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ascent, with nothing but a rope to hold by as you | door in safety, and on entering her bedroom she went up or down. This stair led further up, also, was surprised to see that the shutters were closed. to the attics ; but few of the family had curiosity It was about a month after this event that sufficient to take them all through the house more Lord H. received a letter from Mrs. D., stating than once after their first day at Cranmore. that for various reasons she wished to give up
One afternoon in November, Mrs. D. was sitting living at Cranmore, and that she proposed leaving at the window working, when her attention was it in the course of a week or two.
There was attracted by seeing Margaret, the girl who acted something peculiar in the tone of the letter ; 80 as her housemaid, wandering alone, with her much so, indeed, that Lady H., a person noted eyes fixed on the upper windows of the house, as for her kind and generous benevolence, determined if intently watching something within the case to inquire more particularly what these reasons
Mrs. D. was surprised at the length of were, in case that something might be done by time she stayed in the walk alone ; standing quite Lord H. to make his tenant more comfortable, and still for ten minutes, although the day was very perhaps, even then, persuade her to stay. Her cold, and she had only wrapped a light shawl circumstances made her an object of pity; and, over her head and shoulders. Mrs. D., knowing moreover, she was connected by marriage with that the girl had been suffering from rheumatism, Lady H., although, from various causes, they had opened the window and called out, “Go in—what scarcely ever met. are you staring at there so long?” The girl As it happened, Lady H. was going to pay a turned away, saying, “ Nothing, ma'am ; I was visit to a friend in Devonshire ; Cranmore was not afraid that the chimney was on fire.” She turned very much out of her way, and she determined to and went in, and Mrs. D. thought no more of the go there, visit Mrs. D., and find out if possible circumstance.
what were the reasons of her strange and sudden The country round Cranmore is of a lonely and change of mind with respect to living at Cranwild character; there are few gentlemen's seats more. near, and the sequestered manor-house had been Lady H. was a woman of five-and-forty ; of inhabited for two months by Mrs. D. before any an eager, romantic, excitable temperament. She one had broken in upon her solitude by visits or was the very person to enjoy a sudden scramble invitations.
over the country in a chaise-and-four when no one Hallwood is the nearest place of any conse- expected her, and great appeared to be the conquence. It is an Elizabethan house.
A pleasant, sternation when her ladyship arrived. Mrs. D. cheerful family then occupied it; people who was not to be seen at first, and Lady H. had been were always ready to see their friends, and re- ten minutes in the house before her hostess made joiced in new neighbors, provided they were toler- her appearance. When she entered the sitting. ably presentable. The Herberts found out the room Lady H. rose, extended her hand, and at merits, name, and family connection of Mrs. D., once proclaimed her anxiety to do all that was and lost no time in calling and proposing that she possible to make Mrs. D. comfortable in the should spend a day with them about Christmas manor house, if she could be induced to stay. time, when all the brothers and sisters were at Mrs. D. expressed her grateful thanks, but home, and an aunt and uncle came from Sussex stated firmly that her mind was made up-sho to enlarge the circle. Mrs. Dr. agreed to spend would not, she could not stay. No more need bo one afternoon there. She was to walk, if the day said ; it was impossible. proved fine, to Hallwood, and the Herberts were “ Impossible! Why?" said Lady H., in a to send her back in the carriage before ten o'clock. tone of great surprise.
