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THE MYSTIC MESSENGER.
" Who is this dark unbidden guest,
That dares intrude upon my hours of slumber,
N the borders of a large forest in There was a nobleman of the name
Northumberland, there stood an of Ferdillan, who inhabited a castle ancient and gloomy building, which about three miles distant from Claronwas called Claronville castle. It was ville, of a haughty, gloomy, and reof gothic construction, and seemed vengeful disposition. At his calmest equally adapted to the purposes of de- moments he was morose, but terrible infence in time of war, and of family re- deed, when enraged. An intercourse sidence in time of peace. Its situation bad formerly subsisted between this commanded a noble prospect of the man and earl Harold, which was tersurrounding country, rich in vegetative minated by the former, owing to a luxuriance, and, more particularly in quarrel between the Noblemen, which, front, the stately fabric frowned in sul- being laid before the king, he decided len grandeur, on the majestic forest, by commanding Ferdillan, to beg parwhich peculiarly contributed to the don on his knees of Earl Harold. The magnificence of the scenery.
ignominy of so public a degradation, In the year 1614, the hero of our could never be endured by a man of tale was suddenly summoned from Ferdillan's disposition ; and their forabroad, to take possession of the castle, mer coldness degenerated into absolute together with his family honours, on the hatred, so bitter on the part of the demise of the Earl, his father, who was former, that he vowed the direst restated to have fallen in a skirmish, venge on the earl and his family ; eswhile attempting to reduce the Welch, pecially as his son, following the examwho, at that period, were refractory to ple of his father, had insulted him. the authority of king James. Ai the Previous to the insurrection in Wales, time of his succession, Earl Harold to which Ferdillan also went, several of was in the prime of life, of an agree- the servants noticed with surprise, the able person, and martial air : yet bis constancy of Jacques's visit to Ferdildisposition was strongly tinctured with lan's castle ; and, when questioned by superstition. A few months after his them concerning it, he swore he only arrival, he married a widow lady, visited a servant maid there ; but the whose personal attractions were less day preceding their departure to Wales, the objects of the earl's desire, than the Jacques was entirely at Ferdillan's splendour of her rank, and the attrac- castle, and returned home just in time, tions of her riches. He retained all his with another servant, to attend his father's domestics, among whom was a lordship; and, it was noticed, that the man of the name of Jacques, than on same day that Ferdillan returned home, whose countenance, nature had never Jacques also returned, bringing the on any of her sons, more strongly im- news of his master's decease. printed the marks of consummate vil These circumstances, added to a Jainy. His eyebrows met, his eyes conversation in the servants' hall, in were grey and sharp, and their hollow- which Jacques bore a part, and was obness was greatly increased by the hide- served to waver in his account of his ous prominency of his cheek bones. master's death ; as also his turning This man having wormed himself into pale when one of the servants menthe confidence of his former master, at- tioned, that, during the Earl's absence, tended bim to Wales; and by him was casually passing in that quarter, he account brought home of the Earl's heard a loud groan, issue apparently death, which circumstance he declared from under ground, and succeeded by a he witnessed, as he fell by his side. noise of scufilling, contributed to throw
something like an air of mystery on the down stairs, breathless, with terror on circumstances attending the Earl's death. his countenance, exclaiming About two months after this conversa- Lord! I've seen it ; it was fifteen feet tion, the servants being all retired to high! large saucer eyes, and was gulphtheir apartments, together with the ing flames of blue fire !” The poor Earl and his countess, the night being fellow sunk fainting on the floor; when clear and frosty, the Earl absorbed in he recovered, he persisted in his acthought, was sitting by his bed room count, and swore he would never window some time after his lady was again enter the cursed room. They asleep. On turning to go to his bed, in spent the night in another chamber, a distant corner of the room, he beheld, and rose in the morning seriously indisto his mingled terror and amazement, a posed, from terror and want of rest. figure, dressed in a shabby suit of sol- At last, the Earl determined to go up dier's clothes. In a low voice it ex- to London, and acquaint the king ; claimed, “ Earl Harold! Earl Harold! knowing him to be curious in such follow;" and motioned to go. The matters, in order to request his advice. Earl, overcome with fear, hid his face in Accordingly he set out that day, attendhis mantle ; at length heartily ashamed ed by a splendid retinue for London. of his pusillanimity, he ventured to look His rank and splendid attendance, inup; but the figure was gone. All the sured him an immediate admission to ghostly legends of his youth crowding on the king. He found James whistling a his memory, he hastily undressed, got favourite Scotch air, at the same time into bed, and courted sleep ; but it was playing with a favourite mastiff. Bendbanished from his couch. In the morn- ing his knee, he addressed the monarch, ing he rose feverish and unrefreshed; saying, “ Earl Harold presents his duty but, to the repeated interrogations of his to his sovereign." 66 An' wha ma' Countess, he answered that nothing ye be ?” said the king. “ Your graailed him. The next night, he again cious majesty's liege subject, John, Earl saw the mystic appearance; it repeated Harold, of Northumberland."
