Imágenes de páginas

of the party having made their comment upon it, they separated in order to retire to rest.

On reaching his own apartment, lord Burton dismissed his servant for the night; and not being inclined to sleep, he read through the letter which Mary had given him from the old philosopher, with that calm pleasure which the consciousness of having done good will inspire even in the humblest mind. The happiness of those he loved, the peaceful quiet of their situation, and the total absence from all scenes that could awaken painful remembrances, had stolen greatly from the load of care which for years had oppressed him. The only thing that gave him uneasiness, was the struggle between his attachment for Louisa Stanhope, and his wish to banish the recollection of a passion, which he fancied had but a small chance of being gratified.

Having read the letter, he laid it down by his side, and putting out the lights, placed himself near the window, to enjoy the prospect of that unrivalled bay, glittering in the clear, calm light of the moon. There was no feeling of sorrow or anxiety on his mind; on the contrary, he was at that moment peculiarly happy in sensa. tion, and entered into the loveliness of the scene, with a freshness of delight, that he had fancied gone for ever with his early years. However, he had not sat there long, when something caused him to turn his head; whether it was a slight noise, or merely the impulse of the moment, he scarcely knew; but the instant he with. drew his eyes from the window, he beheld the form of one too deeply, too dreadfully impressed upon his memory, ever to be forgot or mistaken. The pale, ghastly features of colonel Stanhope, as they had lain before him, convulsed with death, on their last fatal meeting, seemed called from his bloody grave to haunt him here; and the deep stains of gore, upon the white garments of the figure, called every pain



ful circumstance back to Frederic's mind with terrible minuteness.“ Was it a delusion ?” he asked himself, and passed his hand before his eyes, as if to clear them from that horrible image: but no, it stood there still ; and starting up, he sprung past the figure, out of the apartment, calling loudly for a light.

At the end of the corridor was the room of Mr. Melville, who, engaged in writing, had not yet gone to bed; and startled by the voice of lord Burton, he threw open the door, and advanced towards Frederic, who, with an expression of painful horror, was staggering along the passage. This was the first object he beheld, but immediately afterwards, his eye fell upon a form that glided across the farther end of the corridor. He saw it as distinctly as ever he saw any thing in nature. It was the figure of a man, with a cheek as pale as the garments it had on, which were evidently stained with large drops of blood.

"God of heaven !” exclaimed he, “ what is that?" and instantly sprung forward to stop it in its progress; but at that moment a chill blast of wind blew out the light he had in his hand; and before his eye was sufficiently accustomed to the moonlight to see by it, the figure was gone. It could not have passed him, for he stretched his arms to each side of the passage, and between the spot where he stood, and the window at the end, which was firmly shut, there was no method of escape, no door whatever, except the one into lord Burton's dressing-room. By this time several of the servants had arrived, and, with their assistance, Charles searched every nook and corner of the only apartments into which the figure could have gone; but nothing could he discover; and finding that there was no place for concealment, he endeavoured to ascertain whether there was any means of escape. He tried every board for a trapdoor; he sounded all the walls, especially near the place where his


light had been blown out, but all was as firm as a rock.

Charles was perplexed and astonished ; he certainly would not have believed what 'he had seen, had any other person told it him ; but having seen it, doubt was out of the question; and though perhaps he, on another occasion, might have been as prone as any to satirize what he would have denominated “ credulous superstition,” and “ideal terrors,” yet, in the present instance, he could not reason himself out of his eyesight, and preferred the evi. dence of his senses to any theory that could be objected.

At the same time he felt much for lord Burton. He had long seen with pain that the death of colonel Stanhope still hung heavy upon his cousin's mind, and could easily conceive that he connected the late extraordinary event with that circumstance.

At first Charles spoke of the subject eagerly; and with all the impetuosity VOL. III.


« AnteriorContinuar »