The evening passed over, and she left her “It is impossible that I can stay," repeated friends about a quarter of an hour later than she Mrs. D. had intended. The road was covered with the “You are surely prepared to tell me why," snow that had fallen about an hour before, the said Lady H., kindly. "Consider what you give clouds were still heavy towards the south, and up.” only a star or two shone clearly now and then “I have considered," replied the other lady ; from behind thick masses of vapor. The house but it is impossible-quite. I regret it-I at Cranmore can be seen from a considerable dis- regret it very much,” she added, with much conlance ; but as you descend the hill half a mile fusion of manner; “but things have occurred, from the entrance you lose sight of it again until thatyou enter the grounds. Mrs. D. had never before “What! no more losses ?" said Lady H. approached the manor house by night, and she “Excuse me, but my wish to benefit you must leant forward to notice with some surprise how lead you to pardon my curiosity." brightly the light shone from one of the upper “I cannot explain, because—because, really, windows. She tried to remember the relative your ladyship would laugh at me.” positions of the rooms, and thought that the bril- “Laugh, my dear Mrs. D.! how can you supliant illumination must proceed from the window pose such a thing? Pray trust me with what of her own bedchamber. Meanwhile the car- you feel on this subject. I am most anxious to riage swung down the hill, and she lost sight of arrange all for your future comfort; at least, tell the building. Soon after she reached her own me what your wishes are."
After a few minutes of silent thought Mrs. D. | occurred which occasioned me considerable annoysaidance. One evening, on returning about ten o'clock from Hallwood, I perceived a bright light burning in one of the upper rooms. I concluded that it came from the fire and candles in my own apartment, but on entering the house I found that the shutters were closed; and when I asked my
"I will trust you; I ought and I will. My dear Lady H., at the risk of being thought a madwoman, I will tell you that this house is not fit to live in. It is not what we see here, but the things that are said."
"What! what do you mean?" said Lady H. nurse at what hour she had closed them, she said "Said of it?"
"No, no, in it."
"In it?" "Yes.
I see that you do not comprehend me;
that she had done so at eight o'clock. It was then about half-past ten. I asked if any one had been with a light in the upper rooms. She said All the servants were in bed, with the excep
I must, therefore, tell you all as clearly as I can."tion of herself, and that she had told them that "Pray do, for I am anxious, indeed." "Well, then, listen to me; and pray let me first assure you that I am not a nervous, foolish, or excitable person, generally speaking. Allow me first to offer you some refreshment."
she would sit up to let me in. I took the light, Lady H., and telling her to follow me, I went up stairs. I confess that I was suspicious then of some trick. I passed the head of the narrow stair. We were walking very gently for fear of disturb
She rose as if to ring the bell; Lady H. laiding the children. Now, just as I passed the openher hand on her arm and cried
"O, no, no! do not lose a moment, I beg of you. I want nothing; sit down; I can only stay half an hour. It is now three o'clock, I must be at my journey's end by six at latest."
Mrs. D., however, rang the bell, saying— "I wish to ring on another account." The bell was replied to by a girl of eighteen or nineteen. Mrs. D. ordered her to put on some wood, and as she proceeded to mend the fire she whispered to Lady H.
"Look at her particularly." Lady H. did so. particular notice in her appearance. She was apparently in good health, rather stout than otherwise, of middle height and fair complexion. When she had left the room, Mrs. D. said—
There was nothing to attract
"That girl has been in my service for some months; she has been an obliging, honest, sober servant, but she has nearly frightened us all to death."
"One evening, about six weeks ago, I was in the room that serves for our nursery. I had been putting one of my little boys to bed, when my eldest girl came in, saying
"Mamma, did you call for a light?' No, my dear,' I replied. here for a quarter of an hour.'
ing from the passage to the turret-stair, I most distinctly heard the words, 'Bring me a light!' It was said in a faint, but clear tone.”
Lady H. rose suddenly, and, going to the window, threw it open hurriedly, saying
"I do not feel well."
She put her head out, and the fresh air seemed to revive her. She returned to her seat in a minute or two, and begged Mrs. D. to proceed. She did so.
"On hearing the words, I turned to my com-
"The woman muttered-
"And I saw that she was about to faint. 1
"Elizabeth, you are a woman of good sound sense. It is some absurd nonsense; never speak of it either to me or to any of the others. Silence is the best plan.'
