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BY MRS. ROMER.
From Bentley's Miscellany. but which, for several years before he became its STORY OF A HAUNTED HOUSE.
proprietor, had remained uninhabited. Notwithstanding the advantages of its position, it had been
completely deserted, for popular belief had marked Thereby hangs a tale."
it out as a place accursed—a spot haunted by an It is scarcely possible for any race of people to efreet—and among a people so credulously superbe more strongly imbued with superstition than stitious as the Mohammedans, no one was to be the Egyptian Mohammedans. Their belief in found either sufficiently esprit fort to laugh at the supernatural influences is unlimited ; and not to story, or sufficiently courageous to tempt the mention the inexplicable witchcraft of the Evil demon by disputing the locality with it. The Eye, the different descriptions of spirits supposed tenement would soon have fallen to ruins, had not by them to be allowed to wander upon earth, and Mr. Walne, wisely disregarding the public rumor, interfere with the actions of mankind, exceed in ventured upon becoming its tenant, and testing in variety the category of kelpies, wraiths, and his own person the truth of the strange stories bogles, which the Scottish peasantry formerly that were circulated concerning its supernatural pioned their faith upon. Besides the legions of occupant. lle caused the forsaken mansion to be viewless ginn (or genii) for whose propitiation thoroughly repaired and comfortably filled up ; all manner of deferential ohservances are in use, and from the moment of his installing himself and the ghools which are believed to haunt cem- there, he has continued to divide his time equally eteries, and feed upon the ghastly tenants of the between it and his official residence in Cairo. grave, there are efreets, a term equally applied to I had the pleasure of visiting him at Minieh, malicious demons, and to the ghosts of murdered and heard from his own lips the circumstances persons, which · latter are religiously believed by that had attached so unenviable a reputation 10 the Egyptians to “revisit the glimpses of the his pretty retirement. Certainly nothing could moon,” and wander restlessly round the scene look less like the idea I had formed to myself of that witnessed the destruction of their earthly a haunted house than that cheerful, commodious part. Woe to the luckless mortal who should habitation, with its cool, airy chambers, and its come in contact with an efreet during its nocturnal elegant deewan, (or reception room,) adorned with perambulations, for one touch of that shadowy faisceaux of valuable Memlook arms, and blending form would turn him into a demoniac! Such, at the evidences of oriental usages with European least, is the faith of the ignorant Egyptians; and comfort. I looked in vain for any of those gloomy that being the case, it is not to be wondered at features which are supposed to characterize localthat they invariably fly with terror from any hab- ities identified with tales of horror: everything itation that has acquired the unenviable reputation was serenely bright; and the haunting spirit of of being possessed by a haunting spirit.
the place, I should have pronounced to be the Mrs. Poole, in her“ English woman in Egypt,” spirit of courteous hospitality! has given an interesting account of her sojourn, Mr. Walne told me, although he had so far during the commencement of her residence in prevailed over the terrors of his Egyptian servants Cairo, in a house where a murder had been com- as to have succeeded in inducing them to live in mitted, and which was reputed to be haunted—of the house, yet that no earthly consideration would the vexations to which she was subjected by the tempt any one of them to set foot after dark in strange noises that were nightly heard, and the that portion of it which composed what had forconsequent terrors of her servants of the curious merly been the women's apartment, or hareem. methods that were resorted to in order to lay the It was in the hareem that a fearful crime had been ghost-and of the impenetrable mystery that in perpetrated by the last Moslem possessor; and it volved its final disappearance. When I was in is in the hareem that the spirit of the vietim is Egypt, Mrs. Poole had removed to another hab- said nightly to wander and bemoan itself. That itation, therefore I had no opportunity of seeing strange noises were heard there, he admitted to the haunt of her unearthly visitant; but it was my be the case, for his own ears had repeatedly testilot to visit in a house in the environs of Cairo, fied to the truth of the assertion ; but he accounted similarly circumstanced, where, although I did for those nocturnal sounds in so rational a mannot see the ghost, I heard all about it. It is of ner, that perhaps, in the interest of my story, I that house that I am now about to treat.
