair, there grew a shape,--a woman's
shape. It was distinct as a shape of life,--ghastly as a shape of
death. The face was that of youth, with a strange, mournful beauty;
the throat and shoulders were bare, the rest of the form in a loose
robe of cloudy white. It began sleeking its long, yellow hair, which
fell over its shoulders; its eyes were not turned towards me, but to
the door; it seemed listening, watching, waiting. The shadow of the
shade in the background grew darker; and again I thought I beheld the
eyes gleaming out from the summit of the shadow,--eyes fixed upon that
shape.

As if from the door, though it did not open, there grew out another
shape, equally distinct, equally ghastly,--a man's shape, a young
man's. It was in the dress of the last century, or rather in a
likeness of such dress (for both the male shape and the female, though
defined, were evidently unsubstantial, impalpable,--simulacra,
phantasms); and there was something incongruous, grotesque, yet
fearful, in the contrast between the elaborate finery, the courtly
precision of that old-fashioned garb, with its ruffles and lace and
buckles, and the corpse-like aspect and ghost-like stillness of the
flitting wearer. Just as the male shape approached the female, the
dark Shadow started from the wall, all three for a moment wrapped in
darkness. When the pale light returned, the two phantoms were as if in
the grasp of the Shadow that towered between them; and there was a
blood-stain on the breast of the female; and the phantom male was
leaning on its phantom sword, and blood seemed trickling fast from the
ruffles, from the lace; and the darkness of the intermediate Shadow
swallowed them up,--they were gone. And again the bubbles of light
shot, and sailed, and undulated, growing thicker and thicker and more
wildly confused in their movements.

The closet door to the right of the fireplace now opened, and from the
aperture there came the form of an aged woman. In her hand she held
letters,--the very letters over which I had seen _the_ Hand close; and
behind her I heard a footstep. She turned round as if to listen, and
then she opened the letters and seemed to read; and over her shoulder
I saw a livid face, the face as of a man long drowned,--bloated,
bleached, seaweed tangled in its dripping hair; and at her feet lay a
form as of a corpse; and beside the corpse there cowered a child, a
miserable, squalid child, with famine in its cheeks and fear in its
eyes. And as I looked in the old woman's face, the wrinkles and lines
vanished, and it became a face of youth,--hard-eyed, stony, but still
youth; and the Shadow darted forth, and darkened over these phantoms
as it had darkened over the last.

Nothing now was left but the Shadow, and on that my eyes were intently
fixed, till again eyes grew out of the Shadow,--malignant, serpent
eyes. And the bubbles of light again rose and fell, and in their
disordered, irregular, turbulent maze, mingled with the wan moonlight.
And now from these globules themselves, as from the shell of an egg,
monstrous things burst out; the air grew filled with them: larvae so
bloodless and so hideous that I can in no way describe them except to
remind the reader of the swarming life which the solar microscope
brings before his eyes in a drop of water,--things transparent,
supple, agile, chasing each other, devouring each, other; forms like
nought ever beheld by the naked eye. As the shapes were without
symmetry, so their movements were without order. In their very
vagrancies there was no sport; they came round me and round, thicker
and faster and swifter, swarming over my head, crawling over my right
arm, which was outstretched in involuntary command against all evil
beings. Sometimes I felt myself touched, but not by them; invisible
hands touched me. Once I felt the clutch as of cold, soft fingers at
my throat. I was still equally conscious that if I gave way to fear I
should be in bodily peril; and I concentred all my faculties in the
single focus of resisting stubborn will. And I turned my sight from
the Shadow; above all, from those strange serpent eyes,--eyes that had
now become distinctly visible. For there, though in nought else around
me, I was aware that there was a WILL, and a will of intense,
creative, working evil, which might crush down my own.

The pale atmosphere in the room began now to redden as if in the air
of some near conflagration. The larvæ grew lurid as things that live
in fire. Again the room vibrated; again were heard the three measured
knocks; and again all things were swallowed up in the darkness of the
dark Shadow, as if out of that darkness all had come, into that
darkness all returned.

As the gloom receded, the Shadow was wholly gone. Slowly, as it had
been withdrawn, the flame grew again into the candles on the table,
again into the fuel in the grate. The whole room came once more
calmly, healthfully into sight.