"When she had recovered herself a little she promised me that she would tell no one, and I believe that she kept her promise. Well, noth'I have been in ing happened for some little time. I resolved not even to examine the rooms particularly. I let everything go on as usual, until one night, about a fortnight ago, when, on passing much later than usual along this passage, (I had been employed in writing to my sister in India,) again I heard the voice-the faint, clear voice-say, 'Bring me a light!" "
"How very odd!' said the child. "She stood for a moment or two looking at me, and then went out into the passage where the cook and housemaid were speaking together. I thought that I distinguished the words, 'Don't tell her;' but I made no inquiries, and I thought no more of the circumstance. I hate all mysteries, and tales of all kinds; I never think of inquiring into the truth of what children call strange noises, and such things. If they are the tricks of ill-intentioned people, they had better not be inquired into, and disappointed malice will soon cease to trouble itself when it finds that it attracts no attention.
"I should have persisted in this line of conduct, had not one or two other circumstances
uncertain how to act. But soon I rallied ; I and I sat up the rest of the night alone with the turned, and proceeded up the stairs.”
girl. She lay silent for some time. At last I "What! alone?” said Lady H.
said, “ Yes, quite alone. I am not a nervous person,
6. What frightened you ?' as I have said before. I went up; I reached the “She then began to cry violently, and did not Janding-place, and stopped. I listened attentive-reply. I let her go on crying: it is a great relief ly; I heard nothing but the wind, and at last the to some temperaments. Then, when she became thumping of my own heart, I will own. Then I calm, I repeated my question. She replied, advanced. I went into one room; the one that "I saw strange things to-night.' you may remember has the blue hangings. It was «• What things did you see?' empty-dark. I went out. I then stopped for
"Ah!' was all she said. an instant at the door of the white room. You " " We do not know what things have gone know, it is the one
on here in the old times,' she added, in a few I know, I know !” said Lady H. nervously. minutes. “ It is, I believe," continued Mrs. D.,
"There is no necessity that we should,' I called the bride's room.”
replied. “Yes, yes,” said Lady H. “It is called so,
“ She was silent for some time, and then has been for many years. Pray go on."
“ I stood at the door, and I had laid my hand on "We can't tell what there is need for. It the handle. I was in the act of entering, when I may be to make us think of what we cannot see.' heard a sound, the extreme horror and strangeness "I did not reply, for I had no intention of enof which I cannot describe. I opened the door, tering into a metaphysical disquisition with the and, for half a second, the noise continued. There girl, who was evidently in a very highly-excited appeared to me to be light besides my own in the state. Finding that she was unwilling to speak, room; a flame-colored light flittered for a second I pressed her no further. I sat up with her till on the pale walls of the white room, and then I day-light, and then, finding that she was tolerably saw nothing, heard nothing more. Then, Lady composed, I went to my own room. I own to H., the idea of a supernatural agency came into you that I felt the whole thing to be an uncommy mind for a few minutes. I felt no fear, only fortable and unaccountable occurrence. After curiosity and awe. I remained with my candle breakfast I sent for the servants. I told them on in my hand for, I suppose, nearly ten minutes ; no account to mention it before any of the children. at the end of that time I left the room, and went I told them that I would let them all leave in a down stairs. It is strange that it was only as I month's time, if they wished it; but they replied drew near to the inhabited part of the building that that they were too much attached to the family to I began to feel the common effects of fright. The do so on small pretences, and they would rather joints of my limbs seemed loosened, and I could wait and see what happened. Not a week after hardly reach my own room. So desperate a fear that I was sitting in the nursery. is a solemn thing to experience when you are children were asleep in bed in that room. I unaccustomed to the nervous tremors common 10 had sent the nurse to her supper, and I meant to many women, sensible and well-educated, too, stay in the room until she returned. I was workperhaps. Next day I hardly knew whether to ing, and wanted some thread that I had left in my speak of what I had seen or not. I resolved, own room. I rose to go, but my youngest boy however, not to do so, and two days and nights woke up suddenly, saying – passed in peace. On the Thursday after my mid- “ 'Don't go, don't leave us, for fear of the night adventure, I was sitting in the evening alone bright lady!' after the children were in bed, when I heard a " . The bright lady!' I said. heavy fall, preceded by a scream.