ought to keep back the natural causes he assigned About three miles from Cairo, and not more for the so-called supernatural visitation. As, than a quarter of a mile from the vice-regal resi- however, I honor truth more than I admire dence of Shoubra, at a place called Minieh, (which, romance, I shall hint that his firm conviction was, however, must not be confounded with the distant that the restless ghost was neither more nor less town of Minieh, known to all travellers going up than a legion of rats and mice which had accuthe Nile,) situated in the midst of verdant fields, mulated to an extraordinary extent during the and just near enough to Mohammed Ali's rus in years that the house had been shut up; and that, urbe to benefit by the superior cultivation, and the when it once more became inhabited, they had shady avenues that surround that luxurious retreated to the apartments not occupied by his retreat, there is a pretty country-house, at pres- household, (the hareem,) where their nightly gament in the possession of the English vice-consul, I bols produced noises which were religiously
bolicved by his servants to emanate from the awful young and experienced creature was left to her world of shadows.
own guidance, and to rely upon herself alone. At The story which gave rise to that belief is as first, the natural sorrow she felt for the loss of follows, and is curiously characteristic of the man- one whom she had both loved and revered as a ners of the people among whom it occurred :- mother, absorbed her too completely to leave her
Among the superior officers attached to the a thought for aught else—but grief dwells not staff of Ibrahim Pasha, when he commanded the long with the young ; and in a few weeks NeEgyptian army in Syria, was a Bey named Mas- feeseh began to think that there would be no loum, holding the rank of Bimbashi, or colonel, a harm in extending her rides, and that there were man of distinguished bravery, and a personal other motives for going out besides praying at the favorite of the Prince Generalissimo, whose confi- mosque of the holy Zeyneb, or carrying palm. dence he possessed, and over whose mind he branches to the great cemetery that skirts the Desexercised great influence. Masloum Bey was still ert, to adorn her mother-in-law's grave. But young, and had been married only a few months timid and ignorant, she knew not how to make previous to the opening of the Syrian campaign ; use of the liberty she had acquired, or to extend but although passionately attached to his youth- the sphere of her enjoyments ; and although each ful wise, he did not deem it advisable to take her day she sallied forth with her negress slave and with him to the seat of warfare. With the jeal- her Saises, under the superintendence of old Husous vigilance of a Mohammedan husband, he left sein, the one-eyed eunuch of Mebroukeh, deterher in charge of his mother when he could no mined to ride through the gay bazaars and thorlonger watch over her himself, first having removed oughfares of Cairo, and to visit the hareems of his hareem to a country house at Minieh, and her friends, the tyrannizing force of habit restrictly enjoining that there it should remain in strained her, and involuntarily, as it were, she complete seclusion during the whole period of his stopped short at the cemetery, and, dismounting absence.
from her donkey, took her accustomed station by So far from feeling wounded at the distrust the tomb of Mebroukeh. evinced by these precautions, the fair Nefeeseh It is a strange, solemn place, that great city of gloried in the jealousy from which they pro- the dead, so thickly peopled, yet so silent : the ceeded ; for, in common with Mohammedan wives, throng, the hum, the thrist of busy Cairo on one she would have conceived herself slighted by her side, the awful stillness of the barren desert on husband, had he treated her with that holy confi- the other—fit emblems of life and eternity, with dence which it is the pride of a Christian matron the inevitable grave between! Turbaned headto obtain and to deserve; and—such is the moral stones and white rounded cupolas rise over the debasement consequent upon the system of female thousand tombs that stretch in dreary confusion education pursued in the East-she would have along the skirts of the desert, each day adding been wholly unable to distinguish between such a some new habitation to that vast Necropolis ; and confidence and a pathy the most offensive. There- beyond them, placed in the desert itself, rise those fore, when Mebroukeh, her mother-in-law, ex- graceful monuments of Arabian splendor, the claimed, “Oh, well hast thou been named Ne- tombs of the Membook sultans, their fretted domes feeseh,* my soul! for thou art more precious in and