Obrázky na stránke

bines, smoking-bags, and sportsmen's silver salver, to restore the traveller pouches, which were arranged, not after the cold and discomfort of his without taste, as trophics of the chase. drive: in fact it was easy for him to The ceiling was supported by large feel that these “far-away" people were beams, dingy with sinoke and age ; by no means displeased at his arrival. and on the sides of the room were long An agreeable conversation soon began benches, covered and padded with dark among

all parties. His travels, the cloth, and studded with large brass shooting-match, the neighbourhood, nails; while round the dinner-table agriculture, all afforded subjects, and were placed several arm-chairs, also of in a quarter of an hour Edward felt as an ancient date. All bore the aspect if he had long been domesticated with of the “good old times,” of a simple these simple but truly well-informed patriarchial life with affluence. Ed. people. ward felt as if there were a kind wel. Two hours flew swiftly by, and then come in the inanimate objects which a bell sounded for supper ; the servants surrounded him, when the inner door returned with lights, announced that opened, and the master of the house the supper was on the table, and enterei, preceded by a servant, and lighted the company into the diningwelcomed his guest with courteous room—the same into which Edward cordiality.

had first been ushered. Here, in the Some apologies which Edward offered background, some other characters apon account of his intrusion, were peared on the scene—the agent, a silenced in a moment.

couple of his subalterns, and the phy“Come now, Lieutenant,” said the sician. The guests ranged themselves Baron, “I must introduce you to my round the table. Edward's place was family. You are not such a stranger between the Baron and his wife. The to us, as you fancy."

chaplain said a short grace, when With these words he took Edward the Baroness, with an uneasy look, by the arm, and, lighted by the ser- glanced at her husband over Edward's vant, they passed through several lofty shoulder, and said, in a low whisperrooms, which were very handsomely “My love, we are thirteen-that furnished, although in an old-fashioned will never do." style, with faded Flemish carpets, The Baron smiled, beckoned to the large chandeliers, and high-backed youngest of the clerks, and whispered chairs : everything in keeping with

to him.

The youth bowed, and with. what the youth had already seen in drew. The servant took the cover the castle. Here were the ladies of away, and served his supper in the next the house. At the other end of the room, by the side of an immense stove, “My wife,” said Friedenberg, “is ornamented with a large shield of the superstitious, as all mountaineers are. family arms, richly emblazoned, and She thinks it unlucky to dine thirteen. crowned by a gigantic Turk, in a It certainly has happened twice (whemost comfortable attitude of repose ther from chance or not who can tell ?) sat the lady of the house, an elderly that we have had to mourn the death matron of tolerable circumference, in of an acquaintance who had, a short a gown of dark red satin, with a black time before, made the thirteenth at our mantle and a snow-white lace cap. table. She appeared to be playing cards with 6. This idea is not confined to the the chaplain, who sat opposite to her mountains. I know many people

in at the table, and the Baron Frieden. the capital who think with the Baberg to have made the third hand at roness," said Edward. “ Although in a ombre, till he was called away to wel. town such ideas, which belong more come his guest. On the other side of especially to the olden time, are more the room were two young ladies, an likely to be lost in the whirl and bustle elder person, who might be a gover- which usually silences everything that ness, and a couple of children, very is not essentially matter of fact." much engrossed by a game at lotto. “Ah, yes, Lieutenant,” replied the

As Edward entered, the ladies rose Baron, smiling good-humouredly, "we to greet him ; a chair was placed for keep up old customs better in the mounhim near the mistress of the house, and tains. You see that by our furniture. very soon a cup of chocolate and a People in the capital would call this bottle of tokay were served on a rich sadly old-fashioned.”




[ocr errors]

That which is really good and beautiful can never appear out of date,” rejoined Edward, courteously; “ and here, if I mistake not, presides a spirit that is ever striving after both. I must confess, Baron, that when I first entered your house, it was this very aspect of the olden time that enchanted me beyond measure.”

“ That is always the effect which simplicity has on every unspoiled mind,” answered Friedenberg ; " but townspeople have seldom a taste for such things."

“I was partly educated on my father's estate," said Edward, “which was situated in the Highlands; and it appeared to me as if, when I entered your house, I were visiting a neighbour of my father's, for the general aspect iş quite the same here as with

“ Yes,” said the chaplain, tainous districts have alì a family likeness : the same necessities, the same struggles with nature, the same seclu. sion, all produce the same way of life among mountaineers.”

“On that account the prejudice against the number thirteen was especially familiar to me,” replied Edward. “ We also dislike it ; and we retain a consideration for many supernatural, or at least inexplicable things, which I have met with again in this neighbourhood."