“I turned to the bed, and, putting my arms hurried along the passage, and met the nurse, who round the little fellow, I said I found had also heard the noise. She was very
“Who is the bright lady ?' pale and said,
“He hid his face in my breast, and whispered, " It's up stairs—it's Margaret!'
" Margaret saw her.' “We went as quickly as we could up the tur- “ I really felt very angry to find out thus the ret-stair, and along the passage ; at the door of absurd gossip that was going through the house. the white room we found the girl Margaret lying " • Nonsense,' I said ; 'I am the only lady in on her face in a faint. Her candle had been ex- the house, you know.' tinguished and broken by the violence of her fall : “No, no, mamma; there is a bright lady, and nothing else was to be seen. We raised her up ; a bright room, too.' she could not speak, and we were obliged to call “How did you hear such silly stuff?' I asked up the other servant before we could manage to him. carry her to her own room. We laid her on the "I was lying, they thought asleep, but I was bed. It was fully an hour before she was able to not asleep a bit, and I heard Margaret telling speak. When I found that she had regained her nurse. They were talking, and talking close to the senses in some degree, I sent the others away, bed-curtains : they did not know I was awake.' cautioned them to say nothing before the children, “«What did they talk about ?' I said.
Two of my
I left the room,
"Oh, about a voice, and a light, and Marga- | women to come, but she refused to have anything ret going up one night when she heard the voice, to do with it. She went, and the account she gave and her seeing such a bright lady at the glass, and was that she rushed quickly up immediately on fire on the wall, and something about an old face hearing the words. She went to the door of the very wicked, and a strange silver light-a lamp, blue room and saw nothing, and, stopping to listen, in her hand; I cannot remember it now, but I heard a sound proceeding from the white room, know it frightened me very much, indeed, mam- She stole softly to the door, and, kneeling down, ma!' looked beneath the door, which fits badly, if you
"The fools!' I said to myself, and sat down remember. She said that she saw a sudden and to my work again.
"I stayed till the servants had done supper, and then I went to my own room. I did not know what to do. I thought of leaving the place, but that appeared so foolish a thing to do. To be frightened away by the tales of idle, gossiping women, was really too provoking. After thinking for some little time, I resolved on making an attempt to discover the truth of the case. I took no light, and going softly up the stair-the turretstair—I sat down on one of the steps half-way up, and wrapping a warm shawl round me, I determined to watch there for several hours. Now the act of watching in the dark is one which tests the nerves, but I had such an ardent desire to find out and put an end to the whole business, that fear was for some time silent. Soon after I sat down I heard the clock strike ten, and I knew that about that time the servants went to bed. A long black gap of time succeeded, broken at last by the first stroke of eleven. It was when the chime had ceased that I felt my solitude intensely. Still I determined to stay, and for the purpose of doing something or other I began to count the time by seconds, and so my tongue numbered two hundred and twelve; then, suddenly, above me, I heard a faint sound, as of shuffling feet, and I remember at once seizing hold of my right wrist by my left hand that I might feel my own pulse beating it was like a companion, I fancied. Do not laugh at me. So I sat for a few minutes. Then came a voice, faint, clear
"Bring me a light!'
