By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Haunted Room - A Tale
Author: A. L. O. E., 1821-1893
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Haunted Room - A Tale" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

       [Illustration: EMMIE'S NEW HOME.      _Page 215._]

                        THE HAUNTED ROOM.

                              A Tale


                          _A. L. O. E._,

                   "THE LADY OF PROVENCE," ETC.

                  EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK. 1900


It is under peculiar circumstances that A. L. O. E. sends forth this
little volume. As it is passing through the press its author is
preparing to enter on a new field of labour in the East, as an honorary
member of the Zenana Mission in India. Of the fact that the missionary
cause has been dear to A. L. O. E. her readers may be aware from her
former writings. She now hopes to be permitted to devote an evening hour
of her life to that cause. India is endeared to her from family
associations; for there a revered father, and subsequently his sons,
lived and laboured, and in that land rests the dust of dear ones who
sleep in Jesus.

If there be, as she fain would hope, something of a tie between a writer
and those familiar with her works, may not A. L. O. E. venture to claim
an interest in the prayers of her readers? May she not hope that they
will ask for her, wisdom, humility, zeal, and success? It would be sweet
to one struggling with the difficulty of learning a new language to know
that many joined in the supplication, "O Lord! open Thou her lips, that
her mouth may shew forth Thy praise!" and that many besought Him whose
strength is made perfect in weakness, to enable His servant to win
Indian gems to lay at His feet.

                                                   A. L. O. E.


       I.  A PLEASANT HOME,              9

      II.  COMING TO A DECISION,        20

     III.  GOSSIP DOWNSTAIRS,           29

      IV.  PREPARING TO START,          40

       V.  HAUNTED ROOMS,               47

      VI.  THREE WARNINGS,              62

     VII.  MISTRUST,                    70

    VIII.  THE JOURNEY,                 78

      IX.  NEW ACQUAINTANCE,            88

       X.  A FAINT HEART,               98

      XI.  EVENING AND MORNING,        114

     XII.  THE STRANGER,               124

    XIII.  WORK,                       140

     XIV.  EARLY IMPRESSIONS,          151

      XV.  THE FIRST VISIT,            162

     XVI.  TRY AGAIN,                  178

    XVII.  CARES AND MISTAKES,         186

   XVIII.  YES OR NO,                  194

     XIX.  THE ECLIPSE,                207

      XX.  AN ALARM,                   219

     XXI.  INDECISION,                 230

    XXII.  THE HAUNTED CHAMBER,        238

   XXIII.  DEATH,                      247

    XXIV.  A MISTAKE,                  257

     XXV.  STRANGE TIDINGS,            265

    XXVI.  THE WEAK ONE,               278

   XXVII.  A NIGHT-JOURNEY,            294


    XXIX.  CHARGED WITH FELONY,        315


    XXXI.  CHANGES,                    332




"A pleasant nest my brother-in-law has found for his family," said
Captain Arrows to himself, as, carpet-bag in hand, he walked the brief
distance from a railway-station to his relative's house. "Trevor's home
is near enough to London for its inmates to reach Charing-Cross by train
in fifteen minutes, and yet far enough from it to be beyond reach of its
smoke and noise. Not quite so," added the captain as he passed a
Savoyard with hurdy-gurdy and monkey, and then was overtaken by an
omnibus well filled within and without; "but I doubt if our young folk
would have relished perfect rural seclusion, or would have wished to
have dwelt fifty miles from the Great Exhibition and Albert Hall. As
long as he holds his government office, Trevor cannot live far from
London; and in choosing his residence here, he has made a pleasant
compromise between town and country. This is as bright-looking a home as
heart could wish," thought the captain, as from the slope of a hill he
came in sight of a pretty villa, in the Elizabethan style, standing in
its own grounds. "These gay flower-beds, with their geometrical shapes
and blooming flowers, show the ingenuity of Bruce and the taste of
Emmie. The croquet loops on the lawn, the target in the little field
yonder, tell of lives passed in ease and enjoyment. It may be a question
whether such lives be indeed the most desirable for our young men and
maidens," thus the captain pursued his reflections as he walked down the
hill. "Simply to pass youth as pleasantly as possible seems to be hardly
the best preparation for the rough campaign of existence. We would not
train our army recruits in Arcadia. It would be an interesting problem,
had we the means of working it out, to find out how far our characters
are formed by our surroundings, as physical qualities are affected by
climate. Would early acquaintance with difficulties and dangers ever
have braced up our lovely Emmie into a heroine, or made Vibert a
reflective and self-denying man? As for Bruce, he has in him so much of
the nature of the oak sapling, that the most enervating air could not
rob him of all the knots and toughness of close-grained wood. Another
curious problem to solve would be, how far easy, luxurious existence in
youth is actually conducive to happiness; whether the prospect from a
bleak hill-side be not fairer, as well as its air more bracing, than
that of the garden of the Hesperides. Where the mind has no real
difficulties with which to grapple, the imagination is wont to grow with
the rank luxuriance of tropical vegetation. Nervousness, superstition,
anxiety about trifles, take the place of serious trials; and the child
of luxury, to parody the fine line of Johnson,

                  'Makes the misery he does not find.'"

The captain had no more leisure for his reflections, for, as he threw
open the gate of Summer Villa, his approach was seen from the house, and
two of its inmates hastened forth to meet a favourite uncle. A graceful
maiden ran lightly down the shrubbery path, followed by her younger
brother, a handsome lad of some sixteen or seventeen years of age.

"Oh, you are so welcome; we were so glad to get your telegram and know
that your long cruise was over!" cried Emmie as she gave to her mother's
brother an affectionate greeting.

"We've so much to tell you, captain," said Vibert Trevor, cordially
shaking the hand of the newly-arrived guest. "John is away, so let me
carry your carpet-bag into the house."

This, from Vibert, was rather a remarkable offer of service. The captain
accepted it with a smile, for Vibert was little accustomed to act the
part of a porter.

"Where is Bruce?" asked Arrows. "As for your father, I suppose that he
is at his office in London."

"No; papa is not at his office," replied Emmie, slipping her arm into
that of her uncle. "But come into the house and have refreshment, and
while you take it--"

"We'll tell you the whole story," cried Vibert, looking like one who has
a grand piece of news to impart.

While the three enter Summer Villa, let us pause and glance at them for
a few moments.

Captain Arrows is a naval officer. He has scarcely reached middle age,
and looks young to be addressed as "uncle" by the young lady who rests
on his arm, or the tall brother at her side. The captain's face, bronzed
by sun and wind, is not one to be easily forgotten, so keen and piercing
are the dark eyes which glance from beneath projecting brows. An
expression of satire sometimes plays around the thin lips, but of
satire tempered and controlled. The impression conveyed by Arrows'
appearance and manner would be, "That is a man of character, a man of
decision, a keen observer, who looks as if he were making notes for a
book satirizing the follies of mankind." But there is a kindly frankness
about the sailor which tends to counteract the sense of restraint which
might otherwise be felt in his society. If he carry the sharp rapier of
wit at his side, it is sheathed in the scabbard of good-nature.

Never does Arrows look more kindly or soften his tone to more gentleness
than when addressing the motherless daughter of a sister loved and
mourned. Emmie is, indeed, one to draw out the affections of those
around her. Not only is her face fair, but it has the sweetness of
expression which is more winsome than beauty. Her soft dark-brown hair
does not, in the shapeless masses prescribed by modern fashion, mar the
classical contour of a gracefully formed head. Gentle, tender, and
clinging, the maiden's type might be found in the fragrant white jasmine
that embowers the porch of her pleasant home. Emmie's school companions
have loved her; not one of them could remember a harsh or unkind word
spoken by the lips of the gentle girl. Her brothers love her; Emmie has
shared their interests, and joined them in their amusements, without
ever brushing away that feminine softness which, as the down to the
peach, is to woman one of the greatest of charms. Bruce would have
disliked having "a fast girl" for his sister almost as much as Mr.
Trevor would have disapproved of his daughter earning that title. The
slang in which some modern ladies (?) indulge would have sounded from
the lips of Emmie as startling as the blare of a child's trumpet toy
breaking in on a melody of Beethoven.

Vibert Trevor in appearance resembles his sister; but what is pleasingly
feminine in the woman looks somewhat effeminate in the boy. Boy! how
could the word escape my pen! Vibert, in his own estimation at least,
has left boyhood long ago. His auburn hair, parted carefully down the
middle, falls on either side of a face which would be singularly
handsome but for the somewhat too great fulness about the mouth. The lad
is dressed fashionably and in good taste. If there be a little tinge of
foppishness in his appearance, it is as slight as the scent which a
superfine cigar has left on his clothes.

"No more refreshment for me, thanks; I have taken some in London," said
the captain in reply to a question from his niece as they entered the
house together.

"Then we will go into the drawing-room," said Emmie. "We expect papa and
Bruce by the next train from Wiltshire. Papa wrote that they would reach
this an hour before dinner-time."

A cheerful drawing-room was that which looked out on the lawn of Summer
Villa, lighted up as it was by the rich glow of a September sun, then
just at its setting. The red light sparkled on the crystal globe in
which gold-fish were gliding, and lent vividness to the green of the
graceful ferns which ornamented both the windows. Emmie's piano was
open, with a piece of music upon it. Emmie was an enthusiast in music.
She had to displace her guitar from the sofa on which she had left it,
to make room for her uncle to sit by her side. Emmie's basket with its
fancy work lay on the table, and traces of her late employment in the
shape of dropped beads and morsels of bright German wool strewed the
soft carpet. Emmie rather felt than saw that her uncle's eye detected
the little untidiness; the naval officer was himself "so dreadfully

"Now for your news," said the captain, as he seated himself by his
niece, while Vibert threw himself into an arm-chair. Vibert usually
chose, as if by instinct, the most luxurious chair in the room.

"What would you say if papa were to throw up office, leave Summer Villa
for ever and for aye, and carry us all off to be buried alive?" cried

"In Labrador--or equatorial Africa?" inquired the captain.

"Not quite so bad as either of those distant deserts," laughed Vibert.
"Myst Hall is not a hundred miles from London, and Wiltshire is not
quite beyond the pale of civilized life."

"What has happened to make such a migration probable?" inquired Arrows.
"You know that during our northern cruise I have had no letters, and
that as regards home news, the last three months have been to me an
absolute blank."

"Our story is easily told," said Emmie. "You will, I dare say, remember
that papa had an aunt, Mrs. Myers, who lived in Wiltshire."

"I recollect the name, but little besides," replied Arrows.

"None of us knew much of Aunt Myers," continued his niece. "Except a
hamper of home-made preserves which came to us from Myst Court every
Christmas, we had little to remind us of a relative who shut herself up
from her family and friends for fifty long years."

"But if we forgot the old dame, she did not forget us," interrupted
Vibert. "Aunt Myers died eight or nine days ago and there came a letter
from her lawyer announcing her death, and informing my father that he
is the old lady's heir, executor, and the master of Myst Court, with all
the fields, pleasure-grounds, cottages, copses, and I don't know what
else thereto appertaining."

The captain did not look as much impressed by the announcement as his
young informant expected that he would be.

"Papa, of course, went to his poor aunt's funeral," said Emmie, "and
took Bruce with him to see what he thought of the place."

"There was plenty of business to be transacted," observed Vibert; "I
fancy that there always is when landed property changes hands. My father
asked for a week's holiday from office-work. Perhaps he will give up his
appointment altogether; all depends on whether he decide to live on his
own estate, or to let it and take a new lease of Summer Villa."

"You must have had letters from your father; to which decision does he
appear to incline?" asked the captain, addressing himself to his niece.

"Papa has been very busy, and wrote but briefly," said Emmie. "I believe
that a good deal will depend on whether papa is satisfied with what he
sees of a gentleman at S----, who has been highly recommended as a
private tutor for my brothers. S---- is but three miles from Myst
Court, so that if we lived at that place, Vibert and Bruce could go over
to Mr. Blair's for study every week-day."

"My father's plan, now that Bruce and I have left Cheltenham,"
interrupted Vibert, "is to keep us with him at home for a year or two,
and have us prepared for Cambridge or some competitive examination by a
private tutor, either in London, or at S----, if we go into Wiltshire."

"What description does Bruce give of Myst Court?" inquired Captain

"Bruce is a lazy dog with his pen, and seldom honours me with a scratch
of it," answered Vibert.

"Bruce wrote to me the day after he went into Wiltshire," said Emmie.
"He knew that I should be interested to hear of the place which may soon
be our home. Bruce writes that the house is of the date of the reign of
Queen Anne; that it is built of red brick, and looks rather formal, but
has splendid trees around it. Myst Court stands quite by itself, with no
other country-house near it, and has the reputation of being _haunted_."

Arrows smiled at the gravity with which the young lady pronounced the
last word.

"Myst Court must be a horridly dull place, at least for those who are
not sportsmen!" cried Vibert. "Bruce and I may find a little liveliness
at S----; but for you, Emmie, it will be a case of--

              'And still she cried, "'Tis very dreary--
                'Tis dreary and sad," she said;
              She said, "I am aweary, aweary;
                I wish I were dead!"'"

Emmie laughed, but the laugh was rather a forced one.

"Your sister will never, I hope, echo the peevish complaint of an idle
girl, who had not energy enough to nail up her peaches," observed
Captain Arrows. "If Emmie go to Wiltshire, it will be, I trust, to lead
there an active, useful, and happy life."

"I wonder on what course papa will decide," said Emmie; "we are very
anxious to know. A great deal will depend on what Bruce thinks
desirable,--papa has such an opinion of the judgment of Bruce."

"Bruce has a precious good opinion of his own," said Vibert, with
something like scorn.

"For shame!--how can you!" cried Emmie, in a tone of playful reproof.

"Here they are! here come my father and Bruce!" cried Vibert, rising
from his easy-chair as he caught sight of two figures at the gate.

Emmie had started up, and was out of the room to receive the travellers,
before Vibert had finished the sentence.



"Yes, I am satisfied in regard to educational advantages for my sons,"
said Mr. Trevor, in reply to a question asked by the captain, when, a
few minutes afterwards, the family were gathered together in the
drawing-room. "The tutor, Mr. Blair, appears to be in every way
qualified to do full justice to his pupils; I had a very satisfactory
interview with him at S----."

"But Myst Court itself, what do you think of the place?" inquired

"The house was originally handsome, but it is now utterly out of
repair," replied Mr. Trevor.

"I don't suppose that painter or glazier has entered the door for these
last fifty years," observed Bruce.

"The grounds are extensive," continued Mr. Trevor; "but the trees are
choking each other for lack of thinning; and the brushwood, through
neglect, has thickened into a jungle."

"A good cover for rabbits and hares," observed Vibert, who had an eye to

"I never before saw such wretched cottages," said Bruce; "and there are
sixty-one of them on the estate, besides two farms. The hovels are
dotted in groups of threes and fours in every corner where one would not
expect to find them. Some lean forward, as if bending under the weight
of their roofs; some to one side, as if trying to get away from their
neighbours; some cottages look as if they were tired of standing at all.
I cannot imagine how the men and women, and swarms of bare-footed
children, manage to live in such dirty dens."

"Is there no one to look after the people?" asked Captain Arrows.

"There is no church or school-house nearer than S----," replied Mr.
Trevor. "The people either work for the neighbouring farmers, or in a
dyeing factory which stands about a mile from Myst Court. Wages are low
in that part of the country; but that is not sufficient to account for
the misery which we saw there. Ignorance prevails--ignorance more dense
than I could have believed to have been found in any part of our
favoured land. I doubt whether of the peasants one in four is able even
to read. As a matter of course, drunkenness and every other vice spread
as weeds over a field so neglected."

"It is there that the labourer is called to lay his hand to the plough,"
observed Captain Arrows.

Vibert gave an almost imperceptible shrug of his shoulders; Bruce as
slight an inclination of his head. A very faint sigh escaped from the
lips of Emmie.

"I have been giving the matter serious, very serious thought," said Mr.
Trevor. "My first idea, when I found that my aunt had bequeathed the
property to me, was to let Myst Court, and to remain at least for some
years in Summer Villa, where we have been for long so comfortably
settled. But I found, on visiting Myst Court, that it would be
impossible to let the house without effecting such extensive and
thorough repairs as I could not at present undertake. Even if this were
not so--" Mr. Trevor paused, as if to reflect.

"No mere tenant could be expected to take the same interest in the
people as would be felt by you, their landlord and natural protector,"
observed the captain, concluding the sentence which his brother-in-law
had left unfinished.

"And so you think that we are bound to act as props to the cottages that
are leaning forwards or sideways, and make them hold themselves
straight, as respectable cottages ought to do!" laughed Vibert.

"But what have you to say about the haunted room?" timidly inquired
Emmie, who had been sitting with her hand in that of her father, a
hitherto silent but much interested listener to the conversation.

"Haunted! Oh, that's all nonsense!" exclaimed Bruce. "Myst Court is no
more haunted than is Summer Villa; it is simply a big, dreary-looking
house that wants new mortar on its walls, new glass to replace what is
cracked in its windows, and a good fairy, in the shape of a young lady,
to turn it into a cheerful, comfortable home."

"What gives to Myst Court the name of being haunted," said his father,
"is simply this. My aunt, who was of a nervous and highly sensitive
nature, had the misfortune to lose her husband, a short time after their
marriage, in a very distressing way. When on his wedding-tour, Mr. Myers
was bitten by a mad dog, and a few weeks after bringing his bride to
their home he died of hydrophobia."

"How dreadful!" exclaimed Emmie.

"Very dreadful indeed," said her father. "The shock of witnessing Mr.
Myers' sufferings (he died in frantic delirium) almost upset the reason
of his unfortunate wife. She fell into a state of morbid melancholy,
making an idol of her grief. From the day of her husband's funeral to
that of her own death, a period of fifty years, my poor aunt never once
quitted the house, even to attend a place of worship."

"The most singular and eccentric mark of the widow's sorrow was her
determination that the room in which her husband died should always
remain as it was on the day of his burial," said Bruce. "Aunt Myers had
the shutters closed, and the door not only locked, but actually bricked
up, so that no foot might ever enter or eye look on the apartment
connected in her mind with associations so painful. It is merely that
closed-up chamber which gives to the house the name of being haunted."

"The sooner it is opened to heaven's light and air the better," observed
Captain Arrows. "Let the first thing done in that house be to unbrick
and unlock the door, fling back shutters and throw open windows, and the
first time that I visit Myst Court let me sleep in the haunted chamber."

"I am afraid that I have not the power either to follow your advice or
to gratify your wish," said Mr. Trevor. "My poor aunt, retaining her
strange fancy to the last, actually--in a codicil to her will--made as a
condition to my possession of the place that the room in which her
husband died should remain as it is now, bricked up and unused."

"That condition would add not a little to the difficulty of letting or
selling the house," observed the practical Bruce.

"It appears to be a law of nature that whatever is useless becomes
actually noxious," remarked the captain. "That closed chamber, into
which the sun never shines, will tend to make the dwelling less healthy,
as well as less cheerful."

Again Emmie breathed a faint sigh.

"And now we return to my proposition," said Mr. Trevor gravely. "Shall I
remain where I am, and put this large property into the hands of some
agent to let or improve as he may,--with but little chance of its
becoming of much more than nominal value; or shall I give up my office,
take the pension to which I am now entitled, live on my own estate, look
after my tenants, and gradually effect such improvements as may make the
land profitable, if not to myself, to my heirs?"

"What does Bruce, who has seen the property, say on the question?" asked
the captain, turning towards his elder nephew.

Bruce replied alike without haste or hesitation. "If my father leave his
office in London, there are at least twenty persons ready and eager to
fill his place, and to do his work; but there is not one who could be
his substitute at Myst Court. It is the master's eye that is wanted
there, not that of a paid agent."

Young as was Bruce, his words carried weight with his father. Mr.
Trevor's elder son in most points presented a contrast to Vibert; as
regarded ripeness of judgment, the fifteen months that separated their
ages might have been as many years. In physical appearance the brothers
were also unlike each other. Bruce, though older, was not so tall as
Vibert; his frame was spare and slight. He had not, like Emmie and his
brother, inherited their mother's beauty. The good sense expressed in
his steady gray eyes, the decision marked in the curve of his lip, alone
redeemed the countenance of Bruce from being of a commonplace type. The
characteristics of the three Trevors had been thus playfully sketched by
a lively girl who was a frequent guest at Summer Villa: "If I want
amusement, I choose Vibert for my companion; if I need sympathy, I turn
to Emmie; but if I am in difficulty or danger, commend me to Bruce, he
has the cool brain and firm heart. I like Vibert; I love Emmie; but
Bruce is the one whom I trust."

A brief silence succeeded the young man's reply to his father; it was
broken by Vibert's inquiry, "What sort of a town is S----?"

"Like any other county town," replied Bruce shortly. The question seemed
to him to be trifling, and irrelevant to the subject of conversation.

"S---- seemed to me to be a pleasant, cheerful place," said the more
indulgent father.

"And I suppose that fishing and shooting are to be had at Myst Court?"
inquired the youth.

"A stream runs through part of the property, and there is likely to be
plenty of game in the copse," replied Mr. Trevor.

"Then I vote that we go to Myst Court!" cried Vibert.

"The only thing which makes me hesitate in coming to a decision,"
observed Mr. Trevor, "is the doubt as to whether my dear girl would like
being taken from her present bright home. Emmie has here so many sources
of innocent amusement, so many young friends and pleasant companions,
that it might be trying for her to be transplanted to a place which I
cannot now represent as a cheerful abode, though I hope that it in time
may become such." Mr. Trevor, as he spoke, looked tenderly on his
daughter, and pressed the hand which he held in his own.

"Oh, papa, do not think about me; I shall have you and my brothers,"
said Emmie. It did not escape the notice of Arrows that his niece spoke
with a little effort, and that her lip quivered as she uttered the

"You shall have a pony-chaise, too," said her father; "it will be
needed to carry you to church on Sundays, and on week-days you shall
drive about the country, explore the neighbourhood, or indulge a lady's
taste by shopping in S----."

"And carry us back from our tutor's," interrupted Vibert; "for I suppose
that a hansom is not to be got for love or money; and I've no fancy for
trudging six miles every day, like a horse in a mill."

By the time that the dressing-bell rang before dinner, the question of
removing to Wiltshire was virtually settled. Emmie was too unselfish and
high-principled to oppose a decision which approved itself both to her
common sense and her conscience. She tried to hide from her father her
strong repugnance to leaving Summer Villa, its pleasant associations and
friendly society, in order to bury herself alive in a grand, gloomy
house, quite out of repair, and with the name of being haunted besides.



The topic which excited such interest in the drawing-room was certain to
be eagerly discussed in the kitchen also. At the servants' supper-table
that night nothing was talked about but Myst Hall, and the probability
of the Trevor family leaving Summer Villa to settle in Wiltshire.

"I'm certain that there will be a grand move soon, from what I heard
while I was waiting at table," said John the footman. "I mean to give
warning to-morrow," he added, shrugging his shoulders.

"You had better do nothing in a hurry," observed Susan Pearl, a
sensible, pleasant-looking woman, who had been Emmie's attendant when
she was a child, and who acted as her lady's-maid now. "You may find
that second thoughts are best, when the matter in question is throwing
up a good place."

"Then master had better have his second thoughts too," observed John, as
he stretched out his hand for the walnut pickle. "A week of Myst Court
was quite enough for me, I assure you. If you were to see how the mortar
is starting from the brickwork, how the plaster is peeling from the
ceilings, and how the furniture is faded; if you were to hear the
windows shaking and rattling as if they had a fit of the ague, the
boards creaking, and the long passages echoing, you would think any
sensible man well out of so dreary a prison."

"Plaster and paint can be put on anew, a carpet deadens echoes, and
curtains keep out draughts. As for windows rattling, a peg will stop
that," observed Susan, who was not easily daunted.

"Outside the house it's as bad as within," pursued John. "The drive is
green with moss and grass, and the piece of water with duckweed; the
trees grow so thick together that you can't see ten yards before you;
and your ears are dinned with the cawing of rooks."

"Weeding and clearing will do wonders," said Susan; "if Miss Emmie were
set in a coal-yard, she would manage to make flowers grow there."

"Are there good shops near?" inquired Ann, the housemaid, who wore a cap
of the newest pattern, trimmed with the gayest of ribbons.

"Shops!" echoed John, as if amazed at the question. "Why, the very baker
and grocer have to come in their carts from S----, and there's nothing
like a gentleman's house within several miles of Myst Court."

"I'll give warning to-morrow," said Ann. "As well be transported at
once, as go to such a heathenish out-of-the-way place as that is!"

"I suppose that Myst Court is overrun with rats and mice," observed
Mullins the cook.

"Not a bit of it," answered John, laughing. "Thieving rats and mice
would have had a hard life of it with old Mrs. Myers' nine and thirty
cats and kittens to serve as a rural police."

"La, John, you're joking! nine and thirty!" exclaimed the women-servants
in a breath.

"I'm not joking," replied the footman; "I counted them,--black, white,
gray, and tabby, long hair and short hair, blue eyes and green eyes!
Mrs. Myers cared a deal more for her cats than she did for her tenants'
children. No, no, the rats and mice would find no safe corner in that
big old house, unless in the shut-up, haunted chamber."

Whenever these last two words were pronounced, curiosity was certain to
be roused, and questioning to follow. Three voices now spoke at once.

"Do you think that the place is really haunted?"

"Did you see any ghosts?"

"What do the servants say about that chamber?"

The last question, which was Susan's, was that to which John gave reply.

"The cook and the housemaid at Myst Court say that for certain they've
heard odd noises, a sighing, and a rattling, and a howling o' nights,"
said the footman, looking as mysterious as his plump, well-fed face
would allow him to do.

"On windy nights, I suppose," said the sensible Susan. "I've heard a
sighing, and a rattling, and a howling even here in Summer Villa."

"Let him tell us more!" cried Ann impatiently, for John's countenance
showed that he had a great deal more to impart. The footman prefaced his
tale by deliberately laying down his knife and fork, though cold beef
lay still on his plate; this was a token that honest John was indeed in
solemn earnest. He began in a lowered tone, while every head was bent
forward to listen:--

"Mrs. Jael Jessel, the old lady's attendant, told me that she had twice
passed a ghost in the corridor, and once on the stairs. It was a tall
figure in white,--at least seven feet high,--and it had great round eyes
like carriage-lamps staring upon her."

Ann and the cook uttered exclamations, and exchanged glances of horror;
but Susan quietly remarked, "If Mrs. Jessel really saw such a sight
once, she was a stout-hearted woman to stay to see it a second time, and
a third. Did this brave lady's-maid look much the worse for meeting her

"No," replied John, a little taken aback by the question. "Mrs. Jessel
is a stout, comfortable-looking person. I suppose that she got used to
seeing odd sights."

Susan burst into a merry laugh. "John, John," she cried, "this Mrs.
Jessel has been taking a rise out of you. She saw that you were soft,
and wanted to make an impression." Susan was helping herself to butter,
which, perhaps, supplied her with the simile of which she made use.

"Mrs. Jessel did not stay at Myst Court for nothing," said John, who,
possibly, wished to give a turn to the conversation; "she had not waited
on Mrs. Myers for more than three years, yet the old lady left her five
hundred pounds, a nice little furnished house just outside the Myst
woods, and all the cats and kittens, which she could not trust to the
care of strangers."

"It was made worth her while to live in a haunted house," observed Ann.

"I thought at first," continued John, who had taken up his knife and
fork, and was using them to good purpose,--"I thought at first that I
might as well put my best foot forward, for that it would be no bad
thing to have a wife with five hundred pounds and a house to start with;
and," he added slyly, "with such a live-stock to boot, one might have
done a little business in the furrier's line. But--"

"But, but,--speak out!" cried Ann with impatience; "what comes after the

"Somehow I didn't take to Mrs. Jessel," said John, "and shouldn't have
cared to have married her, had the five hundred pounds been five
thousand instead."

"What's against her?" inquired the cook.

"Nothing that I know of," said John; "but when you see her, you'll
understand what I mean."

"I'll not see her; I'm not going to Myst Court; I could not abide being
so far from London," observed the cook.

"I shall give miss warning to-morrow!" cried Ann.

"And what will you do?" inquired John of Susan.

"Stay by the family, to be sure," was the answer. "Would I leave my
young lady now, just when her heart is heavy? for heavy it is, I am
certain of that. While she was dressing for dinner, Miss Emmie could
hardly keep in her tears. It is no pleasure to her to leave a home like
Summer Villa, where she has nothing to cross her, and everything to
please. There's not a day but Miss Alice, or some other friend, comes
dropping in to see her; nor a week that passes without some sight or
amusement in London. At the age of nineteen, a young lady like Miss
Trevor does not willingly leave such a pleasant place as this for a
dreary, deserted old country-house."

"Poor miss! I pity her from my soul!" cried Ann.

"With a pity that would leave her to see none but new faces in her
household!" said the indignant Susan. "No; I'll stick by my young lady
through thick and thin, were she to go to the middle of Africa. I've
been with her these ten years, ever since she lost her poor mother, and
I will not desert her now."

"You don't believe in ghosts," observed John.

"I believe my Bible," replied Susan gravely; "I read there that I have a
Maker far too wise and good to allow His servants to be troubled by
visitors from another world. This ghost-fearing is all of a piece with
fortune-telling, and spirit-rapping, and all such follies, after which
weak-brained people run. Simple faith in God turns out faith in such
nonsense, as daylight puts an end to darkness."

Susan was not laughed at for her little lecture as ten years before she
might have been. Her long period of service and her tried character had
given her influence, and won for her that respect which a consistent
life secures even from the worldly. Her fellow-servants felt somewhat
ashamed of their own credulous folly.

"I'm not a bit afraid of ghosts," said Ann; "but I don't choose to mope
in the country."

"I don't care a rap for a house being haunted; but I mean to better
myself," said the cook.

"Do you think, John, that the young gentlemen will like Myst Court?"
inquired Susan.

"I think Master Bruce has a purpose and a plan in his head; and when he
has a purpose and a plan, it's his way to go right on, steady and
straight, and none can say whether he likes or don't like what he's
a-doing," answered the footman. "When he looked over the house, it
wasn't to say how bad things were, but to see how things could be
bettered. He has a lot o' common sense, has Master Bruce; I believe that
he'll make himself happy after his fashion, and that ghosts, if there be
any, will take care to keep out of his way."

"He'd see through them," said Susan, laughing.

"As for Master Vibert," continued John, "if he has plenty of amusement,
he'll not trouble his head about ghost or goblin. He's a light-hearted
chap is Master Vibert, and a bit giddy, I take it. Perhaps his father
ain't sorry to have him a bit further off from London than he is here in
Summer Villa."

"The one for whom I feel sorry is my young lady," said Susan. "She'll
not take a gun or a fishing-rod like her brothers, and--"

"She'll be mortally afraid of ghosts," cried Ann.

"She's timid as a hare," observed John.

"If miss screams when a puppy-dog barks at her, and hides her face under
her bed-clothes if there's a peal o' thunder, how will she face ghosts
ten feet high, with eyes like carriage-lamps?" cried the cook.

Susan looked annoyed and almost angry at hearing her mistress spoken of
thus. "Miss Emmie is nervous and not very strong, so she is easily
startled," said the maid; "but she is as good a Christian as lives, and
will not, I hope, give way to any idle fancies and fears such as trouble
folk who are afraid of their own shadows. I should not, however, wonder
if she find Myst Court very dull."

"She'd better take to amusing herself by looking after the poor folk
around her," observed the cook. "From what you've told us, John, I take
it there's company enough of bare-legged brats and ragged babies."

"Miss Emmie is mighty afraid of infection," said John, doubtfully
shaking his head. "She has never let me call a four-wheeler for her in
London since small-pox has been going about. Miss will cross to the
other side of the road if she sees a child with a spot on its face. No,
no; she'll never venture to set so much as her foot in one of them dirty
hovels that I saw down there in Wiltshire."

"'Tain't fit as she should," observed Ann. "Why should ladies demean
themselves by going amongst dirty beggarly folk?"

"To help them out of their misery," said Susan. "In the place where I
lived before I came here, I saw my mistress, and the young ladies
besides, take delight in visiting the poor. They thought that it no more
demeaned them to enter a cottage than to enter a church; the rich and
the poor meet together in both."

"Miss Emmie is too good to be proud," observed John; "but, take my word
for it, she'll never muster up courage to go within ten yards of a
cottage. Kind things she'll say, ay, and do; for she has the kindest
heart in the world. But she'll send you, Susan, with her baskets of
groceries and bundles of cast-off clothes; she'll not hunt up cases
herself. Miss would shrink from bad smells; she'd faint at the sight of
a sore. She'll not dirty her fine muslin dresses, or run the risk of
catching fevers, or may be the plague, by visiting the poor."

"Time will show," observed Susan. But from her knowledge of the
disposition of her young lady, the faithful attendant was not without
her misgivings upon the subject.



The question of a move was finally settled; Myst Court was to be the
future residence of its new owner, who lost no time in making
arrangements for effecting in it such repairs as were absolutely
necessary to make it a tolerably comfortable dwelling. More than this
Mr. Trevor did not at present attempt; his expenses, he knew, would be
heavy. His newly-inherited property would yield no immediate supply;
improvements must be gradually made. The life of a landed proprietor was
one altogether new to Mr. Trevor, who had passed thirty years of his
life in a government office, never being more than a few weeks at a time
absent from London. Being a sensible man, he was aware that experience
on a hitherto untried path is often dearly bought. He expected to make
some mistakes, but resolved to act with such prudence that even mistakes
should not involve him in serious difficulties.

The six weeks which elapsed before the departure of the family from
Summer Villa were full of business and arrangements. Mr. Trevor, having
to wind up his office-work, and settle the affairs of his late aunt,
was, except in the evenings, very little at home. Emmie, who acted as
her father's housekeeper, found a hundred small matters to arrange
before making a move which must bring so complete a change. Her brothers
attended a private tutor in London, and usually went and returned by the
same trains as their father; so that, but for the company of her uncle,
Emmie would have spent much of her time alone. But the captain was a
cheerful companion and a most efficient helper to his young niece. He
made up her accounts, he paid her bills, he helped her to decide which
articles of furniture must be taken to the new home, which left to be
sold or given away. The slow-paced John was astonished at the energy
with which the naval officer would mount a ladder, and with his own
hands take down family pictures and swathe them in the matting which was
to secure their safe transit to Wiltshire.

"Sure the captain does the work of three. One would think he'd been
'prenticed to a carpenter by the way he handles the tools; and he runs
up a ladder like a cat," observed John to another member of the

Captain Arrows felt strong sympathy for his niece. He saw, perhaps more
clearly than did any one else, how painful to her was the change which
was coming over her life. Her uncle respected Emmie's unselfish efforts
to hide from her father her reluctance to leave Summer Villa and all its
pleasant surroundings. Arrows noticed the shade of sadness on Emmie's
fair face when she received, as she frequently did, congratulations on
her father's accession to property. The acute observer could not fail to
see that the acquisition of Myst Court was no source of pride or
pleasure to Emmie.

Miss Trevor was perpetually reminded of her approaching departure from
the home in which her life had been so much like a summer holiday. Many
visits of leave-taking had to be paid, and few could be paid without
more or less of pain. Emmie had numerous friends, and to some she could
not bid farewell without a sharp pang of regret. Even inanimate things,
dear from association, were resigned with sadness. Emmie sighed to take
leave of her garden, and spent much time in procuring cuttings from her
favourite plants, her geraniums, her fuchsias, her myrtles. With what
pleasant memories were those flowers connected in the affectionate mind
of Emmie! Summer Villa and her friends seemed dearer than ever when she
was about to leave them behind.

Next to the captain, Emmie found her best helper in Susan. Active,
thoughtful, the neatest of packers, the most intelligent of maids, Susan
was indeed "a treasure" to her young mistress.

"You seem to like the change," said the cook to Susan, who was humming
cheerfully to herself as she knelt beside a hamper which she was packing
with china.

Susan did not pause to look up from her work as she answered, "I never
ask myself whether I like it or not; my business is to make ready for
it, and that is enough for me."

"How dismal a house looks when everything in it is being pulled down and
upset!" remarked the cook, standing with her back to the wall, and
watching Susan as she imbedded quaint old china tea-pot and cream-jug in
white cotton wool as carefully as she might have laid a baby in a
cradle. "The hall all lumbered with luggage; the whole place smelling of
matting; things awanted just when they've been packed up, corded, and
labelled; the walls looking without their pictures as faces would do
without eyes,--there is something horrid uncomfortable about a house as
has been long lived in when it's agoing to be left for good. I'm half
sorry that I agreed to stay on the extra fortnight; only it was such a
convenience to the family. I don't know what they'd have done had Ann
and I taken ourselves off before the move was fairly over."

Susan went quietly on with her occupation, while Mrs. Mullins went on
with her talking.

"P'r'aps master did wisely to keep on Mrs. Myers' servants, for he'd
hardly have got London folk to stay in his dismal country house, even on
double wages. We'll have you at the Soho registry before three months
are over."

"Time will show," said Susan.

"Them people down at Myst Court are accustomed to the kind of life they
lead there," continued the loquacious Mrs. Mullins, "and that's the
reason they don't mind it. Frogs like their ditch because they've never
known anything better; and I suppose that folk in a haunted house get
used to ghosts, as eels are used to skinning."

"Or learn not to be frightened at shadows," said Susan.

"I'm not frightened; don't you fancy that shadows keep me from going to
Myst Court," cried the cook. "But I could never stand a place where the
butcher--as John says--comes but twice a week in the winter; no cook
could abide that."

"It seems that Mrs. Myers' cook did," observed Susan.

"She's no cook!" exclaimed Mrs. Mullins, with an emphatic snort of
disdain: "she's had nothing to keep her hand in, and don't know a
_vol-au-vent_ from a _soufflet_! Why, Mrs. Myers never saw company,
never asked a friend to a meal! John says that for five days out of the
seven the old lady dined on mutton-broth, and the other two on
barley-gruel! John told me that he could hardly touch the dinners which
Hannah prepared; he is used to have things so very different," added
Mrs. Mullins with professional pride.

"If Hannah's cooking satisfied master and his son, John might have been
satisfied too," observed Susan.

"Oh, Mr. Trevor is never partic'lar about his food; and as for Master
Bruce, John says that he was so much taken up about arrangements, and
alterations, and improvements, that he would not have noticed if the
stew had been made of old shoes. But Master Vibert, he's not so easily
pleased; he likes his dainty bits, his sauces, and his sweeties; there
is some satisfaction in dishing up a dinner for him! He'll soon find out
that this Hannah knows just as much of cooking as I do of cow-milking,
and there will be a worrit in the house." Mrs. Mullins folded her hands
complacently at the thought of how much her own valuable services would
be regretted, and then inquired, in an altered tone, "Is the captain
going to Myst Court with the rest of the party?"

"No; I am sorry to say that the captain leaves this to-morrow," said
Susan. "He is before long to start on another cruise, and as he has much
business to do in the docks, he needs to stop for awhile in London. The
carriage which takes the captain away is to drop Miss Emmie at the house
of her friend, Miss Alice, to whom she wishes to say good-bye. My poor
dear young lady! every day brings its good-bye to her now. It will be
well when Friday comes, and the move to Myst Court is fairly over."

"I'd never go into a new house on a Friday; it's unlucky," observed Mrs.
Mullins, as she turned away and went off to the kitchen.



November has come with nights of drizzle and mornings of fog. The
dreariness of the weather without adds to the sense of discomfort within
the half-dismantled house. The carpet has been taken from the staircase,
and the old family clock no longer is heard striking the hours. The
drawing-room is much changed in appearance from what it was when the
reader was first introduced into the Trevors' cheerful abode. It is
evening, and the family are sitting together, with the exception of the
master of the house, who is busy in his study with lawyers' papers and
parchment deeds before him. The light of the drawing-room lamp falls on
a scanty amount of furniture; for sofa, arm-chair, and piano have all
been packed up for removal to the new home. No ornament of china, no
graceful vase relieves the bareness of the white mantelpiece; the mirror
has been taken away, no trace remains of pictures except square marks
on the wall. The guitar has vanished from view; the globe of gold-fish
is now the property of a friend; the ferns have been sent to the
greenhouse of an aunt in Grosvenor Square.

Emmie sits at the table with her lace-work beside her, but her needle is
idle. Bruce, the most actively occupied of the party, is drawing plans
of cottages, and jotting down in his note-book estimates of expenses.
The captain has a book in his hand, but makes slow progress with its
contents. Vibert is glancing over a number of _Punch_. The party have
been for the last ten minutes so silent that the pattering of the
November rain on the window-panes is distinctly heard.

"I hope that we shall not have such weather as this when we go to our
new home," said Vibert, as with a yawn he threw down his paper. "The
place will need at least sunshine to make it look a degree more lively
than a lunatic asylum. 'Tis lucky that our queer old great-aunt did not
take it into her head to paint the house black, inside and outside, and
put in her will that it must remain so, as a compliment to her husband,
who has been dead for the last fifty years. Fancy bricking up the best

"Such an act proves that Mrs. Myers was in a very morbid state of mind,"
said the captain.