“ Yes, here, almost more than any. where else,” continued the chaplain, “I think we excel all other mountain. eers in the number and variety of our legends and ghost stories. I assure you that there is not a cave or a church, or, above all, a castle, for miles round about, of which we could not relate something supernatural.”

The Baroness, who perceived the turn which the conversation was likely to take, thought it better to send the children to bed ; and when they were gone, the priest continued, « Even here, in this castle

Here!" inquired Edward, " in this very castle?"

“Yes, yes! Lieutenant," interposed the Baron, “this house has the reputation of being haunted ; and the most extraordinary thing is, that the matter cannot be denied by the sceptical, or accounted for by the reasonable."

“And yet,” said Edward, “the castle looks so cheerful, so habitable."

“Yes, this part which we live in,”

answered the Baron ; " but it consists of only a few apartments sufficient for my family, and these gentlemen ; the other portion of the building is half in ruins, and dates from the period when men established themselves on the mountains for greater safety."

- There are some who maintain," said the physician, “that a part of the walls of the eastern tower itself are of Roman origin; but that would surely be difficult to prove.".

“But, gentlemen," observed the Baroness, “ you are losing yourselves in learned descriptions as to the erection of the castle, and our guest is kept in ignorance of what he is anxious to hear,

“ Indeed, madam,” replied the chaplain, “ this is not entirely foreign to the subject, since in the most ancient part of the building lies the chamber in question."

" Where apparitions have been seen ?" inquired Edward, eagerly.

Not exactly,” replied the Baron. ess; “there is nothing fearful to be seen.”

“ Come, let us tell him at once," interrupted the Baron.

« The fact is, that every guest who sleeps for the first time in this room and it has fallen to the lot of many, in turn, to do so), is visited by some important, significant dream or vision, or whatever I ought to call it, in which some future event is prefigured to him, or some past mystery cleared up, which he had vainly striven to comprehend before."

“ Then," interposed Edward, “it must be something like what is known in the Highlands, under the name of second sight, a privilege, as some con. sider it, which several persons and several families enjoy."

“Just so," said the physician, “the cases are very similar; yet the most mysterious part of this affair is, that it does not appear to originate with the individual, or his organisation, or his sympathy with beings of the invisible world; no, the individual has nothing to say to it—the locality does it all. Every one who sleeps in that room has his mysterious dream, and the result proves it truth."

“At least, in most instances,” continued the Baron, “when we have had an opportunity of hearing the cases confirmed. I remember once, in particular. You may recollect, Lieutenant,

[ocr errors]

that when you first came in, I had the municated with another wing of the honour of telling you you were not castle. quite a stranger to me.”

The high-vaulted ceilings, the cu. Certainly, Baron ; and I have rious carving on the ponderous doorbeen wishing for a long time to ask ways, the pointed gothic windows, an explanation of these words.” through many broken panes of which

- We have often heard your name a sharp nightwind whistled, proved to mentioned by a particular friend of Edward that he was in the old part of yours—one who could never pronounce the castle, and that the famous chamit without emotion."

ber could not be far off. “Ah!" cried Edward, who now saw “ Would it be impossible for me to clearly why the Baron's name had be quartered there,” he began, rather sounded familiar to him also_"ah ! timídly; “I should like it of all things." you speak of my friend Hallberg; truly Really!” inquired the Baron, rado you say, we were indeed dear to ther surprised ; “have not our ghost each other.”

stories alarmed you?” “ Were!" echoed the Baron, in a “ On the contrary,” was the reply, faltering tone, as he observed the sud- “they have excited the most earnest den change in Edward's voice and wish countenance; can the blooming, vi- “ Then, if that be the case," said the gorous youth be

Baron, “ we will return.

The room "• Dead !” exclaimed Edward ; and was already prepared for you, being the Baron deeply regretted that he had the most comfortable and the best in touched so tender a chord, as he saw the whole wing ; only I fancied, after the young oflicer's

fill with tears,

our conversation and a dark cloud pass over his animated “Oh, certainly not,” exclaimed Edfeatures.

ward; “I could only long for such “ Forgive me," he continued, while dreams." he leaned forward and pressed his com- During this discourse they had arpanion's hand; "Igrieve that a thought- rived at the door of the famous room. less word should have awakened such They went in. They found themselves deep sorrow. I had no idea of his in a lofty and spacious apartment, so deaih; we all loved the handsome large that the two candles which the young man, and by his description of servant carried only shed a glimmering you were already much interested in twilight over it, which did not peneyou before we had ever seen you.”