The two doors were still closed, the door communicating with the
servant's room still locked. In the corner of the wall, into which he
had so convulsively niched himself, lay the dog. I called to him,--no
movement; I approached,--the animal was dead: his eyes protruded; his
tongue out of his mouth; the froth gathered round his jaws. I took him
in my arms; I brought him to the fire. I felt acute grief for the loss
of my poor favorite,--acute self-reproach; I accused myself of his
death; I imagined he had died of fright. But what was my surprise on
finding that his neck was actually broken. Had this been done in the
dark? Must it not have been by a hand human as mine; must there not
have been a human agency all the while in that room? Good cause to
suspect it. I cannot tell. I cannot do more than state the fact
fairly; the reader may draw his own inference.

Another surprising circumstance,--my watch was restored to the table
from which it had been so mysteriously withdrawn; but it had stopped
at the very moment it was so withdrawn, nor, despite all the skill of
the watchmaker, has it ever gone since,--that is, it will go in a
strange, erratic way for a few hours, and then come to a dead stop; it
is worthless.

Nothing more chanced for the rest of the night. Nor, indeed, had I
long to wait before the dawn broke. Nor till it was broad daylight did
I quit the haunted house. Before I did so, I revisited the little
blind room in which my servant and myself had been for a time
imprisoned. I had a strong impression--for which I could not
account--that from that room had originated the mechanism of the
phenomena, if I may use the term, which had been experienced in my
chamber. And though I entered it now in the clear day, with the sun
peering through the filmy window, I still felt, as I stood on its
floors, the creep of the horror which I had first there experienced
the night before, and which had been so aggravated by what had passed
in my own chamber. I could not, indeed, bear to stay more than half a
minute within those walls. I descended the stairs, and again I heard
the footfall before me; and when I opened the street door, I thought I
could distinguish a very low laugh. I gained my own home, expecting to
find my runaway servant there; but he had not presented himself, nor
did I hear more of him for three days, when I received a letter from
him, dated from Liverpool to this effect:--

"HONORED SIR,--I humbly entreat your pardon, though I can scarcely
hope that you will think that I deserve it, unless--which Heaven
forbid!--you saw what I did. I feel that it will be years before I can
recover myself; and as to being fit for service, it is out of the
question. I am therefore going to my brother-in-law at Melbourne. The
ship sails to-morrow. Perhaps the long voyage may set me up. I do
nothing now but start and tremble, and fancy IT is behind me. I humbly
beg you, honored sir, to order my clothes, and whatever wages are due
to me, to be sent to my mother's, at Walworth,--John knows her
address."

The letter ended with additional apologies, somewhat incoherent, and
explanatory details as to effects that had been under the writer's
charge. This flight may perhaps warrant a suspicion that the man
wished to go to Australia, and had been somehow or other fraudulently
mixed up with the events of the night. I say nothing in refutation of
that conjecture; rather, I suggest it as one that would seem to many
persons the most probable solution of improbable occurrences. My
belief in my own theory remained unshaken. I returned in the evening
to the house, to bring away in a hack cab the things I had left there,
with my poor dog's body. In this task I was not disturbed, nor did any
incident worth note befall me, except that still, on ascending and
descending the stairs, I heard the same footfall in advance. On
leaving the house, I went to Mr. J----'s. He was at home. I returned
him the keys, told him that my curiosity was sufficiently gratified,
and was about to relate quickly what had passed, when he stopped me,
and said, though with much politeness, that he had no longer any
interest in a mystery which none had ever solved.

I determined at least to tell him of the two letters I had read, as
well as of the extraordinary manner in which they had disappeared; and
I then inquired if he thought they had been addressed to the woman who
had died in the house, and if there were anything in her early history
which could possibly confirm the dark suspicions to which the letters
gave rise. Mr. J---- seemed startled, and, after musing a few moments,
answered, "I am but little acquainted with the woman's earlier
history, except as I before told you, that her family were known to
mine. But you revive some vague reminiscences to her prejudice. I will
make inquiries, and inform you of their result. Still, even if we
could admit the popular superstition that a person who had been either
the perpetrator or the victim of dark crimes in life could revisit, as
a restless spirit, the scene in which those crimes had been committed,
I should observe that the house was infested by strange sights and
sounds before the old woman died--you smile--what would you say?"

"I would say this, that I am convinced, if we could get to the bottom
of these mysteries, we should find a living human agency."

"What! you believe it is all an imposture? For what object?"

"Not an imposture in the ordinary sense of the word. If suddenly I
were to sink into a deep sleep, from which you could not awake me, but
in that sleep could answer questions with an accuracy which I could
not pretend to when awake,--tell you what money you had in your
pocket, nay, describe your very thoughts,--it is not necessarily an
imposture, any more than it is necessarily supernatural. I should be,
unconsciously to myself, under a mesmeric influence, conveyed to me
from a distance by a human being who had acquired power over me by
previous _rapport_."