delicate arches, and tall minarets clustering the sight of thy husband than every other earthly in airy pomp over the dust of the foreign mercegood ; and, like the miser who buries his treas- naries whose ambition grasped at, and appropriure that none else may see it, he would fain hide ated, the inheritance of the Pharaohs and the thee even from the light of the sun!” Nefeeseh, Ptolemies. The very names of the Circassian with a feeling of exultation at being thus valued, rulers of Egypt are now almost forgotten in the submitted with cheerful alacrity to the restrictions land they made their own, even as their mausolea imposed upon her, which limited her recreations are fast crumbling into decay. In another cento rides upon the homar alee (or high ass) in the tury, dome, and arch, and minaret, will have minsecluded environs of Minieh, and occasionally a gle with the desert sands and be swept into visit to Cairo to lay a votive offering upon the oblivion ; and the traveller will ride over the shrine of the Seyyideh Zeyneb, f and to supplicate lonely spot, heedless of the “fiery dust,” once for the intercessions of the Saint with the Most instinct with life, that slumbers beneath, and High for safety and protection to Masloum Bey. never dreaming that under those heaps of rubbish
But scarcely had Nefeeseh had time to weary rest a whole dynasty-a warlike and voluptuous of the monotonous dulness of her existence, ere race, who burst the bonds of slavery, and made Mebroukeh sickened of a fever and died, and the themselves kings of the antique territory where
Joseph governed and Moses legislated ! * Nefeeseb is the Arabic for precious. + The Seyyideh Zeyneb (our Lady Zeyneb) was the
Little thought Nefeeseh of those brilliant desdaughter of Ali, and the grand-daughter of the Prophet, pots, as her eyes wandered listlessly over the and is the object of as much reverential devotion to picturesque outlines of their tombs ; still less did Mohammedans as the Madonna is to Catholic Christians. The mosque containing the tomb of the saint is she think, or know, of that race of intellectual resorted to on Wednesdays, when the male votaries place | Titans who had founded the Great Pyramids that sprigs of myrtle upon the shrine, and the women's offer-loomed in the distance. One of the painful pecuings consist of roses, jasmine, and the fragrant blossoms of the henna tree,
liarities of the actual race of Egyptians is their
profound ignorance of the ancient glories of their | His hands were much whiter than those of ber country; one of the humiliating characteristics countrymen, and his complexion many degrees of Mohammedan women in general, is their abso- fairer—so fair, as to have appeared almost effemlute want of all such mental culture as would inate, had not a well-formed light brown moustaarouse them to investigation and inquiry on sub-chio imparted a certain degree of manliness to his jects which interest the intellectual portions of the youthful countenance. civilized world. To them the past is a blank- Nefeeseh's curiosity was aroused, and she felt the future, nothing—the present, a narrow circle that before she quitted the cemetery she must of puerile occupations, in which the tastes and ascertain the nature of the stranger's employment. requirements of mere animal existence predorni- Looking round first, to be certain that no observer nate. To them the Region of Intellect is a was within ken, she directed her negress, Naïmć, Terra Incognita which they never dream of to approach near enough to the Effendi to peep exploring. To read and write a very little-to over his shoulder and glance at the contents of his embroider-to compound those delicate violet- book. The girl immediately obeyed; but, with sherbets and rose-conserves, which the inmates of that address peculiar to the sex in all parts of the the most distinguished hareems in Cairo reserve world, instead of at once advancing towards the for their own peculiar care—to dance with the point of attraction, she moved off in a contrary wanton allurements of a Ghawazee—and to excel direction with an air of the most unconscious in those feminine arts of personal adornment, by carelessness, and after describing a considerable which a husband's sensual preference is to be pro- circumbendibus, stole softly upon him from bepitiated—such are the attainments that constitute hind, and cast her eyes furtively over his open a thoroughly accomplished Mohammedan woman. book. But of that higher moral education which exalts A shrill cry, smothered in a moment, caused the mind, purifies the heart, and spiritualizes the the young man to start and look round, and as his affections, they are as ignorant as the beasts of the eyes met those of the intruder, the ejaculation of field.