"What a misfortune!" observed Emmie.

"Misfortune! I should rather call it weakness--absurdity," said Bruce,
sternly glancing up from his drawing.

"I should call it a sin, a downright sin," cried Vibert. "Such a shame
it is to make what might have been a jolly country-house into a sort of
rural Newgate! I'm afraid that even our best friends will not care to
visit us there. Why, I asked pretty little Alice to-day whether she were
coming to brighten us up at Christmas, and she actually answered that
she was rather afraid of haunted houses, especially on dark winter

Bruce smiled a little disdainfully; and the captain suggested that
perhaps the fair lady was jesting.

"Not a bit of it," answered Vibert; "Alice was as much in earnest as
were all our servants when they gave us warning, because not one of them
but plucky Susan would go to Myst Court. Why, I'd bet that Emmie herself
is shivery-shakery at the idea of the house being haunted, and that
she'll not care to walk at night along the passages lest she should meet
some tall figure in white."

Emmie coloured, and looked so uncomfortable, that her uncle, who noticed
her embarrassment, effected a diversion in her favour by giving a turn
to the conversation.

"I have been tracing a parallel in my mind," he observed, "between the
human soul and the so-called haunted dwelling. Most persons have in the
deepest recess of the spiritual man some secret chamber, where prejudice
shuts out the light, where self-deception bricks up the door. Into this
chamber the possessor himself in some cases never enters to search out
and expel the besetting sin, which, unrecognized, perhaps lurks there in
the darkness."

"You speak of our hearts?" asked Emmie.

"I do," replied her uncle. "It is my belief that not one person in ten
thousand knows the ins and outs, the dark corners, the hidden chambers,
of that which he bears in his own bosom."

"Every Christian must," said Bruce; "for every Christian is bound to
practise the duty of self-examination."

"I hope that you don't call every one who does not practise it a heathen
or a Turk," cried Vibert. "All that dreadful hunting up of petty
peccadilloes, and confessing a string of them at once, is, at least to
my notion, only fit work for hermits and monks!"

"We are not talking about confession, but simply about self-knowledge,"
observed the captain.

"Oh, where ignorance is bliss," began Vibert gaily; but his brother cut
short the misapplied quotation with the remark, "Ignorance of ourselves
must be folly."

Vibert took up again the comic paper which he had laid down, and
pretended to re-examine the pictures. But for the captain's presence the
youth would have begun to whistle, to show how little he cared for
Bruce's implied rebuke; for, as Vibert had often told Emmie, he had no
notion of being "put down" by his brother.

"Do you think it easy to acquire self-knowledge?" asked Arrows, fixing
his penetrating glance upon Bruce, who met it with the calm steadiness
which was characteristic of the young man.

"Like any other kind of knowledge, it requires some study," replied
Bruce Trevor; "but it is not more difficult to acquire than those other
kinds of knowledge would be."

"In that you come to a different conclusion from that of the writer of
this book," observed Arrows; and he read aloud the following lines from
Dr. Goulburn's "Thoughts on Personal Religion," the volume which he held
in his hand:--

"'One of the first properties of the bosom sin with which it behoves us
to be well acquainted, as our first step in the management of our
spiritual warfare, is its property of concealing itself. In consequence
of this property, it often happens that a man, when touched in his weak
point, answers that whatever other faults he may have, this fault, at
least, is no part of his character.'"

The captain read the quotation so emphatically that Vibert again threw
down his paper, and listened whilst Arrows thus went on:--

"'This circumstance, then, may furnish us with a clue to the discovery:
of whatever fault you feel that, if accused of it, you would be stung
and nettled by the apparent injustice of the charge, suspect yourself of
that fault, in that quarter very probably lies the black spot of the
bosom sin. If the skin is in any part sensitive to pressure, there is
probably mischief below the surface.'"

"I doubt that the author is right," observed Bruce. "Besetting sins
cannot hide themselves thus from those who honestly search their own

"Perhaps some search all but the haunted chamber," suggested Vibert.
Captain Arrows smiled assent to the observation.

"By way of throwing light on the question," said he, "suppose that each
of you were to set down in writing what you suppose to be your besetting
sin; and that I--who have watched your characters from your
childhood--should also put down on paper what I believe to be the bosom
temptation of each. Is it likely that your papers and mine would agree;
that the same 'black spot' would be touched by your hands and mine; that
we should point out the same identical fault as the one which most
easily and frequently besets the soul of each of you three?"

"It would be curious to compare the two papers," cried Vibert. "I wish,
captain, that you really would write down what you think of us all. It
would be like consulting a phrenological professor, without the need of
having a stranger's fingers reading off our characters from the bumps on
our heads."

"I am not speaking of the whole character, but of the one sin that most
easily besets," said the captain. "Would a close observer's view of its
nature agree with that held by the person within whose heart it might

"Perhaps not," said Bruce, after a pause for reflection. "But the person
beset by the sin would know more about its existence than the most acute
observer, who could judge but by outward signs."

"That is the very point on which we differ," remarked Captain Arrows.
"The property of the bosom sin is to conceal itself, but only from him
to whom the knowledge of its presence would be of the highest
importance. I should be half afraid," the captain added with a smile,
"to tell even my nephews and niece what I thought the besetting sin of
each, lest they should be 'stung and nettled by the apparent injustice
of the charge,' and feel, though they might not say it aloud, that
'whatever other faults they may have, this fault, at least, forms no
part of the character in question.'"

The captain's hearers looked surprised at his words. Vibert burst out
laughing. "You must think us a desperately bad lot!" cried he.

"Uncle, I wish that you would write down what you think is the besetting
sin of each of us," said Emmie, "and give the little paper quietly to
the person whom it concerns, not, of course, to be read by any one else.
I am sure that I would not be offended by anything you would write, and
it might do me good to know what you believe to be my greatest

"As you are going away to-morrow, you would escape the rage and fury of
the indignant Emmie, however 'stung and nettled' she might be!" laughed
Vibert Trevor. "Now, Bruce," added the youth sarcastically, "would you
not like the captain to inform you confidentially what he considers the
tiny 'black spot' in your almost perfect character?"

"I have no objection to my uncle's writing down what he chooses,"
replied Bruce coldly. "All that I keep to is this,--neither he nor any
other man living can tell me a fact regarding my own character which I
have not known perfectly well before."

"Were I to agree to write down my impressions, it would be to induce you
all to give the subject serious reflection," observed the captain. "It
matters little whether I am or am not correct in my conclusions; but it
is of great importance that no one should be deceived regarding himself.
I wish to lead you to think."

"Oh, I'll not engage to do that! I hate thinking; it's a bore!" cried
Vibert gaily. "I know I'm a thoughtless dog,--ah, I've hit the 'black
spot' quite unawares! Thoughtlessness is my besetting sin!"

"My difficulty would be to single out one amongst my many faults," said

"Now that is humbug; you know that it is!" exclaimed her youngest
brother. "You have no fault at all, except the fault of being a great
deal too good. I should like you better if you were as lively and larky
as Alice!"

"Saucy boy!" said Emmie, and she smiled.

"But, captain," continued Vibert, addressing himself to his uncle,
"though we are willing enough to read what you write, we won't be driven
to anything in the shape of confession. You may tell us what is your
notion of what lurks in our haunted rooms, but we won't invite you in
and say, 'Behold there's my besetting sin!'"

"I want no confessions," said Captain Arrows. "I repeat that my only
object is to induce you to pull down your brickwork, draw back your
curtains, and search for yourselves; or, to drop metaphor and speak in
plain words, to lead you to make the discovery of the weakest point in
your respective characters the subject of candid investigation and
serious thought."

And to a certain degree this desired result was obtained. Though Vibert
laughed, and Bruce looked indifferent, to their minds, as well as to
that of their sister, the subject of self-knowledge recurred at
different parts of the evening.

"I don't suppose that the captain can look further through a mill-stone
than can any one else," thought Vibert; "yet he has uncommonly sharp
eyes, and is always on the watch. No doubt he learned that habit at sea.
I am glad that he can detect some fault in Master Bruce, who is a kind
of pope in our house, though I, for one, don't believe in his
infallibility. I wonder on what my uncle will fix as the bad spirit in
my haunted room. I should say--let me think--I have never thought about
the matter before. Well, I don't take to religion as earnestly as do
papa and my elder brother and sister. I don't go twice to church on
Sundays, nor--if the truth must be owned--do I pay much attention to the
service whilst I am there. I'd rather any day read a novel than a
serious book. I believe that's the worst I can say of myself. The
captain would call that--let me see--would he call that irreligion? No,
no; that name is too hard. I'm thoughtless, I own, but certainly not
irreligious. Impiety? Why, that is worse still! I do not pretend to be
in the least _pious_, but still I'd be ready to knock down any fellow
who called me the reverse. I'm something between the two poles. Levity?
Ah, that's the word, the precise word to describe my besetting sin, if
one can call mere levity a sin. I am no man's enemy but my own; and not
my own enemy either, for I spare and indulge myself in every way that I
can. Levity may be a fault at sixty, but it's no fault at all at
sixteen. I should decidedly object to be as sober as Bruce. He goes on
his way like a steady old coach, while I am like a bicycle,"--Vibert
laughed to himself as the simile occurred to his fancy. "A bicycle is
quick, light, not made to carry much luggage, and a little given to
coming to smash! Yes, I skim the world like a bicycle, and levity is my
worst fault!" Yawning after the unusual effort of even such cursory
self-examination, Vibert now set his thoughts free to ramble in any
direction, satisfied that nothing of a serious nature could be laid to
his charge.

"It is strange that my uncle should imagine that he can penetrate the
recesses of the heart of another," such was the reflection of Bruce, as,
candle in hand, he mounted the staircase that night. "Captain Arrows can
but judge of my character by my outward conduct, and he can have seen
but little to find fault with in that. I own--and with regret--that in
many points I fail in my duty towards my Maker; but that is a secret
between my conscience and God,--a secret which no man can penetrate, and
with which no man has a right to meddle. Yet it is evident that my uncle
has detected some visible error, whatever that error may be. I am aware
that I have a defective temper, but I have lately been gaining some
control over that which Calvin called an 'unruly beast.' I may, indeed,
have betrayed some impatience in my manner towards Vibert in the
presence of my critical uncle," thus flowed on the reflections of Bruce
as he entered his room, and closed the door behind him. "I now remember
my uncle's remarking to me that I might have more influence with my
brother if I showed him greater indulgence. But who can have patience
with Vibert's follies?" Bruce set down his candle, and threw himself on
a chair. "Vibert has been a spoilt child from his cradle, and now, when
nearly seventeen years of age, is no better than a spoilt child still!
Our poor dear mother made her youngest-born almost an idol; my father is
blind to his faults; Emmie pets and humours him to the top of his bent;
and all the world does the same. Vibert is admired, courted, and
welcomed wherever he goes, because, forsooth, his face is what girls
call handsome, and he can rattle off any amount of nonsense to please
them. Vibert does not mind playing the fool, and he plays it to the
life!" Bruce paused, and conscience gave a low note of warning to the
elder brother. "I am, I fear, harsh in my judgment. Want of charity,
that is perhaps my besetting sin. I am too quick to perceive the faults
and follies of others. That is a quality, however, which is not without
its advantages in a world such as this. I am not easily taken in; mere
veneer and gilding will not deceive my eye. I cannot be blind, if I wish
it, either to my own faults or to those of others." Bruce thought that
he knew himself thoroughly, and that there was no haunted room in his
heart which he had not boldly explored.

Emmie Trevor had her heart-searchings as she sat silent before her
mirror, while Susan brushed out the long glossy tresses of her young
mistress's hair.

"I would fain know what my dear uncle regards as my besetting sin,"
mused the gentle girl. "I was so foolish as almost to fancy that one so
loving and partial as he is would not notice my faults, and I am still
more foolish in feeling a little mortified on finding that I was
mistaken in this. What defect in my character is most likely to have
struck so acute an observer? My uncle cannot possibly know how often my
thoughts wander in prayer; how cold and ungrateful I sometimes am even
towards Him whom I yet truly love and adore. It is something in my
outward behaviour that must have displeased my uncle. Is it vanity?"
Emmie raised her eyes to her mirror, and had certainly no reason to be
dissatisfied with the face which she saw reflected in the glass. "Yes, I
fear that I am vain; I do think myself pretty, and I cannot help knowing
that I sing well,--I have been told that so often. Then I have certainly
love of approbation; my uncle may have detected that, for it is so sweet
to me to be admired and praised by those whom I love,--and perhaps by
others also. This vanity and love of approbation may lead to jealousy, a
very decided sin. Did I not feel some slight vexation even at Vibert's
playful words about Alice, his wish that I were more like that gay,
giddy girl? I find Alice nice enough as a companion, but would certainly
never set her up as a model. I am afraid,"--thus Emmie pursued the
current of her reflections,--"I am afraid that I might be haunted by
jealousy, if circumstances gave me any excuse for harbouring a passion
so mean, so sinful. I have often thought that for papa to marry again
would be to me such a trial. I could hardly bear that any one, even a
wife, should be dearer to him than myself. I should grieve at his doing
what might really add to his comfort; and oh! is not this selfish,
hatefully selfish? It shows that with all my love for my only remaining
parent, I care for his happiness less than my own. Certainly selfishness
is in my character; it lurks in my haunted chamber, and doubtless my
uncle has found it out! Then am I not conscious of giving way to
indolence, and harbouring self-will? There are duties which I know to be
duties, and yet from the performance of which I am always shrinking,
making excuses for my neglect such as conscience tells me are weak and
false. Truly mine is a very faulty character, yet am I given to
self-deception; the kindness and partiality of every one round me help
to blind me to my own faults, and perhaps to draw me into a little
hypocrisy, to make each 'black spot' more black."

It will be observed that Emmie was no stranger to self-examination; it
was to the maiden no new thing to commune with her heart and be still.



"You are right, Bruce; it is certainly desirable for you to go down to
Wiltshire to-day to make any needful arrangements, and prepare for our
arrival to-morrow," said Mr. Trevor to his son on the following morning,
when the family were at the breakfast-table. "New servants will need
verbal directions; and you will see to the unpacking of the furniture
which I have sent down from this place, and to the most suitable
disposal of it in the several rooms of Myst Court." The gentleman rolled
up his breakfast-napkin, and slipped it into its ring. "Your train
starts at 10.30," he added, as he rose from his seat.

"Is Vibert to go with me?" inquired Bruce, glancing at his brother, who
had, as usual, come down late, and was still engaged with his anchovies
and muffin.

"I do not think that Vibert would give you much help," observed Mr.

"No help at all," exclaimed Vibert quickly. "It may be just in Bruce's
line to order and direct, see that there are enough of pots and pans in
the kitchen, meat in the larder, and fires all over the house; but as
for me--"

"You think it enough to eat the food and enjoy the fire," observed the
captain drily.

"And I positively must go to Albert Hall to-night; the Nairns have asked
me to make one of their party, and I really could not disappoint them,"
continued Vibert. "It is quite necessary that I should have a little
amusement before going to bury myself in the wilds of Wiltshire. As
Moore the poet sings,--

                'To-night at least, to-night be gay,
                Whate'er to-morrow brings!'"

"That's fair enough," observed the indulgent father.

Bruce exchanged a glance with his uncle which conveyed the unuttered
thought of both: "It is scarcely fair that one brother should have all
the trouble and the other all the amusement." Vibert noticed the look,
and laughed.

"Duty first--pleasure afterwards--that's the motto taught to all good
little children!" he cried. "Bruce, you are the elder, and like to be
first, so you naturally pair off with duty, whilst I am modest enough
to be quite contented with pleasure."

Mr. Trevor smiled at the jest, though he shook his bald head in gentle
reproof. Then turning to his brother-in-law, he observed, "Edward, I
have an early engagement in London, and must be off to the station. I am
afraid that I shall not find you here on my return."

"I also start early," said the captain. "Emmie has ordered the
conveyance to be at the door at ten. I must therefore wish you good-bye
now, thanking you for my pleasant visit to Summer Villa, and hoping next
spring to find you all well and happy in your new home."

The brothers-in-law cordially shook hands and parted, Mr. Trevor going
off to the station, as usual, on foot.

"I say, Bruce," observed Vibert, "if you have the settling about the
rooms at Myst Court, mind that you give me a good one. I like plenty of
air and light, and a cheerful view. No poky little cabin for me, nor an
attic at the top of the house; long stairs are a terrible bore."

"I shall certainly give my first attention to the accommodation of my
father and sister," said Bruce; "they never think of themselves."

"A hit at me, I suppose," cried Vibert with unruffled good-humour. "Ah!
that reminds me of our conversation last evening. Captain, have you been
hunting up the ghosts in our haunted rooms?" asked the youth as he rose
from his place at the breakfast-table.

Arrows replied by drawing forth a memorandum-book from the pocket of his
surtout. He unclasped it, and took out from it three minute pieces of
paper, neatly folded up and addressed.

"I am going upstairs to look after my luggage," said the captain; "I
leave with you--"

"These three private and confidential communications!" cried Vibert,
playfully snatching the papers out of his uncle's hand. "Each one, I
see, is directed: here's yours, Emmie; yours, Bruce; and here is mine!"

Captain Arrows did not wait to watch the effect produced by his little
missives, but quitted the room to complete preparations for his

"I'm of a frank nature," said Vibert; "I don't care if all the world
hear my good uncle's opinion of me!" and, unfolding the scrap of paper
which he held, the youth read aloud as follows: "_Be on your guard
against the_ PRIDE _that repels advice, resents reproof, and refuses to
own a fault._ I don't recognize my likeness in this photo!" cried the
youth; "if the portrait had been intended for Bruce,"--Vibert turned
the paper and looked at the back--"sure enough, it _is_ directed to
Bruce; and the captain has hit him off to the life!"

"You made the apparent blunder on purpose," said Bruce with
ill-suppressed anger, as he took the paper from Vibert, and then threw
it into the fire. Then, after tossing down on the table the unopened
note which had been handed to him first, Bruce Trevor turned on his
heel, and quitted the apartment.

"Stung and nettled! stung and nettled! does he not wince!" cried Vibert,
looking after his brother. "The captain has, sure enough, laid his
finger on the sensitive spot!"

"I am so much vexed at your having read that private paper aloud," said
Emmie; "it was never intended that we should know its contents."

"It told us nothing new," observed Vibert. "Bruce's pride is as plain as
the nose on his face; only, like the nose, it is too close to him--too
much a part of himself, for him to see it."

"Bruce is a noble, unselfish, generous fellow!" cried Emmie.

Vibert cared little to hear his brother's praises. "What is in your tiny
paper?" he asked, after he had glanced at his own. "Why, Emmie, you look
surprised at what our uncle has written. Tell me, just tell me what
lurking mischief the sharp-eyed Mentor has ferreted out in you. Some
concealed inclination to commit burglary or manslaughter?"

"I do not quite understand what my uncle means," said Emmie, gazing
thoughtfully upon the little missive which she had opened and read.

"I could explain it--I could make it clear--just let me see what the
oracle has written!" cried Vibert, with mirth and curiosity sparkling in
his handsome dark eyes. "I'll tell you in return, Emmie, what he has put
in my scrap of paper: _Beware of Selfishness._ Short but not sweet, and
rather unjust. I am thoughtless and gay, I care not who says that much;
but as for being selfish, it's a slander, an ungenerous slander!"

"Perhaps our uncle has again laid his finger on a sensitive spot,"
observed Emmie with a smile, but one so gentle that it could not offend.

"I want to know what the fault-finder lays to your charge, what solemn
admonition has called up the roses on those fair cheeks!" cried the
younger brother; and throwing one arm round Emmie, with his other hand
Vibert possessed himself of the paper of the scarcely resisting girl,
sharing her surprise as he glanced at the two words written upon it.
Those words were--_Conquer Mistrust._

"Mistrust of what or of whom?" said Vibert. "The oracle has propounded
a kind of enigma: as you are going to take a _tête-à-tête_ drive with
the captain, you will have an opportunity of getting an explanation of
your paper. As for mine, it goes after Bruce's--into the fire." Vibert
suited the action to the word.

About half-an-hour afterwards the conveyance which was to take Captain
Arrows from Summer Villa was driven up to the door. Emmie was ready, as
arranged, to accompany her uncle part of the way. John handed up his
luggage to be disposed of on the coach-box. Vibert came to the door to
see the guest depart and bid him farewell. "I'll show him," said the
youth to himself, "that I bear him no grudge for a warning that was not
very necessary, and certainly not very polite."

"Good-bye, captain," cried Vibert, as he shook hands with his uncle;
"come to Myst Court next spring, and you and I will make a raid on the
haunted chamber."

"Where is Bruce? I have not wished him good-bye," said the captain,
pausing when he was about to hand his niece into the carriage.

"Bruce!" called the clear voice of Emmie, as she ran back to the bottom
of the staircase to let her brother know that the guest was on the point
of departing.

"Bruce!" shouted Vibert with the full strength of his lungs.

There was no reply to either summons, and Emmie suggested that her
brother might have gone out, not remembering that the carriage had been
ordered so early. After a few minutes' delay, Arrows handed her into the
carriage, with the words, "You will bid Bruce good-bye for me."

"None so deaf as those who won't hear," muttered Vibert, when the
vehicle had rolled from the door. "Bruce heard us call, but he is in a
huff, and did not choose to appear. He _repels advice, resents reproof_,
and yet won't believe that he's proud! No more, perhaps, than I believe
that I'm selfish!"



"I am so glad to have a little time for quiet conversation with you,
dear uncle," said Emmie, as the carriage in which she was seated beside
Arrows proceeded along the drive. "I want to ask you,"--she hesitated,
and her voice betrayed a little nervousness as she went on,--"what it
was that you meant when you bade me _conquer Mistrust_?"

"Let me refer you to our old favourite, the Pilgrim's Progress," replied
the captain. "In whose company did the dreamer represent Mistrust, when
he ran down the Hill of Difficulty to startle Christian with tidings of
lions in the way?"

"In the company of Timorous," said Emmie.

"And have you no acquaintance with that personage?" asked the captain.

"Oh, then you only mean that I am a little timid and nervous," said
Emmie, a good deal relieved. "That is no serious charge; you let me off
too easily."

"Not so fast, my dear child. Let us examine the allegorical personages
more closely. Timorous and Mistrust are not only found together, but
they are very closely related."

"You would not have me a Boadicea or a Joan of Arc?" asked Emmie,

"I would have you--what you are--a gentle English maiden; but I would
have you _more_ than you now are,--that is to say, a trustful Christian
maiden," replied Captain Arrows.

"Surely courage is a natural quality, which belongs to some and not to
others," observed Emmie Trevor. "Besides, if it be a virtue at all, it
is surely a man's rather than a woman's."

"Mere physical courage, such as 'seeks the bubble reputation e'en in the
cannon's mouth,' is not a Christian virtue," said the captain; "it may
be displayed by infidel or atheist. The courage which _is_ a grace, a
grace to be cultivated and prayed for, is that childlike trust in a
Father's wisdom and love, by which the feeblest woman may glorify her

"Faith in God's wisdom and love! Oh, you do not surely think that I am
so wicked as ever to doubt them! I have many faults, I know, but this
one--" Emmie stopped short, startled to find on her tongue almost the
very words which had been given as a sign that the bosom sin had been
tracked to its lurking-place.

"You remember," said Captain Arrows, "that a few days ago I listened to
your singing that fine hymn which begins with the lines,--

                  'Lord, it belongs not to my care
                     Whether I die or live.'"

"Yes," replied Emmie Trevor; "and you told me that, much as you admired
that hymn, you did not think it suited for my singing. I supposed that
you thought it too low for my voice."

"No, I thought it too high for your practice. Could it be consistently
sung by one who that morning had been in nervous terror at the scratch
of a kitten; one who owned that she would scarcely dare to nurse her
best friend through the small-pox; one who, even with my escort, could
not be persuaded to cross a field in which a few cows were grazing?"

"Oh, uncle, how can you take such trifles seriously!" cried Emmie, a
good deal hurt.

"Because I wish you to take them a little more seriously," replied
Captain Arrows. "You have hitherto regarded _unreasonable fear_ as an
innocent weakness, perhaps as something allied with feminine grace, and
not as a foe to be resisted and conquered. I see that fear is at this
time throwing a shadow over your path; that you would be happier if you
had the power wholly to cast it aside."

"I have not the power," said Emmie. The words had scarcely escaped her
lips when she wished them unspoken, for she was ashamed thus to plead
guilty to a feeling of superstitious alarm.

"Let us then trace the parentage of unreasonable fear," said Captain
Arrows. "I use the adjective advisedly. There are cases where the nerves
are so shattered by illness, or enfeebled by age, that fears come on the
mind, as fits on the body, not as a fault but as a heavy affliction.
There are also times of extreme and awful danger, such as that of the
Indian Mutiny, when faith must indeed have had a dread struggle with
fear; though even then, in the hearts of tender women, faith won the
victory still. But I am speaking of that fear which common sense would
condemn. Such fear is, must be, the offspring of mistrust, and its
effects show it to be a tempter and an enemy of the soul."

"What effects do you mean?" said Emmie.

"These three at least," answered the captain. "Unreasonable fear hinders
usefulness, destroys peace, and prevents our glorifying God."

"I do not quite see how it should do so," murmured Emmie.

"It hinders usefulness," said her uncle; "like indolence, fear is ever
seeing 'a lion in the street.' Does not fear hang like a clog on the
spirit, _making 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would,'_ even when duty to God
and mercy to man is in question?"

Arrows paused as if for a reply. Emmie gave none; her eyes were gazing
out of the carriage window on the smoky veil which hung over the great
city which they were approaching; she knew that she dared not do, what
thousands of her sex are doing, go as a child of light to carry light
into the abodes of darkness. Emmie had owned in her uncle's presence
that she was far too timid to visit the poor.

"Then fear destroys peace," continued the captain, "and I believe that
it does so to a greater extent than does any other passion which
troubles the soul, remorse only excepted. If we literally and fully
obeyed the command so often repeated in Scripture, to hope and to be not
afraid, a mountain of misery would be removed at once and cast into the
sea. If you do not mind a personal application of the subject, would
you, my dear child, feel uneasy at going to a house which is called
haunted, if you realized that God fills all space, and that you are
everywhere under His loving protection?"

Emmie still continued silent, looking out of the carriage window. Her
feelings were those of deep mortification. That she, earnestly pious as
she was, should virtually be accused of want of faith, that her
deficiency in this first requisite of religion should have been so
glaring as to have attracted the notice of a partial relative, was a
trial the more painful from being totally unexpected.

"Bunyan represents Mistrust, the parent of unreasonable fear, as a
robber," pursued the captain, referring again to that allegory which
gives so wondrously true a picture of man's spiritual state. "We first
meet Mistrust in company with Timorous, and their object is to
discourage, to frighten, to make Christian start back from the perils
which would meet him if he pursued the path of duty; when we next hear
of Mistrust, he is in company with Guilt, and together they rob
Little-faith of his treasure."

"Yes, mistrust does rob us of our peace," said Emmie with a sigh.

"And now, let me touch on my third point, even at the risk of giving
some pain," said the captain. "Mistrust not only hinders usefulness, and
mars peace, but prevents our glorifying our Maker as we might otherwise
do. Is not the inconsistency of His children dishonouring to God? And is
it not inconsistent to avow our belief that our Heavenly Father loves
us--cares for us--is about our path and our bed, and yet to be as full
of unreasonable terrors as if, like the fool, we said 'there is no
God'? The Christian knows that Christ hath 'abolished death;' he knows
that to depart from earth is to enter into rest; that light, and life,
and glory await the redeemed of the Lord. Is it not inconsistent, I
repeat, in one who believes all this, to shrink with unconcealed terror
from the barest possibility that the time for his going home may be
hastened, even a little? The natural effect of strong faith would be to
make the righteous 'bold as a lion.'"

"Uncle, you judge me very hardly," murmured Emmie, ready to burst into

"I do not judge you, dear child; I only warn you not to cherish, as an
inmate, that enemy whom you have hitherto regarded but as a harmless
infirmity. Bring him before the bar of reason, bind him with the strong
cords of prayer. I have spoken thus frankly to you on this subject,
because I foresee that on your conquest of mistrust, your victory over
unreasonable fears, must depend much of your peace, happiness, and
usefulness also, in the new home to which you are going. A realizing
faith in God's presence, a simple trust in His love, these are the most
powerful antidotes against superstitious and all other ill-grounded
fears. The light that dispels shadows is the words, _I will fear no
evil, for Thou art with me_."

Captain Arrows had thus given to his sister's children his warning
against what, from close observation of their characters, he deemed to
be the besetting sin of each,--pride, selfishness, and mistrust. What
had been the effect of his words? The monitor had given offence, he had
given pain, and in one case, at least, his warning had been as the
dropping into a brook of a pebble, that scarcely causes even a ripple.
There are few who value gratuitous counsel; the many prefer to buy
experience, though it should prove to be at the price of future pain and
regret. We are seldom thankful to him who would explore for us the
heart's haunted chamber, even should we not possess the candour and
moral courage to search its depths for ourselves.



On the following day Emmie, escorted by Vibert and attended by Susan,
started for her new home. Almost at the last moment Mr. Trevor found
that important business would, for another day, delay his own departure;
but all arrangements for the general move having been made, he would not
defer it, preferring for the single night to sleep at a hotel in London.

The bustle of departure took from its pain; Emmie left her dear old home
without a tear, though not without a sigh of regret. Vibert was in high
spirits, for novelty has its charm, especially to a temperament such as
his. Mr. Trevor had given to each of his sons a fishing-rod and a gun;
and Vibert was already, in imagination, a first-rate angler and
sportsman. It would have been difficult to have been dull in Vibert's
company during the journey. Sporting anecdotes, stories of adventures
encountered by others, and anticipations of future ones of his own,
interspersed with many a jest, amused not only Vibert's sister, but
their fellow-travellers in the same railway-carriage. The youth had none
of his elder brother's reserve, and took pleasure in attracting the
notice of strangers, having a pleasant consciousness that in his case
notice was likely to imply admiration also.

"That handsome lad seems to look on life as one long holiday, to be
passed under unclouded sunshine," thought a withered old gentleman, who
looked as if all his days had been spent in a fog. "Poor boy! poor boy!
he will soon be roused, by stern experience, from the pleasant dream in
which he indulges now!"

About half-an-hour before sunset, the train in which the Trevors were
making their journey approached the station of S----, the one at which
they were to alight.

"Your new pony-chaise is to meet us, Emmie, so papa arranged," observed
Vibert; "but it must be a commodious chaise if it is to accommodate four
persons, and all our lots of luggage. There are three boxes and a
carpet-bag of mine in the van, besides I know not how many of yours.
Then look here,"--Vibert glanced at the numerous et ceteras which showed
that the young travellers had understood how to make themselves
comfortable; "here's a shawl, and a rug, and foot-warmer, a basket, a
bag, three umbrellas, and a parasol, my hat-box, and a fishing-rod
besides! Are all to be stowed away in the chaise? If so, it will need
nice packing."

"Bruce was to order a fly," said Emmie.

"If he was to do it, he has done it," observed Vibert; "one may count
upon him as upon a church-clock. Now if I had had the arranging, I
should have been so much taken up with trying the new pony-chaise, that
I should have forgotten all about the old rattle-trap needed to carry
the boxes. I wish that we had riding-horses. I shall never give papa
peace till he buys me a hunter."

The shrill railway whistle gave notice of approach to a station; the
train slackened its speed, and then stopped; doors were flung open, and
a number of passengers soon thronged the platform of S----.

"There is Bruce; he is looking out for us!" cried Emmie, as she stepped
on the platform.

"Where is the pony-chaise?" asked Vibert, addressing his brother, who
immediately joined the party. Susan was left to collect, as best she
might, the numerous articles left in the railway-carriage.

"A lad is holding the pony just outside the station, and the fly is in
waiting also," was the answer of Bruce. "Where is the luggage, Vibert?
the train only stops for five minutes at S----."

"Susan will tell you all about it," cried Vibert; "I've a bag and three
boxes, one of them a gun-case, stowed away in the van. Mind that nothing
is missing. Come, Emmie, I must get you out of the crowd," and, drawing
his sister's arm within his own, Vibert rapidly made his way to the
outside of the station, where a pretty basket-chaise, drawn by a white
pony, was waiting.

"In with you, quick, Emmie!" cried Vibert, with the eager impatience of
one about to effect an escape. No sooner had the young lady taken her
seat than Vibert sprang in after her, seized the reins, caught up the
whip, and calling to the lad who had acted as hostler, "My brother will
pay you," gave a sharp cut to the pony, which made the spirited little
animal bound forward at a speed which raised a feeling of alarm in the
timorous Emmie.

"Stop, Vibert, stop! you must not drive off; you must wait for Bruce!"
she exclaimed.

"I'll wait for no one!" cried Vibert, still briskly plying the whip.
"Bruce would be wanting to drive; but this time he has lost the
chance,--ha! ha! ha! There's my brave little pony, does he not go at a
spanking pace?"

"I wish that you would not drive so fast, it frightens me!" cried Emmie.

"Frightens you! nonsense, you little coward! Don't you see that thick
bank of clouds in which the sun is setting? We'll have a thunderstorm
soon, and that will frighten you more."

"Oh, I hope and trust that the storm will not burst till we reach
shelter!" cried Emmie, whose dread of thunder and lightning is already
known to the reader.

"We are running a race with it, and we'll be at the winning-post first!"
exclaimed Vibert, who was enjoying the excitement, and who was rather
amused than vexed to see his sister's alarm.

"But, Vibert, you don't even know the way to Myst Court! Oh, I wish that
you had waited for Bruce!"

It had never occurred to the thoughtless lad that he might be driving in
a wrong direction; so long as the pony went as fast as Vibert wished, he
had taken it for granted that Myst Court would soon be reached. The
station had been left far behind; the road was lonesome and wild; only
one solitary boy was in sight; he was engaged in picking up boughs and
twigs which a recent gale had blown down from the trees which bordered
the way.

"We'll ask yonder bare-footed bundle of rags to direct us," said
Vibert, and he drew up the panting pony when he reached the spot where
the boy was standing.

"I say, young one, which is the way to Myst Court?" asked Vibert in a
tone of command.

The boy stared at him, as if unaccustomed to the sight of strangers.

"Are we on the right road to the large house where Mrs. Myers used to
live?" inquired Emmie.

"Ay, ay, but you'll have to turn down yon lane just by the stile there,"
said the urchin, pointing with his brown finger, and grinning as if a
chaise with a lady in it were a rare and curious sight.

"I don't believe that the rustic could have told us whether to turn to
left or right," said Vibert, as he whipped on the pony. "If he's a fair
specimen of my father's tenants, we shall feel as if we had dropped down
on the Fiji Islands."

The direction given by the finger was, however, perfectly clear, and the
Trevors were soon driving along a picturesque lane, where trees, still
gay with autumnal tints, overarched the narrow way, and with their brown
and golden leaves carpeted the sod beneath them.

"What a pretty rural lane!" exclaimed Emmie, as the chaise first turned
off from the high-road; but admiration was soon forgotten in discomfort
and fear. The lane was apparently not intended as a thoroughfare for
carriages, at least in the season of winter. The ground was miry and
boggy, and the pony with difficulty dragged the chaise. There were
violent jerks when one side or other dropped into one of the deep ruts
left by the wheels of the last cart that had passed that way. Vibert
plied the whip more vigorously than before, and silenced his sister's
remonstrances by remarking how darkly the clouds were gathering in the
evening sky. Young Trevor was but an inexperienced driver, and ever and
anon the chaise was jolted violently over some loose stones, or driven
so near to the hedge that Emmie had to bend sideways to avoid being
struck by straggling bramble or branch. She mentally resolved never
again to trust herself to Vibert's driving.

"Will this lane never come to an end?" exclaimed Emmie, as the first
heavy drop from an overshadowing mass of dark cloud fell on her knee.
She was but imperfectly protected from rain; for Vibert, in his haste to
dash off from the station before his brother could join him, had never
thought of taking with him either umbrella or shawl for his sister.

"Here comes the rain with a vengeance, and this stupid beast flounders
in the mud as if it were dragging a cannon instead of a chaise," cried
Vibert. "These country lanes drive one out of all patience! Ha! there's
the rumbling of distant thunder!"

"Oh! I trust that we shall reach home soon," exclaimed Emmie, who,
exposed to the heavy downpour, shivered alike from cold and from fear.

"I suspect that we shall never reach home at all by this lane," said
Vibert. "Take my word for it, that little wretch has directed us wrong;
I have a great mind to turn the pony round, and get back to the

"You can't turn, the lane is too narrow; you would land us in the
hedge!" exclaimed Emmie, who thought that the attempt would inevitably
lead to an upset of the chaise. On struggled the steaming pony, down
poured the pattering rain; Vibert, almost blinded by the shower and the
gathering darkness, could scarcely see the road before him.

"The longest lane has a turning,--there is an opening before us at
last!" exclaimed the young driver, as a turn in the winding road brought
a highway to view. "We shall reach Myst Court like two drowned rats. Why
on earth did you not bring an umbrella, Emmie? I could not think of
everything at once." Vibert had, indeed, thought but of himself.

The want of an umbrella was to Emmie by no means the worst part of her
troubles; she was afraid that her brother had indeed been misdirected,
and that they might be lost and benighted in a part of the country
where they as yet were strangers, exposed to the perils of a
thunderstorm, from which the nervous girl shrank with instinctive
terror. Emmie had never hitherto even attempted to overcome her fear;
and though her uncle's words now recurred to her mind, the idea of
encountering a thunderstorm after nightfall, without even a roof to
protect her, put to flight any good resolutions that those words might
have roused in her mind.

"There was a flash!" exclaimed Emmie, starting and putting her hands
before her eyes. She pressed closer to her brother as if for protection.

"We shall have more soon; the storm comes nearer," was the little
comforting reply of Vibert. As he ended the sentence, the thunder-clap
followed the flash. The pony pricked up his ears, and quickened his

"I am glad that we are out of this miserable mouse-hole at last," cried
Vibert, pulling the left rein sharply as the light vehicle emerged from
the narrow, miry lane into the broad and comparatively smooth highway.

At this moment the darkening landscape was suddenly lighted up by a
flash intensely bright, followed almost immediately by a peal over the
travellers' heads. The terrified Emmie shrieked, and, losing all
presence of mind, caught hold of her brother's arm. The sharp turning
out of the lane, the pony's start at the flash, and the sudden grasp on
the driver's arm, acting together, had the effect which might have been
expected. Down went pony and chaise, down went driver and lady,
precipitated into the ditch which bordered the high-road.



Vibert shouting for help, Emmie shrieking, the pony kicking and
struggling in vain attempts to scramble out of the ditch, rain rattling,
thunder rolling, all made a confused medley of sounds, while the
deepening darkness was ever and anon lit up by lightning-flashes.

"Oh, Vibert! dear Vibert! are you hurt?" cried the terrified Emmie, with
whom personal fear did not counterbalance anxiety for her young
brother's safety.

"I'm not hurt; I lighted on a bramble-bush; I've got off with a few
scratches," answered Vibert, who had regained the road. "But where on
earth are you, Emmie? Can't you manage to get up?"

"No," gasped Emmie; "the chaise keeps me down. Oh, there is the
lightning again!" and she shrieked.

"Never mind the lightning," cried Vibert impatiently. "How am I to get
the pony on his legs? he's kicking like mad; and, oh! do stop
screaming, Emmie, you're enough to drive any one wild. It was your pull
and your shrieking that did all the mischief."

Vibert had had little experience with horses, and to release, almost in
darkness, a kicking pony from its traces, or set free a lady imprisoned
by an overturned chaise, were tasks for which he had neither sufficient
presence of mind nor personal strength. Glad would the poor lad then
have been to have had Bruce beside him, Bruce with his firm arm and his
strong sense, and that quiet self-possession which it seemed as if
nothing could shake. Vibert felt in the emergency as helpless as a girl
might have done. Now he pulled at the upturned wheel of the chaise, but
without lifting it even an inch; then he caught up the whip which had
dropped from his hand in the shock of the fall, but he knew not whether
to use it would not but make matters worse. Vibert ran a few paces to
seek for assistance, stopped irresolute, then hurried back, thinking it
unmanly to leave his sister alone in her helpless condition.

Happily for poor Emmie, assistance was not long delayed. Not a hundred
yards from the spot where the accident had taken place, two men were
sheltering themselves from the violence of the rain in a half-ruined
barn. The cries of the lady, the loud calls for aid from her brother,
reached the ears of these men. Two forms were seen by Vibert quickly
approaching towards him, and he shouted to them to make haste to come to
the help of his sister.