"But if a mesmerizer could so affect another living being, can you
suppose that a mesmerizer could also affect inanimate objects: move
chairs,--open and shut doors?"

"Or impress our senses with the belief in such effects,--we never
having been _en rapport_ with the person acting on us? No. What is
commonly called mesmerism could not do this; but there may be a power
akin to mesmerism, and superior to it,--the power that in the old days
was called Magic. That such a power may extend to all inanimate
objects of matter, I do not say; but if so, it would not be against
Nature,--it would be only a rare power in Nature which might be given
to constitutions with certain peculiarities, and cultivated by
practice to an extraordinary degree. That such a power might extend
over the dead,--that is, over certain thoughts and memories that the
dead may still retain,--and compel, not that which ought properly to
be called the SOUL, and which is far beyond human reach, but rather a
phantom of what has been most earth-stained on earth, to make itself
apparent to our senses, is a very ancient though obsolete theory upon
which I will hazard no opinion. But I do not conceive the power would
be supernatural. Let me illustrate what I mean from an experiment
which Paracelsus describes as not difficult, and which the author of
the 'Curiosities of Literature' cites as credible: A flower perishes;
you burn it. Whatever were the elements of that flower while it lived
are gone, dispersed, you know not whither; you can never discover nor
re-collect them. But you can, by chemistry, out of the burned dust of
that flower, raise a spectrum of the flower, just as it seemed in
life. It may be the same with the human being. The soul has as much
escaped you as the essence or elements of the flower. Still you may
make a spectrum of it. And this phantom, though in the popular
superstition it is held to be the soul of the departed, must not be
confounded with the true soul; it is but the eidolon of the dead form.
Hence, like the best attested stories of ghosts or spirits, the thing
that most strikes us is the absence of what we hold to be soul,--that
is, of superior emancipated intelligence. These apparitions come for
little or no object,--they seldom speak when they do come; if they
speak, they utter no ideas above those of an ordinary person on earth.
American spirit-seers have published volumes of communications, in
prose and verse, which they assert to be given in the names of the
most illustrious dead: Shakespeare, Bacon,--Heaven knows whom. Those
communications, taking the best, are certainly not a whit of higher
order than would be communications from living persons of fair talent
and education; they are wondrously inferior to what Bacon,
Shakespeare, and Plato said and wrote when on earth. Nor, what is more
noticeable, do they ever contain an idea that was not on the earth
before. Wonderful, therefore, as such phenomena may be (granting them
to be truthful), I see much that philosophy may question, nothing that
it is incumbent on philosophy to deny,--namely, nothing supernatural.
They are but ideas conveyed somehow or other (we have not yet
discovered the means) from one mortal brain to another. Whether, in so
doing, tables walk of their own accord, or fiendlike shapes appear in
a magic circle, or bodiless hands rise and remove material objects, or
a Thing of Darkness, such as presented itself to me, freeze our
blood,--still am I persuaded that these are but agencies conveyed, as
by electric wires, to my own brain from the brain of another. In some
constitutions there is a natural chemistry, and those constitutions
may produce chemic wonders,--in others a natural fluid, call it
electricity, and these may produce electric wonders. But the wonders
differ from Normal Science in this,--they are alike objectless,
purposeless, puerile, frivolous. They lead on to no grand results; and
therefore the world does not heed, and true sages have not cultivated
them. But sure I am, that of all I saw or heard, a man, human as
myself, was the remote originator; and I believe unconsciously to
himself as to the exact effects produced, for this reason: no two
persons, you say, have ever told you that they experienced exactly the
same thing. Well, observe, no two persons ever experience exactly the
same dream. If this were an ordinary imposture, the machinery would be
arranged for results that would but little vary; if it were a
supernatural agency permitted by the Almighty, it would surely be for
some definite end. These phenomena belong to neither class; my
persuasion is, that they originate in some brain now far distant; that
that brain had no distinct volition in anything that occurred; that
what does occur reflects but its devious, motley, ever-shifting,
half-formed thoughts; in short, that it has been but the dreams of
such a brain put into action and invested with a semi-substance. That
this brain is of immense power, that it can set matter into movement,
that it is malignant and destructive, I believe; some material force
must have killed my dog; the same force might, for aught I know, have
sufficed to kill myself, had I been as subjugated by terror as the
dog,--had my intellect or my spirit given me no countervailing
resistance in my will."