6 Weel the former words, but receiving no an- mon, rise: how goes game in your swer, again disappeared. He instantly country, whilk is scarce wi’ us?" awoke the Countess, and abruply asked, Having respectfully satisfied his curiosiif she had seen anything? On her an- ty, he continued, “ that, impressed with swering in the negative, he informed a sense of his majesty's great wisdom her the cause of his terror, on hearing in abstruse affairs, he made bold to rewhich she was equally alarmed, but quesi his advice on an affair of great could suggest no plan to discover the moment.” “ Bide a wee! bide a wee !" cause of the anxieties. A few nights suddenly exclaimed the king, who was afterwards, they both beheld the same looking through the window,—“ Bide a appearance. With considerable asper- wec, an' i'll ma’ be hear ye; but ity, it repeated its former mandate; the there's Somerset's mon, wi’ some braw terrified couple unable to answer, re- game, an' I just want to tell the cuik mained still ; and, after a few moments, how I'll ba’ it dress’d.” On his reit again disappeared. On the Coun- turn, the Earl, after stating the first apfess's suggestion, that perhaps it might pearance of the figure, proceeded, and be merely a trick, they both searched it was dressed in a suit of shabby solminutely the sainscot, but could find no dier's clothes.” “ Hold awee ! hold entrance; they were now convinced that awee !" hastily interrupted the sportive it was supernatural, and their terrors in- king," Mind ye, Harold, mind ye, a creased. Still they mentioned not a soldier's a sworn servant o' mine, so ye syllable to the servants, except one; who suldna say shabby soldiers, whilk, d'ye offered to sit up in that room by him- see is insulting me, but shabby suit o’ self, and report accordingly. Having soldiers claes.” The Earl bowed, and fortified himself with a bumper of bran- proceeded till he finished. The king, dy, he entered the room, while the Earl after a little thoughtfulness, suddenly inand Countess remained below in anxious terrogated Harold, “ Didna ye say i’ expectation. In half an hour he ran the name of the Father, Sune, an' Holy
Ghaist, what ma' ye want?” The room; and, should it appear without Earl answered in the negative, that his summoning sufficient resolution to fear prevented him. “ Tut, man!” said question it, to return and seek the farJames, “what suld ye be feared o'? ther advice of James. Accordingly, However, ha' no ye seen our Treatise on at night, he secretly bent his way to the Dæmonology? its cost ourselves mic- mysterious chamber, his Countess kle labour and deep thought i' the sleeping in another room, and the sermaking out; maybe ye'll fin summat vants inwardly wondering at their masthat will answer your case." 6 Please ter's boldness. Jacques, for certain your majesty," answered the Earl, “ I reasons best known to that worthy serhave not seen it." « Weel ye soon vant, felt more terror, yet disguised it shall! Charlie ! (calling his page,) better than any of them. At the Charlie ! ye ken a mickle buik, that's “witching hour" of midnight, the Earl, standing anent our royal bed room ; hearing a rustling noise, and turning to ye'll bring it to us.” Charlie soon re- the usual place of its appearance (for turned with the book in question, which one thing appeared singular to him, it James presented to the Earl, saying always was stationed in one particular
Gang awa hame, llarold, and I didna spot,) he again beheld his mysterious doubt that ye'll fin' in that buik, what and unwelcome visiter. · However, he will teach you how to manage this was sufficiently composed to record dreadfu' ghaist.” The Carl kissed that it spoke in a tone of anger, whilst hands and departed; the king ad- repeating. its mysterious mandate, ding, “ il ye didna find aught to suit “ Llarold! Harold ! follow me.” Unye in that buik, and the ghaist appears accountable fear again sealed his lips, again, ye'll set out for London and tell and closed his eyes. On opening them,
his mystic guest was gone. The When the Earl arrived at Claroo- Earl, exceedingly vexed, turned into ville, to his extreme vexation, he found bed, and, after a sleepless night, resolvthe affair noised all over the castle ; ed to visit the king, and claim his and, on enquiry, he found, that the fel- promise. Accordingly in the morning, low who had been so much terrified, having summoned liis domestics, he was the author of the report ; which was took leave of his Countess, leaving confirmed beyond a doubt in the eyes them involved in an undefinable terror of the servants , by the positive refusal of they knew not what.