“ Bismillah !" (In the name of God the merciful, Nefeeseh was not in advance of the generality the compassionate) burst from Naïmé's lips, and of her country women in the development of intel-throwing a handful of into his face--the comlectual resource ; and while seated in that solemn mon method of neutralizing the effect of the Evil place, surrounded by so many incentives to reflec- Eye-she scampered away with all the speed of tion, she languidly fanned away the flies with a green palm-branch, her thoughts took no bolder “ Fly, oh my mistress !” she exclaimed, as she flight than wondering whether Masloum Bey regained the side of Nefeeseh ; " truly, the Effendi would return home before the Moolid-en-Nebbi,* is not a man, but a sorcerer-he is casting a spell or whether he would remain absent another year; over us! When I looked over his shoulder, I bewhether her new shintyani (trousers) should be held, oh, wonderful! no writing in his book, but composed of Aleppo satin or of the Caireen silk you, my mistress—you your self there, and your called Devil's-skin; mixed up with reflections slave, Naïmé, by your side!” half-tender, half-indignant, upon the protracted Wonderful!” repeated her mistress ; God duration of her temporary widowhood, and the is great! Can I be there, and here too?" inutility of ordering new clothes when there was “And when I looked in his face, it was strange no husband near to admire her—no Fantasiat to and beautiful to behold—the blueness of his eyes go to, or to give. How long was she thus to be dazzled me! the fire that darted from them debarred the pleasures of her age and station ? scorched me up!" continued Naimé.
In the midst of these cogitations her attention At these words, Nefeeseh arose and advanced a was attracted towards a young man seated at few paces toward the stranger ; but Naïmé, graspsome little distance, whose eyes were evidently ing her dress, exclaimed, in affright, riveted on her person.
He wore the elegant “ Whither are you going, oh, my mistress ?" dress of an Effendi, but his observation of her Look not upon those eyes, as you love your soul!" appeared to be connected with an occupation “I must see what thou hast seen, ya Naimé! which she had never yet seen exercised by an The man is doubtless a magician. I will ask him Egyptian Effendi, or
With a to show me Masloum, my husband." portable desk before him, upon which rested a And heedless of the danger she was incurring large open book, and an apparatus in no way had any one beheld her accosting a man, Nefeeseh resembling the reed-pen and inkhorn of an eastern was quickly at the side of the stranger. Luckily, scribe, (it was a palette and a box of colors,) he there was no one in sight, and her imprudence proappeared, when he withdrew his eyes from the duced no fatal results. place she occupied, to be intent upon noting down She cast her eyes with a strange mixture of something, every now and then looking up from eagerness and terror over the page which had the page to her form, and then resuming his task. thrown her slave into such a tremor, but prepared
in some measure by Naime's declaration for what * The great annual festival in honor of the birth of the she was to see, her senses stood the shock of beProphet.
+ The Arabs denominate every entertainment given in holding a very striking and spirited drawing, repthe hareem a fantasia.
resenting herself and her negress seated among
the tombs, with which the artist—for such he was and she could see that the young artist was there -had enriched his sketch-book.
also, but amidst so many lookers on there was no For a moment she stood in rapt astonishment, possibility of accosting him with safety. The gazing upon the sketch ; then, turning her flashing first day her patience was sorely chased by this black orbs (all that the discreet boorkoo permitted obstacle, but on the second it waxed so faint that to be revealed of her face) upon the stranger, she she would certainly have committed herself by found his eyes fixed in most undisguised admira- some imprudence, had not a circumstance accition upon her own.
dentally facilitated the doing that on which her “Mashallah !” burst from her lips, while mind was bent. something of fascination seemed to emanate from A rich bey was on that day buried, and the fune
unholy blue” of those bold eyes, that chained ral ceremonies terminated by a buffalo being slaughher to the spot in a state of feeling vibrating be- tered at his grave, and the flesh divided among the tween fear and delight. The young man at clamorous poor assembled there. When this dislength withdrew his gaze, and turning over the gusting spectacle commenced, there was a general leaves of his book, drew her attention to a sketch rush towards the spot, and in the confusion caused of Mohammed Ali, and another of Abbas Pasha, by the crowd hurrying thither from all sides, the both of them such admirable likenesses, that artist contrived to approach Nefeeseh near enough Nefeeseh at once recognized them.
to whisper, “ Can you read ?" “ Wonderful!” she exclaimed, clapping her “ Yes!” was the brief reply. In the next mohands; truly this is magic, oh man! Canstment a slip of paper was thrust into her hand, and thou, in like manner, show me my husband, he was gone. Masloum Bey, the Lion of War, the companion of Thus ran the
-66 Your wish has been Ibrahim Pasha in Syria, for my soul is sick at his obeyed, but the image of the Lion of War can only absence, and languishes to behold him?"