"It killed your dog,--that is fearful! Indeed it is strange that no
animal can be induced to stay in that house; not even a cat. Bats and
mice are never found in it."

"The instincts of the brute creation detect influences deadly to their
existence. Man's reason has a sense less subtle, because it has a
resisting power more supreme. But enough; do you comprehend my
theory?"

"Yes, though imperfectly,--and I accept any crotchet (pardon the
word), however odd, rather than embrace at once the notion of ghosts
and hobgoblins we imbibed in our nurseries. Still, to my unfortunate
house, the evil is the same. What on earth can I do with the house?"

"I will tell you what I would do. I am convinced from my own internal
feelings that the small, unfurnished room at right angles to the door
of the bed-room which I occupied, forms a starting-point or receptacle
for the influences which haunt the house; and I strongly advise you to
have the walls opened, the floor removed,--nay, the whole room pulled
down. I observe that it is detached from the body of the house, built
over the small backyard, and could be removed without injury to the
rest of the building."

"And you think, if I did that--"

"You would cut off the telegraph wires. Try it. I am so persuaded that
I am right, that I will pay half the expense if you will allow me to
direct the operations."

"Nay, I am well able to afford the cost; for the rest allow me to
write to you."

About ten days after I received a letter from Mr. J----, telling me
that he had visited the house since I had seen him; that he had found
the two letters I had described, replaced in the drawer from which I
had taken them; that he had read them with misgivings like my own;
that he had instituted a cautious inquiry about the woman to whom I
rightly conjectured they had been written. It seemed that thirty-six
years ago (a year before the date of the letters) she had married,
against the wish of her relations, an American of very suspicious
character; in fact, he was generally believed to have been a pirate.
She herself was the daughter of very respectable tradespeople, and had
served in the capacity of a nursery governess before her marriage. She
had a brother, a widower, who was considered wealthy, and who had one
child of about six years old. A month after the marriage the body of
this brother was found in the Thames, near London Bridge; there seemed
some marks of violence about his throat, but they were not deemed
sufficient to warrant the inquest in any other verdict than that of
"found drowned."

The American and his wife took charge of the little boy, the deceased
brother having by his will left his sister the guardian of his only
child,--and in event of the child's death the sister inherited. The
child died about six months afterwards,--it was supposed to have been
neglected and ill-treated. The neighbors deposed to have heard it
shriek at night. The surgeon who had examined it after death said that
it was emaciated as if from want of nourishment, and the body was
covered with livid bruises. It seemed that one winter night the child
had sought to escape; crept out into the backyard; tried to scale the
wall; fallen back exhausted; and been found at morning on the stones
in a dying state. But though there was some evidence of cruelty, there
was none of murder; and the aunt and her husband had sought to
palliate cruelty by alleging the exceeding stubbornness and perversity
of the child, who was declared to be half-witted. Be that as it may,
at the orphan's death the aunt inherited her brother's fortune. Before
the first wedded year was out, the American quitted England abruptly,
and never returned to it. He obtained a cruising vessel, which was
lost in the Atlantic two years afterwards. The widow was left in
affluence, but reverses of various kinds had befallen her: a bank
broke; an investment failed; she went into a small business and became
insolvent; then she entered into service, sinking lower and lower,
from housekeeper down to maid-of-all-work,--never long retaining a
place, though nothing decided against her character was ever alleged.
She was considered sober, honest, and peculiarly quiet in her ways;
still nothing prospered with her. And so she had dropped into the
workhouse, from which Mr. J---- had taken her, to be placed in charge
of the very house which she had rented as mistress in the first year
of her wedded life.

Mr. J---- added that he had passed an hour alone in the unfurnished
room which I had urged him to destroy, and that his impressions of
dread while there were so great, though he had neither heard nor seen
anything, that he was eager to have the walls bared and the floors
removed as I had suggested. He had engaged persons for the work, and
would commence any day I would name.

