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No other sound or stir of life was there,
Except my steps in solitary clamber,
From flight to fight, from humid stair to stair,
From chamber into chamber.
Deserted rooms of luxury and state,
That old magnificence had richly furnish'd
With pictures, cabinets of ancient date,
And carvings gilt and burnish’d.
Rich hangings, storied by the needle's art
With scripture history, or classic fable ;
But all had faded, save one ragged part,
Where Cain was slaying Abel.
The silent waste of mildew and the moth
Had marr'd the tissue with a partial ravage ;
But undecaying frown'd upon the cloth
Each feature stern and savage.
The sky was pale ; the cloud a thing of doubt ;
Some hues were fresh, and some decay'd and duller ;
But still the Bloody Hand shone strangely out
With vehemence of colour !
The Bloody Hand that with a lurid stain
Shone on the dusty floor, a dismal token,
Projected from the casement's painted pane,
Where all beside was broken.
The Bloody Hand significant of crime,
That glaring on the old heraldic banner,
Had kept its crimson unimpaired by time,
In such a wondrous manner.
O'er all there hung the shadow of a fear,
A sense of mystery the spirit daunted,
And said, as plain as whisper in the ear,
The place is Haunted !
The Death Watch tick'd behind the panel'd oak,
Inexplicable tremors shook the arras,
And echoes strange and mystical awoke,
The fancy to embarrass.
Prophetic hints that fill'd the soul with dread,
But thro' one gloomy entrance pointing mostly,
The while some secret inspiration said,
That Chamber is the Ghostly!
Across the door no gossamer festoon
Swung pendulous—no web—no dusty fringes,
No silk chrysalis or white cocoon
About its nooks and hinges.
The spider shunn'd the interdicted room,
The moth, the beetle, and the fly were banie-d,
And where the sunbeam fell athwart the g'com.
The very midge had vanish'd.
One lonely ray that glanced upon a Bed,
As if with awful aim direct and certain,
To show the Bloody Hand in burning red
Embroidered on the curtain.
And yet no gory stain was on the quilt-
The pillow in its place had slowly rotted;
The floor alone retain'd the trace of guilt,
Those boards obscurely spotted.
Obscurely spotted to the door, and thence
doubles to the grated casementOh what a tale they told of fear intense, Of horror and amazement !
What human creature in the dead of night
Had coursed like hunted hare that cruel distance ?
Had sought the door, the window in his fight,
Striving for dear existence ?
What shrieking Spirit in that bloody room Its mortal frame had violently quitted ?— Across the sunbeam, with a sudden gloom, A ghostly Shadow flitted.
To trace the Kilmansegg pedigree
To the very root of the family tree
Were a task as rash as ridiculous :
Through antediluvian mists as thick
As London fog such a line to pick
Were enough, in truth, to puzzle old Nick,
Not to name Sir Harris Nicolas.
It wouldn't require much verbal strain
To trace the Kill-man, perchance, to Cain,
But, waiving all such digressions,
Suffice it, according to family lore,
A Patriarch Kilmansegg lived of yore,
Who was famed for his great possessions.
Tradition said he feather'd his nest
Through an Agricultural Interest
In the Golden Age of farming ;
When golden eggs were laid by the geese,
And Colchian sheep wore a golden fleece,
And golden pippins—the sterling kind
Of Hesperus- now so hard to find-
Made Horticulture quite charming !
A Lord of Land, on his own estate,
He lived at a very lively rate,
But his income would bear carousing ;
Such acres he had of pasture and heath,
With herbage so rich from the ore beneath,
The very ewe's and lambkin's teeth
Were turn'd into gold by browsing.
He gave, without any extra thrift,
A Rock of sheep for a birthday gift
To each son of his loins, or daughter :
And his debts-if debts he had-at will
He liquidated by giving each bill
A dip in Pactolian water.
'Twas said that even his pigs of lead, By crossing with some by Midas bred,
Made a perfect mine of his piggery. And as for cattle, one yearling bull Was worth all Smithfield-market full
of the Golden Bulls of Pope Gregory.
The high-bred horses within his stud,
Like human creatures of birth and blood,
Had their Golden Cups and flagons :
And as for the common husbandry nags.
Their noses were tied in money-bags,
When they stopp'd with the carts and waggons.