trate to the furthest corner. A highThe conversation now turned en- canopied bed, hung with costly but tirely on Hallberg. Edward related old-fashioned damask, of a dark green, the particulars of his death. Every in which were swelling pillows of snowy one present had something to say in whiteness, tied with green bows, and his praise; and although this sudden a silk coverlet of the same colour, allusion to his dearest friend had agi- looked very inviting to the tired tratated Edward in no slight degree, yet veller. Sofa and chairs of faded it was a consolation to him to listen to needlework, a carved oak commode the tribute these worthy people paid and table, a looking-glass in heavy to the memory of Ferdinand, and to framework, a prie-dieu and crucifix see how genuire was their regret at above it, constituted the furniture of the tidings of his early death. The the room, where, above all things, time passed swiftly away in conversa- cleanliness and comfort preponderated, tion of much interest, and the whole while a good deal of silver plate was company were surprised to hear ten spread out on the toilet-table. o'clock strike, an unusually late hour Edward looked round. A beaufor this quiet, regular family. The tiful room!” he said.

" Answer me chaplain read prayers, in which Ed- one question, Baron, if you please. ward devoutly joined, and then he Did he ever sleep here?”. kissed the matron's hand, and felt “ Certainly,” replied Friedenberg; almost as if he were in his father's "it was his usual room when he was house. The Baron offered to show his here, and he had a most curious dream guest to his room, and the servant in that bed, which, as he assured us, preceded them with lights. The way made a great impression on him.” led past the staircase, and then on one “And what was it ?” inquired Ed. side into a long gallery, which com- ward, eagerly.

“He never told us, for, as you well know, he was reserved by nature; but we gathered from some words that he let slip, that an early and sudden death was foretold. Alas! your narrative has confirmed the truth of the prediction."

• Wonderful! He always had a similar foreboding, and many a time has he grieved me by alluding to it," said Edward; “yet it never made him gloomy or discontented. He went on his way firmly and calmly, and looked forward with joy, I might almost say, to another life.'

“ He was a superior man,” answered the Baron, “whose memory will ever be dear to us. But now I will detain you no longer. Good night. Here is the bell”-he showed him the cord in between the curtains—" and your servant sleeps in the next room.”

“Oh, you are too careful of me,” said Edward, smiling; “ I am used to sleep by myself.”

“ Still,” replied the Baron, “every precaution should be taken. Now once more good night.”

He shook him by the hand, and, fol. lowed by the servant, left the room.

Thus Edward found himself alone in the large, mysterious-looking, haunted room, where his deceased friend had so often reposed— where he also was expected to see a vision.

The awe which the place itself inspired, combined with the sad and yet tender recollection of the departed Ferdinand, produced a state of mental excitement which was not favourable to his night's rest. Ile had already undressed with the aid of his servant (whom he had then dismissed), and had been in bed some time, ing extinguished the candles. No sleep visited his eyelids ; and the thought recurred which had so often troubled him, why he had never received the promised token from Ferdinand, whether his friend's spirit were among the blest-whether his silence (so to speak) proceeded from unwillingness or incapacity to communicate with the living. A mingled train of retlections agitated his mind ; his brain grew heated; his pulse beat faster and faster, The castle clock tolled eleven-half-past eleven. He counted the strokes; and at that mo. ment the moon rose above the dark margin of the rocks which surrounded the castle, and shed her full light into Edward's room. Every object stood

out in relief from the darkness. Ed. ward gazed, and thought, and specu. lated. It seemed to him as if something moved in the furthest corner of the room.

The movement was evident -it assumed a form—the form of a man, which appeared to advance, or rather to float forward. Here Edward lost all sense of surrounding objects, and he found himself once more sitting at the foot of the monument in the garden of the academy, where he had contracted the bond with his friend. As formerly, tlie moon streamed through the dark branches of the fir-trees, and shed its cold pale light on the cold white marble of the monument. Then the floating form which had appeared in the room of the castle became clearer, more substantial, more earth. ly-looking; it issued from behind the tombstone, and stood in the full moon. light. It was Ferdinand, in the uniform of his regiment, earnest and pale, but with a kind smile on his features.

Ferdinand, Ferdinand !” cried Ed. ward, overcome by joy and surprise, and he strove to embrace the wellloved form, but it waved him aside with a melancholy look.

“ Ah! you are dead," continued the speaker; " and why then do I see you just as you looked when living?"

“Edward,” answered the apparition, in a voice that sounded as if it came from afar, “ I am dead, but my spirit has no peace,"

" You are not with the blest ?" cried Edward, in a voice of terror.