"There's a lady there, under the wheel," said the shorter and elder man
to the other, when the two had reached the fallen chaise. "You'd better
look to her while I cut the beast's traces; it's lucky I have my knife
with me," and the speaker pulled a large clasp-knife out of his pocket.

The united efforts of the men, assisted by Vibert, soon were crowned
with success. The pony, frightened and mud-bespattered, but not very
seriously hurt, as soon as it was released from the harness, scrambled
out of the ditch. The light basket-chaise was, without much difficulty,
raised to its right position; and Vibert helped to lift up Emmie, who
was half covered with mud, and almost in hysterics with fear.

"Come, come, there's nothing to be terrified at now; the danger is over.
You're not hurt, are you?" asked Vibert, with some anxiety, for he loved
his sister next to himself, though, it must be confessed, with a
considerable space between.

Emmie scarcely knew whether she were injured or not. She was too much
agitated at first to be able to answer her brother's question.

"I don't think that there are any bones broken; mud is soft," said the
shorter man. "I guess she's more frightened than hurt."

"Be composed, dear lady; the storm is clearing off," observed the
younger stranger, who had assisted Vibert in releasing Emmie from her
distressing position, and who now helped to place her again in the
chaise. This person's gallantry of manner contrasted with the almost
coarse bluntness of his elder and shorter companion. Vibert at once
concluded that the two individuals who had accidentally appeared
together belonged respectively to very different grades of society.

The man who had cut the traces had had string in his capacious pocket as
well as a knife, and now occupied himself in making such a rough
arrangement with the harness as might enable the pony to draw the
chaise. He effected his purpose with no small skill; considering the
imperfect light by which he worked.

"Are we in the right road for Myst Court?" inquired Vibert of this
individual, as he was tying the last firm knot in the string.

"Myst Court!" repeated the man in a harsh, croaking tone, at the same
time raising his head from its stooping position. "Are you some of the
new folk as are coming to the old haunted house?"

The question was asked in a manner so peculiar that it arrested the
attention even of Emmie. A flash of lightning occurred at the moment,
not so vivid as that which had terrified her so much, but sufficiently
so to light up the features of the elderly man. Miss Trevor was again
and again to see that strange face, but at no time did she behold it
without recalling the impression which it made on her mind when first
shown by that gleam of blue lightning. The man might be sixty years of
age; his nose was hooked, so that it resembled a beak; his eyes were so
sunken in his head that in that transient glimpse they looked like dark
eye-holes; his hair, rough, unkempt, and grizzled, hung in wet strands
as low as his shoulders, surmounted by an old battered felt hat. Emmie
felt afraid of him, though she could not have given any reason for her

"Yes, we are to live at Myst Court," replied Vibert. "Our father has
just come into possession of the place."

"Woe to him, then, for an evil spell is upon it!" muttered the man; and
a distant rumble succeeded the words like an echo. "The thunder and
lightning, the darkness and storm, the mistaken way, the stumbling
horse,--omens of evil--omens of evil! These things do not happen by

"I wish that, instead of muttering unpleasant things, you would give a
plain answer to a plain question, and not keep us shivering here!" said
Vibert impatiently. "Are we, or are we not, on the direct road to Myst

"No, sir," replied the taller stranger; "but by yon lane you can reach
the high-road which leads straight from S---- to the place of your

"Then that urchin did misdirect us!" exclaimed Vibert. "If I meet him
again, I will break every stick in his faggot over his back! Must we
really return through that slough of a lane, through which we have
scarcely been able to struggle?"

"You must retrace your way," said the stranger. "As far as the high-road
my path is the same as your own, as I am returning to my quarters at
S----. Perhaps you will permit me to occupy the vacant place in your
chaise (I perceive that there is a back seat), as it would be a
satisfaction to me to see the lady so far safe on the road. I shall do
myself the honour of calling at Myst Court to-morrow, to inquire after
her health. My name is Colonel Standish, at your service, and I serve
beneath the star-spangled banner."

"We shall be glad of your company, sir," said Vibert; "and are much
obliged for your ready help."

"It is lucky that old Harper and I were at hand," observed Standish, as
he stepped into the low basket-chaise.

Vibert sprang into the front seat beside his sister, but before taking
the reins from the hand of Harper, young Trevor pulled a shilling out of
his waistcoat-pocket, and tendered it to the old man. There was light
now afforded by the moon, for the rain had ceased, and through a rift in
the clouds the radiant orb shone clearly.

"A silver shilling to him who has helped you to reach the haunted
house," said Harper, as he took the coin and thrust it into a deep
pocket. "I trow there will be gold for him who shall show you the way to
leave it!"

Vibert laughed; Emmie shivered, but that may have been from cold, for
the night-air was clamp and chilly, and her clothes were saturated with
rain. Vibert now turned the pony into the lane, but the creature limped,
and had evidently some difficulty in dragging the chaise.

"The beast is lame," observed Standish; "he has probably strained a leg
in the fall. We gentlemen must walk through the lane, where the ground
is so boggy." The colonel sprang from the chaise, and his example was
followed by Vibert.

At a slow pace the party proceeded along the tree-overshadowed way. The
recent rain had increased the heaviness of the road, and the trees
dripped moisture from their wet branches over the travellers' heads. To
Emmie, cold and damp as she was, and longing for shelter and rest, it
seemed as if that wearisome lane would never come to an end.

Harper, uninvited, had joined himself to the party, and his peculiar
croaking tones were frequently heard blending in converse with the clear
voice of young Vibert, or the more manly accents of Standish. Emmie
alone kept silence.

"Our friend Harper is a near neighbour of yours," observed the colonel
to Vibert. "He has fixed himself just outside the gate of your father's

"But I never pass through that gate," croaked Harper. Neither Vibert nor
Emmie felt any regret that their forbidding-looking neighbour should
keep outside.

"You call the place haunted?" said Vibert.

"Haunted!" repeated Harper, muttering the word between his clenched
teeth; and the old man shook his grizzled locks with so mysterious an
air, that Vibert's curiosity was roused. He began to question Harper on
the traditions connected with the place.

The old man was not loath to speak on the subject, though he imparted
his information, if such it could be called, only in broken fragments;
giving as it were, glimpses of grisly horrors, and leaving his hearers
to imagine the rest.

Then Standish followed up the theme, and recounted strange stories from
the New World,--all "well-authenticated" as he declared; stories of
haunted houses and apparitions, each tale more horrible than the last.
Such relations would have tried Emmie's nerves, even had the stories
been told on some calm summer eve; but heard, as they were, in a dark,
dreary lane, on a chilly November night, when she was wet, bruised, and
trembling from the shock of a recent accident, tales of horror seemed to
make the blood freeze to ice in her veins. Had Bruce been present, he
would have discouraged such conversation; but sensational stories had
charms for Vibert, and he never considered that they might work an evil
effect on the sensitive mind of his sister.

At last the open road was regained, and Standish took leave of the
Trevors. Rather to Emmie's surprise, the colonel familiarly shook hands
with herself as well as her brother, as if the night's adventure had
converted them into old friends. Vibert again sprang into the chaise; he
was very impatient to get at last to the end of his wearisome journey,
and urged the pony to as quick a pace as its lameness permitted over the
smoother road.

The rest of the time of the drive was passed in silence. The way to Myst
Court was clear enough from the brief directions given by Harper, of
whom the travellers soon lost sight in the darkness, though he was
following in the same track. Emmie had thought of inviting the old man
to take the back seat in the chaise, but an intuitive feeling of
repugnance prevented her from making the offer.

Glad were the weary travellers to reach the large iron gate which had
been described as marking the entrance to the grounds of Myst Court. The
gate had been left wide open to let them pass through. The drive up to
the house was rather a long one. Emmie noticed only that it appeared to
be through a thick wood, and that the chaise occasionally jolted over
impediments in the way. To her great relief, the weary girl at length
distinguished lights in some of the windows of a building which dimly
loomed before her. There streamed forth also light from the open door,
at which her brother Bruce was standing, watching for the arrival of the
long-expected chaise.



"What has delayed you?--where have you been?--how comes the pony to be
lame, and Emmie all splashed with mud?--what insane prank have you been

Such were the questions, each successive one asked in a louder and more
angry tone, which were addressed by Bruce to Vibert when the brothers
met in front of the house. The lad attempted to answer the questions

"We've only had a bit of an adventure," cried he. "I've been in a
dilemma, Emmie in a fright, the chaise in a ditch, and--"

"None of your foolery for me, sir! You have acted like a selfish idiot!"
exclaimed Bruce, who was in a passion more towering than any to which he
had given way before since the days of his boyhood. While Vibert had
been speaking, Bruce had been engaged in half lifting Emmie out of the
chaise; but he turned round as he was supporting her into the hall, and
uttered his angry exclamation, while his eyes flashed indignation and
scorn. Vibert bit his lip and cowered for an instant under his brother's
rebuke, conscious that it was not altogether unmerited.

"Susan, take care of my sister; let her change her dripping garments
directly," said Bruce to the maid, who was waiting in the hall, candle
in hand, to receive her young mistress. "You will see that your lady has
all that she wants," continued Bruce, who was ever considerate and
thoughtful. "I will send up something hot for her to drink."

"I'll mix a tumblerful at once. The wine's on the table--hot water and
nutmeg in the kitchen," cried a female voice that was strange to the ear
of Emmie. But the poor girl was too much exhausted by the events of the
evening to look much around her; she was stiff and trembling with cold,
and bruised by her fall, and faintly asked Susan to show her without
delay to her room.

Emmie was conducted by her maid up a broad staircase of oak, which ended
in a corridor, of which the length nearly corresponded with that of the
house. To the left were the apartments which had been assigned to the
use of Mr. Trevor and his sons. Susan, on reaching the corridor, turned
to the right, drawing back a large curtain of old-fashioned tapestry,
on which the life-size figures, wrought by hands long since cold in the
grave, were so faded that their outlines could scarcely be traced by the
light of the candle carried by the maid. This piece of stiff tapestry
had been hung across the corridor in order to keep off draughts from the
aged lady who had last inhabited Myst Court. Susan held back the curtain
till Miss Trevor had passed through the opening thus made, and then the
tapestry again shut out one portion of the corridor from the staircase
and the other side of the house.

A cheerful red light guided Emmie to a room on the right side of the
passage. The light came from a blazing wood-fire in the young lady's own
apartment, which she now entered, followed by Susan. Glad was the weary
girl to enjoy her home comforts again. Wet clothes were quickly
exchanged for dry ones; Emmie's cold hands were chafed into warmth; soft
slippers were placed on her feet; and while the fire shed its kindly
glow over her frame, the maiden revived, and began to survey with some
interest the features of her new abode.

The room in which Emmie found herself was of good size; the ceiling had
been freshly whitewashed; the walls were panelled with oak; the
furniture, with one exception, had all been taken from Summer Villa,
and had a familiar appearance which was pleasant to the eye of the
maiden, and made her feel grateful to Bruce for his thoughtful kindness.
It was Emmie's own chintz-covered sofa, which Susan had wheeled close to
the fire, on which the tired traveller reclined; the screen was one
specially valued as being the work of her mother; the guitar-case was
seen in a corner; the rows of prettily-bound books which filled the
shelves of the book-case looked as if they had made the journey to S----
without even having been moved from their accustomed places. Emmie was
fond of pictures, and had collected quite a little gallery of them at
Summer Villa. Bruce had taken care that his sister should not miss one
of them at Myst Court. Here numbers of pictures, great and
small,--portraits, prints, coloured sketches,--adorned the panelled
walls, relieved by the dark background of oak, from which they took all
appearance of gloom.

It has been said that, with one exception, the furniture of Miss
Trevor's room had all belonged to her former home; that exception was a
tall press of elaborately-carved oak, which rested against one of the
side-walls, between the fireplace and the window. Bruce had not ordered
the removal of this press for various reasons. It was heavy, and had
probably remained in its present place since the house had first been
built, as the style of the carving was antique, and the wood almost
black with age. Bruce had thought that a high press was a convenient
article of furniture for a young lady's room; and this one was so
handsome that, though it matched nothing in the apartment except the
panelled walls, its beauty as a work of art might atone for the

The gaze of Emmie rested longer on that dark press than on anything else
in the room. Perhaps she was trying to make out the meaning of the
figures carved in bold relief on the front; or, perhaps, she was
recalling one of the sensational stories which she had heard that night,
in which just such a press as this had played a mysterious part. Absurd
as it may appear, the young lady would have liked her apartment better
if the handsomest article of its furniture had not been left within it.

As Emmie was languidly gazing around, while Susan, on her knees by the
sofa, was chafing her young lady's feet, there was heard a tap at the
door. A woman then entered the apartment, bearing a steaming tumblerful
of wine and hot water. As this person will reappear in the story, I will
briefly describe her appearance.

She was dressed in mourning, and wore a black bonnet covered with crape
flowers and pendants of bugles. Her person was short and somewhat stout.
The round eyes, above which the sandy-coloured brows formed not arches
but an upward-turned angle, gave her a cat-like look, which resemblance
to the feline race was increased by the peculiar form of her lower jaw,
and the noiseless softness of her movements.

In an obsequious manner this personage not only gave the reviving
beverage to Miss Trevor, but volunteered her unasked aid to make the
young lady comfortable, beating up her pillow, stirring the fire, and
making inquiries about her health in a pitying tone, as if the fear of
Emmie's having caught any chill were to her a matter of tender concern.
Emmie guessed that the stranger must be the confidential attendant of
the late Mrs. Myers, and her conjecture was soon confirmed by the
woman's introducing herself as Mrs. Jael Jessel. The young lady did not
like to give Mrs. Jessel a hint to depart, though the tired girl would
have been glad to have been left to the quiet attentions of Susan. Jael
herself was in no haste to quit the apartment; and leaning against the
mantelpiece, began to converse in a voluble way.

"I could not help running over from my new home to see that everything
was arranged comfortable-like for the niece of my dear departed lady,"
began Mrs. Jessel. "I know the ins and outs of this place so well,--it
seems so natural to come about a house in which one has lived for

"My brother has arranged everything comfortably," observed Miss Trevor.
"He came down before the rest of the family on purpose to do so."

"Ah, yes; I see. Master Bruce is a clever young gentleman, and he has
done all that he could _under the circumstances_," said Mrs. Jessel,
lowering her tone, as she uttered the last three words, to a mysterious
whisper. The black bugles in her bonnet trembled with the shake of her
head, as the late attendant went on,--"But if young Mr. Trevor had taken
the advice of one who knows what I know, he'd have had this room shut up
as closely as the one which is next to it,--I mean _the haunted
chamber_!" Jael Jessel's round eyes glanced stealthily from one side to
another, as if she were afraid of being overheard by some invisible

Susan saw a look of uneasiness pass over the face of her young mistress,
and could not help breaking silence.

"Hannah has told me this evening," she said, "that Mrs. Myers always
slept in this room, and that you, Mrs. Jessel, were on a couch beside
her. Since the room was chosen for her own by the mistress of the
house, it must have been considered the best one."

Mrs. Jessel did not condescend to address herself to Susan, but in
speaking to Emmie virtually gave a reply to the observation made by the

"My poor dear lady was perfectly deaf, she could not hear what _I_
heard; her eyes were dim, she could not see what _I_ saw,--or she would
not have rested a second night with only a wall between her and"--again
Jael glanced furtively around as she murmured--"that fearful chamber!"

"What did you see,--what did you hear?" asked Emmie, shuddering as she
recalled to mind the warnings given by old Harper.

Mrs. Jessel did not wait to be asked twice; she was ready enough to
impart to any credulous listener her tale of horrors. Susan was hardly
restrained, by her respect for her young mistress, from repeatedly
interrupting the stranger, who was doing her worst to fill the mind of a
nervous girl with superstitious fears at a time when bodily weariness
had prepared it for their reception. At last the indignant lady's-maid
could keep silence no longer.

"What you bore for years, Mrs. Jessel, and without being any the worse
for it, could have been nothing very dreadful," said Susan bluntly. "My
lady knows that a good Providence is as near her in this room as
anywhere else, and that they who keep a clear conscience need fear
neither goblin nor ghost!"

"Ah, well, we shall see, we shall see," observed Mrs. Jessel, drawing
her black shawl closer around her, as a preparation for departure. "I
don't believe there's a being who knows the place that would go through
the wood at night but myself; but, as you say, a clear conscience gives
courage. I wish you a good night, Miss Trevor," added Jael, courtesying
formally to the lady; "but, to my mind, you'd have a better chance of
one if you were to sleep in a different room."

Mrs. Jessel quitted the apartment; but she left behind her the painful
impression which her words were calculated to make on a mind such as
Emmie's,--a mind not yet sufficiently disciplined by self-control, or
influenced by faith, to bring reason and religion to bear upon
superstitious fears and nervous forebodings.

Emmie rose from the sofa, and took two or three turns up and down her
apartment; while Susan occupied herself in trimming the fire. The young
lady then stopped abruptly in her walk.

"Susan," she said, "I cannot sleep in this room!" It was humiliating to
utter such a confession, even to a domestic.

"Oh, Miss Emmie, if you would let me be beside you to-night--" began
Susan; but Emmie did not heed her attendant's suggestion.

"I could not close my eyes all the night, and I do so sadly need rest. I
will go to my brother and ask him to make arrangements for at once
changing my room."

"But Master Bruce will be so much disappointed," expostulated Susan. "He
has spared no pains to have everything just as you would like it to be."

"I cannot sleep here," repeated Emmie, who was trembling with nervous
excitement. "You will soon move my things--I care not whither--so that
it be to the other side of the house, as far as possible from the
bricked-up room."

Emmie hastily quitted the apartment, and drawing back the tapestry
curtain, passed on to the head of the staircase. The house appeared to
her dreary, empty, and cold, as she glided down the broad oaken steps,
almost afraid to look behind her. Emmie soon reached the wide hall, and,
guided by the light of the lamp in the drawing-room, of which the door
was open, she entered it, and found Bruce Trevor alone.

"I hope that you feel rested, Emmie," said her brother, advancing to
meet her. The clouded brow of Bruce still showed token of the angry
altercation which had passed between him and Vibert.

"I cannot rest in that room, dear," faltered Emmie, avoiding meeting her
brother's inquiring gaze.

"Not rest--why not?" asked Bruce in surprise.

Emmie coloured with shame as she stammered forth her reply. "I know that
you will think it so silly--it--it _is_ silly, I own, but--but I would
rather be in any other part of the house than next door to the haunted

"This is folly, Emmie, pure folly," expostulated Bruce. "You know that a
great part of the dwelling is at present uninhabitable, and cannot be
used for months. There are but two upper rooms fitted up comfortably;
the one is my father's--he chose it himself; the other is given to you.
Vibert and I can put up anywhere; our two little rooms, just beyond my
father's, have been left as I found them, save that the housemaid has
been induced to clear a few cobwebs away. I could not possibly allow
you, accustomed as you are to have comforts around you, to occupy one of
those bare cells at the coldest side of the house."

"I should prefer--oh, so greatly prefer one of those small rooms to my
present one!" exclaimed Emmie. "Where I now am expected to sleep, that
horrid tapestry curtain divides me from every other living being, and I
am so close to the bricked-up room, that if so much as a mouse stirred
in it, the sound would keep me awake. Dear Bruce, you who are so firm,
and brave, and wise, you cannot tell what I feel. If you love me, let us
exchange our rooms at once; you are not fearful and foolish like me."
Emmie was trembling; her hands were clasped, and tears rose into her

"Have your own way!" exclaimed Bruce, with some impatience of manner. He
was annoyed at his sister's betraying such weakness, provoked at his own
arrangements being altered, and disappointed at having taken in vain a
good deal of trouble to please. Without uttering another word to Emmie,
the young man quitted the room to give needful orders, and did not
return till the clang of the hall gong summoned the Trevors to a late

The meal was very unsociable and dull. The storm of anger between the
two brothers had not passed off, and Emmie was too much disheartened by
what had occurred to be able to act her usual part of peacemaker between
them. Bruce had not forgiven Vibert his foolish prank of driving off
with Emmie, which had been the primal cause of the accident which had
occurred; and Vibert, stung to the quick, had not forgiven Bruce his
bitter rebukes. During the whole of dinner-time neither of the young men
addressed a word to the other.

The awkward waiting of the country lad hired as a servant, which, at
another time, might have afforded some amusement to the young Trevors,
now only provoked their patience. Bruce disliked the clumping tread and
the creaking boots of Joe; Emmie started when the noisy clatter of
plates ended at last in a crash. Vibert, whose lively conversation
usually added so much to the cheerfulness of the family circle, scarcely
uttered a syllable, save to find fault with the cookery, which was
certainly none of the best. No one, under these circumstances, cared to
prolong unnecessarily the time spent at the dinner-table.

But matters were little improved when the party had retired to the
drawing-room, to spend there the remainder of the first evening passed
together by them in their new home. Neither reading aloud nor music,
neither playful converse nor game, lightened the heavy time which
intervened before the accustomed hour for family prayers. Emmie thought
that the large drawing-room of Myst Court was but dimly lighted by the
lamp which had shed such cheerful radiance in Summer Villa. The light
scarcely sufficed to enable her to trace the outlines of the
time-darkened family portraits which hung on the dingy walls. The
apartment was so spacious that one fire could hardly warm it, so that it
was chilly as well as dark. The small-sized furniture which had suited
Summer Villa would have looked mean in the handsome old saloon of Myst
Court; therefore faded carpet and more faded tapestry remained,
high-backed heavy chairs of carved oak, and narrow old-fashioned mirrors
whose frames the lapse of two centuries had rendered dingy and dull.
Emmie's only occupation on that first evening was examining these relics
of the past. She thought to herself that Myst Court was as gloomy as any
cloister could be, and sighed when she remembered that she must regard
it now as her permanent home.

At last Bruce, who had repeatedly glanced at his watch, saw that it was
time to call up the servants for prayers. They came in answer to the
summons of the bell which he rang--the three new members of the
household looking awkward and shy, being evidently unaccustomed to be
present at family worship. Bruce read the prayers, as was his custom
whenever his father was absent from home. But there was a coldness, on
that night, even in the family devotions, of which no one was more
sensible than was he who had to conduct them. It was not because the
room felt dreary and cold, nor because a death-bed scene had so lately
occurred in the house, that a chilling damp fell over even the
observance of a religious duty: Bruce, Vibert, and their sister had all
on that day been overcome by their several besetting sins, and those
sins were haunting them still. Pride, selfishness, and mistrust cast
deeper shadows on the pathway of life than those merely external
circumstances which we connect with ideas of gloom.

The spirit of Bruce was out of tune, and the noblest words of prayer
were, as it were, turned into discord by the imperfection of the human
instrument that gave them sound. The leaven of hypocrisy marred
petitions in which the heart had no share. Bruce had to ask for the
grace of meekness, whilst he was inwardly scorning a sister for weakness
and a brother for folly. Had he been struggling to subdue the pride of
his heart, such a prayer would have been a cry for help from above; but
Bruce was attempting no such struggle. He was not seeking to imitate One
who was meek and lowly; the sinner on his knees was preferring a prayer
for a grace which he did not care to possess. If a remembrance of his
uncle's warning against pride had passed through Bruce's mind on that
evening, it had roused anger rather than contrition. "What is Captain
Arrows, that he should probe the hearts of others; let him look to his

Thus the high-principled young man, who was so ready to act or to suffer
for what he deemed the cause of truth; he whose character was in human
sight almost without a blemish, was in a state in which, according to
Scripture, all his faith, knowledge, and zeal could profit him nothing.
Death, if death had met him now, would not have found Bruce with his
face turned heavenwards, though he had long since, with sincerity of
purpose, entered on the pilgrim's narrow path. He stood condemned by the
solemn words of inspiration, _If any man have not the spirit of Christ,
he is none of His_.

Emmie noticed with pain, after family prayers were over, that her
brothers went to their respective apartments without so much as bidding
each other good-night.



"How foolish--how weak--how wrong has been my conduct through this day!"
murmured Emmie to herself, as, after dismissing her attendant, she sat
alone in the small apartment which she had chosen for her own. The room
was a contrast to that which had at first been assigned to the young
maiden. The cell, as Bruce had called it, did not possess even a
fireplace, and might have belonged to some cloistered ascetic. The
stained, dusky, peeling-off paper on the narrow walls had its blots and
patches made only more visible by the whiteness of three large unframed
maps, which the practical Bruce had fastened up for his own convenience.
The young man had rather a contempt for the luxuries in which Vibert
always indulged if he could; to the idea of Bruce they were only
suitable for ladies, or those to whom age or ill-health rendered them
needful. Bruce considered it unworthy of a man in the prime of his life
to care about the softness of a cushion, or the temperature of an
apartment. Thus, in making household arrangements, Bruce had selected
his own quarters with very little regard to personal comfort, while he
had spared no pains in trying to secure that of his sister.

Emmie now suffered from her brother's unselfishness, as well as from her
own nervous fears. Hasty arrangements had indeed been made to improve
the appearance of the cell. Some of Emmie's books had been transferred
to the bookcase by Susan, nor had footstool or guitar been forgotten;
but for her sofa there was no space, and the young lady's
toilette-table, draped with white muslin, looked incongruous in so mean
an apartment. Perhaps the discomfort of that fireless room on a damp
November night was not without its effect on the spirits of Emmie, who
was accustomed to the refinements and elegances of civilized life, and
who was not indifferent to them; but the melancholy which oppressed the
maiden chiefly rose from a deeper source, a profound discontent with

It was Emmie's custom to review, every night ere she went to rest, the
events of the preceding day, with self-examination as to the part which
she had acted. The review had hitherto been very imperfect, for she had
never traced her errors in practice to the source from whence most of
them had proceeded. Instead of recognizing _mistrust_ as a besetting
sin, it had hardly occurred to Emmie that it was anything meriting
blame. The occurrences of that Friday had been a striking comment upon
the words of her uncle, which Emmie now recalled to memory.

"Unreasonable fear,--uncontrolled fear,--what has it done for me
to-day?" mused Emmie. "It has destroyed my peace, most utterly destroyed
it, and cast needless gloom over my arrival in my new home. Fear has
made me displease both my brothers, has lowered me in the eyes even of
my servants; it has caused an accident which has been painful, and
which, but for Heaven's mercy, might have even been fatal. Should I have
lost self-command in the storm, had I recognized the presence of Him who
grasps the lightning in His hand, and whose voice is heard in the
thunder? If my heart were indeed the abode of His Spirit, would that
heart fail me at the bare thought of--hark! what was that sound?" Emmie
started and turned pale at the cry of an owl outside her window; in her
home near London she had never heard the hoot of the bird of night. The
cry was repeated, and though the nervous girl now guessed its cause, in
her superstitious mind it was still linked with fearful fancies.

Emmie, to compose herself, took up her Bible, and opening it, turned to
the Twenty-seventh Psalm. She read the heart-stirring verse: _The Lord
is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the
strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?_

"Why cannot I make this glorious assurance of faith my own?" thought
Emmie. "Why am I, a Christian girl in an English home, troubled with
fears which would better beseem some poor ignorant African, worshipping
his fetich, and knowing nothing of a protecting, loving God! I must
struggle against this enemy, mistrust; I must try to bring my very
thoughts into subjection,--those thoughts now so full of fears
dishonouring to my gracious Master. Where is my reason,--where is my
faith? I cannot believe that there is real danger in sleeping next to
the bricked-up room, or even my selfishness would hardly have induced me
to put dear Bruce in a post of peril. I must have been secretly assured
that the danger existed only in fancy. But I am now too weary to be able
to reason; I need a night's rest to enable me to distinguish between
facts and the creations of an excited brain. I am so tired--my nerves
are so weak! I shall scarcely now be able to rouse my mind even for the
exercise of prayer, and by prayer alone dare I hope to conquer

Emmie's rest was on that night troubled by a confused medley of dreams,
the natural consequences of the excitement which she had undergone
through the preceding day. Nothing was distinct, but the images of
Harper and Jael Jessel mixed themselves up with the phantoms which their
weird stories had raised in the imaginative mind of the girl. Emmie,
early deprived of the guidance of a sensible mother, had often made an
unprofitable use of her leisure; she had read much of the literature
which is called sensational; she had pondered over tales of horror; her
mind had been fed on unwholesome food. Emmie had let fancy lead her
where it list, and it would be no easy task to undo the mischief wrought
in idle hours under the name of amusement.

Morning came at last, and brightness and hope with the morning. How
different objects appear in sunshine from what they seem to be when only
faintly visible at night! Emmie gazed from her window, and greatly
admired the prospect before her. Never, perhaps, in a well-wooded
country, does Nature display more exquisite beauty than in the early
part of November, when the foliage, thinned indeed, but brilliant in
tints of crimson and gold, varied with russet and green, is lit up by
the glorious sun. The orb of day, just rising, was overhung by rosy
clouds; the air was fresh and fragrant after the storm; myriads of
dew-drops glittered on the lawn; all was brightness above and below!
Emmie thought that she could be very happy even at Myst Court, and
anticipated with pleasure looking over the mansion, exploring the
grounds, and examining the state of the garden.

When Emmie quitted her little room, the sunlight was streaming through
the large east window which lighted the staircase, throwing gorgeous
stains of crimson and azure from its coloured panes upon the wide oaken
steps. What had been dreary and ghost-like by night, had become
picturesque and romantic by day. Emmie tripped lightly down to the
breakfast-room, where she found Bruce looking out his place in the book
of family prayers.

"Did you sleep well?" was the sister's eager greeting as she approached
her brother; for Emmie had reproached herself a little for exposing
Bruce to the chance of any nocturnal annoyance by the exchange of the

"I slept very well,--never better," replied Bruce with a slightly
sarcastic smile. "I had no expectation of seeing goblin or ghost, and
was certainly troubled by none. I never knew a place more perfectly
still; so far as I could judge, not a mouse stirred or a cricket
chirrupped in the so-called haunted chamber. But that west room is by
far too pretty and luxurious for a student like me. As ladies are
allowed to change their minds once, I would strongly advise you, Emmie,
to let us resume the first arrangement: do you go back to the west room,
and let me study or sulk in my own little cell."

"Not now," replied Emmie Trevor; and, to do her justice, her motive in
declining the second change was as much consideration for her brother's
comfort as the repugnance, which she had not yet quite overcome, to
sleeping next door to the haunted chamber.

"Why has Master Vibert not made his appearance either at prayers or at
breakfast?" asked Bruce, when, half an hour afterwards, he was enjoying
the cup of hot coffee prepared by his sister.

"Vibert was tired last night, and has probably overslept himself,"
replied Emmie.

"Not he," said Bruce, "for I saw him from my window this morning, more
than an hour ago, loitering about the grounds. Vibert must have heard
the gong sound for breakfast. No; the fact is--you must have seen it
from his manner last evening--that Vibert is in a huff because I called
him a selfish idiot."

"I am so very, _very_ sorry that you called him that," cried Emmie, with
a look of distress. "You do not consider, dear Bruce, what real harm
your sternness may do to our younger brother. Vibert is so

"He cares for no one on earth but himself," said Bruce. "Look at his
conduct yesterday, and think what might have been its result."

"Driving off from the station without waiting for you was but a foolish,
boyish prank," pleaded Emmie. "As for the accident that occurred, that
cannot be laid to Vibert's charge; it was caused by my catching hold of
his arm just when the pony was turning a corner."

"What made you do that?" inquired Bruce.

"I was foolishly frightened at the lightning," replied Emmie meekly.

"Frightened, always frightened, at everything and at nothing!" said
Bruce, but rather in sorrow than in anger. He was far more indulgent to
the failings of Emmie than he was to those of Vibert.

The gentle girl, who was very anxious to bring about a reconciliation
between her two brothers continued her mild expostulation with Bruce.

"I am sure that you do not think Vibert an idiot, though he may,
perhaps, be a little selfish. I have heard you say yourself that Vibert
has plenty of brain."

"If he were not too lazy and self-indulgent to work it," interrupted the
elder brother.

"You do not think--you never have thought poor dear Vibert a selfish
idiot," persisted Emmie; "and oh! Bruce, if I could only persuade you to
tell him that you are sorry for having spoken that one hasty word, if--"

"Apologize to Vibert! never!" cried Bruce, and he pushed his chair back
from the table.

"Surely it is noble, generous, right to own to a brother that in a hasty
moment we have done him a wrong!" said Emmie with an earnestness which
brought the moisture into her eyes.

Bruce made no reply to his sister, but rose from his seat and left the
room; not hurriedly, not passionately, but with that expression on his
calm face in which Emmie easily read the unuttered thought, "I need no
one's advice to guide me, and I will receive rebuke from no one."

Emmie breathed a heavy sigh. Bruce was in other points so noble, so
good,--oh, why did he shut and bar so firmly against the entrance of
duty and affection one haunted room of his heart! Emmie was distressed
on account of Vibert; she knew that her volatile younger brother needed
the support of the stronger sense, the firmer principle of the
elder,--that the influence of Bruce might be of inestimable importance
to Vibert. And all this influence was to be worse than thrown away,
because the professed follower of Him who was meek and lowly would not
bend his proud spirit to own that he had committed a fault!



Bruce had scarcely quitted the breakfast-room before it was entered by

"Quick, Emmie, a cup of your delicious hot coffee! I've been out these
two hours, and have come in with a hunter's appetite!" exclaimed the
youth, who was looking even handsomer than usual, with his clear
complexion brightened by the invigorating effects of the fresh morning
air. Vibert applied himself with energy to the work of cutting slices
from the cold ham which had been placed on the side-board.

Emmie poured out the warm beverage for her brother, who turned round to
bid her add plenty of cream. "Cream is the one country luxury to balance
against country cookery," he laughingly observed. "If that
virago-looking Hannah continue to reign in the kitchen, I shall be
driven to live upon cream, or be famished!"

Vibert did not appear likely to be famished as he sat at the well-spread
table, doing ample justice to his slices of ham. Emmie had finished her
own breakfast, but remained to keep her brother company.

"Since you were such an early riser to-day," she observed, "why were you
absent from prayers?"

"Because I can't stand hearing the prayers read by Bruce!" exclaimed
Vibert with some indignation. "It's a mockery for him to call his own
brother a selfish idiot, to treat him as if he were a slave or a dog,
and then to kneel down and pray like a saint, asking for meekness and
mercy, and all kinds of graces which he never had, and never wishes to
have. If that be not downright hypocrisy, I know not what is deserving
of the name."

"Bruce is the very last person in the world who would play the
hypocrite," cried Emmie. "As for the harsh name which he gave you, I
believe that in his heart he is sorry for what he said in a moment of

"Then why does he not own frankly that he is sorry?" cried Vibert. "If
Bruce would but confess that he regrets his hasty words, I'd hold out my
hand at once and say, 'Let by-gones be by-gones, old boy; I'm not the
fellow to harbour a grudge.' But Bruce would not own a fault were it to
save his life or mine. Pride--that pride that repels advice, resents
reproof, and refuses to acknowledge an error (how well the captain
described it!)--that is Bruce's pet sin, and he'll carry it with him to
his grave."

"God forbid!" faintly murmured Emmie.

"Bruce and I are to begin daily studies at S---- next Monday," continued
Vibert, who was making good progress with his breakfast whilst he kept
up the conversation. "I know that papa imagines that the way to keep me
safe and out of mischief, is to yoke me to one whom he considers the
impersonification of sense and sobriety. He'd couple a greyhound with a
surly mastiff; but the greyhound, at least, will strain hard against the
connecting strap. If Bruce start early, I will start late; if he walk
fast, I will walk slowly; I'll keep as wide apart from him as the tether
will let me get;--in plain words, I'll have as little to do with Bruce
as I possibly can."

"Vibert, dear Vibert, it so grieves me that you should feel thus towards
him," cried Emmie. "Bruce is not without his faults, but he is a
noble-minded, unselfish--"

"Unselfish! I deny it!" exclaimed Vibert, while he kept the morsel which
he was just about to convey to his lips suspended on his fork.
"Unselfish indeed! when he has taken advantage of being sent on in front
to make arrangements to secure the very best room in the house for

"He never did," cried Emmie eagerly. "The west room was prepared for me,
but I could not endure it, and, as a matter of kindness, Bruce exchanged
our respective apartments."

"Why could you not endure that capital room?" asked Vibert in surprise.

Emmie, who had been wishing, praying that she might be enabled to act
the part of a faithful counsellor and friend to her younger brother,
felt painfully that she had to step down from her position of vantage,
as she owned, with a blush, that she had not liked to sleep next door to
the bricked-up room.

Vibert burst out laughing. "So the chivalrous Bruce took the dangerous
post!" he exclaimed. "Would I not just like to give him a fright!"

"Don't, oh! don't play any foolish practical joke!" exclaimed Emmie.

"I'm afraid that it would not answer," said Vibert, still laughing.
"Bruce is a hard-headed chap, who sifts everything to the bottom. He'd
be as likely as not to cleave a ghost's skull with a poker, and I've no
fancy to try whether he hits as hard with his hand as he yesterday did
with his tongue. But let's talk no more about Bruce. As soon as I've
finished my breakfast, you and I shall go into the grounds and have a
ramble together. You've not yet seen the outside of our mansion, for
when we arrived here last night you had not enough light to distinguish
Aladdin's palace from a Hottentot kraal."

The brother and sister soon sauntered out on the terrace on the east
side of the house, which was bathed in glowing sunshine. The air was so
mild that Emmie had merely thrown a light blue scarf over her head and
shoulders as a protection from the breeze; winter wraps would have been
oppressive, and she enjoyed the luxury of being able to go out without
donning bonnet or gloves. The terrace overlooked the lawn and the
garden: the latter had once been fine, and had still a prim grace of its

"I rather like this old family mansion," cried Vibert, glancing up at
the building, which had been constructed of dark red brick, with
handsome facings of stone. "There is something stately about it, as if
it had seen better days, and remembered them still. Myst Court looks
something like William and Mary's part of Hampton Court Palace."

"Oh, a mere miniature of that grand old building," said Emmie.

"I can just fancy the kind of people who walked on this terrace when
first it was laid out," continued Vibert. "There were gentlemen in huge,
full-bottomed wigs, long coats, embroidered waistcoats and ruffles of
old point-lace, with rapiers hanging at their sides. There were ladies
like those whom Sir Godfrey Kneller painted, stiff and stately, each
smelling a rose which she held in her hand; ladies in hoops, who looked
as if they could never dance anything more lively than a _minuet de la
cour_. We seem too modern, Emmie, to match our mansion. Let's return to
the olden times, forget that Queen Anne is dead, and fancy her yet with
the sharp-tongued Duchess Sarah playing the game of romantic friendship.
Let's imagine ourselves as we would have appeared some hundred and fifty
years ago. I'm a young Tory gallant (of course, I'm a Jacobite at heart,
and drink to 'the king over the water'); Bruce is a decided Whig,--I'm
not sure that he is not a Dutchman, and has come over from Holland in
the train of the Prince of Orange."

Emmie laughed at Vibert's playful fancies, and wondered how her handsome
young brother would have looked in a full-bottomed wig.

"Whig and Tory must unite," she observed, "to get that garden into
order. The walks are overrun with shepherd's purse and chickweed, and
the beds seem to grow little but nettles."

"But these beds were clearly laid out at the time when Dutch taste
prevailed," said Vibert; "it reminds one of the poet's description,--

          'Grove nods at grove, each alley has its brother,
          One half the garden just reflects the other.'"

"Rather a mournful reflection now," observed Emmie with a smile.

"But easily changed to a bright one!" cried Vibert; "we'll set plenty of
hands to work, and get everything right before spring. These old
straggling bushes must come up; we'll have new plants from a
nursery-garden, and fill those beds with geraniums, fuchsias, and
calceolaria. An orangery, as at Hampton Court, shall be at one end of
the house; and we must fix on a site for a conservatory, in which some
huge vine shall spread out its branches, heavy with delicious bunches of

"My dear boy, you speak as if papa had the purse of Fortunatus," said
Emmie. "You know that he will have all kinds of expense in getting the
property into tolerable order,--draining, and that sort of thing. The
garden must wait for new plants, and we for conservatory and orangery,
till more important matters are settled. Think of the cottages out of

"Hang the cottages!" cried Vibert. "Leave them alone, and they'll tumble
down of their own accord. Why should we trouble ourselves about them?"

"We must care for the tenants that live in them," observed Emmie.

"They've never done anything for us, why should we do anything for
them?" said Vibert. "I don't believe that half of them ever think of
paying their rents. If I were master here," continued Vibert, "I'd make
a law that no dirty, ragged creature should come within a mile of the
house. If these folk are miserable, I'm sorry for it; but that's no
reason why I should be miserable too. Charity begins at home, and the
first thing to be done at Myst Court is to put house and garden into
tip-top order,--buy new carpets and a good billiard-table, set up a
fountain yonder on the lawn (we'll consider about statues and vases),
and then invite Alice and a merry party of young people down to the
place. We'd drive out ghosts to the sound of fiddle and dancing, and
depend upon it, you dear little coward, we should never again hear a
word about Myst Court being haunted."