be revealed to you in his own hareem. Unhesitatingly, but in terms so respectful that trust your negress to assist in bringing this to they inspired confidence, the stranger assured her pass? If so, send her forth this evening to the that his art would enable him to show her the end of the road that leads to Shoubra, order her image of Masloum Bey ; but for this achievement to obey my directions in all things, and leave the a day or two must be allowed him, and even then, rest to me." he ventured to suggest, the cemetery would be a The imprudent Nefeeseh, carried away by her perilous place to attempt a second interview; it wishes, impelled by a mingled feeling of curiosity was open to the public; to-day it was deserted, to behold the image of her absent husband, and of another day would it be so?
dangerous longing to see more of the stranger, While he yet spoke, Naimé, rushing up to her whom she suspected to be a Frank as well as a mamistress, seized her by the skirt of her anteree, gician, returned home, not to hesitate, but to resolve. and dragging her away, declared that the old Naïmé was easily prevailed on to do her mistress' eunuch was waking from his nap, and, in another bidding, and that evening beheld her sally forth on moment, would be in quest of her ; and Nefeeseh, her unhallowed mission. hurrying away, contrived to regain her usual Night came on ; the lamp was lighted in the place, before Hussein became aware of her ab- hareem ; old Hussein slumbered at his post, and sence; and when he rejoined her, she was fanning Nefeeseh, wondering and alarıned at the protracted herself as deliberately with the green palm branch, absence of her slave, roamed backwards and foras though nothing had occurred.
wards from the latticed windows to the staircase, They mounted their donkeys and returned to listening for her coining. At last the outer door Minieh. Once or twice, on her way home, Neseeseh was beaten upon, the eunuch, with his one eye but turned her head round, and beheld the Effendi fol- half open, lazily roused himself to undo the fastlowing at a considerable distance ; on reaching the enings, and as the muffled form of Naimé glided gate of her residence she again glanced back, and in, Nefeeseh rushed forward, seized her by the hand, there he was, stationed at the foot of a tree, evi. and dragged her into her room, venting her agitadently watching her movements. No sooner had tion in angry reproaches for her dilatoriness. At she entered, than she ascended to the terraced roof, the same moment Hussein locked the hareem door and saw the stranger advance near enough to take upon them, and leaving his mistress and her handa scrutinizing view of the premises, and then turn maiden to finish their dispute, bore away the key back and retrace his steps to Cairo.
to its nightly place under his pillow, and was soon The following day was Thursday, the eve of the asleep again. Mohammedan Sabbath, when it is the custom for “ What said the Frank magician to thee? the friends of the dead to flock to the cemeteries, Where is the image of my husband ?" were the and adorn the tombs of their kindred with green eager inquiries of Nefeeseh, as soon as Hussein palm branches; the succeeding one, the Sabbath was out of hearing. itself, the day on which, in accordance with Moslem Without uttering a word, Naïmé produced from customs, the distribution of bread and meat to the under her wrappings roll of paper, which she poor takes place at the graves of certain wealthy opened out, and placed before her mistress ; and individuals who have left bequests to that effect. while Nefeeseh bent over it, and saw that the picOn both of those occasions Nefeeseh was there, I tured scroll represented the interior of a tent, with
an Egyptian Bey reclining upon cushions, and a door, and perceiving a man within, rushed at him Ghawazee wantonly dancing before him, her at- with his drawn sword, both of the delinquents pretendant deliberately unfastened her face-veil, and cipitated themselves upon him, and while Nefeeseh divested herself of her muillings.
clung round the old eunuch, and effectually impeded A jealous pang shot through the young wife's his movements, the young Frank casily disarmed bosom, as she gazed upon the drawing; then, with him, and, obeying the instinct of self-preservation, an angry flush, looking up, she beheld standing rushed down stairs and out of the house, leaving before her, not Naimé, but—the Frank stranger ! his victim to meet alone the consequences of their
He had inveigled the negress into a house near transgression. Shoubra, and there, having plied her with candied With the generous heroism of woman, Nefeeseh hashhish, a condiment which no Egyptian can resist, continued to detain and to struggle with the old man, he took advantage of the delirium produced by that until convinced that the fugitive had made good intoxicating preparation, to induce her to lend him his escape; then, relinquishing her grasp, she fell her tob, her habbarah, and her boorkoo, with which at Hussein's feet, embraced his knees, covered his he effectually disguised himself ; and then locked hands with tears, and kissing them in token of huher up, intending to return and liberate her before mility, she besought him to have mercy upon her, the fumes of the hashhish were dissipated. And and not betray her to her husband. thus did that rash Christian boldly violate the sanc- tested her innocence of all connivance in the strantity of Masloum Bey's hareem.