brilliant light in the room, but nothing else. She rose, and hurried down the stair, and that first time said nothing of her adventure, being afraid that if I knew it I should prevent her repeating the experiment. It was after that night that I saw her one day in the garden attentively examining the windows of the house, the upper windows especially. A few nights after, she had gone about ten o'clock to the stair. She had seated herself on the uppermost step, and had the patience to wait there till within a few minutes of eleven. All was still until that instant, but then she heard the rustling of silk, a very light footstep, and she looked round towards the top of the stair. All was dark, but this time she had taken a dark lantern with her, and she made the light flash out. She saw by that light an old and wrinkled face, with a ghastly pallor, and a patch of paint on each cheek. It looked round the wall, as if to call down the stair; the pale lips moved, and the words were pronounced. Margaret bounded up two steps, and saw the figure swiftly skim and glide along the passage; it seemed to melt into the door of the white room-that was the odd phrase of the girl-and she went forward to the door. In an agony of fright she threw it open, and, lo! there she declared she saw-remember, I am only repeating what the servant said-she saw-oh, I can't tell what! a lady-a girl, standing in a white dress-a long, white dress, before a mirror; then she appeared to be in flames. The figure turned its face, and then the girl remembered nothing more but the sound of her own shriek and fall. There we found her, as I told you; and you know the rest. On learning that from the nurse, I resolved on leaving the house. I wrote next day to Lord H., and my letter I think you read."
'Lady H., I shall never forget the dread, the horror of that instant. I rose, and in desperation meant to make my way up stairs; but my ankles seemed to give way, my eyes became dim, I fell head foremost down the stair. I lay there till the servants, hearing the noise of my fall, came and raised me up, and put me into bed. I said nothing, but I saw from their faces that they suspected the cause of the accident that had befallen me. The nurse sat with me till daylight, and I asked her at last what all these stories meant. I told her what Charlie had said the night before, and I begged her to repeat to me the whole of the description given by Margaret to her and the cook that night. The woman was unwilling to speak on the subject, but I drew from her by degrees the in a parcel by coach. confession that the girl Margaret, being of a curi-closely written, and a note from Lady H. herself. ous and daring spirit, had one evening said-It was as follows:'I'll go and give her a light the first time she asks for it; and that she had stationed herself on the stairs, intending to wait till the words were pronounced. She had asked one of the other
"Yes, I did," replied Lady H., rising. She took hold of Mrs. D.'s hand, adding"I must go now; I can say nothing more at present, but I promise that you shall hear from me in the course of a day or two. I will see what can be done."
She hurriedly took leave and drove off, having stayed nearly an hour altogether.
In the course of three days Mrs. D. received from her ladyship a packet, sent carefully inclosed It contained a roll of paper
clination I feel to send you a manuscript relating My dear Mrs. D.-I cannot resist the strong into the affair of which we spoke on Tuesday last. You know that Lord H. and I were cousins. Our
grandfather was a man of strange and peculiar habits. From the age of thirty-five he was afflicted with blindness, and, in consequence, he kept a secretary, who wrote for him, read to him, and was for many years his constant companion. This man, a Frenchman by birth, was an intelligent and kind-hearted person. I knew him well when I was a child at Ellingham. Cranmore was never inhabited by my grandfather—within my recollection, at least.
When I was a girl of sixteen I happened to ask Mr. L. what was the reason of my grandfather's dislike to Cranmore. I had then seen the old manor for the first time in my life, and its antique beauty had made a deep impression on me. The old man-he was then about seventy, though full of acuteness and vigor-the old man told me that is was in consequence of some melancholy family catastrophe of which Cranmore had been the scene. At that time he would tell me no more, but shortly before his death he sent me the papers which I enclose to you. Read them and return them to me. I must just add that, on his death-bed, my grandfather exacted a solemn promise from Lord H. and me that we would never on any account sleep at Cranmore. You know how faithfully we have kept that promise, which was the sole cause of my refusing your kind offer of accommodation for the night.
Believe me, dear Mrs. D.,
Yours very truly,
ELLEN H. There were some explanatory notes in the margin of the MS. in Lady H.'s own hand.
As may be supposed, Mrs. D. lost no time in reading the packet, which was entitled
This young person, young Lady H., was, however, worthy of his affection. She has been described to me as a creature of surpassing loveliness, gloriously fair, with eyes full of the dew of the morning, so pure and childlike was her expression. She was a remarkably good dancer, and a beautiful singer; in short, just the one to attract an elegant young man like Lord H.