“God is merciful,” it replied; “but we are frail and sinful creatures ; inquire no more, but pray for me.”

“With all my heart," cried Edward, in a tone of anguish, while he gazed with affection on the familiar features; “ but speak, what can I do for thee ?"

“ An unholy tie still binds me to earth. I have sinned. I was cut off in the midst of my sinful projects. This ring burns.” He slipped a small gold ring from his left hand. “Only when every token of this unholy compact is destroyed, and when I recover the ring which I exchanged for this, only then can my spirit be at rest. Oh, Edward, deur Edward, bring me back my ring!"

• With joy-but where, where am I to seck it?"

Emily Varnier will give it thee herself'; our engagement was contrary to holy duties, to prior engagements,

[ocr errors]


to earlier vows. God denied his bles. and sprang out of bed. As he did so, sing to the guilty projert, and my lie heard something fall with a ringing course was arrested in a fearful man. sound; the servant stooped and picked ner. Pray for me, Edward, and bring up a gold ring, plain gold, like a wedback the ring, my ring," continued the ding-ring. Edward shuddered; he voice, in a mournful tone of appeal. snatched it from the servant's hand,

Then the features of the deceased and the colour forsook his cheeks as smilet sadly but tenderly; then all ap- he read the two words “Emily Varnier" peared to float once more before Ed. engraved inside the hoop. He stood ward's eyes, the form was lost in mist, there like one thunderstruck, as pale the monument, the fir grove, the moon- as a corpse, with the proof in his hand light, disappeared ; a lony, gloomy, that he had not merely dreamed, but breathless pause followed. Edward had actually spoken with the spirit of lay, balf sleeping, half benumbed, in his friend. A servant of the house. a confused manner; portions of tlie hold came in to ask whether the Lieu. dream returned to him---some images, tenant wished to breakfast in his room, some sounds-above all, the petition for or down stairs with the family. Ed. the restitution of the ring. But an ward would willingly have remained indescribable power bound his limbs, alone with the thoughts that pressed closed his eyelids, and silenced his heavily on him, but a secret dread lest voice; mental consciousness alone was bis absence should be remarked, and left him, yet his mind was a prey to considered as a proof of fear, after all terror,

that had passed on the subject of the At length these painful sensations haunted room, determined him to acsubsided his nerves became cept the last proposal. He dressed braced, his breath came more freely, hastily, and arranged bis hair carefully, a pleasing languor crept over his limbs, but the paleness of his face, and the and he fell into a peaceful sleep. When traces of tears in his eyes, were not to he awoke it was already broad day- be concealed, and he entered the salight; his sleep towards the end of the loon, where the family were already night had been quiet and refreshing. assembled at the breakfast-table, with He felt strong and well, but as soon as the chaplain and the doctor. the recollection of his dream returned, The Baron rose to greet him : one a deep melancholy took possession of glance at the young officer's face was him, and he felt the traces of tears sufficient ; he pressed his hand in si. which grief had wrung from him on lence, and led him to a place by the his eyelashes. But what had the vision side of the Baroness. An animated been? A mere dream engendered by discussion now began concerning the the conversation of the evening, and his weather, which was completely changaffection for Hallberg's memory, or ed; a strong south wind had risen was it at length the fulfilment of the in the night, so there was now a thaw. compact ?

The snow was all melted--the torThere, out of that dark corner, had rents were flowing once more, and the the form risen up, and moved towards roads impassable. him. But might it not have been some " Ilow can you possibly reach Blueffect of light and shade produced by menberg, to-day?" the Baron inquired the moonbeams, and the dark branches

of his guest. of a large tree close to the window, “ That will be well nigh impossible," when agitated by the high wind? Per- said the doctor. “I am just come haps he had seen this, and then fallen from a patient at the next village, and asleep, and all combined had woven I was nearly an hour performing the itself into a dream. But the name of same distance in a carriage that is Emily Varnier! Edward did not re- usually traversed on foot in a quarter member ever to have heard it; certainly

of an hour.” it had never been mentioned in Ferdi. Edward bad not given a thought nand's letters. Could it be the name this morning to the shooting-match. of his love, of the object of that ardent Now that it had occurred to him to and unfortunate passion ? Could the remember it, he felt little regret at vision be one of truth? Ile was being detained from a scene of noisy meditating, lost in thought, when festivity which, far from being desir. there was a knock at his door, and the able, appeared to bim actually disservant entered. Edward rose hası ilk', tasteful in his present frame of mind.

« PredošláPokračovať »