"Ah, Vibert, we must remember our uncle's warnings," said Emmie, gently
laying her hand on her brother's arm.

"_Beware of selfishness!_--eh? well, I'll think about that when I see
you _conquer mistrust_. But to be gay is my nature, as it is yours to be
timid, and Bruce's to be proud. One cannot alter nature."

"Can it not be improved?" asked Emmie. "Look at your garden,--it has
been left for years to nature, so bears but a crop of weeds."

"Oh, if you are going to moralize, I'll be off!" cried Vibert. "I have
not tried my new gun yet, and I expect capital sport. I warrant you that
I will bring home a brace of pheasants to mend our fare!"

Mr. Trevor came down to Wiltshire by an early train, and was gladly
welcomed at Myst Court. His presence greatly added to the harmony of the
family circle; for his sons seldom exchanged bitter words when their
father's eye was upon them. Emmie's spirits rose. When the family were
gathered together at the luncheon-table, the young lady playfully
rallied Vibert on his "capital sport," for she had seen him return with
an empty bag from his shooting.

Vibert laughed good-humouredly at his own want of success. "I thought
that pheasants and partridges would be plentiful as blackberries in the
brushwood," said he; "but I lighted on no bird more aristocratic than a
crow. I think that there must be poachers abroad, or perhaps four-footed
poachers, in the shape of those starved, disreputable-looking cats which
come prowling about the place."

"I suppose some of those left by my aunt as a legacy to her maid,"
observed Mr. Trevor.

"The legatee does not value the keepsakes," said Vibert, "to judge by
the looks of the cats that crossed my path to-day, sneaking back to
their old quarters as if in search for scraps."

"Does Mrs. Jessel live far from here?" inquired Emmie.

"About a mile from Myst Court by the road, but not half that distance by
the path through the wood," answered Bruce. "The house left to her by
Mrs. Myers is a two-storied, shallow building, standing very near the
high-road, and looking like a Cockney villa that had somehow strayed
into the country, and could not find its way back."

"So the cats have the good taste to prefer the antique beauties of Myst
Court embowered in woods," said Vibert; "and their new mistress has no
objection to their living here at free quarters. I fired at one of the
miserable creatures, out of pure benevolence, but unhappily missed my

"Your shooting is on a par with your driving," remarked Bruce
satirically; "but Emmie's pony came off worse than the cat."

"That was not my fault!" exclaimed Vibert. "I managed the pony famously,
in the dark too, and over a road expressly contrived to break the
springs of a carriage. I was turning a sharp corner with consummate
skill, when Emmie took it into her head to scream and catch hold of my
arm. Of course, chaise and all went into the ditch, and how long they
might have stayed there I know not, had not those two men come to our

"Do you know who they were?" asked Mr. Trevor, who had already heard
something of the yesterday's adventure from Emmie.

"The one is called Harper, a strange, weird-looking old man, with long
grizzled hair, and croaking voice," replied Vibert. "I don't care if I
never set eyes on him again,--but he lives just outside our gate. The
other was a very different sort of person, evidently quite a gentleman."

"Did you think so?" said Emmie, in a tone suggestive of a doubt on the

"Why, he is a colonel," cried Vibert; "you heard him say so himself,--a
colonel belonging to the American army."

"It is easy enough for a man to call himself an American colonel," said

"I don't think it fair to disbelieve a gentleman's account of himself
until one has cause to doubt his truthfulness," remarked Vibert.
"Certainly," he added, glancing at Emmie, "Colonel Standish did tell us
rather wonderful stories. You remember that one of the murdered Red
Indian's ghost keeping watch over buried treasure?"

"It was a horrible story," said Emmie.

"And so graphically told!" exclaimed Vibert. "I'll let you hear the
tale, papa; but I shall tell it to great disadvantage. A ghost story
must lose all its thrilling effect when heard at a luncheon-table. Fancy
being interrupted at the crisis by a request for 'a little more

After the tale had been told, and the meal concluded, Vibert went out
again with his gun, to seek better success in the woods which surrounded
Myst Court. The youth was wont to enter eagerly into any new kind of
amusement, but three days were usually sufficient to make him tired of
any pursuit.

Mr. Trevor, Emmie, and Bruce went into the drawing-room together, to
talk over future plans. They had scarcely seated themselves by the
table, on which Bruce had placed some papers of estimates, when the
old-fashioned knocker on the front door gave a loud announcement that a
visitor had come to the house.

"Who can have found us out already?" said Mr. Trevor. "We are scarcely
prepared yet to receive calls from strangers."

Joe flung open the drawing-room door, and announced Colonel Standish.

Emmie's glimpses of the stranger on the preceding evening had been by
such uncertain light, and she had been so unfitted by nervous fear to
exercise her powers of observation, that she would scarcely have
recognized her new acquaintance had not his name been announced. Colonel
Standish was a tall and rather good-looking man, apparently about thirty
years of age, with large bushy black whiskers, connected with each other
by a well-trimmed beard, which, like a dark ruff, surrounded the chin.
He was dressed in the height of modern fashion, with no small amount of
jewellery displayed in brilliant studs, coins and other ornaments
dangling from a handsome gold chain, and rings sparkling on more than
one finger of his large gloveless hand. The colonel had a martial step,
and an air of assurance which might be mistaken for that of ease. He
advanced at once towards Miss Trevor, shook hands with her, and in a
tone of gallantry inquired whether she had perfectly recovered from the
effects of her late adventure. Emmie only replied by an inclination of
her head, and at once introduced Colonel Standish to her father and
brother. The stranger shook them both by the hand, with a familiar
heartiness to which neither of the English gentlemen felt inclined to
respond. Mr. Trevor, however, with grave courtesy, expressed his
obligations to the colonel for the help which he had afforded on the
preceding night.

"I am only too happy to rush to the rescue whenever so fair a lady is in
peril," cried the colonel, turning and bowing to Emmie. "As for your
son,--I don't think that it was this son--"

"Certainly not," interrupted Bruce.

"I must congratulate his father on the uncommon spirit and pluck shown
by the young gentleman whom I met last night, under circumstances
calculated to try the mettle of the boldest."

Emmie and Bruce exchanged glances; the faintest approach to a smile rose
on the lips of each on hearing such exaggerated praise.

"As for this fair lady, she played the heroine," continued the colonel,
again turning gallantly towards Emmie, whose smile was exchanged for a

"Who is this vulgar flatterer?" thought Mr. Trevor and Bruce. Emmie took
an early opportunity of gliding out of the room, to which she did not
return till the colonel's visit was ended.

Standish was sufficiently a man of the world to see that he had
overacted his part, and had not made a favourable impression. Mr. Trevor
and his son became more and more coldly civil. The visitor took the
chief share of the conversation, gave his anecdotes, and cracked his
jokes. The Englishmen thought his jokes coarse, and his anecdotes of
questionable authenticity. Conversation slackened, and in about half an
hour the colonel rose to take his departure.

"I put up at the White Hart at S----," said he, as he threw down on the
table a card for Vibert. "I find the accommodation fair, very fair, but
my stay in the town is uncertain. I hope that we shall soon meet again,"
and the colonel shook the hand of Mr. Trevor, but a good deal less
cordially than he had done on his first introduction to the father of

"We do not echo his hope," observed Bruce, as soon as the visitor had
tramped out of the house.

"Who can this low-bred talkative fellow be?" said Mr. Trevor. "It is not
difficult for an impostor to pass himself off as a colonel, when those
who would have proofs of his being so must seek for them at the other
side of the Atlantic Ocean."

"I doubt this man's being American at all," observed Bruce. "I did not
detect in his speech the peculiar Yankee accent, though it was
interlarded with Yankee phrases."

"I shall not encourage this colonel's coming about the house," said Mr.
Trevor, walking up to the window. "Why, there's Vibert accompanying him
down the drive!"

"And they look hand and glove," added Bruce. "How they are laughing and
talking together!"

"Vibert is young and unsuspicious," observed Mr. Trevor, as he turned
from the window; "his generous, frank disposition lays him peculiarly
open to deception. We must make some inquiries at S---- regarding this
Colonel Standish. Your tutor, Mr. Blair, may know something of the man,
and the character which he bears."

"I will not forget to gain what information I can," said Bruce Trevor.



On the following Sunday afternoon Emmie was sitting alone by the
drawing-room window, with a devotional book in her hand, but her eyes
resting on the fading glories of the woodland landscape, and her
thoughts on her childhood's home, when she was joined by her brother

"I am glad to find you alone," said Bruce, as he took a seat by his
sister's side; "I want to consult you, I need your help."

Such words from the lips of the speaker were gratifying to Emmie; Bruce
was ever more ready to give help than to ask it. Emmie closed her book,
put it down, and was at once all attention.

"I have been making a little chart of the estate," said Bruce, unrolling
a paper which he placed before his sister.

"What are those square marks on it?" inquired Emmie, looking with
interest at the neatly executed chart.

"These are cottages,--some larger, some smaller," was the reply. "Those
buildings marked in red are public-houses; those in green are farms. You
observe that there is not a church or a school in the place; there is
not one nearer than S----."

"More's the pity!" said Emmie.

"If you count, you will find that there are eighty-seven tenements of
various kinds, and the dwellers in them are, of course, all tenants of
our father. Give five individuals to each family, and you have four
hundred and thirty-five souls on this estate, without a resident

"And what can bring so many people around us?" asked Emmie.

"I believe the dye-works," answered her brother. "They give employment
to most of the men who are not farm-labourers, and, as far as I have
ascertained, to some of the women also."

"Then the people are not very poor," observed Emmie, with a look of
relief; for she had been alarmed at the idea of more than four hundred
beggars being quartered on her father's estate.

"The men in work ought not to be very poor," said Bruce; "but then there
are sure to be widows, sick folk, and some too old for work. Besides
this, improvidence, ignorance, and vice always bring misery in their
train, and, from all that I have heard or seen, the people here are
little better than heathens. The children run about like wild creatures;
there is no one to teach them their duty to God or to man."

"I hope that papa may in time set up a school," said Emmie.--Compulsory
education was a thing not yet introduced into England.

"I hope that he may; but he cannot do so at present," observed Bruce. "I
was talking with him on the subject on our way from church this morning.
Our father's expenses in educating Vibert and myself are heavy, and if
either or both of us go to college they will be heavier still. Yet for
these wretched tenants something should be done, and at once."

"Papa intends gradually to repair or rebuild some of the cottages."

"I am speaking of the people who inhabit the cottages," interrupted
Bruce; "the dirty, ignorant, swearing, lying creatures who are dropping
off, year by year, from misery on this side of the grave to worse misery
beyond it."

Emmie looked distressed and perplexed. "What can be done for them?" she

"We must, in the first place, know them better, and so find out how to
help them," said Bruce. "You are aware that I have little time to spare
from my studies, which it is my duty to prosecute vigorously. I can give
but my Sunday evenings, and my father is quite willing that on them I
should hold a night-school for boys in our barn."

Emmie looked with smiling admiration on her young brother, about to
undertake with characteristic resolution what she regarded as a
Herculean task. But no trace of a smile lingered on her lips as Bruce
calmly went on,--

"I can thus do something for the boys, but the care of the women and the
girls naturally falls upon you."

"Upon me!" cried Emmie, looking aghast.

"Visiting the poor," continued Bruce, "is not a kind of business which
our father can undertake; he has been accustomed to office-work all his
life, and, as he told me to-day, he cannot begin at his age an
occupation which is to him so utterly new."

"It would be utterly new to me, and I dare not attempt
cottage-visiting!" cried Emmie, whose benevolent efforts had hitherto
been confined to subscribing to charities or missions, and working
delicate trifles to be sold at fancy bazaars.

"You are young, dear," observed Bruce Trevor.

"And that is just the reason why I should not be sent amongst all those
dreadful people!" cried Emmie. "I might meet with rudeness, or
drunkenness, or infectious cases. I cannot think how you could ever wish
me to undertake such a work! Wait till I am forty or fifty years old
before you ask me to visit these poor."

"And in the meantime," said Bruce, "children are growing up ignorant of
the very first truths of religion; wretched women, who know no joy in
this world, see no prospect of peace in another; the sick lack medicine,
the hungry, food; the widow has no one to comfort her, and the
dying--die without hope!"

Emmie clasped her hands, and looked pleadingly into the face of her
brother. "Oh! what do you ask me to do?" she exclaimed; "do you want me
to visit all these cottages, and the public-houses as well!"

"Not all the cottages, and most certainly not the public-houses,"
answered Bruce with a smile. "See," he continued, pointing to different
parts of his chart, "I have marked with an E those dwellings which I
thought that a lady might visit."

"There are a fearful number of E's," said poor Emmie, very gravely
surveying the paper.

"Nay, if you took but two cottages each day (that would be scarce
half-an-hour's work), in a month you would have visited all that I have
marked for you," said the methodical Bruce; "and in each you would have
left some little book or striking tract, if you had found that the
inmates could read."

"I should be afraid to ask them if they could read or not," cried Emmie.
Bruce went on without heeding the interruption.

"You would keep a book, and mark down each day where you had called,
with a slight notice of the state of each cottage, the name of its
tenant, the number of the children, and such other particulars as would
be of the utmost value to our father when he affords relief in money. It
would be better, perhaps, for you to make it a rule not to give money

"That is just the only thing that I could do!" exclaimed Emmie; "I dare
not intrude into cottage homes without the excuse of coming to give
charity to those who want."

"The visits of a lady would not be deemed an intrusion," said Bruce. He
had some practical knowledge on the subject, having been for years at a
private school where the ladies of the master's family constantly
visited the poor. "Your gentle courtesy will make you welcome wherever
you go. Nor need you go alone, you can always take Susan with you."

"Why not let Susan go by herself?" said Emmie, grasping eagerly at an
idea which afforded a hope of escape from work which she disliked and

"Susan has been trained for a lady's-maid, and not for a Bible-woman,"
said Bruce; "she is not fitted to act as your substitute, useful as she
may prove as your helper. Nor would Susan be as readily welcomed amongst
our tenants as would be a real lady, their landlord's only daughter.
Your position and education, Emmie, give you advantages which Susan
would not possess; they are talents intrusted to you, which it would be
a sin to bury."

Emmie heaved a disconsolate sigh.

"Let me put the subject in a clearer light," pursued Bruce. "What would
you call the conduct of one of your servants who should, without your
leave, ask another person to do the work which she herself had been
engaged to perform?"

"I should call it indolence," replied Emmie. Her brother added the word

"And if a soldier on the eve of a battle should hire a substitute to
fight in his stead," continued Bruce, "what would such an act appear to
his comrades and captain?"

"Cowardice," answered Emmie.

"There have been instances," said Bruce, "of pilgrimages and penances,
imposed on the wealthy, _being performed by proxy_! A poor man endured,
for the sake of money, what the rich man believed to be the penalty of
his own sins. What were such penances or pilgrimages, Emmie?"

"A mockery," was the faltered reply.

"And if in man's sight there are duties which we cannot make over to
others without presumption, cowardice, and rendering the performance of
them a solemn mockery, think you that the Divine Master looks with
favour on services done _by proxy_? He intends the rich to come in
contact with their poorer brethren. He claims from us not merely the
money which we can easily give, but the words of our lips, the strength
of our limbs, the thoughts of our brains, the time which is far more
precious than gold. The work which your Master gives you to do, the
special work, no substitute can perform."

"Oh! I wish with all my heart and soul that we had never left Summer
Villa, never come to Myst Hall!" exclaimed Emmie.

Bruce was a little disappointed that such an exclamation should be the
only reply to his serious words. "You would surely not desire to pass
through life putting aside every cross but the fanciful ornament which
it is the fashion to wear!" he remarked with slight severity in his
manner. "You have given yourself, body and soul, to a heavenly
Master,--is it for Him or for you to choose your work? Is it a very hard
command if He say to you now, 'Work for one half-hour each day in My

"I would rather work for six hours with my fingers quietly in my own
room," murmured Emmie.

"That is, you would select your own favourite kind of work, take merely
what is pleasant and easy, and what suits your natural temper," said
Bruce. "There is nothing to thwart your will or try your temper in
making pretty trifles, cultivating your accomplishments, or managing a
small household such as ours."

"There you are mistaken, Bruce," observed Emmie, raising her head, which
had drooped as she had uttered her former sentence. "It does try my
courage to speak to our new servant Hannah, that masculine, loud-voiced,
ill-tempered woman. I did but say to her this morning, in as gentle a
way as I could, that I have a book of recipes, and that perhaps she
could get some hints from it, as one of the gentlemen is rather
particular as to cookery, and Hannah looked ready to fly at my face. I
shall never venture to find fault with her again."

"Emmie, Emmie, is this miserable timidity to meet you at every turn?"
exclaimed Bruce. "Have you no spirit, no strength of will to wrestle it
down, to rise above it?"

"I cannot help being timid," sighed Emmie.

"Vibert might as well say that he cannot help being selfish," said
Bruce. "If you know that you have a besetting fault, it is not that you
should sit down with folded hands and let it bind you, without so much
as a struggle to shake yourself free."

Bruce spoke with some warmth, for he spoke from his heart. It is so easy
to point out what is the plain duty of others; it is so difficult
frankly to acknowledge our own. The young man justly accused Emmie of
neglecting the special work appointed for her by her Great Master, and
of shrinking from fighting the good fight of faith. Himself resolute and
courageous, with great power of self-control and self-denial, Bruce
could make little allowance for failings which were not his own. But had
Bruce no special work to do from which the natural man recoiled? had he
no battle to fight against a besetting sin? Bruce's appointed work lay
close to him, though he did not choose to perceive it, and was virtually
repeating Cain's question, _Am I my brother's keeper?_ Bruce suffered
pride to control his actions, and mar the work of grace in his soul. It
would have been as arduous a work for him to "wrestle it down, to rise
above it," as it would have been to his timid sister to go forth and
minister to the poor in the hovels surrounding Myst Court.

Emmie's conscience was tender; she had a sincere desire to do what was
right, blended with a natural wish to stand well in the opinion of a
brother whom she admired and loved. Before the interview between them
was ended, Emmie had promised to "attempt to break the ice" on the
following day; but she inwardly shivered at the thought of the effort
before her. How many have experienced this repugnance, this dread of
obeying the Master's call and entering His vineyard!--how many of those
who have afterwards found in His work their joy and delight! Duty often,
when viewed from a distance, wears an aspect forbidding and stern; but
on closer approach she is found to have treasures in her hand, and
flowers spring up in her path.



Vibert had not finished his breakfast when Bruce, on the Monday morning,
started on his walk to the town. Notwithstanding sundry remonstrances
and hints from his father and Emmie, it was a full half-hour before the
younger brother followed in the track of the elder. And very different
was the careless, sauntering step of Vibert from the firm, quick tread
of Bruce.

Mr. Trevor's elder son returned alone in the dusk of evening, but this
time Vibert was scarcely ten minutes behind him.

"Mr. Blair has a capital method of imparting knowledge; it will be our
own fault if we do not make progress under him," said Bruce to Emmie
when he rejoined her in the drawing-room. "My tutor has given me plenty
of work to do this evening, but I must spare an hour to refresh myself
by hearing you sing. And you, dear, what have you been doing during my
absence, and where have you been?"

Bruce was a little curious to know whether his fair sister had had
courage to "break the ice."

"Oh! I do not know what you will think of me, Bruce," said Emmie,
dropping her soft brown eyes. "I did intend to make a beginning of
visiting the tenants; I had ruled lines in a book, that I might set down
in order their names and all that you want to know; but--but--"

"Let's hear all about it," said Bruce good-humouredly, taking a seat by
his sister's side: it was pleasant to the student to unbend after the
hard work of the day.

"I could not go out in the morning,--that is to say, not conveniently,"
began Emmie. "I had a long, long letter to write to Alice, and another
to my aunt in Grosvenor Square; and I had orders to give to Hannah, and
then to arrange with Susan about hanging pictures to adorn, or rather to
hide the untidy walls of my own little room."

"It would be far better to give up that room," said Bruce. "You do not
consider, Emmie, in what a bad position you put me by obliging me to
occupy the other apartment."

"How?--what do you mean?" cried Emmie, looking up with an expression of
uneasiness on her face; "you do not find that you are disturbed by--"

"Not by spectres," replied Bruce, smiling; "but no one likes to appear
to be the most selfish fellow in the world."

"No one would ever think you selfish, dear Bruce; the cap does not fit
you at all."

"Therefore I have an objection to putting it on," said Bruce Trevor; "I
would leave the cap to Vibert, who, to judge by his conduct, may
actually think it becoming. But enough of this. You know that I dislike
retaining my luxurious quarters, but if you really prefer the small
room, everything possible must be done to make it a gem of a room. Now
tell me how you passed the rest of the day."

"After luncheon papa called me to his study to copy out something for
him," said Emmie; "however, that did not take me long. Then I glanced
over the _Times_, and read about such a horrible murder, committed in a
country lane, that it made me feel more than ever afraid to venture
beyond our grounds. Yet, to please you, dear Bruce, I rang the bell for
Susan, and bade her get ready to accompany me in a walk to the hamlet."

"I hope that you had a higher motive than that of pleasing me," said her

"I am not sure that I had, at least not then," replied the truthful
Emmie. "But, whatever my motive might be, it took Susan and me along the
shrubbery as far as the entrance gate. At the further side of that gate,
looking through the iron bars, as it seemed to me--like a bird of prey
on the watch, stood Harper, with his beak-like nose, his hollow eyes,
and his long shaggy hair. You know whom I mean, he is the strange old
man whom we met on the night of the storm."

"And who did good service by cutting the pony's traces," said Bruce.

"I wish that I felt more grateful to him for it," observed Miss Trevor;
"but I cannot without nervous dread think of Harper as I saw him on
Friday night, with the gleam of blue lightning on his strange face and
his flashing knife. Then he gave me such dreadful hints and warnings
regarding the haunted room in Myst Court,--I shudder whenever I think of
them now!"

"Cast them from your mind, they are rubbish," said Bruce.

"As Susan and I advanced to the gate," resumed Emmie, "I felt sure that
Harper was sharply watching our movements. I hoped that he would soon go
away, so, turning aside, I took three or four turns in the wood with
Susan; but every time that we again approached the entrance, I saw that
Harper was there. I so much disliked having to pass him, I so much
feared that he would address me, that at last I gave up my intention of
going to the hamlet to-day. I told Susan that the air felt damp and
cold, and that I should put off paying my visits. So feeling, I must
own, rather ashamed of myself, I returned to the house."

"This is too absurd!" exclaimed Bruce, a little provoked, and yet at the
same time amused by the frank confession of Emmie. "The hovel in which
lives that man Harper is just outside the gate, so that if you are
afraid of passing him, even when you have the trusty Susan to act as a
bodyguard, you may as well consider yourself a state prisoner at once.
So nothing was done to-day?"

"I wrote to London for two packets of Partridge's illustrated
fly-leaves," said Emmie. "Uncle Arrows recommended them to me as very
attractive and useful, and suited for cottage homes. I shall not attempt
visiting until I receive the packets by post."

"I have forestalled you," said Bruce, "and have laid in already a fair
stock of such ammunition to serve us in our warfare against ignorance
and intemperance here. I can supply you at once with as many of the
fly-leaves as there are homes in the hamlet."

"Then I am not to have a day's reprieve," sighed the unwilling recruit.

"When a duty is before us, the sooner it is done the better," observed
Bruce; "repugnance towards it only grows by delay. And I would advise
you, dear Emmie, should you meet either of those men whose acquaintance
you made in the storm, to be courteous--that you always are--but to
avoid entering into conversation with them, especially with the
so-called American colonel."

"Why, have you learned anything more about him?" inquired Emmie with

"I made inquiries regarding him of Mr. Blair, as my father desired me to
do," replied Bruce. "I find that this Standish has been for some weeks
at S----; but where he comes from, why he came, and wherefore he remains
in the place, nobody seems to know. He has had no introduction, as far
as my tutor is aware, to any of the county families; but he has, it is
said, been seen more than once quitting the small house which our
great-aunt bequeathed to Mrs. Jessel."

"What can have taken him there?" cried Emmie.

"My tutor could throw no light on that subject, and told me that he
spoke from mere hearsay, and put little faith in such gossip. One thing,
however, is certain,--this colonel lives at the best hotel in the town,
and in most luxurious style. He spares himself no indulgence, hires his
hunter and follows the hounds, or drives about the country in a curricle
and pair, and seems to be rolling in wealth. He is never seen in a place
of worship, and, pushing as he is, has not made his way into any
respectable circle. The less we have to say to this pseudo-colonel the
better; I suspect him to be a charlatan and impostor."

"There's charity for you, and gratitude!" exclaimed Vibert, who,
entering the room while Bruce was speaking, had heard his concluding
sentence. "Here is a gentleman who came to our aid when we were in a
dilemma, who has shown us courtesy and kindness, and he is to be
condemned, unheard, as an impostor, because a pedant, who has never put
foot in stirrup or fired a shot in his life, cannot understand a frank,
bold, chivalrous nature. Blair thinks that all must be evil that does
not just square with his old-fashioned notions. Emmie, you should stand
up for your friend," added the youth more playfully, as he threw himself
on an arm-chair, and stretched himself, after what he considered to be a
long and tiresome walk, "for the colonel not only helped to pull you out
of your ditch, but he told me that my sister is the prettiest girl that
he has seen on this side of the big fish-pond."

"I hope that you do not encourage such impertinence," observed Bruce

"Oh, if the colonel dare to hint that my brother is the pleasantest
fellow that he has met with, I'll resent the impertinence, I promise
you," laughed Vibert.

Emmie foresaw, with uneasiness, more angry sparring between her two
brothers, and, to turn the current of conversation, asked Vibert what he
thought of the Blairs.

"Oh, our tutor is a learned professor, who has pored over books, and
puzzled over problems, till he has grown into the shape of a note of
interrogation," replied Vibert lightly. "As for his wife, she's a homely
body, as clever men's wives usually are; Mrs. Blair looks like a
housekeeper, but has not the merit of being a good one."

Bruce, whom the conversation did not greatly interest, had taken up a

"And her family?" inquired Emmie; "I suppose that you have made their

"We were all gathered together at early dinner, if one could call that a
dinner at which there was nothing eatable," said the fastidious Vibert.
"There was old Blair at one end of the table, hacking at a shoulder of
mutton, and talking, as he did so, to Bruce about Sophocles and
Euripides. There was Mrs. Blair at the other end, ladling out the
potatoes. Bruce and I sat on one side, and three demure little chaps in
pinafores on the other, like degrees of comparison, small, smaller, and
smallest; dull, duller, and dullest. The children were so terribly
well-behaved, that they never asked for anything (not that there was
much to ask for), they never spoke a word, nor lifted their eyes from
their plates, but wielded with propriety their forks and spoons; I think
that only the eldest of the three was trusted with a knife. The little
fellows' looks seemed to say, 'It is a matter of business, and not of
play, to eat shoulder of mutton and boiled rice pudding, and drink water
out of horn mugs.' The whole affair had such a nursery look about it,
that I half expected to be provided with a pinafore, instead of a dinner

"You incorrigible boy!" laughed Emmie; "I think that the three degrees
of comparison will become merry, merrier, and merriest in your company

"They will have precious little of it, I can tell you that," said
Vibert; "one such meal is enough for me. To say nothing of its
intolerable dulness, the wine of Blair's table is insufferably bad, the
mere washing out of casks, cheap trash!"--the lad distorted his handsome
features into an expression of strong disgust. "Oh, _you_ did not mind
it, Bruce," continued Vibert, as his brother glanced up from his book;
"you are a water-drinker and no judge on the subject, but _I_ know what
is what, and cheap wine of all things I detest. It ruins the
constitution. I shall try if I cannot get something eatable and
drinkable in the town; I hear that there is a capital _table d'hôte_ at
the White Hart."

"You are aware that the arrangement for our having luncheon at our
tutor's being concluded, your taking the meal elsewhere must involve
double expense," observed Bruce.

"Can't help that," said the youthful epicurean, shrugging his shoulders;
"I can't work on coarse mutton and plain rice pudding, served up on
plates of the old willow-pattern; specially as I seem likely to be
starved at Myst Court, if we are to have no cook but Hannah. I am
certain," continued Vibert, his bright eyes sparkling with fun as he
turned to his sister--"I am certain that yesterday's boiled rabbits were
my great-aunt's cats in disguise, and that the soup--faugh!--was simply
the water in which they had been boiled! Why did we not bring our old
cook to Myst Court?"

"We did not bring her, because she would not come," replied Emmie.

"I suppose that in an old haunted house, country cooks and country
footmen are necessary evils, and must be endured," said Vibert,
attempting to look philosophic. "But I hope that you, as mistress of the
establishment, have spoken pretty sharply to Hannah. I hope that you
have given her a fright."

"Hannah is a good deal more likely to give me one," answered the smiling
Emmie. "I think of making over to you, Vibert, the office of scolding
the cook."

"I should find that a more formidable task than that of facing all the
ghosts of Myst Court," was the merry lad's playful reply.



"Bruce is right; whenever a disagreeable duty is to be done, the sooner
we get over it the better," said Emmie to herself, as, accompanied by
Susan, she started on her walk before luncheon on the following day. A
cloud of care was on the youthful face which looked so fair and gentle
under the shade of the broad-brimmed garden-hat which the maiden wore.
Emmie had "screwed up her courage to the sticking-point," and had
resolved not to return home without having performed her self-allotted
task of, at least, entering two of the cottages inhabited by her
father's tenants. The young lady had a couple of fly-leaves in her hand,
with their attractive pictures outermost,--these were what Bruce had
called her ammunition; but the timid recruit had a reserve, on which she
counted more, in the form of a half-crown slipped into her left glove,
ready to be produced in a moment. There are many district visitors who
may remember the time when they started on their first campaign as
reluctantly and as timidly as did the inexperienced Emmie.

It may have been observed that the maiden undertook her work simply as a
hard duty. She was urged onwards by a brother's counsels, and pricked by
the goad of conscience. There was in Miss Trevor none of the hopeful,
earnest spirit which hears the Master's call, and answers it with the
cry, "Here am I; send me!" Emmie had indeed prayed for help in entering
on her new sphere, but her prayer was not the prayer of faith. She did
not realize that God could indeed make her a channel through which His
stream of blessing might flow on a parched and thirsty land. She did not
believe that her dumb lips might be so opened that her mouth might show
forth His praise. Emmie had a profound mistrust of her own powers. Such
mistrust is safe and may be salutary; but she confounded that innocent
diffidence with what was really mistrust of God. The girl knew her own
weakness; so far, all was well; but there was unbelief in not resting on
the almighty strength of her God. Emmie would have been startled and
shocked had the truth been clothed in words, but she was really
regarding the Most High as a Master who commands that bricks should be
made without giving the needful straw, as a Leader who sends forth
feeble recruits to the fight all unprovided with armour. The maiden's
courage was not sustained by the thought, _I will go in the strength of
the Lord God_; nor did she rest on His promise, _My grace is sufficient
for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness._ It was not the
love of God, but the dread of incurring His displeasure, which made the
poor, hesitating, unwilling girl combat the fear of man.

And if Emmie was not impelled forwards by a loving desire to please a
loving Master, still less was she influenced by tender concern for the
souls of those whom she felt that she ought to visit. The child of
luxury, in her pleasant home, had scarcely regarded the poor as being of
the same class of beings as herself. They were creatures to be pitied,
to be helped, to be taught by those trained for the work; but as beings
to be objects of sympathy and love, as children of the one Great Father,
Emmie could not regard them. Charity was thus to her but a cold dry
duty, like the timber which may be shaped into a thousand useful
purposes; but not like the living tree whose branches are bright with
blossoms or rich in fruit, because through it flows the life-giving sap.
Such Christian charity belongs not to fallen nature; it is a special
gift of God, and comes through close union, by faith, with Him whose
nature is love. Emmie's faith was so weak, that it is no marvel that her
prayers for guidance were little more than forms, and that her
compassion for her poor fellow-sinners was cold. The young Christian had
_not_ conquered mistrust.

"Susan, have you not told me that the ladies with whom you once lived
used to visit the poor?" said Emmie to her attendant as the two
proceeded along the drive.

"Yes, constantly, miss," was the answer.

"I wish that I knew how they made their way with the cottagers. Did they
not find it very difficult at first?" asked Emmie.

"I do not know how they found it at first," replied Susan; "for when I
entered the service of the vicar's lady, even her little ones were
accustomed to go to the homes of the poor whom they knew, to make some
good old creature happy with a jug of warm broth, or a bit of flannel,
or, perhaps, a text in large letters, painted by themselves, to be hung
up in a sick person's room."

"But there is just the difficult point," observed Emmie,--"how did the
family come to know the poor so well? If one were once acquainted with
the 'good old creature,' there might be some pleasure in taking the
broth or the flannel."

"My young ladies used to go on their regular rounds, miss, and exchange
the books which they lent to the poor. I have often gone with the ladies
to carry the books," said Susan. "The visitors were always asked to sit
down in the cottages, the people were so much pleased to see them."

"And when the ladies sat down, what happened next?" asked Emmie, who
felt herself to be ignorant of the very alphabet of district visiting,
and who was not too proud to learn from her maid. "What did your ladies
say? Did they begin directly to teach and to preach?"

"Oh dear, no, miss!" cried Susan, a little surprised at the question; "I
think that my ladies talked to the poor much as they would have talked
to other people. They spoke to the cottagers about their health and the
weather, and to the mothers about their children, and they gave any
little bit of news, perhaps out of a missionary paper, that they thought
would amuse the poor folk. The talking came all quite natural-like."

"It would never come natural-like with me," observed Emmie; "nor, to own
the truth, do I see that much good is gained by that kind of talk. One
does not make the effort of going into the dirty homes of the poor just
to gossip with them, as one might do with a friend, but to teach them
their duty and make them better."

Susan knew her proper place too well to reply to this observation of her
young mistress; the maid thought, however, to herself that her former
ladies had found real friends and dear friends too amongst the poor, and
that to form a tie of sympathy between the higher and lower classes _did
do good_, even if there were no direct religious teaching. Susan
remembered also that she had heard the most pious of her young ladies
observe that she had herself learned more from the poor than she had
ever been able to teach them. The district visitor should recognize the
possibility of mutual benefit when she goes on her charity rounds.

"Did your ladies never talk to the people about their souls?" inquired
Emmie. "Was nothing said about religion in these visits which they paid
to the poor?"

"Oh yes, miss," answered Susan, "but it came so natural-like. A blind
woman would like to be read to; then the visitor read from the Bible,
and afterwards the two talked over what had been read. Or a mother, may
be, had lost a baby; and then the lady would speak of Him who carries
the lambs in His arms. The poor liked to open their hearts to the ladies
and tell them their troubles, because, you see, miss, they felt that
the ladies cared. I'm sure when little Amy Fisher died, Miss Mary cried
for her as much as her own mother did. Mrs. Fisher had been a hard sort
of woman,--I think she was given to drink,--but after her little one's
death Miss Mary got her quite round. But all that came quite
natural-like," added Susan, again using her favourite phrase, by which
Emmie understood that there had been no forced talk on religious
subjects, no hard dogmatical teaching.

"I wish that I could acquire this art of comforting and helping and
sympathizing," thought Emmie; "but I feel sure that I never shall do

Emmie and her maid had now reached the entrance gate. The young lady was
relieved not to see at it the figure of Harper, whom she regarded with
almost a superstitious dread. She passed his hovel, a mere tenement of
mud, with a thatched roof, green with moss and stained with yellow
lichen. The door was shut, and no smoke rose from the single chimney of
the dilapidated dwelling.

Picking her way along the muddy road, Emmie, with a beating heart,
proceeded towards the next cottage, which, though it was far from being
neat and clean in its appearance, had at least glass in its windows, and
was able to stand upright. Her conversation with Susan had been rather
encouraging on the whole to the inexperienced lady visitor. A faint
hope sprang up in the breast of Emmie that after a while district work
might come "natural-like" to her as it had done to other ladies. The
fair girl could not but be conscious that she possessed a more than
common power of pleasing, such a power as might smooth down some of her
difficulties in winning her way to the hearts of the poor.

Emmie went up to the door of the cottage, hesitated a moment, murmured
to herself, "Now for an effort!" and gently tapped with the end of her
parasol. No brief silent prayer was darted up from her heart,--that
prayer which is as the child's upward glance at the parent who holds his
hand to support and guide him. When first entering on what she regarded
as work for God, Emmie's thoughts were not rising to God.

There was a slight stir audible within the cottage after the lady had
knocked, followed by the click of the latch, and a woman threw open the
door. A scent of bacon, greens, and porter pervaded the cottage, and
Emmie saw that the family were seated at dinner. A burly-looking man in
shirt-sleeves, whose back had been towards the door, turned round his
unshaven, unwashed face to see who had tapped for admittance. Several
dirty, untidy children stared open-mouthed at the unexpected appearance
of a well-dressed lady. Emmie shrank back, for with intuitive delicacy
she felt that to enter a cottage at meal-time was an intrusion.

"Won't you step in, miss?" said the woman who had opened the door, with
that civility which is generally met with in the cottage homes of

"Oh--not now--I did not know--I never meant--" stammered forth poor
Emmie, as nervously polite as if she had by mistake intruded herself at
the repast of a duchess. The gruff looks of the man, who did not rise
from his chair, took from the timid girl all self-possession. Emmie
expected him to growl out, "What brings you here?" And as the only
apology which occurred to her mind for calling at all, she nervously
thrust her half-crown into the hand of the astonished woman, and with a
muttered "I thought you might want it," made her retreat from the door.
Emmie in her confusion dropped her papers; they were picked up and
returned to her by Susan.

"You might have left them by the door," observed Emmie.

Susan thought, though too respectful to say what she thought, that her
young ladies had never _dropped_ tracts in the mud for the poor to stoop
to pick up; the vicar's daughters had always given such papers with the
pleasant smile which had insured for them a welcome. In distributing
religious literature, as in most other matters, success greatly depends
on the manner in which a thing is done.

Emmie was not satisfied with this her first essay in cottage-visiting.
"I never thought of finding workmen at home," she observed to Susan.

"I think, miss, that twelve is a common dinner-hour," said Susan, "and
that then some of the men come home from their work."

"Then assuredly twelve is a bad visiting hour," cried Emmie; "we had
better return home directly." The young lady walked back to Myst Court
at a much quicker pace than had been hers when she had started on her
little expedition. She was glad to find herself within the gate and in
the shrubbery again.

"I have not had much success, but still I can tell Bruce that I have
made a beginning, that I have broken the ice," thought Emmie. "That
woman was civil enough; I should not have much minded going into the
cottage had I chanced to find her alone."

As Emmie's brothers were, as usual, passing the day at S----, Mr. Trevor
was his daughter's only companion at luncheon. The master of Myst Court
was a pleasant, kindly-looking man, who had reached the shady side of
fifty, but with a form yet unbent and hair but lightly touched with
gray. He had been from youth a steady hard-working man, and Bruce had
probably derived his habits of business from his father's example. But
with Mr. Trevor the wheel of labour had hitherto run in one groove, or
rather, one may say, on a tramway made smooth by habit. It had been as
natural to Mr. Trevor to go to his office, as it had been to partake of
his breakfast. The complete change in his mode of life caused by the
removal to Wiltshire, was like the jarring caused by turning suddenly
off the tramway into a stone-paved road. Mr. Trevor had not been trained
to perform the duties of a landlord and country squire, and he more than
suspected that what he might have gained in dignity of position he had
lost in comfort. Now as he sat at table in the lofty dining-room of his
stately mansion, Mr. Trevor's brow wore an expression of worry which
Emmie had never seen upon it when the family had resided in Summer

"You look tired, dear papa," she observed.

"I have had a good deal to annoy me, Emmie," said her father, who was
making very slow progress indeed with his plateful of beef, tough and
not much more than warmed through. "I find that Farmer Vesey has been
taking, in a most unscrupulous manner, a slice off my west field which
borders upon his lands. The steward says that I shall have to go to law
about it. I detest going to law! Why are not boundaries clearly marked!
Then I've had endless complaints from the people whose cottages border
the brook below Bullen's dye-works; they say that the dye kills all the
fish, and makes the water unfit for drinking. Really the complaints have
good foundation. I walked down to-day to the place, and saw that the
water is so discoloured that I would not let a dog slake his thirst in a
stream so polluted."

"And are the cottagers your tenants, papa?"

"Yes; so it is my business to defend their rights," observed Mr. Trevor.
"I went at once to Bullen, hoping that we might come to some
satisfactory arrangement, without having recourse to the lawyers."

"And I hope that you found the manufacturer open to reason?" said Emmie.

"I found him to be a low, vulgar, money-making man, who would not care
if he dyed all the rivers in England scarlet and blue, so that he could
fish his profits out of them. I have heard that Bullen gives infidel
lectures in S----, so that he tries to poison the springs of knowledge
as well as the waters of the brook."

"What a dreadful man!" exclaimed Emmie.