It had been a matter of some surprise to every one concerned when the elder Lady H. invited the young lord and his bride to Cranmore. ["The manor was the jointure-house of the H. family." These words were written as a note on the margin by Lady H. herself.]
There were a good many guests, and several of the family connections-all having assembled on the 23d of December, in order to spend the Christmas and new-year together, as was and is still so much the mode in England.
The late lord has frequently told me that he and the ladies of the family were all prepared to dislike and disapprove of the young bride before her arrival ; but that she had not spent one evening in their society before all were charmed into love and favor, so sweet and enchanting a creature was she. The late lord told me that the first night of her arrival, after supper, which was then at nine, they played at some Christmas games, and her playful grace was a thing that pursued him in his dreams; so much so, that next morning he said to the dowager lady-"We have been wrong in our judgment. I think Edward has done well." She smiled only in reply. Things went on very smoothly, till the day before the new year. There was to be a dance in the hall on new-year's-eve, and a masking, and dressing up. While all were deciding on their different disguises, the young lord turned to his step-mother saying "You must let us have the Papers relating to the family of H., collected and tran-point lace and diamonds." He had never asked for scribed by Mr. L. for her ladyship. Dated 1788. them before; and the jewels and lace (heir-looms The noble family of H. have been possessed of they were, and very precious too)-the jewels and the lands and manor of Cranmore since the reign lace still remained in the possession of the dowager. of King John-of their other properties I need not It was, in short, a civil way of asking her to give speak-it is of Cranmore that I am, I feel, required them up. The dowager bowed, saying-" Lady to say all that I know. H. shall have them." The young lord was of an impatient spirit. He said that he wished to see how they became his lady, and, in fact, requested that the dress and jewels might be immediately produced. The dowager gave the key to one of her attendants, and shortly after the things were taken into the bride's room. It was a chamber of state, hung with white satin draperies embroidered in rosebuds. The toilette was of remarkable magnificence; an antique silver-rimmed mirror stood on the carved table; there were chased silver candlesticks, and a lamp of curious, ancient pattern, to burn for the night.
Your ladyship, without doubt, remembers having expressed considerable anxiety to know why the late lord never inhabited the beautiful manor-house of Cranmore. With his reasons I was well acquainted; but I was at that time under a promise not to reveal to your ladyship the rumors and tales current in the country about fifty or sixty years ago. About that space of time has elapsed since a large party was assembled to celebrate the Christmas at Cranmore's manor. From the late lord's own lips I heard the following account of what occurred there at that time. The family who were present on the occasion consisted of the late lord, then Mr., his half-brother, who then had the title, two sisters of the latter, and a young lady to whom he had been married about three months before. She was the daughter of a man of low birth, and no property. It was a marriage that had caused most deep grief and concern to the step-mother of the young lord.
The dowager Lady H. had been one of the most ambitious women of her day-haughty, beautiful, capricious, vain, and cruel where her ambitious wishes were concerned.
The young bride ran up stairs and decked herself in the gay lace robe. It was of inestimable value, I have been told; of most exquisite point, worked in a foreign nunnery: the jewels I need not describe, as your ladyship now possesses them all.
The late lord told me that he was standing in one of the windows of the eating-room; the door was open, so that he could see a figure come down the stair, and along the great hall. He heard voices and looked up. He told me that he saw her come down the great staircase, her train held up The young lord himself, then a man of seven-and-by two of the young ladies; they went into the twenty, was handsome, brilliant, excitable, and just the man to throw himself away on the first handsome woman who could contrive to captivate him.
hall, and she stood there, the diamonds gleaming in her pale, golden hair. Sunlight shining on her bright head, she looked all white, radiant, transfigured into an extreme glory of loveliness. Her