The day was accordingly fixed. I repaired to the haunted house,--we
went into the blind, dreary room, took up the skirting, and then the
floors. Under the rafters, covered with rubbish, was found a
trap-door, quite large enough to admit a man. It was closely nailed
down, with clamps and rivets of iron. On removing these we descended
into a room below, the existence of which had never been suspected. In
this room there had been a window and a flue, but they had been
bricked over, evidently for many years. By the help of candles we
examined this place; it still retained some mouldering
furniture,--three chairs, an oak settle, a table,--all of the fashion
of about eighty years ago. There was a chest of drawers against the
wall, in which we found, half-rotted away, old-fashioned articles of a
man's dress, such as might have been worn eighty or a hundred years
ago by a gentleman of some rank; costly steel buckles and buttons,
like those yet worn in court-dresses, a handsome court sword; in a
waistcoat which had once been rich with gold-lace, but which was now
blackened and foul with damp, we found five guineas, a few silver
coins, and an ivory ticket, probably for some place of entertainment
long since passed away. But our main discovery was in a kind of iron
safe fixed to the wall, the lock of which it cost us much trouble to
get picked.

In this safe were three shelves and two small drawers. Ranged on the
shelves were several small bottles of crystal, hermetically stopped.
They contained colorless, volatile essences, of the nature of which I
shall only say that they were not poisons,--phosphor and ammonia
entered into some of them. There were also some very curious glass
tubes, and a small pointed rod of iron, with a large lump of
rock-crystal, and another of amber,--also a loadstone of great power.

In one of the drawers we found a miniature portrait set in gold, and
retaining the freshness of its colors most remarkably, considering the
length of time it had probably been there. The portrait was that of a
man who might be somewhat advanced in middle life, perhaps forty-seven
or forty-eight. It was a remarkable face,--a most impressive face. If
you could fancy some mighty serpent transformed into man, preserving
in the human lineaments the old serpent type, you would have a better
idea of that countenance than long descriptions can convey: the width
and flatness of frontal; the tapering elegance of contour disguising
the strength of the deadly jaw; the long, large, terrible eye,
glittering and green as the emerald,--and withal a certain ruthless
calm, as if from the consciousness of an immense power.

Mechanically I turned round the miniature to examine the back of it,
and on the back was engraved a pentacle; in the middle of the pentacle
a ladder, and the third step of the ladder was formed by the date
1765. Examining still more minutely, I detected a spring; this, on
being pressed, opened the back of the miniature as a lid. Within-side
the lid were engraved, "Marianna to thee. Be faithful in life and in
death to ----." Here follows a name that I will not mention, but it
was not unfamiliar to me. I had heard it spoken of by old men in my
childhood as the name borne by a dazzling charlatan who had made a
great sensation in London for a year or so, and had fled the country
on the charge of a double murder within his own house,--that of his
mistress and his rival. I said nothing of this to Mr. J----, to whom
reluctantly I resigned the miniature.

We had found no difficulty in opening the first drawer within the iron
safe; we found great difficulty in opening the second: it was not
locked, but it resisted all efforts, till we inserted in the chinks
the edge of a chisel. When we had thus drawn it forth, we found a very
singular apparatus in the nicest order. Upon a small, thin book, or
rather tablet, was placed a saucer of crystal; this saucer was filled
with a clear liquid,--on that liquid floated a kind of compass, with a
needle shifting rapidly round; but instead of the usual points of a
compass were seven strange characters, not very unlike those used by
astrologers to denote the planets. A peculiar but not strong nor
displeasing odor came from this drawer, which was lined with a wood
that we afterwards discovered to be hazel. Whatever the cause of this
odor, it produced a material effect on the nerves. We all felt it,
even the two workmen who were in the room,--a creeping, tingling
sensation from the tips of the fingers to the roots of the hair.
Impatient to examine the tablet, I removed the saucer. As I did so the
needle of the compass went round and round with exceeding swiftness,
and I felt a shock that ran through my whole frame, so that I dropped
the saucer on the floor. The liquid was spilled; the saucer was
broken; the compass rolled to the end of the room, and at that instant
the walls shook to and fro, as if a giant had swayed and rocked them.

The two workmen were so frightened that they ran up the ladder by
which we had descended from the trapdoor; but seeing that nothing more
happened, they were easily induced to return.

Meanwhile I had opened the tablet: it was bound in plain red leather,
with a silver clasp; it contained but one sheet of thick vellum, and
on that sheet were inscribed, within a double pentacle, words in old
monkish Latin, which are literally to be translated thus: "On all that
it can reach within these walls, sentient or inanimate, living or
dead, as moves the needle, so work my will! Accursed be the house, and
restless be the dwellers therein."

We found no more. Mr. J---- burned the tablet and its anathema. He
razed to the foundations the part of the building containing the
secret room with the chamber over it. He had then the courage to
inhabit the house himself for a month, and a quieter,
better-conditioned house could not be found in all London.
Subsequently he let it to advantage, and his tenant has made no
complaints.



THE END.





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