"I shall have to go to law with him," observed Mr. Trevor, with a yet
more troubled look; "I cannot let my tenants be poisoned, and yet I hate
the worry and expense of a suit. I shall wait a while, and see if this
fellow Bullen will not come to terms. Then I've had another annoying
thing brought to my notice this morning: it is certain that there is
poaching on my estate. There has been no proper care taken to preserve
the game during the time of my predecessor, and if matters go on in the
same way, pheasants will be as rare here as black swans. Really the
cheapest and easiest way to get game is from a London market!"

The same reflection had just occurred to Emmie. Joe, in his noisy way,
now entered the room, and told Miss Trevor, with awkward bluntness, that
a woman was asking to see her.

"What is her name?" inquired Emmie.

"She didn't give none, miss," said Joe; "but she has brought a lot of
children with her."

"Miss Trevor is engaged; desire the woman to wait a little," said the
master of Myst Court.

Joe went out, banging the door behind him, but in less than three
minutes returned.

"There be two other women come to see you, miss," said he. "One says as
you told her to call."

"I bade no one call," said Emmie. "I am sorry, papa, that you should be
thus disturbed at your meal."

"I had better myself see what is the cause of this irruption of the
Goths and Vandals," observed Mr. Trevor, rising from his seat, and then
quitting the room. Mr. Trevor had scarcely more experience than his
daughter in dealing personally with the poor, but he felt heavy upon his
conscience the responsibility belonging to the owner of landed property.

Mr. Trevor in a short time returned, looking grave and somewhat
perplexed. "How one misses clergy, and district visitors, and organized
societies in a place like this!" he exclaimed, as he resumed his seat at
the table. "All these women declare that they are in want, that their
husbands are out of work; and how am I to tell whether this be or be not
the fact? I have given each of the beggars a trifle, and told them not
to come here again, that we will make inquiries about them. I cannot
have my door thus besieged. I wonder what brought on us this sudden

"I'm afraid that it was my unlucky half-crown," observed Emmie.

"To whom did you give a half-crown?" asked her father.

"I gave it at the first cottage to the left of the gate, beyond
Harper's wretched little den," replied Emmie. She read something very
unlike approbation in the eyes of her parent, and shrank from their
questioning gaze.

"What! you gave it at the cottage of Blunt, the man who earns higher
wages than almost any one else in the place!" cried Mr. Trevor, slightly
raising his voice.

"The cottage did not look _very_ comfortable," said Emmie in an
apologetic tone. She felt that the excuse was scarcely sincere, for the
comfort or discomfort of the abode had had little to do with her giving
the money.

"Of course the cottage is not comfortable, for the man Blunt is
notoriously given to drinking," said Mr. Trevor, "and doubtless your
half-crown is already turned into gin. You must really exert your common
sense in visiting my tenants, my dear child," he continued in a tone of
vexation, "or you will do incalculable mischief where you intend to do

It was so strange a thing to Emmie to receive anything like reproof from
her tender indulgent parent, that her eyes glistened with tears of
distress and mortification. Mr. Trevor could not bear to give her pain,
and instantly softened his tone to that of kindness.

"You had the best intentions, my darling, and we shall all in time
understand our new duties better. But you must be a little more careful
in future where you visit, and how you give alms. I wish that instead of
Blunt's cottage you had taken the one to the right of the gate. A poor
respectable widow lives there; if I recollect rightly, her name is
Brant. I have seen her several times at her cottage-door, looking tidy,
but so poor and so ill that she has been rather upon my mind. It is not
in my way to visit sick women, but I should like you to call with Susan,
and ascertain whether the poor creature be really in want."

"Yes, papa, I will go," said Emmie humbly; "I will this afternoon visit
the poor respectable widow, and try to keep my half-crowns in future for
those who need and deserve them."



Again Emmie, with her attendant, passed through the gateway at the
entrance to the grounds of Myst Court. Miss Trevor had scarcely done so
ere she became uncomfortably conscious that her movements now attracted
a good deal of attention amongst the inmates of the cottages near. A
rabble of children, all dirty and some of them barefoot, clustered near
the gate, and when the lady had passed it, formed a kind of volunteer
escort with which Emmie would have gladly dispensed. Some begged, and
all stared at the lady; while two or three urchins, more impudent than
the rest, pressed so closely upon her, that Susan could scarcely prevent
them from impeding her mistress's progress. Emmie walked fast to rid
herself of her unwelcome companions, but the children quickened their
pace to keep up with the lady. Women stood at the entrances of their
cottages, dropping courtesies, and evidently full of hope that the
dispenser of half-crowns would visit their homes. Emmie was
experimentally learning one of the most important of lessons for a
district visitor, especially a rich one, that the worst way to begin is
to give money without inquiry, merely to smooth our own way, and to buy
that civility from the poor which is usually offered freely. The
indiscriminating giver of alms, instead of improving the class whom he
visits, rouses their evil passions. He makes the poor beggars, if he
finds them not beggars already. Cupidity, jealousy, hypocrisy, these are
the seeds which the careless, indolent almsgiver sows; and then, when he
sees the harvest, he bitterly complains of the ingratitude which has
requited his generous kindness. To help effectually those who require
help, to sow a blessing and reap a blessing, we need to receive, we need
to ask for the wisdom that cometh down from above.

"I wish that I had flung that unlucky half-crown into the brook, instead
of throwing it away on those Blunts!" thought Emmie. "It was my nervous
timidity that made me do so foolish a thing."

There was no difficulty in finding the cottage of Widow Brant; nor had
Emmie even to knock, for the poor woman stood at her open door, only
too glad to welcome the lady in. The widow was dressed neatly, but very
poorly; her mourning was faded, and many a patch showed the work of
industrious fingers. The inside of the cottage was so clean, that Emmie
felt no reluctance to sit down on the chair which was offered to her,
after a rapid dusting which it did not seem to require. Mrs. Brant was a
small, thin, sickly-looking woman, with weak voice and timid manner; not
even Emmie could possibly feel afraid of "breaking the ice" with one who
excited no feeling but that of compassion. A good commencement was made;
Emmie admired the flowers in the window, she herself was so fond of
flowers; there was the point of similarity of taste on which the rich
and poor could touch each other without undue familiarity on the one
side, or sense of condescension on the other. The face of the widow
brightened, and the young visitor felt encouraged. Miss Trevor went on
to make inquiries regarding the widow's state of health, and listened
with interest unfeigned to the story of long years passed in weakness
and pain. The patient endurance of the poor invalid interested and
touched the heart of her hearer.

"But have you had no medical advice?" inquired Emmie.

"Years agone I'd the parish doctor, miss; but he didn't do me no good,"
replied the meek little widow. "But now I'm in hopes as I'll soon get
better. There's a wonderful clever man as has come to this place; they
says as he has been in Ireland, and he has scraped the dust off the
tombstones of saints, and mixed it up with holy water, and when we've
crossed his palm with a shilling, miss, he hangs a bag of the dust round
our necks, and mutters a charm to wile away all our pains. See, miss,"
and the poor creature showed a small linen bag fastened round her neck
by a morsel of string, "I gave my last shilling for this."

"And has it done you good?" asked Emmie, a little amused at the
simplicity of the woman, and more than a little indignant at the
advantage taken of it by some heartless impostor.

"I can't say as how I feels much better yet," replied the sufferer, "but
I hopes as in time the charm will work a cure."

"It will never work anything but disappointment!" cried Miss Trevor;
"the food which that shilling might have bought would have done more for
your health than all the charms in the world made up by a superstitious,
ignorant quack!"

"Ignorant--superstitious!" croaked out a voice at the slowly opening
door, which made Emmie start to her feet in alarm. She knew the tones,
and she knew the hard features and long grizzled hair of him who had
crossed the threshold, and who now stood surveying her with a fixed
malignant gaze. "Do you talk of _ignorance_, child," continued Harper,
making a stride towards Emmie, who instantly backed as far as the narrow
space of the room would admit, "you who know not even the secrets of
your own dwelling, nor dare to ask what things of darkness may haunt it!
_Superstition!_--if it be superstition to dread the unseen, to tremble
before the unknown, is it for _you_ to talk of superstition in another?"

Emmie was too much terrified to attempt a reply. Her one desire was to
quit the cottage directly, and she made a movement as if to do so; but
Harper was between her and the door, and she did not dare to brush past
him. Happily her attendant Susan was much more self-possessed than was
her young mistress.

"Please to make way for my lady," said the maid with a decision of
manner which caused Harper to draw a little to one side. Emmie did not
even wait to wish the widow good-day; trembling like an aspen, the timid
girl made her escape from the cottage, resolved never to run the risk of
encountering Harper again, unless she were under the immediate
protection of her father or Bruce.

Returning rapidly towards the entrance gate, like one who fears pursuit,
Emmie, when almost close to it, came upon Mrs. Jessel, attired as before
in black dress, with crape-flowers and bugles.

"Ah! Miss Trevor, good afternoon," said the late attendant on Mrs.
Myers, with the mixture of obsequiousness and forwardness which marked
the manner of one long accustomed to flatter and fawn, but who felt
herself to be now greatly raised in social position by having a house of
her own. "How good you are to go visiting the cottages round!"

"I cannot visit in cottages," said poor Emmie with something like a
gasp, as she passed through the gateway and then stopped, as if she now
felt herself safe.

"Ah! that's what my poor dear lady was always saying, Miss Trevor,"
observed Jael Jessel, who had followed her into the grounds. "Mrs. Myers
was the kindest of creatures; but she was too nervous to visit her
tenants. 'You go for me, Jessel,' was always her words; 'you know every
one here, you know who is sick, and who has had twins, who wants soup,
and who would like a hundred of coals. It is you that must visit for

"I wish that some one would visit for me!" escaped from the unwary lips
of Emmie.

"Oh! I'll do it with all the pleasure in life, miss!" cried Mrs. Jessel,
her bugles trembling with the eagerness with which she clinched what she
chose to regard as an offer of employment. "There is nothing that I like
better than looking after the poor dear folk round about. You see I've
now a deal of time on my hands. You have only to tell Hannah, miss, to
let me have what goes from your table, or a drop of broth now and then,
and there shall be no trouble to any one; I'll bring my own basket to
carry the food, and you'll have the satisfaction, Miss Trevor, of
knowing that every one here is well looked after."

"You are very kind," said Emmie, who thought that it would indeed be a
comfort to have a substitute to do the work for which she herself was
proved to be so unfit.

"I was just going up to the Court, Miss Trevor, to hunt after the tabby
of which my poor dear lady was so fond," observed Mrs. Jessel; "the
creature misses her so--every one misses her so! I can't keep my cats
from wandering back to the old house, where she used to feed them with
her own hands. I'll just tell Hannah your wishes, Miss Trevor, she'll
understand what you want. You'd have the cottagers cared for, and you
make over the care of them all to me."

"Pray take some food at once to poor Mrs. Brant," said Emmie.

"She shan't go to bed without a good supper, and I'll tell her who sends
it," cried Mrs. Jessel; "meat is the physic she wants. It's not for
ladies like you, Miss Trevor, to be soiling their nice dresses by going
in and out of dirty cottages, and may be hearing bad language, or
meeting, perhaps, with rudeness. It's for those who are used to the
work, like me; those who know the ins and the outs, the whys and the
wherefores; who are neither easily taken in, nor easily frightened. Yes,
I'll do all that is wanted,--you may rest quite easy, Miss Trevor."



If, even while the arrangement with Mrs. Jessel was thus hastily
concluded, Miss Trevor had her doubts as to whether it were a wise or a
good one, as days and weeks rolled on the young lady became more certain
that a great mistake had been made. Emmie had given to one of whose
character she knew very little a footing in the house from which it
would not be easy to displace her. Mrs. Jessel had now a fair excuse for
"dropping in" at Myst Court at any hour, and she almost invariably chose
the hours after dark. Her basket, by no means a small one, was Jael's
unfailing companion. Emmie wondered, but never ventured to inquire, how
much of the food which left Myst Court really found its way to the homes
of the poor. What made Emmie more uneasy were the words occasionally
dropped by her trustworthy Susan, who evidently disliked Mrs. Jessel's
coming so much about the place, and who had no faith in her
qualifications for the office of almoner into which she had installed
herself by taking advantage of the timidity of Miss Trevor.

Mr. Trevor had made it his invariable rule to pay his bills weekly, and
his daughter kept his household accounts. Emmie was startled at the
amount of the bills now run up by the butcher and grocer who served the
family at Myst Court. The young lady mustered up courage one day to
express to Hannah her surprise at the heavy expense incurred at a time
when the household was not large, and there was no entertaining of
guests. Hannah had found out from the first her lady's weakness, and had
laughingly observed to Lizzy, "The way to manage young miss is to flare
up at the first word; she don't dare to bring out a second." Hannah did
not fail to put her tactics into practice on the present occasion.

"I don't know what you mean by expense, miss," she growled out, like a
surly dog ready to snap; "Mrs. Jessel must have what she wants for the
poor, and it's a lot as her basket holds; one can't fill it with
soap-suds or shavings!"

Emmie retreated discomfited from the kitchen, and with a mortified,
downcast look carried the tradesmen's books to her father.

Mr. Trevor was in his study, writing out a statement to his lawyer of
the wrong inflicted on some of his tenants by the dye-works of Messrs.
Bullen and Co.

"I am sorry to interrupt you, papa," said Emmie, as, after gently
closing the door behind her, she approached the table at which her
father was seated, "but I am afraid that I shall want more money to pay
these bills."

"You told me that you had enough," observed Mr. Trevor, looking up from
his writing, with his ready-dipped pen in his hand.

"I thought so, till I saw the amount of the bills," and, as she spoke,
Emmie placed the open books on the desk before her father.

"This is absurd!" cried Mr. Trevor, after a rapid glance at the
summings-up; "Hannah must either be dishonest or wasteful. We appear to
live at more expense than we did at Summer Villa, where we had far more
comfort, and had friends to share our meals. You must speak to Hannah,
my love."

"I have spoken to her," replied Emmie. "Hannah accounts for the expense
by the quantity of food which Mrs. Jessel takes to the poor."

"I hope that you keep a sharp look-out after that woman," observed Mr.
Trevor gravely. "It passes my comprehension why you should ever employ
her at all to visit the tenants."

Emmie was ashamed to answer what was the truth,--"I did so because I did
not dare to visit them myself."

"There seems to be no end to the drains upon my purse at present," said
Mr. Trevor, leaning back on his chair; "workmen to pay in the house,
fields to drain, county-hospital and schools to assist, and two
law-suits looming before me! Vibert came to me for more money to-day.
How that boy runs through his allowance! I thought that when he was
beyond reach of London amusements, he would be able to draw in a little;
and, after arranging for his meals with his tutor, I never expected to
have to pay hotel-bills for my son."

Mr. Trevor had touched on a cause of uneasiness which was more and more
pressing on the spirits of Emmie. The sister knew, both from light words
dropped by Vibert and grave ones spoken by his brother, that the youth
was by no means giving due attention to his studies at S----. Vibert was
always late at his tutor's house, never remained there to luncheon, and
not infrequently did not return for afternoon study at all. Emmie was
aware that Vibert was sometimes driven back from S---- in a curricle by
Colonel Standish, arriving at Myst Court long after Bruce had reached
the place on foot. Vibert was enthusiastic in praise of his American
friend, dilating on his talent, his courage, his generosity,--perhaps
admiring him all the more from a spirit of opposition to Bruce, who did
not admire him at all.

Emmie saw little of her brothers on week-days, except at breakfast-time,
and during the evenings; the young lady, therefore, led a somewhat
solitary life. She took occasional drives with her father, but, except
in his company, rarely quitted the grounds. Time hung very heavily on
the fair maiden's hands; Myst Court was a dreary place in November to
one accustomed to cheerful society, who had now to pass many hours

Bruce went on steadily with his studies on week-days, and with his class
of boys on Sunday evenings, learning himself or teaching others with the
same characteristic perseverance and strength of will. He never again
asked Emmie to visit the poor. The two brothers rarely met each other
except at meals, when the presence of their father prevented unseemly
disputes between them. But both Mr. Trevor and his daughter were
painfully conscious of the coldness which existed between Vibert and
Bruce. The father was disappointed and displeased to find that his elder
son was not, as the parent had so hoped that he would be,--a friend,
protector, and guide to the younger.

"If Vibert go on as he is doing, he'll come to ruin," said Bruce one day
to his sister, in the early part of December, when Emmie was
accompanying him as far as the entrance-gate on his way to S----.

"Oh, Bruce, I am very, very unhappy about Vibert," sighed Emmie; "I
cannot think that he has a safe companion in that American colonel."

"Standish is Vibert's evil genius," muttered Bruce Trevor.

"Do you not think that it would be only right for you to speak seriously
to papa about Vibert's present way of going on?" suggested Emmie.

Bruce abruptly stopped short in his walk.

"No," he replied emphatically; "I will never say anything again to my
father concerning Vibert, let the boy do what he may. I began to speak
last night on the subject; I began to tell my father what I thought that
he ought to know. I had scarcely spoken two sentences, when he said
coldly--you know his manner when he is vexed--'Bruce, you are jealous of
your younger brother.' I jealous!--and of Vibert!" exclaimed Bruce,
resuming his walk at a quick pace which expressed mortification and
anger. "That's all the credit that I got for speaking the truth so I
mean henceforth to keep silence. Our father is utterly blind when Vibert
is concerned; every one else must be blamed, rather than a fault be
found in the precious young scapegrace! I may plod on, study, save, deny
myself any indulgence, while Vibert quaffs his champagne, plays at
billiards,--or worse, squanders his money and his time; and if I so much
as venture to hint that matters are going wrong, why I, forsooth, am
jealous--jealous of one whom I despise--jealous of a selfish prodigal,
who would sacrifice anything or any one for the sake of an hour's

Bruce had reached the iron gate, and he now flung it wide open with a
vehement action, which was the outward expression of the indignation
burning within his breast. The young man strode forth from his father's
grounds full of that pride of spirit which is altogether inconsistent
with Christian profession. Yet was Bruce scarcely conscious that he was
proud, because his besetting sin was so closely shrouded up in his
heart's haunted chamber. Bruce could not accuse himself of being
self-righteous, because he truly acknowledged himself to be a sinner
before his God. He was more free than most young men in his station from
pride of talent, pride of birth, pride which glories in any personal
gift. Bruce hated ostentation, and was not keenly eager for praise.
Where, then, was young Trevor's pride to be found? It was interwoven in
the very fabric of his character; but so interwoven that it did not
appear glaringly on the surface. Pride, with Bruce, was as the vein
which pervades the marble,--only faintly visible here and there,
scarcely marring its beauty, but penetrating deep, yea, to the utmost
depth of the firm and solid mass. If Emmie was self-indulgent, Vibert
self-engrossed, Bruce was pre-eminently self-willed. His besetting sin
was the more dangerous because it did not startle his conscience. Bruce
knew that his faith in God was steadfast, his sincerity not to be
questioned, that on the path of duty he walked with a step unswerving
and firm. He compared his own conduct with that of Vibert, and it was
impossible that such a comparison should not be to the advantage of the
elder brother, who was singularly free from the selfishness which marred
the character of the younger. Yet Bruce was not safe in his orthodox
creed, his stainless life, his useful labours; he was not walking humbly
before his God. His was not the charity which thinks no evil, which
loves, and hopes, and endures; the scorn which he felt for a brother's
weakness, the anger roused by a brother's sin, were tokens--had he
closely examined their source--of the baneful presence of pride.



"Everything seems to have gone wrong with me here!" sighed Emmie, as she
sat alone by the drawing-room window, watching the descent of large
flakes of snow, which melted as they came in contact with earth. "I have
been at Myst Court for a month, and what have I to look back upon since
I came here but feeble attempts to do what is right, melting into
failure, even like those flakes? Yes, my uncle's warning was not
unneeded by me. Fear, the child of Mistrust, is indeed the haunting
spirit that mars my peace, cripples my usefulness, and takes from me the
power of glorifying God. I am afraid to rule my own household; I shrink
from meeting an angry look; I wink at what I know to be wrong,--because
I am too timid to enforce what I know to be right. I am afraid to enter
the dwellings of the poor, though conscience pricks me whenever I drive
past those wretched hovels which it is my duty to enter as a messenger
of mercy and comfort. The good which I might have done, I do not; and
oh! is it not written, _To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not,
it is sin?_ I have given up my own appointed work to a substitute in
whom I have no trust, all through fear--my mistrustful fear! Timidity
haunts me in my house--in my family. I cannot conquer my foolish
repugnance even to drawing back that curtain which divides the right
wing of Myst Court from the more inhabited part of the dwelling, though
my brother every night passes beyond that curtain to sleep without fear
or harm in that room which I dreaded to enter. Reason tells me that my
misgivings are folly, but superstitious fear is too strong for reason.
And, though it appear in a different form, is it not the same mistrust
that makes me so fearful to offend my brothers by speaking, in tender
love, truths which they are unwilling to hear? Vibert, my own dear
Vibert, whom I remember as the bright beautiful boy who was my mother's
darling, the very sunshine of our home, Vibert has entered, I fear, on a
course that imperils his peace here and his happiness hereafter. I might
exert an elder sister's influence over his frank and kindly nature; but
I dread to rouse his anger, and risk the loss of his affection. And,
alas! I am conscious that the weakness of character at which Vibert so
often has laughed, has lessened my influence with him for good. Vibert
loves--but he does not look up to his sister; on one point, at least, I
am in his eyes but as a silly, unreasoning child!"

Emmie possessed, as has been observed, a sensitive conscience, and was
no stranger to the duty of self-examination: she had made the first step
in spiritual warfare, she had seen and recognized her besetting foe. But
to see and to recognize an enemy is not the same thing as to fight him.
A deeply spiritual writer has given directions to the Christian soldier
in face of his besetting sin, directions so practical that I shall quote
them instead of giving words of my own. The writer supposes the presence
of the enemy to have been found out by honest searching of the heart:--

"When the discovery is made, the path of the spiritual combatant becomes
clear, however arduous. Your fighting is to be no longer a flourishing
of the arms in the air; it is to assume a definite form, it is to be a
combat with the bosom sin. Appropriate mortifications must be adopted,
such as common sense will suggest, varying with the nature of the sin,
and combined always with a heartfelt acknowledgment of our utter
weakness, and with a silent but fervent prayer for the grace of Almighty
God.... What is the warfare of many earnest and well-intentioned
Christians but the sending of shafts at a venture? They have a certain
notion that they must resist the evil within and without them; but then
this evil presents itself in so many forms that they are bewildered and
confused, and know not where to begin.... The first work of the politic
spiritual warrior will be to discover his besetting sin, and having
discovered it, to _concentrate_ all his disposable force before this

Let me illustrate the author's meaning by referring to the characters in
my story, whose counterparts may be found amongst my various readers.
Bruce, being once aware that his bosom sin was pride, should have taken
every opportunity of mortifying that pride, not only by owning his sins
before God, but by frankly acknowledging his own mistakes and errors in
the presence of men. Vibert, if not by literal fasting, yet by the
practice of self-denial in every sensual indulgence, should have sought
to give the spirit the victory over the flesh. Emmie, wrestling down her
mistrust by prayer, should have forced her unwilling spirit to "nobly
dare the thing which nature shrinks from."

But the maiden chose a middle course. She would not attack the fortress,
but go round it; she would try to do her duty, but rather by evading
than by conquering the enemy who opposed her. Emmie felt like one who
has made a pleasant discovery when a means of reaching her father's
tenants, without trying her own courage, suggested itself to her mind.

"Yes, that will do--that will do!" exclaimed the maiden, as with a
brightening countenance she rose from her seat, and then crossed the
room with light step to ring the small bell by which she was accustomed
to summon her maid. "Christmas-time is at hand,--that blessed time when
all who have the power should seek to make those around them happy. My
father and Bruce will, I am sure, approve of my little plan."

Emmie remained standing until Susan entered the room. Smilingly the
young lady confided her intentions to one who would be her ready
assistant in carrying them out. "Susan," she said, "I mean to give a
feast at Christmas to the younger children of my father's tenants. We
will prepare a German tree, to be loaded with little gifts, most of them
made up by your hands and mine."

"I should be delighted to help, miss," said Susan.

"And mine should not merely be a treat for a day," continued Emmie; "I
think of something beyond the mere amusement of the children whom I
invite. Say that fifty little ones come; I would procure fifty New
Testaments, that each child might carry back one to his home, wrapped up
in one of these illustrated fly-leaves with which my brother has already
provided me."

Those leaves gave Emmie a feeling of shame whenever her glance chanced
to fall on the almost undiminished packet.

"I wish that more of the children knew how to read," observed Susan in a
doubtful tone.

"If they cannot read, surely most of their parents can," said Emmie, her
wish being father to her thought. "If such good seed be sown broadcast,
certainly some benefit must result. Yes," she continued cheerfully, "I
will make friends with the little children, and through them assist the
parents whose homes I cannot visit."

Then came the question of ways and means. Miss Trevor was rather pleased
than otherwise to find that her little project would involve some need
of self-denial. She had five pounds remaining of her allowance, money
which she had intended to spend in other ways, but which she would
devote to the Christmas treat.

"I'll not send this," said Emmie, tearing up a note which she had
written to a circulating library in London; "I will do without new books
for a time. Then as for the warm dress which I meant to purchase, your
clever fingers, Susan, will make my present blue cashmere serve me for
another winter in a quiet place like this."

The pleasure of seeing the eyes of fifty children sparkling with delight
at the feast to which she would invite them, the joy of imparting so
much innocent joy, would, as Emmie truly thought, out-weigh the small
gratification of buying that with which she so easily could dispense.

"And now, Susan, bring down my basket of odds and ends, and--stay--you
will find pieces of muslin and ribbon in my left-hand drawer. We must
see what we can make use of in dressing dolls, making pincushions and
needle-books, and devise something suitable as gifts for the little

Susan went, and soon returned with a basketful of such materials as
woman's taste and skill can transform into a thousand attractive forms.

The snow-flakes were falling faster and thicker; grassy lawn and gravel
path were now covered with a sheet of spotless white, which hid every
roughness and smoothed away every blemish. Emmie was no longer troubling
herself with thoughts of her follies and failings. With the eagerness
natural to youth, she was preparing for the pleasant task which she had
set herself to perform, a task which would at the same time employ her
fingers, amuse her mind, and quiet her conscience. See her on her knees
on the hearth-rug beside the blazing fire, with her basket of odds and
ends beside her, and a pile of half-worn-out clothes placed on a chair.
Emmie is sorting and arranging, planning and preparing, cutting out work
for herself and Susan that will keep them both happily and usefully
engaged for weeks. It is wonderful how care is lightened, and what
mental sunshine comes with occupations such as this. Emmie's thoughts,
instead of brooding over imaginary terrors, are full of ingenious
devices for improving this and altering that, making old things look
new, and astonishing simple rustics by elegant trifles such as they
never before could have seen.

"Now take up these clothes and look to the patching," said Emmie,
dismissing her maid.--"I will send at once to London for the
Testaments," she added to herself after Susan had left the apartment.
"My five pounds will cover that expense, as well as the cost of my
simple feast,--tea and cake, oranges and buns; and then there must be a
trifle for lights for my tree."

Humming cheerfully to herself, Emmie rose from her kneeling position and
went to her desk, which lay on the drawing-room table. She unlocked and
opened it, and then took out a pocket-book within which was her
five-pound note. Joe was to take the pony that day to be shod at S----,
so Emmie drew out a form for a money-order for the Bible Society to be
procured at the same time. Emmie, with the order and bank-note in her
hand, was about to ring the bell for the footman, when Vibert entered
the drawing-room. He looked at the hearth-rug, strewn with many-coloured
scraps and cuttings from the overflowing basket which Emmie had been
ransacking for materials for her charity work.

"You here still, Vibert!" exclaimed his sister, pausing with her hand on
the old-fashioned bell-rope which hung by the fire-place. "I thought
that you had been for the last hour poring over your books at S----.
Were you afraid of the snow that you stopped at home this morning?"

"Afraid!" echoed Vibert. "No; I leave that word, like bodkins and
hair-pins, for the use of the ladies. The truth is, that I wanted,
before I set off for the town, to ask,--but what is that which you have
in your hand?" asked the youth as his glance, and an eager glance it
was, fell on his sister's five-pound note.

"I am going to tell Joe to procure me a money-order," said Emmie, making
a movement to ring the bell; but a quick sign from Vibert prevented her
from drawing down the heavy bell-rope.

"Stop, Emmie!" cried her brother; "you would do me such a kindness if
you were to lend me that five-pound note."

Emmie, for more than one reason, was annoyed at her brother's request.
This was by no means the first time that Vibert had wanted to borrow
money, and he had a very indifferent memory as regarded payment of
debts. Vibert saw his sister's look of vexation and the slight frown
which for a moment ruffled the smoothness of her fair brow.

"I assure you, darling," he said in a coaxing manner, "that the loan
would be a great, a very great convenience to me. I hate asking papa for
more money; he seems to feel more pinched now than he did before he came
in for a fortune. When I tell him that I can't manage to keep within my
allowance, he twits me with the prudence and moderation of Bruce, as if
I could skin flints or count farthings like Bruce."

There was scorn in the tone of Vibert as he uttered the last sentence,
which roused the spirit of Emmie in defence of her absent brother.
"Bruce is no skin-flint!" she cried; "he does many a kind and generous
thing. If he saves, it is on himself; there is not a particle of
selfishness in his nature!"

Emmie had not intended to strike at one brother whilst defending the
other; but Vibert was in an excited, irritable mood, and took his
sister's words as a palpable hit at himself.

"You are the last person from whom I should have expected such a taunt,"
said the spendthrift bitterly. "I thought that if I had no other friend
in the world I should find one, Emmie, in you."

"Always! always!" cried his sister eagerly; "I would do anything for
you, dear Vibert."

"Will you lend me that five-pound note?"

Again Emmie hesitated and looked vexed. "I had laid it all out already
in my mind," she replied. "It is to give pleasure to so many poor
children at Christmas."

"Christmas! why, you shall have it back long before Christmas," cried
Vibert; and he held out his hand for the note. But Emmie retained it
still in her clasp. She was doubtful as to the use which the young
prodigal might make of the money, and whether it might not be rather an
injury than a kindness to Vibert to replenish his empty purse.

The youth read the doubt on the maiden's expressive face, and it made
him indignant and angry.

"Emmie, can you not trust me?" exclaimed Vibert in an irritable tone;
and, as no answer immediately came, he passionately repeated the

"Oh for courage to speak the truth faithfully!" thought Emmie; but the
courage came not with the wish. Her lips formed a scarcely articulate
"yes;" and having said "yes" to her brother's question, she could hardly
say "no" to his demand for a loan.

Vibert rather took than received the bank-note from Emmie; he saw that
his sister was reluctant to give it, but he thought that a kiss, and the
assurance that she was "the dearest girl in the world," had set all
right between them.

"Of course the money is as safe with me as if it were in the Bank of
England!" cried Vibert; "you shall have it back in a week;" and nodding
good-bye to Emmie, Vibert quitted the drawing-room, and was soon on his
way to S----.

Emmie watched from the window the light and graceful form of her
brother, as he tramped over the new-fallen snow, leaving brown
footprints behind him. The poor girl's eyes were full of tears, and her
heart of self-reproach.

"I have been no true friend to my thoughtless young brother," said Emmie
to herself; "it was mere selfish cowardice which made me yield to his
wishes, and put in his hands money of which I fear that he will make no
good use."

The maiden left the window, but not to resume her employment; all her
pleasure in it was gone: she had sacrificed her means of doing good to
her fear of offending her brother. Emmie knelt down on the hearth-rug
and hastily gathered up her scraps of ribbons, chintz, and silk, tossing
them back into the basket, as trash to be thrust out of sight, or thrown
away as useless. The cares which pressed on Emmie's mind were not now to
be banished by thoughts of Christmas amusements, and the hope of
imparting innocent pleasure to the children of her father's tenants.

On the afternoon of that day, Miss Trevor took possession of that
apartment which, by means of thorough repairs, had been prepared for her
reception. It was spacious enough to receive all the furniture which had
been originally placed in the room now occupied by Bruce. Amongst other
articles, the tall press of richly-carved oak occupied a conspicuous
place; it had been moved with some difficulty from the position which it
had held for two centuries, and now added to the stateliness, though not
perhaps to the cheerfulness, of Miss Trevor's apartment.



The demeanour of Mr. Trevor's two sons, when they met at the
dinner-table on that evening, was in strong contrast to each other.
Bruce looked grave and stern, and had the appearance of one who is pale
and weary from too close attention to study. Vibert, on the contrary,
was in the highest spirits.

"Bruce, you look as the moon will look to-night under an eclipse!" cried
Vibert; "you mean to tack to your name M.A. or D.L. or A.S.S., or some
other mystical letters of the alphabet, and the shadow of coming
distinction is falling on you already!"

"Is this the night of the eclipse?" asked Emmie, interposing, as was her
wont, some indifferent remark to prevent any interchange of bitter words
between her brothers.

"Yes; had you forgotten it?" said Vibert. "It is to be an almost total
eclipse. We can hardly see it from any window in the house, the place is
so smothered with trees; but there is a spot on the lawn from which we
can get a very good view."

"I wish that we had a telescope here," observed Mr. Trevor.

"That's just what I said to my friend Standish," cried Vibert; "for, as
you know, I'm desperately eager in pursuit of scientific knowledge.
'I'll lend you mine,' said the colonel; 'it has prodigious magnifying
power. It was my travelling companion when I journeyed northward, in a
sledge, with only an Eskimo guide, and reached the high latitude of'--I
really don't remember the latitude that Standish mentioned, but it was
something that would make our Arctic explorers stare."

"Perhaps it was degree one hundred and one," said Bruce sarcastically.
"I suspect that the colonel's telescope is not with him the only
instrument that has high magnifying power."

"You are always sneering at Standish," cried Vibert angrily; "you give
him credit for nothing, simply, I believe, because he has chosen me for
his friend. But others appreciate him better," continued the youth,
addressing his conversation to Emmie. "Standish had grand news to-day
from Washington; he has only been waiting at S---- till he should know
how his suit in America has prospered."

"A law-suit?" inquired Mr. Trevor.

"Oh no; a suit more interesting by far than any regarding
field-boundaries or dye-works!" laughed Vibert. "Standish is an
illustration of the proverb, 'None but the brave deserve the fair.' He
has wooed and won the greatest belle in the West, a cousin of the
president of the United States, a lady with a dowry of half a million of
dollars!" Vibert glanced triumphantly at Bruce, and raising a glass of
claret, pledged the health of the colonel's destined bride.

"I suppose that as the lady is in Washington, the colonel will not
remain long in Wiltshire," observed Mr. Trevor, who had no wish for his
longer stay.

"That's the worst part of the business,--at least for me," replied
Vibert, setting down the glass, which he had drained. "Standish leaves
England almost directly. He has already secured his passage in an
American steamer, and has only now to get what he wants to take with
him, amongst other things wedding-gifts for his bride. Standish is
prodigiously liberal as well as enormously rich; so the fair lady will
have her caskets of diamonds and 'ropes of pearl,' such as a duchess
might envy. The colonel asked me to-day what London jeweller I would
recommend," continued the youth with a self-complacency which made his
auditors smile, "and I told him that our family had dealt for twenty
years with Messrs. Golding. I showed Standish the watch, studs, and
signet-ring which I had bought at their shop, and he declared that he
had never seen anything in the jewellery line more tasteful." It was
evident that the boy's vanity had been tickled by his being consulted on
such a matter by one who was the accepted suitor of a president's
cousin. "But here am I talking about these sublunary affairs, when the
eclipse will be beginning," cried Vibert. "It is quarter past seven
now,"--he glanced at his watch as he spoke; "the night is splendid, not
a breath of wind is stirring, while moonlight is silvering the snow. Who
will come out with me and look at the queen of night under a shadow?
Emmie, you will certainly make one of the party; we all know your taste
for the beautiful and sublime."

"My girl must be well wrapped up if she venture out in the snow,"
observed Mr. Trevor.

"We'll case her in fur like a squirrel!" cried Vibert. "Come, Emmie, or
we shall be late."

Emmie rose from her seat at table; her life at Myst Court afforded so
little variety, that the sight of an eclipse on a clear wintry night was
not one that she would willingly miss.

"I suppose that you, Bruce, will go too," said his father. "For my part,
I have seen so many lunar eclipses already, that I shall return to my
desk. I want to finish the perusal of that paper sent by my lawyer which
I was showing to you when the dinner-gong sounded."

"I should like to look over the paper with you," said Bruce. "I do not
care to go out to-night."

The young man was feeling ill, though he did not complain.

"We'll leave them to their musty-fusty law; as for us, we prefer
meditation and moonlight!" said Vibert playfully, as a few minutes
afterwards he stood in the hall with Emmie, assisting his sister to
mantle her slight form in her fur-lined mantilla. "I don't see why papa
should bother himself with Bullen and his horrible dyes; the stream is
clear enough where it flows through our woods. If Bullen had poisoned
our coffee, or killed our trout, the matter might have required a
lawyer. There now, just let me throw this pretty little scarlet shawl
over your head, to be a complete defence against the night air! I
declare that it makes you look like an opening rose-bud; I never saw a
headdress more picturesque and becoming!"

Emmie smiled, and the brother and sister quitted the house together,
sauntering down the steps which led from the door to the carriage-drive.

"We can see nothing here," observed Vibert; "we must go right round to
the back of the house, and make our way over the lawn, till we get just
beyond the group of yew-trees. There we shall have a clear view of the

The first touch of shadow was dimming the round disc of the moon when
the brother and sister stepped forth on the snow. But the orb was hidden
from them, first by the house, and then by the trees around it, until
they should reach the spot indicated by Vibert. The short quick walk was
not a silent one; Vibert's thoughts were engrossed by a subject much
more interesting to him than the moon.

"Emmie, I must be off to London to-morrow," said he.

"To London!" echoed Emmie in surprise. "What has put such a sudden
flight into your mind?"

"I've many reasons for wishing to go up to town. Patti is to sing
to-morrow night at a grand concert; I am dying to hear her again, and
Standish--kind fellow!--has given me a ticket of admittance. Then I've
shopping and business to transact which I cannot possibly put off. I
shall only stay for one night in London, and I will not go to a hotel.
Aunt Mary told me, you know, that she could always offer me a room in
Grosvenor Square."

"Papa will not like the needless expense," began Emmie.

"Expense! how I hate the very word! But you have smoothed that matter
for me, darling," said Vibert, pressing the arm that was locked in his
own. "Papa shall not have a shilling to pay."

"But you would miss two days of study."

"No great loss, if one may judge of what they would have been by those
that have gone before them," laughed Vibert. "I have not fatigued myself
lately by any overwhelming amount of hard work."

"I fear not indeed," said his sister.

"But I'll work double when once I've had my full swing of pleasure,"
cried Vibert. "I can pass Bruce, at least in classics, if I make an
effort to do so. I know that I've been an idle fellow ever since we came
to Myst Court; but when Standish goes I'll have nothing to do but to
study, and I'll be bound I'll astonish you all with my learning."

"We have only been here for a month," observed Emmie; "it is too early
for you to think of returning to London. You had better far put off
going for a while."

"I told you that I could not put off!" cried Vibert impatiently. "My
concert ticket will not keep, nor my business neither. You might as well
tell yon moon to put off her eclipse!"

By this time the Trevors had reached the spot beyond the yew-trees,
where nothing obstructed their view of the radiant orb. The dark shadow
of earth was slowly cutting its sharply-defined outline on her disc, and
each minute her clear light was becoming more and more sensibly
obscured. There is something very solemn in the sight of that natural
phenomenon which science can foretell, but which all created powers
combined can neither prevent nor for one single moment delay. Even the
light gossip of Vibert was silenced as he gazed. Nothing appeared to be
moving on the snow-covered earth, or through the still air, save when a
bat, with its peculiar flickering motion, darted between the moon and
those who stood with upraised eyes, silently watching the deepening
eclipse. Behind the trees rose Myst Court, showing, not its broad
stately front, but the back offices, which were irregular in
construction, and some of them built at a later date than other parts of
the mansion. This side of the house possessed no beauty whatever by day,
save what climbing ivy might give; but by moonlight its very
irregularity gave to it a picturesque charm which was wanting to the
more handsome but flatter front of the dwelling. Emmie turned round to
glance at a part of her new home with which she was very imperfectly
acquainted, as she had never entered the mansion at that eastern side.
She admired the effect of moonlight on the snow-covered ivy which
mantled the walls--silver gleams which threw into strong contrast the
deep black shadows which fell from projecting gable or overhanging roof.
Even the chimneys seemed transformed into twisted columns of ebony and

"I never thought that Myst Court could look so romantic," said Emmie;
"it was worth while coming out at night to see it as we see it now. But
the air is chilly," she added, and, to draw her scarlet shawl closer
over her braided hair, the maiden for a moment drew her arm from that of
her brother.