ger's fraudulent entry into the hareem ; showed But in the middle of the night a strange, un- him the picture that had led to such fatal consewonted noise was heard at Nefeeseh's gate. The quences, and appealed to Naïmé for the truth of hand of some one, evidently in terror, beat violently what she advanced. For a length of time he reupon it, and a shrill female voice, in piercing ac- mained absolutely steeled against her despair, but cents, cried—“ Open quickly, oh IIussein! It is at last a sullen promise was extracted from him, I, Naïmé. I have been bewitched, robbed, locked that he would remain forever silent upon the events up by an accursed Frank sorcerer, a son of the of that night; and Nefeeseh once more breathed Evil One! By your eyes ! open, I say, and save freely. me!"
How did he keep his promise ? Hussein, aroused, and now fully awake, answered through the door—"Begone, fool! what dirt wouldst Masloum Bey was one evening seated with Ibrathou make me eat with thy lies? Naimé is safe in him Pasha in a kiosk built by the prince at the hot the hareem and asleep. Pass on thy way, and let springs on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, near us sleep too."
Tiberias, where the head-quarters of the Egyptian “ I tell thee, oh Hussein! that I am Naïmé. army were then established. There had been wine Open the door and be convinced. I have been and wassail, and dancing girls to enliven the leisure plundered and locked up, and have escaped out of of the voluptuary and his favorite, and the faces of a window, and here I am, half naked, and well nigh both were flushed with excess, when, in a pause of mad; or, if thou wilt not believe my words, go to the entertainment, it was announced, that a horsethe hareem and believe thine eyes, for thou wilt man had arrived bearing a letter for Masloum Bey. not find Naïmé there."
He quitted the presence, and found in the anteThus adjured, Hussein unbarred the door, and room one of his own saises, who had ridden night opened it just wide enough to enable him to see, by and day from Cairo, with a despatch from Hussein the clear moonlight, Naïmé crouching on the the eunuch. A few brief lines told him the history threshold, with barely sufficient covering on her of Nefeeseh's frailty, and his own dishonor. limbs to answer the purposes of decency.
Masloum Bey reëntered the kiosk, prostrated “ By the beard of the Prophet!” he exclaimed, himself before the prince, and, confiding to him stretching out his hand, and dragging her in : the substance of Hussein's letter, entreated for “ what devilry is this? Thou art Naimé indeed, leave to return immediately to Egypt, promising and, yet, with this hand, I locked thee in the ha- that his absence from the army should not exceed reem with thy mistress at nightfall !!!
six weeks, the time necessary for the journey “Wallah !" ejaculated the negress, in a tone of thither and back again. Ibrahim Pasha not only dismay; “then the Frank is with my mistress !” granted his favorite permission to return home,
Hussein hastily lighted a fenoos, drew forth the but, well knowing that vengeance was the motive key of the hareem, took down his sabre, and then that impelled him thither, gave him a carte blanche mounted the staircase leading to the women's for everything he might do during his stay in apartment, followed by Naïmé.
Egypt; and, thus furnished, Masloum Bey lost not Locked in—unable to escape, for there was but a moment in commencing his journey. one outlet to the hareem, and of that Hussein held It is a weary ride, that long, long route from the the key—the windows secured by iron bars, that land of Galilee to the banks of the Nile; and Masprecluded all attempts at egress, Nefeeseh and her loum's thoughts were turbulent companions to him companion heard the voices and the sound of ap- on the way; but at last, after many a restless day proaching footsteps, with the terrible conviction and night passed in the saddle, the minarets of that they were lost ; but desperation lent them Cairo greeted his longing eyes. And soon he energy. When, therefore, Hussein unlocked the entered its narrow, picturesque-looking streets, and