"Ha! I had forgotten the telescope!" exclaimed Vibert; and with that
want of thought for others which with him was a branch from the root of
selfishness, the youth darted off to bring the glass, leaving his sister
alone beside the shadowy yew-trees.

Emmie had not thought of fear so long as she had leaned on her brother's
arm, so long as the lively Vibert was close beside her; but his
departure--so sudden, that she had no time to cry "Do not go!" before
he was gone--awoke her dormant terrors. To find herself in utter
solitude, standing on the snowy lawn beside the gloomy yews, within
bow-shot of a dwelling said to be haunted, whilst the very moon was
suffering eclipse, was a position which might have tried stronger nerves
than those of Emmie. All the horrible tales that she had heard on the
night of her first arrival, the colonel's ghastly legends, Jael's
stories of apparitions seen in that very house which now dimly loomed
before the eyes of the maiden, the dark hints of dangers thrown out by
Harper--all rushed at once on the mind of the timid girl. She made a few
quick steps in pursuit of Vibert; but he had vanished from her sight
round the corner of the house. Emmie was afraid to skirt half of the
spacious mansion alone, yet equally afraid to remain in such dreary
solitude, to await her brother's return. A breeze stirred the branches
of neighbouring trees; Emmie started at the sound of the rustle. The
tall bushes in their shrouds of snow began to her excited imagination to
assume the form of spectres; Emmie almost fancied that they began to
move towards her! And now--it is not imagination--a dark figure is
slowly moving along the gravel-path, whitened by snow, which divides the
lawn on which Emmie is standing from that back part of Myst Court to
which her gaze is directed! Emmie's first emotion is that of terror,
her next is that of relief. She recognizes the sound of a short dry
cough, which has nothing unearthly about it; and by the faint light of
the half-eclipsed moon sees the outline of a familiar form most unlike
the shape in which a spectre might be supposed to appear. Emmie feels no
longer alone. There is Mrs. Jessel, coming at no unwonted hour, with
basket on arm, doubtless to carry away what may remain of the evening's

Never before had Emmie so welcomed the appearance of Mrs. Myer's late
attendant, the obsequious, voluble Jael. Lightly the young-lady tripped
over the soft white snow, whilst Mrs. Jessel was engaged in opening some
back-door which lay in the deepest shadow behind a projecting part of
the building. Emmie's step was noiseless as that of a fairy, and her
form was unseen by Mrs. Jessel, whose back was turned towards her. Jael
turned a key, pushed open a door, and entered the house, leaving the
door ajar. Emmie followed the woman into the dwelling, guided by the
sound of her creaking boots and her short dry cough. The passage which
the two had entered was dark, but Emmie naturally expected that some
inner door would quickly be opened, and that she should find herself in
the light and warmth of her own kitchen, for whose cheerful interior
Mrs. Jessel of course was bound. How welcome to the ears of Emmie would
be even the coarse loud tones of Hannah! The young lady was somewhat
surprised when the footsteps which she was following led up a narrow
staircase, instead of turning towards what she supposed to be the
direction of the kitchen. Still, as it was certain that Jael, after
living for years in the mansion, must be acquainted with its every turn
and winding, and as it was equally certain that she must be going to
some lighted part, Miss Trevor went on, feeling her way by the iron
railing up the narrow stone stair, listening to the creak of the boots
and the occasional cough, which told that her guide was in front. Emmie
felt a strange repugnance to address Mrs. Jessel in the darkness,
therefore groped on her way in silence, expecting every moment to be
ushered into the light. Here we leave her for the present, and go for a
while to the study of Mr. Trevor, where he and his elder son are quietly
engaged with the lawyer's papers.



"It strikes me that there are unusual sounds in this generally quiet
house," observed Mr. Trevor, raising his head to listen, after he and
Bruce had been for nearly half-an-hour employed in reading and making

"I have been noticing them too," said Bruce. "I suppose that Vibert is
in one of his wild merry moods, and that--"

Ere he could finish his sentence, the door of the study was suddenly
flung wide open, and Vibert rushed in, with anxiety painted on his face.

"Emmie--is she with you?" he breathlessly cried.

"Emmie!" repeated Mr. Trevor, rising in sudden alarm. Bruce dropped the
paper which he had held in his hand, and sprang to his feet.

"Did she not go with you to watch the eclipse?" asked the father; "when
did you miss her?--where did you leave her?" The questions were asked in
a manner and tone that expressed anxiety.

"I left Emmie on the sward by the yew-trees," said Vibert, answering the
last question first.

"Surely not alone?" interrupted his brother.

"I was back in three minutes, but she was gone. I called--loudly
enough--but there was no answer! I rushed back to the house, and have
since been hunting all over the place--upper rooms, lower rooms,
kitchen, and all! The servants know nothing about Emmie, but are looking
for her in every corner!"

"The grounds must be searched with torches without a moment's delay,"
cried the father, loudly ringing the bell of the study. Bruce hurried to
the door with such anxious haste that he almost came into collision

"Here she comes herself, our wandering fairy, to give an account of her
doings!" he cried, drawing back to let Emmie pass him and enter the
lighted apartment. "She has only been playing at hide-and-seek."

Bruce spoke gaily, but almost before the last word had left his lips his
manner changed, for he looked on his sister, and saw at a glance that no
mirthful frolic had caused her late disappearance. Had the poor heroine
of the story of the oaken-chest contrived by some superhuman effort to
burst her living tomb, even in such ghastly guise might she have
appeared before her wondering friends.

Emmie had entered the study with rapid steps; she now threw herself into
the arms of her father, and buried her face on his breast, as if seeking
for protection and safety. The poor girl uttered no sound, but her bosom
heaved convulsively, and her clinging hands trembled as if with ague.
Emmie's scarlet shawl had fallen back on her shoulders, and over it
flowed her dishevelled hair. Emmie's attitude was so expressive of
terror, that she might have been deemed some fugitive who had barely
escaped with life from some scene of slaughter.

"My child--my sweet child--what ails you? what has happened to alarm you
thus?" said Mr. Trevor soothingly, while Bruce dismissed the servants,
who had, in a body, answered the summons of the bell, only bidding Susan
bring a glass of cold water. "Emmie has merely had some little fright,"
he said to himself, as he returned to the table.

But that the fright had been no little one was but too evident when
Emmie raised her head, and turned her face to the light. Her countenance
was colourless, even to the lips, and ghastly as that of a corpse,
whilst her eyes stared wildly, with the pupils dilated, as if seeking
some object of terror. Mr. Trevor made his daughter sit down close by
his side, and put his arm fondly around her, whilst with his left hand
he gently stroked and chafed Emmie's icy-cold fingers.

"My poor little trembling dove, what has frightened you so?" he

Emmie's lip quivered, but she was unable to speak.

"I'm sure that I'm monstrously sorry that I left you for a moment!"
cried Vibert. "I'm a thoughtless fellow, I own; but no harm could
possibly have come to you, if you had quietly remained where you stood.
Where did you hide that I could not find you? Surely you must have heard
me calling your name?"

Emmie shivered, but gave no reply.

"Do not trouble her with questions now," said her father; "she is in a
weak and nervous state,--but this will set her right," he added, as he
proffered to Emmie's lips the glass of sal-volatile and water which had
been quickly brought by Susan.

The cordial revived the poor girl; her eyes lost their wild excited
expression, and the lips regained a more natural hue, though the cheeks
remained very pale. But when Emmie was again questioned as to what had
caused her alarm, she but gasped forth, "Don't ask, don't ask!" and
burst into a fit of hysterical weeping, which lasted for several

"She had better go to rest at once," said Mr. Trevor, when the fit had
somewhat subsided; "quiet sleep is what she most wants. We will take her
to her own room; and, Susan, do not quit the side of my daughter

Supporting the trembling Emmie, who did not even turn to bid her
brothers good-night, Mr. Trevor then left the study, followed by Susan.

"Something strange must have happened," said Vibert, when the three had
left the apartment.

"I see no reason to think so," said Bruce, who had resumed his seat by
the table, and had taken up again the paper which he had dropped.
"Emmie's timidity is like a disease, a kind of waking nightmare, and it
would be as idle to look for external cause for her terrors as it would
be for those experienced in a bad dream. What could have been more
unreasonable than her dread of occupying a bright pleasant room, because
a gentleman had died of hydrophobia in the one next to it, and that
fifty years ago!"

"And with such a good thick wall between the two apartments," observed
Vibert, who was standing with his back to the fire, "so that there is
not so much as a key-hole through which ghost or goblin might creep."

"I cannot say so much," remarked Bruce; "there is a door of
communication between the two rooms, though, by the way, the key-hole
does _not_ go right through it, for it can be opened but on one side."

"A door of communication!" exclaimed Vibert. "I never knew that before."

"Nor did I," observed Bruce, "until the workmen from S---- had to move
in my presence the large heavy press which had stood in that room for I
know not how many years. As they were dragging it off to place it in the
apartment prepared for poor dear Emmie, I noticed a key-hole in one of
the panels which had hitherto been covered by the oak press. When the
workmen had departed, I tried whether the key of the door which opens on
the corridor would fit into this newly-discovered key-hole."

"And did it fit it?" inquired Vibert eagerly.

"Exactly," was his brother's reply.

"Does any one but yourself know the secret of the door in the panel?"
asked Vibert.

"No; nor do I care that the servants should know it, nor Emmie, who is
sufficiently nervous already as to what regards the so-called haunted
chamber. I have hung a large map over that part of the panel in which is
the key-hole; and as the housemaid never ventures to move what I place
on the walls, the fact of there being a door of communication between
the two rooms is not likely to be discovered even by her."

"And with the power to enter at will into the haunted chamber, had you
not the curiosity to tread the forbidden ground?" cried Vibert.

"When I first found that the key fitted the key-hole in the wall, I
turned it, and pushed open the small panel-door," replied Bruce; "but I
did not pass into the bricked-up room."

"You looked in?"

"But saw nothing, for the place was pitch-dark," answered Bruce. "I only
observed that the air was close, as might be expected when coming from a
chamber from which light and air had been carefully excluded for the
last fifty years."

"And so you have been a whole month with only a door between you and the
mysterious apartment to which such strange and thrilling stories
belong!" cried Vibert. "I suppose that you intend thoroughly to explore
its inmost recess."

"I see no use in so doing," was Bruce's reply. "As the relation to whose
bequest my father owes the possession of the house so anxiously tried to
ensure that no one should enter that room, it seems scarcely honourable
to take advantage of her ignorance of the existence of that small door
in the panel."

"Pshaw! that is a mere romantic scruple," said Vibert. "I could not
withstand the temptation to explore the haunted chamber."

"I have a lack of curiosity," observed Bruce Trevor.

"Or a lack of something else," cried his thoughtless young brother, in a
provokingly satirical tone.

Bruce was in an irritable mood on that evening, and at no time would
have patiently borne what sounded like an imputation on his personal
courage. Who should dare to taunt him with lack of daring, or the
slightest taint of that superstitious fear which he scorned even in

"If you cannot speak common sense, you idiot," Bruce fiercely exclaimed,
"keep your idle twaddle for those who may mistake it for wit!"

"How now, boys? what's all this?" cried the loud, angry voice of Mr.
Trevor, who, re-entering the room at that moment, had heard Bruce's
passionate words, and seen his fiery glance at his brother. "Bruce, you
forget yourself strangely."

Bruce bit his nether lip hard. He would not bandy words with his father,
but still less would his proud spirit brook such sharp reproof even from
a parent. The young man rose, quitted the study, and with a swelling
heart went to his own apartment. Bruce bitterly, though silently,
accused his father of partiality and injustice; the young man was
blinded by pride to the fact that Mr. Trevor had had good and sufficient
reason for finding fault with his son's intemperate language.

"What caused this quarrel?" inquired Mr. Trevor of Vibert, after Bruce
had quitted the room.

"Oh, Bruce is in a huff,--it is no novelty," replied Vibert. "He thinks
that every one is wanting in common sense but his own oracular self."

Mr. Trevor paced up and down the study for some minutes with a troubled
mien and furrowed brow. He had many things to disturb his mind; he was
seriously grieved at Emmie's hysterical state, and in the dissension
between his sons found a new cause of perplexing annoyance. Vibert
marked his father's vexation, and characteristically enough managed to
take advantage of it for the furtherance of his own wishes.

"I should like to keep out of the bear's way till he has had his growl
out," observed Vibert, watching his father's countenance as he spoke. "I
have lots of things that I want to do in London to-morrow. I would sleep
at Aunt Mary's in Grosvenor Square, and come back on the following day."

The youth had thrown out a feeler, and saw by his father's face that
Mr. Trevor would not be likely to offer violent opposition to the trip
upon which his son's heart was set.

"You will be wanting more money, you young spendthrift," was Mr.
Trevor's remark, but made in an easy, good-humoured way.

"No, I have plenty left," answered Vibert.

The unexpected announcement was an agreeable surprise to the parent, who
was not aware that Vibert's supply had been borrowed from Emmie.

"You might consult your aunt about Emmie," observed Mr. Trevor, pausing
in his walk, and then resuming his seat. "I am not easy regarding the
health of your sister; Myst Court is too dull for her, I fear, and its
loneliness serves to fill her mind with idle fancies."

"Yes, yes, I'll tell my aunt all about Emmie," said Vibert, trying to
look as thoughtful and sympathetic as his pleasure at getting his own
way would permit. "It is so much easier to explain all these delicate
matters by speaking than by writing," he added.

"And you will take up my watch to Golding to be repaired," observed Mr.
Trevor. "I do not like to trust one so valuable as mine to conveyance by

"I will take it with all the pleasure in life!" cried Vibert, who would
eagerly have undertaken the charge of all the clocks in the house had
they needed just then a journey to London.

The matter was quickly settled; it was arranged that Vibert should start
by an early train.

"What a lucky chance it was that Bruce should have barked at me just as
papa came in!" thought the triumphant Vibert. "I'll be off before
daylight to-morrow, or the hard-headed, hard-hearted chap would find a
thousand reasons for not letting me go after all."



"Vibert gone to London,--and so suddenly!" exclaimed Bruce, when, on the
following morning, he heard from his father of his brother's early
departure. "Wherefore did he go? He did not mention to me a word of his
intention to make the journey."

"You scarcely invite his confidence," observed Mr. Trevor.

"There is more money thrown to the dogs," muttered Bruce.

"No; Vibert has shown more consideration for my purse than usual," said
Mr. Trevor. "He has made no call upon it for this little expedition to

Bruce looked steadfastly into the face of his father for several
seconds, but not in order to read anything there. The young man's mind
was busy with its own thoughts; a slight smile came over his lips,--the
smile of one who has detected a little plot, and knows how to foil it.
With an inaudible "I smell a rat," Bruce turned and walked up to the

"Vibert need no money to carry him to London! As well might we believe
that the train in which he travels requires no steam," thought Bruce to
himself. "I happen to know that his purse was empty yesterday morning.
My belief is that Vibert is in this house at this moment, or at any rate
not further off than S----. He has some silly practical joke in his head
connected with the haunted chamber, and means to throw me off my guard
by a feigned absence in London. What folly possessed me to tell a wild
hare-brain like Vibert of the little door in the panel? But it is no
matter; whatever frantic freak he may have in his head, he at least
shall find me prepared."

Emmie came down to morning prayers looking very pale, and with the
violet tints under her languid eyes, which were tokens of her having
passed a sleepless night. She presided as usual at the breakfast-table,
but in a dreamy, listless manner, herself scarcely touching the viands.
It was evidently an effort to the poor girl to join in the conversation,
which her father purposely led to such topics as he thought might
interest his daughter. Mr. Trevor talked of literature and arts,
recounted amusing passages from his own history, and did his best to
divert Emmie's mind, but with little apparent effect. Her eyes were
constantly turned towards her brother with an anxious, questioning look,
until, the morning meal being concluded, Mr. Trevor, perplexed and
disappointed, left the room to speak to his steward.

Emmie then went up to Bruce, who was about to start on his daily walk to
his tutor's.

"Bruce, dearest, you look ill," said Emmie, laying a tremulous hand on
the arm of her brother.

"I might say the same to you, if it were not treason to utter anything
so uncomplimentary to a fair lady," observed Bruce.

"Why do you look ill? Has--has anything painful occurred?" asked Emmie,
in a hurried, nervous manner.

"I must act echo again," answered Bruce.

"Tell me, oh, tell me what has happened," urged his sister, who was not
in the slightest degree disposed to enter into a jest.

"Nothing has happened, dear Emmie," replied Bruce more gravely. "I have
had a little headache these one or two days; it is of no consequence.
You have not the least occasion to look so miserably anxious as far as I
am concerned."

To the young man's surprise, his sister's eyes filled and then brimmed
over with tears. Emmie leaned her brow against his shoulder, and drops
fell fast on the sleeve of his arm, which she was pressing with a
nervous grasp.

"My dear Emmie, what can be the cause of all this sorrow? What ails
you?" asked Bruce, grieved at the sight of distress for which he could
not account.

"Oh, Bruce!" sobbed Emmie, pressing her brother's arm yet more closely,
"promise me--promise me--" She stopped short, as if afraid to finish her

"What would you have me promise?" asked Bruce.

Emmie gave no direct reply, but inquired abruptly, "Have you a bell in
your room?"

Her question was a real relief to the mind of Bruce, as it convinced him
that Emmie's misery arose merely from some fanciful terrors in regard to
the bricked-up apartment.

"Yes," he answered gaily, "and a gun besides, to say nothing of poker
and tongs, pen-knife, and razors. If any unpleasant guests were to make
their appearance, they should find me quite ready to meet them."

Emmie was crying no longer, but she looked pale and anxious
as ever; something seemed to be on her tongue struggling for
utterance,--something which she was afraid or unable to speak.

"It is time for me to be off," said Bruce, gently releasing his arm from
the clasp of his sister.

"Bruce, stay. Tell me if you would again change rooms with me," cried
Emmie, with a convulsive effort.

"I am very sorry that you do not like your new apartment," said Bruce,
slightly knitting his brows.

"I do like it,--it is only too good for me," faltered poor Emmie.

"Then why quit it?" asked Bruce, with a little impatience.

"I thought that if you would not mind changing--" Again Emmie stopped
abruptly, without concluding her sentence.

"Of course I will change rooms with you if you really wish it," said
Bruce, willing to humour his sister, but making mental reflections on
the fickleness and unreasonableness of the fair sex, of which Emmie was
the only representative with whom he was well acquainted.

"But I do not wish it,--no, no,--not yet, not yet!" exclaimed Emmie,
betraying terror at the idea of her brother complying with her request.
The patience of Bruce was fairly exhausted.

"I wish that you would know your own mind," he said, with an air of
vexation. "Really, Emmie, you should try to overcome these ridiculous
fears and fancies. Where is your spirit,--where is your faith?"

Emmie turned away her head with a shivering sigh.

"We must send you to London for change of scene," observed Bruce; "a few
weeks with Aunt Mary will drive all these unreasonable terrors out of
your mind."

"Oh, let us all go--at once--to-day!" exclaimed Emmie, clasping her
hands. "Let us all leave this horrible place."

"For my father or myself to leave Myst Court at present is simply
impossible," said Bruce, in that tone of quiet decision which, as Emmie
well knew, expressed a resolution which it was useless for her to
attempt to shake.

"Then I will not leave you,--no, no!" she murmured. "Let us all at least
be together."

"If we be in danger from any foe, corporeal or spiritual, your slender
arm and more slender courage will scarcely avail much for our
protection," observed Bruce, with a smile. He had regained his
good-humour, and sought to rally Emmie out of her fears by assuming a
playful manner.

But the attempt was vain; Emmie only burst again into a fit of weeping,
and hastily quitted the apartment, brushing past her father, who was
just returning to the breakfast-room after his interview with his

"I am extremely annoyed about Emmie," said the affectionate parent,
addressing himself to Bruce; "I cannot comprehend what has taken such a
strange hold on her mind."

"Mere fear, I believe," answered Bruce. "She has never struggled to
overcome it, and now in this gloomy old place it has gained complete
mastery over her reason."

"The mere incident of her having been left alone on the lawn for a few
minutes last night seems scarcely to account for my child's terror,"
observed Mr. Trevor. "Surely Vibert, thoughtless as he is, cannot have
had the senseless cruelty to play on his sister's timidity any practical
joke." The same idea had occurred, to Bruce.

"Vibert is capable of any folly," thought the elder brother; but after
the experience of the preceding evening, he did not put the thought into

"I shall keep my girl as close by my side as possible," observed Mr.
Trevor. "Perhaps this strange fit of melancholy may pass off; if not, I
must arrange for her going to Grosvenor Square. Her departure would
leave a sad blank in our little circle at Christmas-time, but my own
gratification must not weigh in the balance against my child's comfort
and health."

"Where is your faith,--where is your faith?" moaned poor Emmie,
repeating to herself again and again her brother's question, as she
paced up and down her own apartment, wringing her hands. "Oh, miserable
doubt and mistrust! I might once have met my enemy on the ground of
duty, and by prayer and resolute effort have gained some strength to
meet more serious trials; but I let my fears subdue me without a
struggle to cast them off, and now I lie prostrate,--a helpless victim
bound in their chains. Usefulness marred, peace destroyed, a horrible
dread on my mind, a reproving conscience within my breast, I seem now
unable even to pray! I have let go the Hand that would so gently have
led me; darkness is thick around me; I cannot find my Heavenly Guide! I
dread to keep silent, yet dare not speak. Oh, that horrible, blasphemous

But it is time that the reader should be made acquainted with the
circumstances which led to Emmie's present state of misery. We will
therefore return to that point in the story where we left the maiden
silently tracking in the darkness the steps of Jael up the dark and
narrow stone stairs.



Emmie's light footsteps were unheard by Mrs. Jessel, probably on account
of the creaking noise made by her own. Had the form before her been that
of Susan, Miss Trevor would at once have addressed her; but she had a
dislike to entering in the darkness into a conversation with a woman who
had told her so many ghost stories. Emmie therefore delayed speaking to
Jael until they should both have entered a lighted apartment.

The top of the flight of stone steps was soon reached; Mrs. Jessel
turned the handle of a door, and on her opening it a light streamed from
within, casting its yellow reflection on the wall by the staircase. Jael
entered the room before her, and Emmie heard her say, "What! at work
still?" as she passed into the warmth and light.

Not in the least degree doubting that the woman had addressed one of
the household, and eager to find herself once more amongst familiar
faces, out of the darkness and chilly night air, Emmie quickly followed
Mrs. Jessel into the room. No sooner had she crossed the threshold than
she stopped short in surprise and alarm, gazing in motionless terror at
the unexpected sight which met her eyes,--for Emmie stood in the haunted

The room was of good size, and, like that which it adjoined on the side
opposite to that by which Jael had entered, was panelled with oak. The
apartment was warmed by a stove, and lighted by a shaded lamp, which
cast a dull radiance on antique furniture and various objects of whose
nature and use Emmie, from her hurried glance, could form no definite
idea. Her attention was concentrated on a point close to that shaded
lamp. It stood on a table, and on every object that lay on that table
threw an intense light. Seated almost close to it, bending over what
seemed like a sheet of copper, with a graving instrument in his right
hand, and a magnifying glass in his left, his long grizzled hair falling
over his brow as he stooped, Emmie beheld the object of her special
dread, the hollow-eyed, weird-looking Harper!

He raised his head; he saw the unexpected intruder; his glistening eyes
were fixed upon Emmie, and, like those of the serpent surveying its
victim, their gaze seemed to deprive the poor girl of all power of
motion. Emmie, had she not been paralyzed with fear, would have had time
to start back, spring down the stairs, and rouse the family by her loud
call for assistance. But in the extremity of her terror the timid girl
neither stirred foot nor uttered cry. She stood, as it were,
spell-bound. In a few seconds her opportunity for flight was lost. Jael,
seeing Harper's look, turned round, beheld Emmie behind her, and
instantly closed and bolted the door. The poor maiden found herself a
helpless prisoner in one of the rooms of her father's house.

"Utter a sound and you die!" growled Harper, dropping his graving
instrument, and grasping the large knife which had been lying open on
the table before him.

Emmie clasped her hands and sank on her knees.

"What made you bring her here?" said Harper fiercely to Jael, adding
epithets of abuse with which I shall not soil my pages.

Jael looked alarmed, and declared that she had never guessed that the
girl was following her up the secret staircase. "And now that she has
discovered your hiding-place, what is to be done?" cried the woman.

"Dead men tell no tales," muttered Harper, in a tone which made the
blood of Emmie appear to freeze in her veins.

"No, no; you must not harm her,--you cannot touch her," said Mrs.
Jessel. "Such a deed could never be hidden; you would only ruin us all.
Her father and brothers would search till they found her, if they had to
pull down every brick in the house with their nails!"

Harper looked perplexed and undecided.

"Make her promise secrecy, and let her go free," said Jael.

"And trust my safety to a woman's power of holding her tongue! Not I; I
will take a surer way,--if I swing for it!" cried Harper, starting from
his seat.

"You have listened to your wife's advice before now, and found it good,"
said she whom we have called Mrs. Jessel, interposing herself between
her husband and Emmie. A rapid conversation then passed between the
Harpers, held in a tone so low that Emmie could not distinguish a word,
though she had a fearful consciousness that on the result of that
conversation her own life must depend. The terrified girl could not
collect her thoughts, even for prayer, unless the voiceless cry of
"Mercy, mercy!" which was bursting from her heart, was an appeal for
help from above.

At length her fate was decided. Harper approached the crouching form of
Emmie, and thus addressed her, still grasping the knife in his hand.

"Will you take the most solemn oath that tongue can frame never to give
hint, by word or sign, of what you have seen this night? Will you swear
silence deep as the grave?"

"Anything--everything--I will never betray you!" gasped Emmie, grasping
with the eagerness of a drowning wretch at the hope of safety thus held

Harper made the shuddering girl repeat after him, word for word, an oath
of his own framing, accompanied by fearful imprecations invoked on her
own soul should she ever break that oath, even in the smallest point. If
the wretched Emmie so much as hesitated before pronouncing words which
seemed to her not only horrible but almost blasphemous, the cold steel
was shaken before her eyes, as a menace of instant death.

When the oath had been taken by the poor maiden, Harper gruffly bade her
rise. Emmie could not have done so without the help of Jael.

"Now, hark 'ee, girl," said the ruffian, and as he spoke he grasped
Emmie's wrist with his left hand to enforce his words, "I have a hold
over you besides that of your oath. If you break it--but by a whisper,
but by a look--I have the means here of blowing up the house over your
head! And I will do it, rather than myself fall into the clutches of the
law. Or if you should think to find safety by flight, I would pursue you
to the furthest end of the island, ay, or beyond it! In the grave alone
should you hide yourself from my vengeance!" Then, turning to his wife,
Harper added, "Now, take that girl back to the place from whence you
brought her, and tell her that if she flinch from keeping her oath, I
shall not flinch from keeping mine!"

With that terrible threat still sounding in her ears, Emmie found
herself again on the narrow stone staircase, with the cold draught of
air from the lower door, which she had left open, rushing up from below.
Mrs. Harper was supporting the poor girl, or she must have fallen.

"Pluck up a brave heart, Miss Trevor; all is safe as long as you keep
silence," said the woman.

"Is all safe,--my father, my brothers? Oh, is there no danger for them
in this horrible house?" exclaimed Emmie, who had no clear idea as to
the nature of the work in which Harper was engaged, save that it
assuredly must be evil.

"Every one is safe so long as you are silent," answered Jael Harper.

"But Bruce--my brother--who sleeps next door to that room,--oh, if he
were to discover what is passing in the haunted chamber!" exclaimed
Emmie in anguish. "If he were to find out--"

"He has never found us out, and he never will!" interrupted Jael, who,
having supported Emmie down the stairs, was now emerging with her on the
gravel path, where the moon, passing from the shadow of earth, now shed
her full radiance around them. "Think you that my husband does not take
every precaution to prevent discovery? There is no chance of finding
_him_ napping. Master Bruce is regular in his hours as clock-work; we
have no difficulty whatever in keeping out of his way."

Bruce's methodical habits had, indeed, rendered his occupation of the
room next the haunted chamber no great restraint upon Harper, who was
not even aware that there existed a door of communication between the
two apartments. When Bruce started in the morning for S----, Harper's
working-day also commenced. The man stopped his occupation on Bruce's
return, till the sound of the dinner-gong assured him that the coast was
clear, and that he could leave his temporary retreat on the secret
staircase for the haunted chamber. There Harper was wont to remain till
warned by the bell for evening prayer, when he usually quitted Myst Hall
for the night, gliding silently through the shrubbery, sometimes
shrouded in his wife's cloak and bonnet, and carrying her basket, lest
he should chance to be noticed from the house. Jael's constant
communication with Myst Court greatly facilitated the movements of her
husband; and it need scarcely be added that they both fared well upon
the provisions which Emmie had destined for the relief of the poor. The
Harpers now scarcely regretted what had at first caused them serious
alarm,--the determination of the present owner of Myst Court to reside
on his own estate.

Emmie was somewhat relieved by the assurance of Jael that Harper's work,
whatever it might be, would injure none of her family.

"My husband's business will no more harm any of your people than if he
were blowing soap-bubbles," continued Mrs. Harper. "For years we have
found that room quiet and convenient for--for whatever my husband has in
hand. We hoped that, the house having the name of being haunted, no one
would have come to trouble us here. We could not keep your family out,
but we find that by caution and management the rat can live next door to
the cat, ay, and nibble out of the cat's platter, without making her
stretch out her claws, or so much as shake her whiskers. Hark! I hear a
stir in the house; you are missed; they are searching for you no doubt.
There's the front door open, you can see the light from it now; and I
must not be found beside you. Go, and remember your oath, Miss Trevor;
and remember what will come if you break it. Haman Harper is a man of
his word!"

Dizzy and bewildered as she was, and ready to faint from the effect of
the terror which she had undergone in the haunted chamber, Emmie yet
managed to make her way to the entrance-door, which had been left open
by Vibert. With trembling steps she passed through the hall, and thence
to her father's study, where she appeared in the pitiable plight which
has been described in a former chapter.



The distress which Emmie endured from her fears and forebodings, was
rendered more intolerable by the pangs of regret. After an emergency in
which we have been suddenly called upon to act an important part, when
that acting has proved a failure, how painfully the mind revolves and
goes over the scene, reflecting on what might have been, what would have
been, the result, had duty been more bravely performed.

"Had I had presence of mind,--the smallest presence of mind,--and that
but for one half minute," thought Miss Trevor, "I should have made my
escape, roused the household, and have been the means of destroying some
dark conspiracy of which I now know not the end. I should have relieved
myself for ever of these dreadful, haunting fears, and cleared from my
home this mysterious shadow of evil. Had I thought of any one but
myself, my miserable, worthless self,--had I but darted up a prayer to
Him who was able to save me,--I should not have suffered myself to be
bound by a horrible oath, which it is a sin either to keep or to break.
How is it that I have so miserably failed in the hour of trial? Is it
not that I have never earnestly struggled against the sin of Mistrust? I
have perpetually yielded to it when it met me in the common duties of
life; I have let my fears be sufficient excuse for neglecting the call
of conscience; and how could I hope that God would give me the victory
in a great and sudden trial? Weak women, ere now, have endured the rack
and embraced the stake; but must they not have first exercised the
self-denying martyr-spirit in the trials of daily life?"

Mr. Trevor, as he had proposed, kept his daughter much by his side
during the day which followed her painful adventure. The father thought
it better not to ask any questions which might distress the nervous
Emmie, and for this considerate kindness the poor girl felt very
grateful. Mr. Trevor tried to give Emmie employment and amusement in
every way that he could devise. Emmie read to him, played to him, sang
to him; but still it was too evident to the eye of paternal affection
that the maiden's thoughts were wandering, and that her spirit was still

"The day is fine, and mild for December; I will drive you over to the
picturesque ruin which we have hitherto thought too distant for a winter
excursion," said Mr. Trevor, when he and his daughter had finished their

"If I might choose, papa," replied Emmie, "I would rather that you would
take me to the cottage of Widow Brant."

"Ah! that's your poor _protégée_, Emmie; I have not seen her at her
cottage door lately. Is she recovering her health?"

"I scarcely know, papa," replied Emmie faintly.

"I thought that you had taken her under your care, my love, that the
poor creature has been supplied with food from our own table."

"Mrs. Jessel has often been with some--at least--that's to say--I
hoped--I thought that she went to the widow," stammered forth Emmie.
Since the discovery that Jael was the wife and accomplice of Harper,
Miss Trevor had lost even the small amount of confidence which she might
once have felt in this woman.

Mr. Trevor looked rather surprised and annoyed at Emmie's evident
confusion. "I marvel, my child, that you should employ as your almoner
and cottage visitor a person of whom we know so little," said he.

"She offered herself," observed Emmie, "and I was afraid to refuse Mrs.
Jessel's services, lest I should give her offence. It was so foolish in
me--so wrong! Poor Widow Brant is on my conscience, papa; but I do not
like going alone to her cottage."

"Then why not take our good Susan with you?" inquired Mr. Trevor.

Emmie's dread of Harper had been so greatly increased by the events of
the preceding night, that she now felt Susan's company to be no
efficient protection. The young lady renewed her request that her father
should, at least on this one occasion, be her companion on her walk to
the hamlet. She felt safe when leaning on his arm.

"These visits to sick women are not in my line," observed Mr. Trevor,
smiling, "as I am neither doctor nor divine. I do not neglect my
tenants; I am willing to help them according to my means; and am proving
at this moment my care for their interests by involving myself, for
their sakes, in a very troublesome affair. But in a cottage I own that I
feel like a fish out of water. Never mind, however; as you wish it, I am
ready to-day to be your escort; my only bargain is that you shall take
all the talking, my love."

The father and daughter soon set out together, sauntered along the
shrubbery, and passed through the outer gateway. Emmie glanced timidly
at the almost tumble-down hovel of Harper. It was shut up. No firelight
gleamed through the cracked panes of the single window, from the chimney
issued no smoke. The maiden saw that the tenant of that hovel was not
within it, and guessed but too easily that he was at that moment
ensconced at his mysterious work in the haunted chamber. She could
scarcely pay any attention to her father's conversation, and answered
almost at random the questions which he occasionally asked.

The door of Widow Brant's cottage was not closed. The sound of several
voices was heard within as the Trevors approached the humble dwelling.
Some women were in the cottage, and a gentleman in whom Mr. Trevor
recognized the parish doctor of S----. The room was so small that the
entrance of the two visitors made it seem crowded. Emmie's eye sought in
vain for the widow, until she caught sight, in a corner of the room, of
a form extended on a low bed, covered with clothes and rags instead of a
blanket, and of a face on which were already visible the signs of
approaching death.

"Why was I not sent for before?" said the doctor angrily to one of the
neighbours; "this is just the way with you all: you give yourselves up
to a quack till you have one foot in the grave, and then send for the
doctor, and expect him to work miracles for your cure! Oh, I beg your
pardon, sir," said the medical man, interrupting himself, and raising
his hat on perceiving the presence of Mr. Trevor and his daughter.

"Is there no hope for the poor woman?" asked the master of Myst Court in
a voice too low to reach the ear of the patient. The doctor, in his
reply, observed less consideration.

"The disease has gone too far--too far--and the poor creature's strength
is exhausted. She cannot struggle through now. She has been half starved
with hunger and cold, and has had neither proper care and medicine, nor
the food which was absolutely necessary to keep up her vital powers. I
can do nothing in this case--nothing!"

Emmie had but paused to hear the doctor's opinion, and then, with a
heavy heart, she glided to the bedside and bent over the dying woman.
Emmie had but once before stood by a death-bed, and that was when she
had been brought, while but a child, to receive a mother's last kiss and
blessing. To Emmie the scene before her was inexpressibly solemn and

The widow's life was ebbing away, but her mind was clear. "I thought
that you'd have come again," were the faint words which struggled forth
from her pale lips as she recognized the young lady.

Those words went to Emmie's heart like a knife. There had, then, been
expectation and disappointment; the lady's visit had been watched for,
hoped for, and it had not been made till too late! Hollow, wistful eyes
were raised to Emmie's. Again the poor sufferer spoke, but so feebly
that Miss Trevor had to bend very low indeed to catch the meaning of
what she said.

"They say I'm dying--and death is so awful!" murmured the widow.

"Not to those who have given their hearts to Him who died for sinners!"
whispered Emmie softly in the sufferer's ear.

"I've had no one to tell me of these things, and I be not learned.
But--but I've not led a bad life; I've harmed no one," said the dying
widow, grasping, as so many unenlightened sinners do, at that false hope
of safety which can only break in their hands.

"She's al'ays been a good neighbour, and a decent, respectable body!"
cried Mrs. Blunt, who was bustling about in the cottage, disturbing, by
her noisy presence, the chamber of death.

"It's worse than useless for you all to come crowding here," said the
doctor roughly. "Mrs. Wall, you may be wanted, but let the rest go out
and leave the poor creature to the lady; can't you let a woman die in
quiet?" And enforcing his words by emphatic gestures, the doctor soon
succeeded in partially clearing the cottage. He then took his leave of
Mr. Trevor, and quitted the place in which he knew that his medical
skill could be of no avail.

"I will send Susan with blankets," said Mr. Trevor to his daughter.
"Will you come with me, Emmie, or stay?"

"I will stay," replied Emmie with emotion; "would that I had come here

For more than an hour the young lady remained by the dying woman, with
her own hands beating up the pillow, spreading the warm coverlet brought
by Susan over the wasted form, pouring wine, drop by drop, between the
sufferer's lips. For more than an hour Emmie watched the flickering
spark of life, and tried to whisper words of holy comfort, which the now
dulled mind and deafened ear had no longer power to receive. Then came
the last struggle, the gasp for breath, the death-rattle; the ashen hue
of death stole over the widow's face, one sigh--and all was over.

"She is gone; you can do nothing more. Had you not better return home,
miss?" said Susan softly, as Mrs. Wall closed the eyes of the corpse.

With tears and self-reproach Emmie Trevor quitted the lifeless remains
of her to whom she might once perhaps have brought comfort, peace, and
light, if not the blessing of restoration to health. The young lady was
silent on her homeward way; her heart was too full to permit her to
enter into conversation with her attendant. Emmie ran upstairs to her
own apartment, shut the door behind her, sank on her knees beside her
bed, and buried her face in her hands. Then her feelings gushed forth in
broken confession and fervent prayer.

"I am verily guilty concerning my fellow-creatures," Emmie sobbed forth;
"guilty before men, guilty before Thee, O my God! I have left undone
what I ought to have done, and there is no health in my soul. Weak,
selfish, and cruel, neglectful of the duties which lay so plainly before
me, I am not worthy to lift up so much as my eyes towards Heaven; I can
but say, _God be merciful to me a sinner_! But oh, Thou who dost pity,
Thou who dost pardon, take not away from me for ever the talent which I
have buried; say not, oh, say not to my miserable soul, _I was sick, and
ye visited me not!_ Help me to redeem the precious time which I have
hitherto wasted, to overcome the sin which has beset and enslaved me!
Increase my faith, deepen my love; hold up my footsteps, that I slip not
on my perilous path; say to my weak, mistrustful heart, _Be not afraid;
I am thy God!_"

Emmie wept freely while she thus confessed her sin and prayed, and then
arose from her knees more calm. She was now able to collect her
thoughts; and to strengthen her new-born resolutions she repeated to
herself Trench's exquisite sonnet, which, at her uncle's request, she
had, some time before, committed to memory.

            "Lord, what a change within us one short hour
              Spent in Thy presence will suffice to make!
              What heavy burdens from our bosoms take,
            What parched lands revive, as with a shower!
            We kneel, and all around us seems to lower;
              We rise, and all the prospect, far and near,
              Stands forth in sunny outline brave and clear.
            We kneel--how weak! we rise--how full of power!
            Then wherefore should we do ourselves this wrong,
            Or others, that we are not always strong;
            That we should be o'erburdened with our care,
              That we should ever faint and feeble be,
            Downcast or drooping, when with us is prayer,
              And hope, and joy, and courage are with Thee?"



It will be remembered that Emmie had, in the morning, tried the patience
of Bruce by her strange indecision regarding a second change of
apartments. It was now no superstitious fancy which made Emmie look upon
the room next the haunted chamber as a post of peril. She entertained a
dread lest Harper should on some night omit his usual precautions, and
that Bruce should discover the presence of his dangerous neighbour. What
then might ensue? The spirited young man would never suffer himself to
be tied by such an oath as his sister had taken; and of the consequences
which might follow his refusal Emmie trembled to think. It was this
peril to Bruce which made Emmie regard a change of rooms as desirable on
her brother's account, though certainly not on her own.

"It would be very dreadful to me to know that only a wall divided me
from that wicked man who threatened my life!" thought poor Emmie. "How
could I rest if I heard him stealthily moving about so near, even though
aware that he could not possibly reach me?" Had the maiden known that
there was actually a door in that dividing wall, her terror would have
been yet greater. But Emmie believed that the corridor entrance being
bricked up, there was no outlet from the haunted chamber but by the door
which opened on the secret stairs. Ignorant as she was of the means of
nearer communication between the two apartments, it was but the strain
on her nerves that Emmie dreaded when suggesting her own return to the
room which had been assigned to her at the first.

But this dread was so great, that, as we have seen, Emmie could not in
the morning summon up courage to press the arrangement on Bruce. She had
wavered, hesitated, drawn back. But Emmie had learned much during the
last few painful hours; the effect which her uncle's warnings had failed
to produce, followed the solemn teachings of conscience by the widow's
death-bed. Humbly and prayerfully Emmie now resolved to bend all her
efforts to conquer mistrust, to subdue the opposition of shrinking
nature, and obey God's will at however painful a cost. Emmie determined
to brave Bruce's displeasure at her apparent inconsistency and folly,
and return to the hated room, in which her danger would at any rate be
less than that of her brother.

But Emmie had on that evening no opportunity of carrying out her
resolution. Bruce returned to Myst Court at his usual hour, but looking
and feeling so ill, that he could not be troubled with anything in the
way of household arrangements. He had one of the severe attacks of
headache to which the young man was subject.

"I shall not be with you at dinner to-day," said Bruce to his sister;
"like a bear, I shall keep in my den, and have my growl out by myself.
I've my fire ready lit, my kettle on the hob, and my little tea-caddy on
the table. I want nothing but quiet and rest, and shall be all right in
the morning."

Bruce was proverbially a bad patient, and would never submit to what he
called coddling. Emmie knew that he now meant what he said, and that she
should only annoy her brother by offering to sit beside him, or bring
him food which he would not touch. The brother and sister, therefore,
bade each other good-night; and Bruce, taking a lighted candle, with
slow step mounted the staircase, then drew back the heavy tapestry
curtain, and passed on to his own apartment.

The fire blazed and crackled cheerily. Bruce, instead of going to rest
at once, drew a chair in front of it, seated himself with his feet on
the fender, and pressing his hot forehead with his hand, remained for
some time in absolute stillness. He let his mind rest as well as his
frame, not fatiguing it by following out any definite chain of ideas.

Thus young Trevor remained till he heard from below the sound of the
gong which summoned the family to dinner. About five minutes afterwards,
Bruce raised his head to listen to a different sound, much nearer to
where he sat. It came from a place from whence he had never before heard
the faintest noise. There was--he could not be mistaken--the voice of
some one speaking in the haunted chamber!

Bruce's sensation on hearing it was not that of fear, scarcely even that
of curiosity. When once young Trevor had taken an idea into his mind, he
was wont to hold it with a pertinacity which savoured of obstinacy.
Bruce was very slow to own, even to himself, that he had made a mistake.
The notion now in the young man's brain was that his giddy brother had
determined to try his courage by playing on him some practical joke.
Vibert's sudden proposal to go up to London Bruce considered but as an
attempt to throw dust into his eyes, and to put him off his guard; and
the elder brother smiled to himself at the idea of Vibert's imagining
that he really could take him in by so transparent an attempt at

"Vibert is no more in London at this moment than I am," had been the
reflection of Bruce. "He never thought of going thither till I casually
let out that it is possible to enter the haunted chamber." And now, when
a voice was heard in that chamber, Bruce but knitted his brow, and
muttered impatiently to himself, "Could he not have kept his foolery for
a better time; I am in no mood for nonsense to-night."

Another voice seemed to reply to the first, both speaking in low tones,
and not distinctly enough for the import of their words to be understood
by the listening Bruce. Still his suspicions were not aroused, for the
power to mimic various tones was one of the accomplishments which added
to Vibert's popularity in ladies' society. Then followed a creaking
sound, as of the winding of a windlass, or the turning of the screw of a
press. This puzzled Bruce, and made him alter his first intention of
simply locking the door of communication between the two rooms, and so
imprisoning the pseudo-ghost till the morning. Young Trevor, of course,
knew nothing of the third door of the bricked-up chamber, or the secret
staircase beyond it.

"I may as well put an end to this folly at once," said Bruce, rising
and looking around for some convenient weapon with which to chastise, or
rather to alarm, the disturber of his repose. He took up his gun, but
did not attempt to load it. Why should he do so when he had no intention
of startling the household and frightening his sister by the sudden
report of fire-arms? Vibert would not be able to tell by a glance
whether the gun were or were not loaded. The object of Bruce was to
frighten, but not to injure his brother.

The next thing to be done was to get the door-key, which Bruce had left
on his mantel-piece. He scarcely expected to find it there still, but
there it was.

"Vibert must have taken the precaution of replacing after using it,"
thought Bruce, as he took up the key; "and he has been artful enough to
leave my map still hanging up over the panel-door."

Very softly Bruce now lifted off the large varnished map from its nail,
and laid it down on the floor. His object was, by his sudden appearance
with his gun, to startle his brother. Noiselessly Bruce turned the key
in the lock, noiselessly pushed open the door in the panel, then
suddenly sprang into the lighted chamber, with a loud exclamation of
"Ha! have I caught you at it?" To Bruce's amazement, as well as their
own, he found himself confronted by Harper and Colonel Standish!

It is not to be denied that on his sudden recognition of these
night-visitors, whom nought but an evil purpose could have brought to
that place, to the heart of the youth "the life-blood thrilled with
sudden start." But Harper had now no timid girl to deal with. Raising
his unloaded gun so as to cover now the one man, then the other, Bruce
in a loud voice demanded, "Villains! what do ye here?"

Seizing the instant when the gun was pointed at his companion, Standish
made a dart forwards and struck up the arm of Bruce. In another moment
the two were locked in a deadly grapple.

Even then Bruce Trevor retained his presence of mind. Wrestling and
struggling as he was, with a hand stronger than his own griping at his
throat, and stifling the cry of "Robbers! help!" which would have burst
from his lips, Bruce did his utmost to back through the doorway into his
room. Could he but reach his bell-rope, he could bring his father and
the servant to his assistance, and so overcome and perhaps capture his
assailants. But in vain the young man struggled and strained every
muscle in his frame, too closely grappled with by Standish to be able
even to strike with the but-end of his gun. The strength of Bruce was
failing, though not his courage; the odds were too heavy against him.
While Standish, with throttling grasp, was pinning him against the wall,
Harper, with some heavy instrument, came and struck the youth on the
head. Bruce saw no more, felt no more than the one sharp pang of the
blow. He fell heavily on the floor, at the mercy of the ruffians whose
lurking-place he had on that night discovered!

In the meantime, the master of Myst Court was calmly sipping his claret,
and telling to his daughter amusing stories of old adventures, all
unconscious of the fearful scene going on within the walls of his own



When Emmie arose on the following morning, the landscape was covered
with a soft mantle of snow. A few flakes were still falling, ever and
anon, from a sky whence lowering clouds shut out the pale gleam of a
winter daybreak.

Emmie arose with an earnest resolution on her mind--a resolution born of
repentance, and gathering strength from prayer. She would no longer be
the weak, selfish, useless being, whom every shadow could turn from the
path of duty. She would listen for a Father's guiding voice; she would
cling to the helping Hand; she would, through God's promised help,
realize His protecting presence.

"I will beseech the Lord to enable me never, never again to mistrust His
power or His love, or to doubt His promise that all things shall work
together for good to His children," said Emmie to herself, as she
opened her Bible; and in that Bible she read the touching history of
those who once walked unharmed in the burning fiery furnace.

It was thus that the weak soldier of Christ put on armour to resist her
besetting sin. She would, ere the close of that day, sorely need that
armour of proof.

When Emmie had finished her reading, she rose and looked forth from her
casement. She saw an open vehicle approaching along the snow-covered
road towards Myst Court. Three men were seated within it, besides the
driver. It was with no common interest that the maiden watched their

"Policemen!--London policemen!--and with an inspector!" exclaimed Emmie
in surprise, for she recognized the familiar uniform of the officers of
the law. "What can be bringing them hither? Can Harper's secret have
been discovered?"

Emmie's heart thrilled with mingled fear and hope. Had the officers of
justice received information of some secret plot,--had they come to
search the house,--would light be thrown on its dark recesses? Such was
Emmie's hope, but still linked with a trembling fear. What might not
Harper do, in his desperation, if he were driven to bay? Would he not
conclude that her lips had betrayed his secret, that she had broken her
solemn oath?

Emmie lost sight of the vehicle as it stopped before the large
entrance-door of Myst Court, which was not overlooked by her window. She
heard the policemen's ring at the bell, she heard her father's firm step
as he descended the stairs to meet his early and most unexpected
visitors. Emmie would have followed him at once, but the tresses of her
long hair still floated down over her shoulders. The young lady was not
independent of the help of a maid, and rang her bell for Susan.

Minutes passed, and no Susan appeared. There were sounds of steps and
voices in the house, but not near Emmie's apartment. Her curiosity made
her impatient; she rang again, and more loudly; and as there was still
delay in answering the summons, Emmie resolved to wait no longer, and
herself gathered up and twisted into a knot, as best she might, her
long, luxuriant hair. She had just finished her toilette when Susan
entered at last, looking flushed and excited.

"I beg pardon, miss," said the lady's-maid; "but I could not come
sooner. The police are here, and they have been questioning me and the
other servants."

"Have they come to search the house?" cried Emmie.

"Oh yes; they brought a warrant from London to do that," was Susan's

Almost breathless with anxiety and hope, Emmie asked if they had
searched the haunted chamber.

"That's the first place they went to," said Susan.

"And was any one there, any one arrested?" cried Emmie, trembling with
eagerness to hear the reply, which might loose the knot of her
perplexity, and free her for ever from haunting terrors.

"No one was found in this house, miss," answered Susan, with a look of
distress. "There were strange presses and instruments found, as I heard,
in the haunted room, such as must have been used in forging those
dreadful bank-notes."

"Forging bank-notes! so that was the crime!" said Emmie under her
breath. "And is any one suspected?" she inquired.

Susan at first looked perplexed, and avoided meeting her lady's
questioning glance. She then answered, "There is a warrant out for the
arrest of Colonel Standish."

"Colonel Standish!" echoed Emmie in surprise.

"The police had been at S----, at the White Hart, before they came
here," said Susan; "but the colonel had gone off, no one knows where. He
had not been seen or heard of since yesterday morning. He owes a large
debt at the hotel, and his stealing off thus, without paying it, makes
every one think him guilty about the forged notes."

"I never believed him to be a real gentleman," observed Emmie. "But,"
she added anxiously, "is he thought to have had no accomplice?" The
maiden, bound by her oath, dared not so much as mention the name of

"I think that I hear master calling me," said Susan; and without
answering her lady's question, she hurried from the apartment.

Emmie was standing near the window, and from it she now saw Joe leading
her own pony-chaise from the stables towards the entrance of the house,
and at a quick pace that told of haste. What was the vehicle brought for
at so early an hour? Perhaps--so thought Emmie Trevor--to take one or
more of the policemen back to S----. Yet scarcely so, for their own
conveyance was waiting.

The maiden was not kept long in doubt. It was her own father that she
saw in the chaise, a few seconds afterwards, urging on the pony to a
frantic pace, plunging through the drifted snow as if life or death hung
on its speed! Joe sat behind, while his master drove as Emmie had never
seen her father drive before.

"What can be the matter?" exclaimed Emmie; "papa has forgotten even his
greatcoat, and the weather is so cold, and it looks as if a storm would
come on!" She watched the chaise till it disappeared behind intervening
trees and brushwood.

Susan re-entered the room as her young lady, anxious and wondering,
turned from the casement.

"Do you know where my father is going?" Emmie inquired of her maid.

"Master is going to London, miss," was the answer; "but I doubt whether
the pony can gallop fast enough to take him in time for the train.
Master was in great haste, or he would have come to bid you good-bye."

"What takes him to London?" cried Emmie.

"Oh, this bank-note forgery business," said Susan, the look of
uneasiness passing again over her face. "Master called me to give you a
message, miss. He says that while the police have charge of the house,
he--he does not wish you to speak to them, miss, or question them about
the matter which has brought them here. Master is anxious about you. He
has ordered me to take care that no one should disturb or intrude upon
you, Miss Trevor."

"The police are not likely to disturb the innocent, nor to intrude on
ladies," said Emmie, smiling from the pleasant assurance of safety
conveyed by their presence in the mansion. "If my father does not wish
me to question them or see them, of course his will shall be obeyed. I
must depend on you for my information, or--where is my brother, Master

"I cannot tell, miss; he is not in the house; he must have gone out,"
replied Susan in a flurried manner. The quiet, respectable, lady's-maid
had never before been examined by a superintendent of police, and her
usual self-possession had forsaken her on that eventful morning.

"Bruce must have heard something of this warrant against Standish,"
thought Emmie; "perhaps he has gone off early to S----, to help in the
search after this daring impostor. I am glad that he felt well enough to
do so; but how he could have received such early information of what has
occurred, I know not."

Emmie now went down-stairs to the breakfast room; there was no
family-prayer in the confusion of that strange day. Susan brought in a
tray with her young lady's breakfast, in the absence of Joe. Emmie was
not disposed to touch it. She lingered near the window, half hoping that
Bruce might appear, or that her father, having missed the early train,
might return to Myst Court. The policemen were very quiet; only the
sound of a heavy tread, now and then, showed that they were in the
house; but Emmie saw nothing of the officers of the law.

There were signs, however, that the unusual occurrences which had taken
place at Myst Court had excited curiosity and interest in the
surrounding neighbourhood. Knots of persons, not only from the hamlet,
but apparently even from the town, came up the carriage-drive, as it
seemed for no purpose but to stare up, open-mouthed, at the house. There
was much shaking of heads and whispering amongst these spectators; but
they had caught sight of the lady looking forth from the window, and
nothing was uttered by them loud enough for its import to be
distinguished by Emmie through the closed window.

Presently the wind rose in wild gusts, whirling the snow into blinding
drifts; dark clouds were sweeping over the sky; all portended a violent
storm; and the assembled crowd hastily retreated from the grounds of
Myst Court, to seek refuge from the fury of the tempest.

"I would give anything to know whether Harper and his wife are under
suspicion!" said Emmie to herself. "Susan is so strangely unwilling to
give full information, she stammers as she answers my questions. I think
that my father must have charged her to say nothing that could possibly
agitate my nerves. He has desired that his weak daughter should be kept
from excitement; and thus I, who have the deepest interest in all that
is happening here, am more ignorant of what is going on than any servant
in the household. I must question Susan again."

Emmie was about to ring the bell for her maid; but before she did so,
there was a quick tap at the door, and, without waiting for the lady's
"Come in," Hannah entered the room. The cook looked more excited than
Susan had done; but while, in the case of the latter, there had been an
appearance of perplexity, if not of pain, with a desire to speak as
little as she could, Hannah's face, on the contrary, showed that she was
not only brimming over with news, but that she had a vulgar pleasure in
being the first to impart it. "Now I shall know all," thought Emmie.

"La, miss!" exclaimed Hannah, "to think of you taking your breakfast so
quietly here, as if nothing had happened, when there be such goings on
in the place!"

"Any one arrested?" asked Emmie eagerly. She dared not mention the names
of Harper or Jessel, lest, by turning suspicion on them, she should
indirectly violate her oath.

"No one took up yet, that I know of, but he in London," said Hannah.
"Didn't master go off like a shot, as soon as he heard the news!"

"What news? who was taken up?" asked Emmie.

"La, miss! you don't mean to say that you've not heard of the scrape of
poor Master Vibert, how he's been catched and put into jail!"

Emmie staggered backwards as though she had been struck. "Put into jail!
my brother! and on what pretext?" she exclaimed, grasping the table for

"I'll tell you all about it--you ought to know, seeing you're his own
sister," said Hannah, enjoying the excitement of the scene, and yet not
without a touch of natural pity, on seeing the anguish which she
inflicted. "Master Vibert went yesterday to London, you know; and when
he got there, he went off straight to a jeweller (Golding, I think, is
the name), and bought from him lots of jewels, diamonds, pearls, and all
kinds of gim-cracks, worth more than a thousand pounds."

"Impossible!" exclaimed Emmie.

"But he did buy the jewels, and paid for them too with a lot of nice,
fresh, clean ten-pound notes," said Hannah. "The shopman didn't suspect
nothing at first, 'cause he knew the young gentleman's face so well, as
he'd often dealt at the shop. But when the head of the firm, as they
call him, came in the afternoon to look after the business (there's
nothing like a master's eye, we know), he said the notes weren't real
and honest bank-notes; and off he went at once to the biggest
police-station in London."

"My brother has been the unconscious tool of a villain!" murmured Emmie,
who felt certain that Vibert's vanity and careless security must have
made him the victim of the impostor who had called himself Colonel

"The p'lice and Mr. Golding drove off to Grosvenor Square," continued
Hannah, "for the jeweller knew the address; and a mighty bustle and fuss
was caused by their coming, for there was an afternoon party, and the
gentlefolk were amazed when they found that he who had been the merriest
of them all was to be haled up afore a magistrate, on a charge of
passing forged notes."

"Did not my brother at once clear himself from suspicion?" cried Emmie,
the paleness of whose face was now exchanged for the crimson flush of
indignation and shame.

"Master Vibert said that the notes had been given to him by a Colonel
Standish; and that he had bought the jewels for Colonel Standish; and
that he would have sent them off at once to some address in Liverpool,
only he had waited to have out his dance."

"Then are the jewels safe in the hands of the police?" asked Emmie.

"Ay; I wish that this cheat of a colonel were so too," replied Hannah.
"Hanging is too good for him, say I; for sure and certain it was his
wheedling which made poor Master Vibert do so wicked a thing. Some of
the police were sent off to Liverpool, and some hurried down to S----.
And first they searched the colonel's lodgings, and then they came
ferreting here."

"Did they easily find their way into the bricked-up room?" asked Emmie,
who knew of no way of access into it but by the secret staircase.

"Bless you, miss, what could be easier, when the door was wide open
'twixt that room and Master Bruce's!"

Emmie started, and turned deadly pale.

"You may well start with surprise, miss; all of us were astonished to
find there was any door in that wall. Lizzie declares that even she
never knew that there was one, though she tidies the room every day.
Master Bruce was so sly--he was--hanging the big map over the place!"

"How dare you speak thus of my brother?" cried Emmie.

"It ain't my speaking, but every one's speaking," said Hannah, firing up
at the word of rebuke. "The police say as how young master could not
have slept in the one room for a month, and have been innocent as a babe
of what was going on in the other. Ay, they said that of him, Miss
Trevor, before they'd found a lot of the odd kind of paper of which
bank-notes are made in one of his drawers. I wonder young master did not
throw it all into the fire before he absconded."

Emmie pressed her temples with both her icy cold hands. Her brain was
reeling. Half unconsciously, she echoed the word "Absconded!"

"That's what the p'lice called it; and they're going to take out a
warrant against Master Bruce," said Hannah. "It's plain he went off last
night, for his bed had never been slept in."

This was to Emmie the crowning horror. There had been a door then--an
open door--between her brother's room and that haunted by the presence
of the unscrupulous Harper; and Bruce--the noble, the brave--had
disappeared during the night!

"Leave me, leave me!" cried Emmie wildly; and, alarmed at the lady's
ghastly looks, the bearer of evil tidings at once obeyed her command.
Hannah had said more than enough, and now retreated in alarm, lest the
effect of her words should have been to turn her young mistress's



Emmie remained for a few brief seconds as if transfixed into stone. More
wretched was she even than her father, who had rushed off to London on
hearing of the arrest of his younger son, without knowing that any
danger or disgrace threatened the elder. It need not be said that Emmie
never for one instant doubted the innocence of either; her present
intense agony arose from her fear regarding the fate of Bruce.

"In that fatal room which he has occupied through my own selfish folly,"
so flowed the stream of thought like burning lava through the poor
girl's brain, "Bruce has heard--has discovered the forgers. He would
take no cowardly oath, and they have murdered him to ensure his silence.
What a fearful fate may have overtaken mine own brave brother! But, oh!
may merciful Heaven have shielded his precious life!"

Susan entered the room, alarmed by the account of the state of her
mistress given by Hannah. She expected to find Miss Trevor either
fainting or in hysterics, but to her surprise the lady was perfectly
calm. This was no time to give way to weakness; the very extremity of
Emmie's anguish subdued its outward expression.

"Go to the policemen, Susan; tell them that I am certain that my brother
Bruce has been the victim of some foul deed," she said with distinct
articulation though a quivering, bloodless lip. "Let every corner of
this house, from attic to cellar, be searched; a thousand pounds' reward
to whoever shall find Bruce Trevor!" Emmie waved her hand impatiently to
urge speed, and Susan hastened from the apartment, scarcely more certain
of young Trevor's innocence, or less anxious regarding his fate, than
was his unhappy sister.

"There are two guilty ones who are likely enough to be able to throw
light on this dark mystery," said Emmie to herself; "Harper, and that
wretched woman his wife. But can I set the police on their track without
breaking my oath, my horrible oath? Would Heaven, in this dreadful
emergency, condemn me for that, or suffer that those awful imprecations
which I was forced to utter should fall on my body and soul? Is there
any other course open before me in this maddening misery of doubt?"
Emmie made two hurried steps towards the door, and then paused.

"There is one other course; yes, I see it. I could go myself--alone--to
the dwelling of Jael; there is something of the woman left in her still,
she protected my life from her husband. Bruce may be living still, but
kept in confinement,"--a gleam of hope came with that thought,--"not in
Harper's hovel, which is too small and too close to others to be used as
a hiding-place or a prison, but possibly in Jael's, which stands by
itself. I will go thither. Threats, promises, entreaties, all will I use
to win from her at least some tidings of my lost brother! If I go alone
I break no oath, and Jael will be able henceforth implicitly to trust in
my honour. She may confide to me things which she would effectually
conceal from officers of justice. Yes, I will go alone. Oh, God of
mercy, help and direct me!"

One measure of precaution suggested itself to the mind of Emmie, who
could not dissociate the idea of personal danger from intercourse with
any of those concerned in the forgery plot. She tore a leaf from her
pocket-book, and wrote upon it the few following lines, to be left on
the dining-room table. "_If there be tidings of my brother, or if I be
long in returning, seek for me at the house of Mrs. Jessel._" "There is
no breach of my oath in writing this," thought Emmie, as she added her
initials to the lines which she had hastily penned.

Emmie's garden-hat and scarlet shawl were hung up in the hall; she
sought no other equipment for her walk through the wood, though the
clouds were hanging like a pall over the white earth, and the wind was
now furiously high. Emmie did not pursue the path by the drive that
would have led to the hamlet and the highway; there was a short cut
through the woods to the dwelling of Jael, and the maiden took it,
sheltering herself as best she might against the tempest which raged
round her fragile form. The poor girl felt that she was on a dangerous
enterprise. She knew not whom or what she might meet in the place to
which she was going; she had not forgotten the gleam of Harper's sharp
blade, or the fierce threat expressed in his eyes. It may be marvelled
at that one so timid as was Emmie should venture without protection to a
dwelling in which might be lurking those whom she knew to be
criminals,--those who, as she fearfully suspected, might be murderers
also. It was indeed sisterly affection that impelled Emmie onwards, but
her support, her strength, was in prayer. Emmie was trusting now as she
never had trusted before; she was leaning on, clinging to the invisible
arm that could hold her up, to the love which would never forsake her.

It is not to be supposed that Vibert's miserable position was forgotten
by Emmie in her terrors on account of his brother. But for Vibert the
sister could do nothing but pray; his father was hastening to his aid:
her whole energies, Emmie felt, must be concentrated on her own special
work,--that of discovering the fate of Bruce Trevor.

Emmie had gone more than half-way to the dwelling of Jael, when the
thunder-cloud above her burst in a storm compared to which that one
which she had encountered on the evening of her arrival was but as the
play of summer lightning. Never before had the trembling girl heard such
deafening peals as those which now shook the welkin, while the rattling
hail descended with fury. Branches above and on either side creaked and
snapped in the gale, and some were whirled with violence across the path
of the maiden. Emmie started, shuddered, and drew her shawl over her
head for protection against the blast and the hail, but still she
struggled onwards. She uttered no shriek, but she gasped forth a prayer;
it was the moan of one in anguish, not the cry of one in despair.

That storm was one of the most terrible which had ever been known in
England. The newspapers on the following day recorded many a wreck on
the coast, many an accident in inland localities. They told of stacks of
chimneys blown down, and a church spire struck by lightning; they
recorded how cattle had been killed by the fall of a tree, and a
sportsman in the field struck dead with his gun in his hand. Emmie
always remembered that storm as a horrible dream, and wondered how she
had been strengthened to endure what terrified nature so shrank from.
But personal fear was partly neutralized by a yet more absorbing fear;
to gain tidings of Bruce, Emmie felt that she would bear the shock of
the fiercest storm that ever swept over the earth.

The maiden emerged unharmed from the wood, safe at least from danger of
injury by lightning-struck tree, or branches torn off by the gale. She
had been preserved through one terrible peril; and would not the Power
that had helped her hitherto sustain and protect to the end?

Emmie had now reached a road which skirted an open heath, and the lone
dwelling of Jael Harper stood not a hundred yards before her. It was a
narrow, two-storied house, standing in a small garden; both house and
garden were whitened with snow, as was the little path which connected
the door with the road. The hail had spent itself in that sharp and
furious downfall, but the blinding lightning flashed faster than ever
its forked, jagged darts through the sky.

As Emmie with desperate resolution approached the garden-gate of that
dwelling which was as fearful to her as a lion's den might have been,
she noticed on the snow-covered road the tracks of cartwheels, and on
the garden pathway those of feet. The latter were all in a direction
which showed that though several persons might have quitted the house
since the fall of snow on the preceding night, no one could have entered
it. Emmie leaned for a few moments against the low garden-paling to
gather her thoughts; the noise of the storm and the terror of her mind
made it difficult even to think.

"Footprints from the door to the road, some larger, some smaller as if
made by a woman, and some left by wide nailed boots, all pointing this
way," murmured Emmie; "three persons must have left the house this
morning, and I stand on the track of wheels. All then have
absconded,--they have fled from justice; that den of wickedness must be
empty." Emmie looked across the garden at the door with its iron studs
and large old-fashioned knocker, and felt assured that the loudest
summons on that knocker would not cause that door to open. The shutters
of the windows were all closed, the house was evidently shut up and
deserted. The young lady could not get in; wherefore, then, should she
stay? Would it not be better to return home at once, and hear if the
strict search after Bruce which must have followed her offer of large
reward had been of any avail?

"Oh! why did I madly come hither?" exclaimed Emmie, personal fear again
rising into terror, as she contemplated returning through the wood
whilst the dreadful storm still raged. "That lightning! oh, how awful
the flash! The heavens seem to be splitting asunder! But do not the
lightnings obey God's bidding? Is it not the voice of my Father which I
hear in the thunder? Even if it bring His summons to His child, should I
fear to go unto Him?"

While her faith was wrestling thus with her fear, the attention of Emmie
was attracted by a small object near her, almost covered with snow,
which, strangely enough on that winter day, looked something like a
rosebud. Its soft crimson hue contrasted with the whiteness of the snow
under which it was lying half buried. There was something curiously
familiar to Emmie in the appearance of that flower, which did not seem
like a work of nature. The small thing, whatever it might be, was but
two steps from the spot where Emmie stood leaning against the paling.
Emmie turned towards the place where lay the object, and, though she
could scarcely have given a reason for so doing, she stooped and raised
it. With emotions which no pen can describe, the trembling girl drew out
from the snow _a man's slipper_--a slipper which her own fingers had
worked for her brother! Emmie sank on her knees with a faint cry of
anguish. How had that slipper come there, and when? and, oh! where,
where was he who had worn it? Did that deserted house conceal some

The chain of thought was broken by an explosive crash of heaven's
artillery in the cloud above, and, almost simultaneously with the peal,
a fire-ball struck the house, by the garden-gate of which Emmie was
crouching, still on her knees. The noise was so tremendous that the
maiden for a brief space lost sense of hearing and power of thinking;
she was deafened and bewildered, and remained motionless and breathless,
with the slipper clenched in her grasp. But the thunder-clap was soon
over, and miserable consciousness of her position returned to poor
Emmie. The sight of that slipper roused her to a more sickening fear
than could be caused by lightning or thunder.

Emmie started to her feet, and again turned her wild gaze on the lonely
house. It had been fast closed against her entrance, but (attracted,
perhaps, by the metal on the door) Heaven's bolt had torn its way
through; it had smashed through woodwork and brickwork, and made a
ghastly breach, charred and blackened, as if a bomb had exploded there
to make an opening for destroyers! There was nothing now but her own
terror to hinder the maiden from exploring the lightning-stricken

"O Father--mercy--help!" burst in almost unconscious prayer from Emmie's
quivering lips, as she lifted the latch of the gate. With rapid steps
she crossed the little garden by the snow-covered path, and over the
charred and splintered wreck of a door made her way into the house which
she had so much dreaded to enter. To Emmie it seemed as if she were
borne onwards by some invisible power, and were scarcely a voluntary
agent; but this sensation was the effect of excited fancy.

Emmie was now in the narrow passage of Jael's house; to her right was an
open door, beyond which lay a room, dark indeed, for the shutters of its
window were closed, yet not utterly so, for daylight forced its way in
through chinks, and there was a faint reflected light from the wall of
the passage. Into that room Emmie now turned, groping her way forwards
with hands extended. Her object was to reach the window and throw open
the shutters, and so gain fuller light by which to pursue her dreadful
search for--perhaps a brother's corpse! But ere Emmie could feel her way
to the window, her bare and icy-cold hand came in contact with something
soft and damp--something resembling a human face! Emmie could not stifle
a cry of horror. Her first emotion was that of terror, the next that of
almost ecstatic hope, as the maiden's straining eyes traced through the
deep gloom the outline of a form, not standing upright, but apparently
leaning against or fastened to some heavy piece of furniture. This form,
of which she had accidentally touched the face, was assuredly not dead,
for the flesh had some slight warmth, and the head had slightly moved
when her hand came in contact with it. Emmie sprang to the window,
raised the bar, and flung the shutters wide open. What a sight did
daylight reveal! On his knees, with his back to a table to which he was
bound, while his mouth was gagged with his own neckcloth, Emmie, as she
turned from the window, beheld her brother--her own lost Bruce!

Almost in the twinkling of an eye the prisoner's mouth was freed from
its bonds. The exclamations "My sister! my preserver!" which burst from
the young man's lips, showed that neither the sense of recognition nor
power of utterance was lost. Emmie then attempted to free the arms of
Bruce, which were bound with a rope behind him; but to accomplish this
work required more time and far greater effort. The knot was not easily
unloosed, and the slender delicate fingers of Emmie, though she exerted
their utmost strength, could not for several minutes accomplish their
difficult task. Whilst Emmie was straining at the tight knot, quickened
in her efforts by a faint moan from her suffering brother, she noticed
not whether lightning flashed or thunder rolled; she seemed for the time
to have lost all personal fear; self-consciousness was swallowed up in
anxious care for another.

At length the rope end was dragged through the last cruel loop, and
Bruce Trevor was free. Emmie, with thankful delight, threw her arms
round the neck of her brother, and, for the first time on that terrible
day, burst into a flood of tears. Her brother feebly returned her
embrace, and wept like a child. Emmie was surprised, and even alarmed,
at the emotion to which Bruce Trevor gave way. Had it been Vibert who
had wept--Vibert, ever impulsive, and without any self-control--Emmie
would neither have wondered nor feared; but that Bruce, the firm Bruce,
who since childhood had never been known to shed a tear--that Bruce
should actually sob, showed that even his powers of endurance must have
been overstrained at last, and that his strong nerves had been shaken
by torture, either physical or mental.

And suffering was written on the young man's face; not only in the
ghastly wound which Harper's blow had left on his brow, but in the
hollow eyes, the haggard cheek, the lips which had lost for a while
their expression of calm decision. Bruce had secretly prided himself on
his firmness; he had to be taught that no merely human courage can be
proof against every trial, as his sister had been taught that human
weakness can be raised into heroism by the power of faith and prayer.

But soon the strong will struggled against human infirmity. Mastering
his emotion by a convulsive effort, Bruce was the first to speak.

"How came you here? who is with you?" he asked.

"No one is with me; I think that God led me here," was Emmie's reply.

"He led you indeed," murmured Bruce. "The cords were cutting into my
flesh, my position was torture; another half-hour and reason or life
must have given way. But for you to come alone, in the storm, and to
such a place as this, is scarcely less than a miracle--you, Emmie, who
dreaded the lightning!"

"Blessed was the lightning! it did His bidding; it made a way for me to
enter and save you," cried Emmie.

"But for that crashing bolt you would never have seen me alive," said
Bruce. As he spoke, the young man turned his head with a quick, uneasy
movement, like a sentinel at night who detects the sound of a stealthy
tread. Emmie saw the movement, and her heart throbbed fast with
sympathetic alarm. Could the forgers be returning to make sure of their
victim? But the apprehension expressed in the face of Bruce arose from a
different cause.

"Mark you not that smell of burning?" he said. "See the smoke rolling in
through the doorway; the bolt has set the house on fire; we must make
our escape before the building be wrapped in flames!"

Bruce was in so exhausted a state, and his limbs had been so cramped by
the painful position in which he had for hours remained, that without
the support of his sister's slight arm he could scarcely have moved even
a few steps forward. Very strange was it to Emmie to find that her
brother leaned upon her--that it was given to the weak to support the
strong, to the timid to encourage the brave. The relative positions of
brother and sister were reversed at that crisis of danger; the pride of
man was brought low, whilst strength was given to the humble and meek.

Smoke, blinding and half-suffocating smoke, filled the passage through
which Emmie now guided her brother's faltering steps. Sparks flew
around, the heat was intense, the roaring sound of flames mingled with
the noise of the storm. But there was no actual obstacle to the
departure of the fugitives from the burning house, and over the wreck of
the shattered door they passed forth into outer air. Here they felt
comparatively safe; the snowy waste which spread around them promised
protection at least from any danger from fire. The storm was gradually
abating, and soon the roaring and crackling noise of the conflagration
and the crash of falling timbers were more audible than the muttering of
thunder rolling away to the west.

With awe that hushed them into silence, the Trevors watched for a while
the progress of the fire. Flames burst forth from windows, and blazed up
from roof, till the whole building seemed swathed in a fiery mantle,
from which the wind scattered myriads of sparks. Fast as rose a column
of black smoke from the conflagration, it was spread by the gale in a
western direction, like a dark pall overshadowing the snow which lay on
the heath. The Trevors had sought the shelter of a hedge, on the side
opposite to that to which flames and smoke were driven; and thus not a
spark fell beside them, though they were near enough to the burning
dwelling to feel its glowing heat.

"But for you I should now have been _there_!" exclaimed Bruce, after an
interval of silence, as he pointed towards the house, which every minute
was becoming more like a burning fiery furnace. "I could not have
stirred hand or foot; I should have remained bound, like victim at the
stake, waiting till the flames should reach me. You have saved me from
the most horrible of deaths; I owe my life to your courage."

"Not mine! oh, not mine! it was His gift!" exclaimed Emmie, with a gush
of unutterable thankfulness and joy. "Oh! shall I ever again mistrust
the power and the goodness of God!"



The Trevors were not long to remain alone. The flames from the house,
seen far and wide, soon drew to the spot the inmates of farms and
cottages dotted over the neighbouring land. Amongst the first arrivals
at the scene of the conflagration was that of Mr. Trevor's own servant,
who was driving the pony-chaise in which he had returned from S----.
Susan, who had found the paper left by Emmie, and who was alarmed at her
young lady being out in the storm, had despatched Joe with all speed by
the road, after heaping the chaise with warm wraps to protect Miss
Trevor from the cold. Susan herself had accompanied Joe, in whose
intelligence and promptitude no great trust was reposed by the old
family servant.

Very thankful was Emmie for the arrival of the chaise, which afforded a
means of carrying her brother quickly home; for Bruce was in so
exhausted a state that she feared that he would faint by the way. The
young man let Emmie spread her own cloak around him, and cushion him up
with shawls; his submission to such offices of kindness was so unlike
Bruce's former self, that Emmie saw in it a token of prostration of mind
as well as of body. Not a word was uttered by either during the short
drive back to Myst Court. Bruce leaned back with his eyes closed; his
sister scarcely knew whether or not he were conscious of what was
passing around him.

"I dare not tell him in his present weak state of what has happened to
Vibert," thought Emmie, whose mind now recurred to the troubles of her
younger brother, which had been for a while forgotten in the excitement
of the late scenes.

Myst Court was soon reached. Bruce was gently assisted out of the
chaise, which was then at once sent off to S---- to bring a surgeon.
Bruce's wound had never bled much, as it had been inflicted by a blunt
instrument. Susan had offered to bind it, but the sufferer had refused
to let his injured head be touched save by professional hands. A ghastly
sight the young man presented, as he slowly entered the hall of Myst
Court, leaning on the arm of his sister; but it was then that he
startled Emmie with the abrupt question, "Has Vibert returned from

"Not yet," was her faltered reply.

"Then I must go thither at once. When does the next train start?--I have
lost count of time--days, weeks seem to have passed since I was last
here," said Bruce, with an evident effort to collect his scattered
thoughts. He seated himself wearily on one of the large oak chairs in
the hall, and in his own decided manner repeated the words, "When does
the next train start?"

"Bruce, dearest, you are utterly unable to attempt to take such a
journey," said Emmie soothingly. She feared that her brother's mind was
beginning to wander. Bruce perhaps guessed her suspicion, for calmly
meeting her anxious gaze he reiterated his question, "Only tell me, when
does the next train start for London?"

"Not till after dark," replied Emmie.

"Then after dark I go up to London, unless Vibert return," said Bruce.
"I must warn him--I must give notice to the police--I must telegraph at
once," and with an effort the young man rose to his feet. At that moment
the superintendent of police entered the hall, not a little surprised to
see before him, living, the man for whose corpse he and his companions
had been making most diligent search. The appearance of Bruce showed but
too plainly how narrowly he had escaped the fate to which he had been
supposed to have fallen a victim.

"What brought _him_ here?" cried Bruce, glancing at the official, and
then turning his inquiring eyes on his sister.

Concealment was no longer possible; Emmie began to break gently the evil
tidings which had come that morning from London, but had scarcely
uttered a sentence before Bruce anticipated all that she was about to
tell him.

"Vibert has been arrested," he cried, "the dupe of the villany of a
forger. Emmie, I must go to the study with this officer; I can give him
information of the greatest importance. He will send telegraphs to
London and to Liverpool, and he and I will go up to town by the next
train. There is a nefarious plot to be unravelled, and the events of
last night have placed the end of the clue in my hand."

His sister saw at once that opposition would be useless. The more ill
Bruce felt himself to be, the more resolved he was to speak and act
while the power to do so remained. Till he had had his conference with
the superintendent, the sufferer would take neither rest nor
refreshment, save copious draughts of water, eagerly swallowed to quench
his feverish thirst. Bruce's hand trembled violently as he replenished
the tumbler again and again; but this was but the weakness of the
nerves,--the will of the soul was as strong as ever.

"Will you not suffer us first to bathe and bind your poor head?"
suggested Emmie, who could not look on the injured brow without a thrill
of pain.

"There will be time for all that," exclaimed Bruce with impatient
gesture; "more important matters press,--is not our brother's honour at

The condition in which Bruce Trevor appeared, and the circumstances
under which he had been found, had removed from the mind of the police
official all suspicion that he could ever have been leagued with the
forgers. He had evidently barely escaped with life from the hands of the
ruffians, and their shallow device for implicating him in their guilt
was transparent to all. The superintendent eagerly received from Bruce
such information regarding the forgers as was likely to lead to their
apprehension before they should have time to make their escape from the
shores of Britain.

To Emmie, in her anxiety for her brother, the interview held in the
study seemed to be painfully long; but Bruce had not been half an hour
in the house when a policeman, despatched in haste by the
superintendent, was on his way to S----, commisssioned to telegraph
from thence to Liverpool and to London.

Then, the immediate strain on his energies being over, Bruce collapsed
for a brief time into a state of utter prostration. When the surgeon
arrived from S----, he found his patient stretched on the drawing-room
sofa in something between a sleep and a swoon, with his pale, anxious
sister watching beside him.

Emmie remained present while the surgeon performed his part, giving such
trifling aid as she could. When Dr. Weir had done his work and left the
room, Miss Trevor followed him into the hall, most anxious to know his
opinion as to the extent of the injury which her brother had sustained
from the blow.

"The wound is not in itself of so _very_ serious a character," said the
surgeon gravely, "if the brain itself have not suffered. But there is a
strong tendency to fever, and the patient should be kept as quiet and as
free from excitement as is possible."

"But he actually insists on travelling to London to-night," cried Emmie;
"and it is so difficult, so impossible to resist the will of my brother
when he thinks that a duty must be performed."

The surgeon shrugged his shoulders. He, like every one else at S----,
had heard of Vibert's arrest, and could understand that no light cause
drew his brother towards the metropolis. He had seen already also
something of his patient's decided character, and recalled to mind the
well-known words of one who, when told that to travel might be to die,
replied, "It is not necessary that I should live, but it is necessary
that I should go." Bruce had a few minutes before in Dr. Weir's
presence, expressed a similar sentiment.

"To oppose him would, I fear, bring on the very evil which we would
guard against," said the surgeon, after a minute's reflection. "I dare
not, under existing circumstances, absolutely forbid the journey to
London." Perhaps Dr. Weir, in giving his reluctant consent to what he
saw that he could not prevent, was but making a virtue of necessity.

"Then I will accompany my brother," said Emmie.

As soon as the surgeon had departed, Emmie began to make preparations
for the journey, which should at least be made to Bruce as comfortable
and as little fatiguing as it was possible for a night-journey in the
depth of winter to be.

"My young lady is a changed being," thought Susan, as she found Miss
Trevor actively engaged in packing her brother's carpet-bag. "After all
the dreadful news which she heard this morning, after her exposure to
the most fearful of storms, after the horror of finding her brother
half-murdered, and the narrow escape of both from being burned to
death, I should have expected to have seen my mistress either in
violent hysterics, or in a burning fever! But here is Miss Trevor able
to think of all, arrange all, care for all, speaking no word of fear,
showing no sign of weakness! I never thought that my lady could have
learned so soon how to 'glorify God in the fires!'"

Before the arrival of the close vehicle ordered by Emmie to convey her
brother and herself to the station, the sister made one more earnest
attempt to dissuade Bruce from making an effort which, in his present
state, would probably bring on serious illness. Was it indeed, she
urged, so needful for him to appear in person in London?

"Emmie, I have wronged a brother, and shall I not do what I can to right
him?" was Bruce's reply. "Yes," he added, "though I knew that to go to
him now were to go indeed to my grave." Emmie attempted no further

The vehicle came, and the travellers started. Susan accompanied the
Trevors as far as the station, to take their railway tickets, and look
after their comforts. Emmie would have been thankful to have taken her
faithful attendant with her all the way to London, but difficulties
stood in the way. Not only had money run short (for Emmie's purse had
been empty, and her brother's had been so poorly supplied that they had
had to borrow from their servant), but Miss Trevor was afraid further to
encroach on the hospitality of her aunt, whose house might already be

Few persons travelled in winter by the night train, which was chiefly
used for luggage. Bruce and Emmie had the railway carriage to
themselves, and the invalid was thus able to recline as on a couch. Very
few words passed between the brother and sister during that long
wearisome journey; Bruce was reserving the small residue of his strength
for the morrow's effort, and as the light of the dull lamp fell on his
almost corpse-like features, Emmie felt that it would be cruel to
disturb him even by a question. She scarcely knew whether her brother
were thinking or sleeping; but what a full current of thought was
passing through her own mind, as the train rolled on through the
darkness! Emmie reviewed the events of that--to her--most eventful day
with emotions of horror so mixed with fervent thankfulness, that she
could not herself have told which was the uppermost feeling. Emmie had,
as it were, had lions close to her path, but had found that the lions
were chained; she had looked on death very near, but her spirit had been
so braced by prayer that she had not fainted at his awful approach. She
had, for once, conquered mistrust, and by doing so had been the blessed
means of saving the life of her brother. But was she to rest content
with one victory over besetting sin, or could she suppose that the
enemy, though once foiled, would not perpetually be returning to his too
familiar abode? Had vivid light been thrown into her heart's haunted
chamber, only that she should again resign it to darkness? Must not the
young Christian be now constantly on the watch, and resolutely and
prayerfully resolve that the thought "I fear" should never again turn
her feet back from the path of duty?

Emmie was so absorbed in such reflections that she almost started when
her brother broke silence at last.

"Emmie, what induced you to go to that house, and alone?" asked Bruce
suddenly, opening his languid eyes, and fixing their gaze on his sister,
who occupied the opposite seat. "Had anything occurred to make you
suspect treachery in that most false of women?"

The question took Emmie by surprise, and she was about to return a frank
reply, when there came the remembrance of her oath, like the galling of
a hidden chain worn by penitents of old. Even all that had passed had
not set the conscience of the maiden free from the burden of that dread

"I cannot tell even you, Bruce, why I suspected Jael,--why I went
through the wood in the storm,--but the thing which decided me to make
my way into the house and search there for my brother was finding one of
his slippers close to the garden-gate."

A faint smile, the first seen on his lips during that fearful day,
passed over the face of Bruce. "Then it was not for nothing," he said,
"that I contrived to detach that slipper from my foot as the villains
bore me past the hedge to the gate. It was so dark that they did not
notice the trace I was leaving behind me. But wherefore can you not tell
me, Emmie, the cause of that suspicion of Jael which led one so timid as
yourself to her dwelling in the midst of a storm so terrible, that when
the bolt struck the house I thought to have been buried under its

"Oh! Bruce, do not ask me!" murmured Emmie, shrinking from the searching
gaze of her brother's eyes.

"I understand," said Bruce to himself, after a pause in which he had
recalled Emmie's mysterious disappearance on the night of the eclipse,
and her subsequent agony of terror. "You are bound by some promise," he
continued, again addressing his sister; "there had been one moment of
weakness, but how nobly redeemed! Emmie, my preserver, fear no
questions from me; it is enough to know that you dared danger and death
for my sake!" The look of deep grateful affection which accompanied the
words repaid Emmie for all that she had suffered.

This brief conversation alone broke the silence of the Trevors ere their
arrival in London. The tedious journey at length was over, the train had
reached the last station. Emmie had never before travelled without being
relieved of all the petty trouble which a long journey involves; now, on
a night in winter, she had charge of an invalid, and had the care of all
arrangements needed for his comfort. When, trembling with cold, the
travellers stepped out at last on the platform, it was Emmie's part to
see about luggage and cab, and then to procure at the refreshment-room
wine for her almost fainting companion. Such matters, indeed, seem to be
trifles; but they formed part of the discipline which was raising a
self-indulgent girl, accustomed to be the object of constant attention
and care, into the thoughtful and self-forgetting Christian woman.

While the church clocks of the metropolis were striking the hour of
midnight, Emmie and her silent companion were passing the comparatively
deserted streets on their way to Grosvenor Square. Few persons were
abroad at that hour, especially in the wider streets of the West-end,
save the policeman on his beat, or the waifs and strays who have no
better home than the casual ward of a workhouse. The minds of both Bruce
and his sister were now full of the subject of Vibert's arrest, and
painful anxiety to know whether their younger brother were not at that
moment the occupant of some prison-cell. The Trevors had left Myst Court
just before the arrival of a telegram from their father which would have
relieved their minds from this fear. Vibert had been taken before a
magistrate, but his case had been remanded till the following day, when,
as it was hoped, news might be received of the arrest of Colonel
Standish. Heavy bail had been offered for the unhappy youth's
reappearance before the court, and the securities had been accepted.
Vibert had therefore been permitted to accompany his father back to the
house of his aunt.



With drowsy driver and weary horse, the cab rolled slowly on, till at
length the rumble of its wheels broke the stillness of aristocratic
Grosvenor Square. Bruce roused himself as the conveyance stopped at the
door of Mrs. Montalban.

As the coming of the Trevors was unexpected, none of the servants were
likely to be up to answer at once the summons of the bell. No light
shone in the hall, all was shut up; and the driver stood clapping his
arms to keep out the cold, until some sleepy lackey should rouse himself
to obey the unwelcome summons.

But there was one person in that mansion too nervous and too much
excited to have made any preparations, even at past midnight, for
retiring to rest. Vibert was pacing up and down his room when the cab
was drawn up at the door; to him the bell, heard at so late an hour,
announced tidings which must relate to his own unhappy affair. It was
Vibert who, pale with anxiety and distress, rushed down the six flights
of stairs, hurried into the hall, drew back the massive bolts, unloosed
the chain, and threw open the door, while Mrs. Montalban's footman was
yet rubbing his sleepy eyes and yawning, before he attempted to ensconce
himself in his livery coat.

"Emmie! Bruce!" exclaimed the astonished Vibert, as by the flickering
light of the bed-room candle, which he had brought from his own
apartment, he recognized the travellers who now entered the hall. "For
what have you come, and at such a time?"

"To stand by you," answered Bruce, grasping the hand of his younger

Those brief words--that grasp of the hand--were to the wretched Vibert
like the first gleam of light bursting through clouds of darkness and
storm. Of the bitter drops which had filled the cup of misery which,
since his arrest, Vibert had drained, perhaps none had been more bitter
than the thought of the contempt which his elder brother would feel for
one who had stood in a police-court, accused as a felon. Not that Vibert
supposed that Bruce would believe him capable of knowingly passing
forged notes; but what a selfish prodigal--what a contemptible
dupe--what a disgrace to the family, would he not appear in the eyes of
his high-minded elder brother! Bruce, with his lofty sense of duty,--his
own character so pure from reproach,--how he would despise the companion
and tool of a profligate forger! Vibert, notwithstanding his affected
disregard of the opinions of Bruce, really looked up to him with
respect, though that feeling was largely mixed with that of dislike. The
youth was vain of his own personal advantages; love of approbation was
strong in his soul, and he had resented the stern Mentor-like
superiority assumed by his elder brother. Now that all Bruce's warnings
against Vibert's folly had been more than justified by the event, the
younger brother winced at the idea of the stern judgment on his conduct
which would be passed by him who had warned in vain. The brother's
withering sneer--so thought Vibert, who was selfish even in his
misery--would be harder to bear than even his father's deep
mortification, or Emmie's burst of distress. Now to find sympathy and
support, where he had looked for upbraiding and scorn, touched the heart
of the poor lad, and filled his eyes with tears.

Bruce's dislike to "cause any fuss in the house" made him decide at once
on accompanying Vibert back to his room, where, as the younger Trevor
said, there were a sofa and a fire. Emmie was to steal up softly to the
apartment of her cousin Cecilia, whose habit it was, as she knew, to sit
up reading novels till midnight. There was to be no noise--no whispering
on the stairs--to rouse the family from their slumbers. Vibert wondered
at the earnestness with which Emmie recommended Bruce to his care; it
was strange to the poor lad, absorbed as he was in his own trouble, that
his sister should appear to be more anxious about Bruce than unhappy
about himself. A feeling of shame had made Vibert scarcely glance at his
brother when he met him in the hall, and he scarcely noticed with how
feeble and slow a step Bruce now mounted the long flights of stairs. If
Vibert thought at all on the subject, as, candle in hand, he led the way
to his room, he deemed that his brother was giving to Emmie, who
accompanied Bruce to the upper landing-place, the support which he was
in reality receiving from the slender arm of his sister.

Bruce entered his brother's room, into which he had been preceded by
Vibert, with difficulty reached the sofa, and then sank upon it, his
brain reeling, and every object seeming to swim around him. He threw off
the travelling cap which, light as it was, had sat like a weight of lead
on his brow; and then, indeed, Vibert noticed that his brother's head
was bandaged.

"What has happened to you, Bruce?" he exclaimed. "You look as if you had
just walked out of your grave!"

Bruce simply replied, "I had a blow;" and Vibert's mind went back at
once to his own affairs. The youth, as he stirred the fire to a brighter
blaze, kept up what could scarcely be termed a conversation, as he
himself was the only speaker. Bruce did not take in the meaning of half
the rapidly-uttered words which fell on his ear,--to his feverish brain
they were as sounds heard in a dream; but he was a silent if not an
attentive listener, and that was enough for Vibert.

"Can you imagine a more horrid affair than this has been?" exclaimed the
younger Trevor. "I had no more doubt that those notes had been issued
from the Bank of England than I had of my own existence. But I need not
tell you that. No one who knows me could for a moment suspect me of a
dishonourable action, though, as I am ready enough to own, I have acted
with consummate folly. How could I have let myself be so deceived by a
worthless adventurer? I cannot even now understand how Standish gained
such an influence over my mind!"

Bruce might have replied--"By working on your vanity and self-love;" but
the young man had neither the strength nor the inclination to make such
a remark. Vibert went rambling on with his painful story; he had been
longing for some one to whom he could pour out his heart, and was
agreeably surprised at not being interrupted by any caustic remark from
his brother.

"The blow fell upon me in so horridly public a way!" cried Vibert. "Just
imagine the scene. There was the large drawing-room full of people,--my
aunt was giving an afternoon party. We had the Montagues, Carpenters,
stately Sir Richard,--the countess and all! The music had struck up; the
couples were placed; I had asked Alice for the first dance; she and I
stood at the top. We were laughing, chatting, and just beginning to
dance. Suddenly the music stopped,--musicians, dancers, every one
looking in one direction. A policeman--astounding apparition!--was
making his way up the room! Even then I was not in the least alarmed. I
remember that I turned to Alice, and jestingly asked her whether she was
to be taken up for stealing hearts! It was no jesting matter for me!
When the fellow in blue laid his grasp on _my_ arm,--when he said that
his business was with _me_,--I should have liked to have struck him to
the earth; and then--I should have liked the floor to have opened
beneath me!" Vibert, as he spoke, plunged the poker fiercely into the
heart of the fire. "Only conceive," he continued, "what it was to have
to walk down that long room, with a policeman's hand on my collar, and
to feel (I dared not look about me to see) that every eye was watching
my movements! I did indeed catch a glimpse of my aunt in her purple
velvet, with her face as full of horror as if she had seen the Gorgon's
head! I did hear Alice's exclamation of pity,--that was almost the worst
of all; for such pity is akin to contempt! Then my poor uncle,
stammering and confused at the dishonour done to his family and house,
would fain have got me out of the clutch of the grim policeman; but he
could not effect anything then, though his bail and my father's were
accepted on the following day when I had been before the magistrate. I
was led off from that grand house--from that gay throng--to--to--O
Bruce! can you imagine your brother in the lock-up for a night! I wonder
that I did not go crazy! And then to have to appear on the next day in a
police-court, on a charge of felony! Horrible! horrible!--most horrible!
I should wish, when this affair is over, to shut myself up in a
hermitage, where no one should ever see or hear of me again. I shall
never be able to endure meeting one of those who beheld me carried off
to jail in charge of the police!"

Vibert turned suddenly from the fire as he concluded the sentence, and
saw his brother stretched on the sofa, quite unconscious of his
presence, sleeping the sleep of exhaustion.



The remarkable circumstances attending the arrest of Vibert Trevor, his
high connections, and the official position which his father had for
many years held, made the affair in which he was implicated cause a very
great sensation in the upper ranks of London society. Never before had
the police-court in which Vibert was for the second time to appear been
so crowded by the wearers of fashionable bonnets, sable muffs, and
ermine tippets. Never before had so many carriages (some of them bearing
coronets) blocked up the narrow avenues to the magistrate's court. The
police had some difficulty in clearing a way for aristocratic ladies
through crowds of roughs assembled to see "a gent in the hands of the
bobbies!" Expectation was on the tiptoe. To many of Vibert's gay
companions--the young men with whom he had played at billiards, the
pretty girls with whom he had danced--the sight of him standing at the
bar to answer a charge of passing forged notes, gave a thrill of
excitement more delightful than could have been afforded by the most
sensational novel, or the most charmingly tragical play.

Information was circulated amidst the mixed throng, where news was
eagerly passed from mouth to mouth, that the police at Liverpool had
been unsuccessful in their attempts to discover and arrest the person
who had called himself Colonel Standish. No person of that name, no one
answering to the description given of his person, had inquired after the
box of jewels at the place to which Vibert was to have sent it. No
individual called Standish had taken his passage in any vessel about to
sail for America. The police were eagerly on the alert, but had, it was
said, discovered no clue that could lead to the arrest of the principal

"The monkey who used the cat's paw to pull the chestnuts out of the
fire, has got clear off to the jungle," observed a fashionable-looking
young man, who had been one of Vibert's most particular friends. "Poor
Grimalkin is caught with the nuts in his claws, and will have something
to bear in addition to the pain of the burning!" The speaker, as he
ended the remark, raised his gold eye-glass to his eyes, to enable him
to see more distinctly every nervous twitch on the face of poor Vibert,
who, attended by his father, uncle, and brother, at that moment
approached the bar.

"Ah! how changed the poor boy looks--how shamefaced!" whispered Alice to
a companion; for Alice was there in her fashionable hat with its scarlet
feather. "To think that I should have danced and talked nonsense with
one who is standing where all the low thieves and pickpockets stand!"
The little lady rose on tiptoe to have a better view over the shoulders
of those in front of her; but had the grace to hope that the poor
prisoner would not turn his eyes in her direction. There was no danger
of his so doing, the wretched youth could not raise his eyes from their
fixed stare on the floor.

"Vibert's brother looks more ill than the prisoner does," observed the
companion of Alice; "he has a bandage on his head. One would think that
Bruce had been brought to the bar for prize-fighting, or for leading the
roughs in a row!"

"Hush! hush! he is going to be sworn as a witness,--some one is giving
him a glass of cold water; I wish that I could hand him my
scent-bottle," whispered Alice, who was touched by Bruce's evident
struggle to overcome physical suffering and mental exhaustion by the
force of strong will.

Bruce was sworn as a witness. Very simply and concisely he gave
evidence as to what the reader knows already. He told of his hearing a
noise, entering the chamber next to his own, seeing the forgers, and
receiving, while struggling with Standish, a stunning blow from some
heavy instrument wielded by Harper.

Harper's name had not even been mentioned in the evidence given on the
preceding day, Vibert not being in the slightest degree aware of the
strange old man's complicity in the crime of forging bank-notes. Bruce's
narrative, given in a low but clear and steady voice, commanded
breathless attention. The silence observed in the crowded court was
scarcely broken even by the rustle of a lady's silk dress.

"You say that you were stunned by the blow given by this man Harper,"
observed the magistrate. "Did you long continue in an unconscious

"I know not how long I remained senseless," was the answer of Bruce;
"probably the cold night air revived me, for I found, when I came to
life, that the two forgers were bearing me into the wood. I lay
perfectly still, and they doubtless considered me dead, for the men
uttered words to each other which I was certainly not intended to hear."

"Can you recall to memory any of those words?" the magistrate inquired.

Bruce had a tenacious memory, and what had passed on that eventful night
had been as it were branded on it, never to be erased. He at once
replied to the magistrate's question.

"The first words which I remember hearing were some spoken by
Harper--'How could you trust Vibert Trevor to pass my notes?' said he.

"'I trusted him no more than in angling I trust the fly on my hook,'
answered Standish. 'I use him to make the gudgeons bite; but the fool
knows no more of the nature of the work to which I have put him than
does the senseless fly that covers the barb.'"

A thrill of satisfaction went through the court. Mr. Trevor could not
restrain a faint exclamation of thankfulness at this clear testimony to
the innocence of his unfortunate son drawn from Standish himself.

"Proceed, sir, with your evidence," said the magistrate to Bruce Trevor.
The witness went on with his story.

"'How then is the lad to forward the jewels?' asked Harper.

"'He is to direct them to me under my assumed name,' replied Standish;
'but I shall be too wary to claim the box myself. Aunt Jael, whom no one
suspects, will call at the office for the jewels, and bring them to us
at the White Raven, where we shall keep close till the _Penguin_

"Did you hear anything more regarding the plans of these men?" the
magistrate asked.

"No; but I had heard enough to put the police on the right scent on my
return to Myst Court," answered Bruce.

This was all the evidence which young Trevor could give which bore
directly on the charge against his brother; but so much of interest
remained to be learned, that the examination went on.

"What do you suppose that this man Harper and his accomplice intended to
do with you, when they carried you through the wood?" asked the

"They intended to throw my corpse into the pond on the heath," answered
Bruce in the same calm tone. "I knew as much from what they muttered,
though I cannot recall the words; and I reserved myself for one last
desperate struggle for life. As we left the wood, Harper found out,
perhaps by some involuntary movement that I made, that I was alive. I
was set down under a hedge, and there followed some conversation between
the two men regarding my fate, of the nature of which I could guess more
than I heard. There was something said about 'gallows' and 'hanging for
it,' so I concluded that the ruffians thought it a more serious matter
to be tried for murder than for the forgery of bank-notes. The men
lifted me up again, and carried me into the house of the woman hitherto
called Jael Jessel, whom I now found to be the wife of the one and the
aunt of the other. In that house I was blindfolded, gagged, and bound to
a table. Half swooning as I was, I knew little of what was passing
around me, save that I judged from the sounds that I heard that the
forgers were moving their goods and leaving the place. How many hours I
passed alone after their departure I cannot tell. A great storm came on,
and at last a fire-bolt struck the dwelling, shattering the door, and
setting the place on fire. Then followed the entrance of my sister, who,
alarmed at my absence, was searching for me, and who found me in the
helpless condition in which the forgers had doubtless hoped that I would
have remained for days undiscovered. I was scarcely likely to have
survived till the evening, had not timely succour arrived."

Before Bruce had quite finished giving his evidence, tidings were
brought to the magistrate from Liverpool, which excited such interest
amongst the crowd thronging the court that an irrepressible murmur of
satisfaction arose. The police, following the clue given by Bruce
Trevor, had arrested at a low public-house, called the White Raven,
three persons answering to the description given of Harper and his
associates. The woman, it appeared, had inquired at the coach-office for
a box directed to Colonel Standish, which, it could not be doubted, was
that which was to contain the jewels. Other suspicious circumstances
seemed to place it beyond question that the individuals now in custody
were Harper, Standish, and Jael. The first named had been recognized by
a policeman as an engraver, who had been taken up before on a charge of
forgery, but who had been dismissed for want of sufficient evidence to
convict him. Jael, it appeared, was his wife; and Harper had found in
her nephew, Horace Standish, _alias_ John Stobb, an unscrupulous
accomplice in carrying out his guilty designs. It afterwards appeared
that the Harpers and their confederate had taken their passages in the
_Penguin_ under three different assumed names.

Vibert still stood as a prisoner at the bar, but he was not long to
remain in so humiliating a position. The magistrate, who had from the
first doubted the young man's guilt, was now convinced, by Bruce's
testimony, that the prisoner had never been an accomplice in the crime
of the forgers, but in pure ignorance had passed false notes so
skilfully engraved as almost to defy detection. The magistrate therefore
dismissed the charge against the prisoner, and Vibert once more was

A louder hum of approbation, accompanied by some clapping of hands,
followed the order for Vibert's release. But to Vibert that release
brought no joyful sense of freedom, and the favourable verdict no
feeling of exultation. The youth was humiliated--even to the dust. He
had only escaped condemnation as a felon, by being convicted of acting
as a fool. He had been the easy dupe, the senseless tool of a designing
villain. His emblem was the gaudy fly hiding the hook of the angler!
Under such circumstances the congratulations of the so-called friends
who now pressed around him were to Vibert but as a stinging insult. His
one wish was to escape all notice, to fly from his fellow-creatures, and
to hide his head where no one should know of his folly and the disgrace
to which it had brought him. Many hands were held out to the late
prisoner, words were spoken which were meant to be kind; but Vibert
would not notice the hands, nor listen to the words. He bent down his
head till his long hair almost hid his cheeks, which were glowing with
shame. Vibert pushed his way through the crowd, scarcely able to draw a
full breath till he had reached the street, rushed into his uncle's
carriage, in which Emmie was anxiously waiting, and pulled down the
blinds to shut himself out from the sight of mankind.



Another and a yet sharper trial was further to humble and sober the once
gay and thoughtless Vibert. If ever a gush of warm gratitude had arisen
in his heart, it was drawn forth by the generous effort made in his
behalf by his elder brother. Bruce, when in a state of exhaustion and
suffering which rendered him fit only for the silence and repose of a
sick-chamber, had taken a long journey in winter, and had then
encountered the fatigue and excitement of giving evidence in a
police-court, acting as one who felt that he had no leisure to be ill,
that it was a time for action and not for repose. Bruce had been as a
rider forcing his horse to a leap almost beyond its strength; the brave
steed just clearing the stone wall, and falling on the opposite side,
crushing its rider beneath its weight. An effort had been made,
successfully made; but reaction was certain to follow, and in the case
of Bruce Trevor terrible was that reaction. Ere nightfall straw was laid
down before one of the houses in Grosvenor Square to deaden the sound of
passing wheels, and the most skilful physician in London was counting
the quick throbs in the pulse of a patient in a high delirious fever.

Emmie had never before watched by a sick-bed; she had been far too young
at the time of her mother's last illness to have had anything to do with
nursing. All those who best knew Emmie, with her delicate nerves and
timid character, declared that she was utterly unfit to nurse in a case
that required both strength and courage; for Bruce's ravings were often
those of a maniac. He had sometimes to be held down in his bed by main
force. But the painful lessons of the last few days had not been taught
to Emmie in vain. The timid nervous girl had learned to go to the Fount
of Strength, and the firmness and faith which she thence received
astonished her father and Vibert. When her younger brother would quit
the sick-room, unable to endure the harrowing sight of Bruce struggling
like a demoniac, Emmie remained at her painful post. The sound of his
sister's voice, the gentle touch of her hand, would sometimes soothe the
poor sufferer when nothing else had the slightest effect.

"How can you bear to see him thus?" exclaimed Vibert once to his pale
but tearless sister, after one of Bruce's most distressing paroxysms of

"I try to trust and not be afraid," the poor girl faintly replied. "I
try to trust him to God, to my--his Heavenly Father. I repeat to myself,
_God is love_. He can--oh! He _will_ make all things, even this most
fearful anguish, work together for good to those who trust Him!"

But for the ravings of fever, when the mind of Bruce had lost all power
of self-control, never would mortal but himself have known the extent of
the sufferings which he had endured whilst in the power of the forgers,
and during the hours of torture when he had remained pinioned and
gagged. In the police-court Bruce had described with calm brevity the
events of that trying night and morning. But when reason had fled from
the sufferer, what images of horror those events had branded on his mind
was apparent to all who approached him. The dreadful scenes through
which Bruce had passed were, in the delirium of fever, acted over and
over again: now he was struggling with fearful violence to unloose a
murderer's grasp on his throat, calling for help in tones so piercing
that they thrilled to the hearts of those watching beside him, and even
reached the ears of passengers in the street. Then the sufferer seemed
to be listening, gasping and trembling as he listened, to sounds which
none but himself could hear. Bruce would mutter words about the
pool--the deep, black, icy-cold pool--and clutch the bed-clothes, as if
to save himself from being dragged down to a watery grave. At another
time the fever-stricken youth would imagine himself as being again bound
in the house of Jael, would writhe and struggle to free himself from
imaginary cords that cut into his flesh as he struggled; and anon would
convulsively start, as if again he heard the thunderbolt strike the
dwelling close to his head.

Day after day passed, night after night, in dreadful transitions from
frenzy to stupor, deathlike stupor, only exchanged for more fearful
frenzy, till even Emmie could scarcely wish for a prolongation of the
terrible struggle. Humbly and submissively she prayed that if her loved
brother were indeed now passing through the river of death, one ray of
reason might gleam through the awful darkness around him, and that the
waves and billows might indeed not go over his head.

But Bruce had youth in his favour, and all that man's skill or woman's
tenderness could throw into the opposite scale to that in which his life
appeared to be gradually sinking. With alternations of hope and fear,
the watchers by the sick-bed marked the trembling of the balance,
scarcely able to believe that from so fearful an attack of fever the
sufferer ever again could rise. But the crisis came at last, and the
worst was over; the maddening fever quitted the suffering Bruce, but
left him helpless as an infant, and more nervous than the most weak and
timid of women.

For weeks Bruce could hardly endure the noise of a step crossing his
room; a shadow alarmed him, a voice would make every nerve in his frame
quiver. The doctor said that for long his patient would be incapable of
any mental exertion; he who had been so steady and regular in his work,
was condemned to the idleness and inaction which, to a character like
that of Bruce, was in itself a most humiliating trial and

As soon as the invalid could be with safety removed from London, he was
sent to a watering-place in the south of England. Emmie, whose health
had suffered from her devoted nursing, accompanied her sick brother.
After a while she exchanged places with Vibert, and rejoined at Myst
Court her father, who was actively fulfilling his duties as a landlord
and benefactor to the poor. In the latter character Mr. Trevor needed
the help of his daughter, whose health was now sufficiently restored to
enable her to become his able assistant.

Vibert had not seen his brother for more than a month when he joined him
at Torquay, and with the sanguine expectations natural to youth he hoped
that the change of air and scene, and the effect of so many weeks passed
in perfect repose, might have brought back health and strength to the
shattered frame of Bruce Trevor. The youth was disappointed to find how
slow had been the progress made by the invalid towards recovery. It was
not merely the hollow eye, the transparent skin, the faint voice and
feeble step that told how far removed convalescence was from vigorous
health, for it seemed to Vibert as if his brother's firmness of mind,
and even his moral courage, were gone. Bruce so shrank from any
allusions to the sufferings of the past, that Vibert, who had come full
of news which he was eager to impart, found that he must avoid even
mentioning the names of the Harpers. For some time Bruce did not hear
the result of the trial of the forgers, who had all been convicted and
condemned to various terms of imprisonment.

But if Bruce's shattered state was distressing both to himself and to
others, it was evident that the character of the young man was ripening
under the trial. Bruce had been proud in his self-dependence, impatient
of the weakness of others; he had trusted in the power of his own strong
will to overcome all difficulties before him. He was now, in conscious
infirmity, learning to cast himself simply, humbly, unreservedly upon
the strength of his God. The proud soul had had to learn that the
kingdom of heaven can only be entered by those who come in the spirit of
a little child, and that the haughtiness of man must be brought down,
that the Lord alone may be exalted.

"There are many things in life that one can't understand," observed
Vibert one day, when he had just placed a footstool before the brother
who had formerly taunted him with an effeminate love of luxurious ease.
"It seems natural enough that I should have had some rough discipline,
seeing what a thoughtless, selfish life I had been leading, till I was
pulled up sharp by that horrid affair. But you--the steadiest fellow in
Christendom--you, who never broke bounds, or turned to the right or the
left--I can't see why the heaviest strokes should be laid upon you, or
what good such a long trying illness can possibly do you."

"Vibert, do you remember what our uncle wrote on those fragments of
paper when we were together at Summer Villa?"

Vibert nodded an affirmative reply.

"I have often thought over his words," continued the invalid; "they
conveyed a salutary warning, all the more needed because it raised my
anger against him who had laid his finger upon the tender spot. Vibert,
I, as well as yourself, had my haunted chamber within the heart, and it
has needed the thunderbolt which has smitten me so low to burst open a
way for the light to enter."

A few months before nothing could have extorted from the lips of Bruce
Trevor such a confession.



The last month of Bruce's stay at Torquay was passed at the house of a
relative; Vibert had returned to his studies, Emmie's presence and help
were required at home by her father, and the convalescent no longer
needed constant attendance. It was arranged that Bruce should remain at
the sea-side till his uncle's return from his voyage, when he and
Captain Arrows should travel to Myst Court together.

It is bright sunny noontide in April; earth has long since cast off her
fetters of ice and mantle of snow, and the voice of the west wind has
called forth innumerable flowers to welcome the spring. The apple-trees
and cherry-trees are full of blossom, and the meadows are sheeted with
gold. If some clouds flit over the sky, their light shadows but add the
beauty of contrast to sunshine. If soft drops occasionally fall, they
but make the fair earth the fairer.

Two travellers have just stepped on the platform of the station of
S----. The pale thoughtful face of the one is familiar to us as that of
Bruce Trevor; in the healthy, bronzed, intelligent countenance of the
other we recognize that of Captain Arrows.

"Ah! a hearty welcome to you both!" exclaimed Vibert, who had been
awaiting the arrival of the train with impatience. "As the day is so
mild and bright, I have driven over in the pony-chaise to meet you. I
want the captain to have a good view of the country as we drive to Myst

The gentlemen were soon in the chaise, which could only conveniently
accommodate three; Joe was to follow with the luggage. The captain and
Vibert sat in front; Bruce preferred occupying the small seat behind.

Vibert was in the highest spirits, talking and laughing as he drove. It
was well that the pony knew the way, and required no guiding. The youth
often turned half-round in his seat, to address himself to his brother.

"Doesn't this remind you, Bruce, of my first coming to meet you at this
station, when I ran off with Emmie, and nearly broke both her neck and
my own? What a storm we had then to welcome us into our home!"

"We've had worse storms since," thought the silent Bruce Trevor.

Vibert continued his animated conversation with his uncle, pointing out
all the landmarks around, telling of the improvements made by his
father, and giving lively anecdotes of the people whose dwellings they

"There now--yon unsightly square fortress of brick is the castle of old
Bullen, the giant whom my father, armed with a roll of law-papers,
boldly attacked and subdued. The stream which runs through our land has
ceased to run purple and crimson; it is now a case of 'Never say _dye_.'
You see yonder builders busy at work? They have made good progress with
the new cottages, designed on the most approved plan. Bruce, don't you
recollect the wretched pig-sties of hovels that stood in that place?"

Bruce's pale face was lighted up with interest and pleasure; the plans
for the cottages had been made by himself, soon after his arrival in
Wiltshire. That these plans were actually being carried out, had been
purposely kept a secret from him, in order to give him a pleasant

"Yon field seems to be divided into allotments," observed Captain

"Yes; that's one of the schemes of my father for improving the state of
his peasants; he says that he had the notion from Bruce."

"And how does Emmie like her new life?" asked the captain.

"Emmie! why, she's a changed being--changed from the pale, clinging
jessamine, into a bright apple-blossom!" cried Vibert. "Emmie is busy
from morning till night; she drills her awkward squad of pinafored
children in the barn, till a proper school can be built, and has
actually coaxed them into washing their faces! She has a book like a
parish register, with all the tenants' names put down, age, number of
children, and all that sort of dry information; which seems, however, to
interest her. Emmie ventures to enter the dirtiest cottage; but, somehow
or other, soap and water are more freely used now than when she first
came to the place. Emmie is a kind of guardian, or rather
guardian-angel, to the poor. Why, she has even tackled an old ploughman,
who was notoriously fond of his glass; and if he gives up gin and
whisky, it will be all owing to the influence of the young lady. You
will be as much surprised at the change in Emmie, as my father was
yesterday, when old Blair told him that I was a steady, promising young
man!" Vibert leaned back in his seat, and laughed so merrily, that had
not the pony at least been steady, the accident of the first evening
might have been repeated, by the chaise being upset into a ditch.

Bruce neither shared the merriment nor joined in the conversation.
Though young Trevor's health had by this time been greatly restored, his
shattered nerves had not completely regained their tone. Bruce regarded
Myst Court with extreme aversion, from the painful associations
connected in his mind with the place, and would have been most glad had
his father sold the estate at once. No one knew the shrinking dislike,
almost amounting to loathing, with which Bruce thought of reoccupying
the room next to that hateful bricked-up chamber in which he had
suffered so much. The young man knew that other rooms in Myst Court had
by this time been repaired and furnished, and twice had he taken up his
pen to write a request that his apartment might be exchanged for
another, and twice he had thrown down the pen, ashamed to betray such
childish weakness.

"I scorned, even in poor Emmie, what I deemed silly superstition,"
thought Bruce. "There is nothing that teaches one to feel for the
infirmities of others like suffering, as I now do, from one's own."

Bruce's aversion to the room adjoining the haunted chamber arose, it
need scarcely be said, from a different cause from that which had made
his sister dread to occupy the apartment. There was neither superstition
nor mistrust in the mind of Bruce; he had no fear of apparitions; but he
did shrink from reviving the images of horror impressed on memory,
which, during his illness, had excited his brain to the point of frenzy.
No one knew of the mental struggle in the mind of the convalescent; not
to his nearest and dearest friend would he confide a weakness for which
he despised himself. Bruce's post of duty was at Myst Court, and he
deemed it a matter of comparatively small importance whether he disliked
that post or not. Young Trevor's habitual self-control was now exercised
in overcoming the infirmity left by long illness; and while Bruce was
accusing himself of being a despicable coward, he had at no period of
his life exercised more that courage which

                       "Triumphs over fear,
        And nobly dares the danger nature shrinks from."

Mr. Trevor and his daughter met the travellers at the iron gate which
has been repeatedly mentioned as opening into the grounds of Myst Court.
Emmie's face, radiant with smiles of welcome, and blooming with
happiness and health, did indeed rival the soft beauty of the
apple-blossom. Captain Arrows and his nephews quitted the chaise; and
while Vibert on foot led the pony, the whole party sauntered at an easy
pace along the carriage-drive, Emmie keeping close to the side of her
newly-restored brother. With what tender, thankful joy she looked upon
him whose step, but for her self-conquest, would never have trod that
path again!

The trees on either side of the road were opening their budding leaves
to the sunshine; the woods were full of the song of birds; and amidst
the copse clusters of violets, primroses, and wood anemones, enamelled
with their varied tints the carpet of moss.

"You see Myst Court in its beauty," said Vibert to his uncle, as a turn
in the road brought the party in view of the stately mansion. "My first
sight of the haunted house was on a stormy night in November, when poor
Emmie and I arrived dripping and half-drowned, and Bruce welcomed us
home with a scowl and a growl.--Now, Bruce, does not the garden do
credit to Emmie? Look at the flowers in those classically-shaped vases,
and the beds all ablaze with crocuses, purple, golden, and white!"

"The garden is greatly improved," said Bruce, forcing himself to speak
in a cheerful tone.

"But what will you say to the interior of the house? it is there that
most has been done," cried Vibert. "Emmie has now her own boudoir, and
I think that you will own that it is a gem! I've done much of the
ornamenting part myself, and am not a little proud of my taste."

Vibert was so impatient to show the boudoir that, after the party had
entered the hall, he insisted with boyish vehemence upon their at once
proceeding up the broad oaken staircase, which on their first coming had
led only to the sleeping apartments and the corridor upon which they had
opened. Vibert, leading the way, drew back the heavy tapestry curtain,
beyond which lay the two rooms which have so often been mentioned. The
first apartment was that which Bruce had occupied, and which he was to
occupy still; but it was not here that Vibert stopped. A little beyond
it was an open door, and through the doorway the eager youth led the
party into a fairy-like apartment, where sunshine streamed through the
diamond-shaped panes of a mullioned window, while shining mirrors
reflected graceful ornaments within, and pictures wreathed with garlands
of spring wild-flowers, or imaged on their clear surfaces the beauty of
the woodland without.

"I call this Emmie's boudoir; but she insists that it shall be your
study, Bruce," cried Vibert. "It's a pretty fairy-like retreat for you
to read or for her to sing in."

"Surely this must be--_the haunted chamber!_" exclaimed the astonished

"The disenchanted chamber, without its gloom or its spectres," observed
the smiling Emmie.

"But there was a codicil to the old lady's will which obliged us to keep
this room bricked up," observed Bruce.

"That codicil was a forgery," interrupted Mr. Trevor. "Harper, as
unprincipled in devising schemes of fraud as he was skilful in carrying
them out, had in this forged codicil attempted to achieve a double
purpose. He made over to his wife a house and property to which she had
no real claim, and he for a while contrived to secure to himself what
was called the haunted chamber. Here were left his graving tools, his
printing-press, and whatever else was required for his nefarious work;
and here he pursued his occupation, shielded from interruption by the
superstitious fears which his wife took pains to instil. The guilty man,
with his associates, now reaps the reward of his crimes."

Bruce looked around him with admiring wonder. It was impossible to
recognize the place, which he had only once seen before, when fire and
lamp-light threw a red glare on instruments of guilt, and the
threatening countenances of ruffians disturbed at their unhallowed work.
Turning towards his sister with a brightening countenance, young Trevor
exclaimed, "What a change is made by admitting the pure light of

And it is with these words, taken in a loftier sense, that I would now
close my story. Its object has been to lead the reader to search the
haunted chamber of his own heart, to discover there the lurking
ministers of evil who may, unknown even to himself, have made it their
secret abode. Let us resolutely and prayerfully resolve, at whatever
cost of humiliation or shame, to know ourselves, to recognize and face
the sin that so easily besets us. Let the brickwork of ignorance be
thrown down, and let not spiritual sunshine be shut out from the
self-deceived heart. _Pride_, _Self-love_, cowardly _Mistrust_ of God's
wisdom and goodness, are natural to our fallen nature; but the entrance
of His Word into the heart is as that of the glorious beams of the
day,--joy, brightness, and holiness follow the admission into its
deepest recesses of the pure, life-giving light of Heaven!

             *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

  Obvious punctuation errors have been repaired.

  Archaic and inconsistent spelling and hyphenation have been preserved.

  The question mark "(?)" on page 14  is in the original. (The slang in
  wich some modern ladies(?) indulge would have sounded....)

  "Lizzy" and "Lizzie" occur once in this text. This has been preserved.

  On page 109 "Emma" has been changed to "Emmie". (Emmie was

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Haunted Room - A Tale" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.