After a speec of the Countess to sleep in the chamber dy journey, and the ceremony of introin question. Consequently, no one duction, he again foand himself tête-àsince the Earl's depariure, had witness- tête with James, and immediately comed the nightly visits of the Mystic Mes menced the subject in hand, mentioning senger. Peace was banished from the the re-appearance of the mysterious incastle; for, in those days, the minds of truder, and his perusal of the king's the lower orders being grossly unculti- treatise, without obtaining the wished vateri, save in ghostly legends, the ser- for satisfaction. As soon as he had vants found in every casual occurrence, mentioned this latter circumstance, the so many confirmations of their terrorsking, with a rueful length of visage esEvery lamp burnt with a blue flame, claimed, “ Deil take it, Harold, ba' ve every fire shot out coffins ; each sigh read it a’, from beginning till end of the wind was changed into groans, The Earl assured him he had most and cvery distant noise was the tread- religiously perused the volume in quesing of the ghost. The Earl carefully tion, from beginning to end. “ Did ye perased the treatise of James, but found na abjure the fallow ?” “No, you mano resolution of the cause of his fears. jesty.” “Would he frighten one to Ilis solemn conjectures oa spiritual visi- look on ? Is na his face ghastly and tations, and demoniacal influence, with corpse like?” The Earl replied, “ he his ghostly admonitions to wizards, believed not, but he had not particularwitches, &c. rather enhanced, than re- ly noticed its countenance.” “Weel moved his superstitions. Ilowever, he then,” said James, after a long silence, resolved once more to sleep in the “D'ye sce, Harold, if I were sure it
wadna put me in bodily sear, whilk, gang and bring a sword, and pistol, d'ye see, is no ways pleasant, perhaps and the holy buik, each, and then we'd gang down our royal selves wi' watch for this ghaist;" attempting to you." Harold rejoiced to hear his smile, but with a countenance so rúeful, monarch speak thus ; for he really had that the Earl could scarcely refrain great confidence in the physical ener- from real laughter. Having retraced gies of the king, independent of the their steps to the supper chamber, they consideration of the singular condescen- obtained the above mentioned articles, sion and honour done him. He imme- and again, with anxious steps, bent their diately returned a shower of thanks to way to the mystic chamber. Eagerly his sovereign, in which the words they watched the hours, ten, elever, courage, learning, and generosity, twelve, fit away; just as the latter had were plentifully mingled. Well, it was finished chiming, with sullen roar, the settled that James should accompany Earl pointed to the fatal spot in silence, the Earl to Claronville, disguised under and they both viewed the floor, apparthe title of Earl Glennock. The king ently open, and the figure slowly stood fixed the next day for the commence- upright, and, approaching James with ment of this spiritual adventure, and, solemn step, let fall at his feet, a letter, concluding his absence would not ex- sealed in black, directed to 5 His Gråtend to more than two days, merely cious Majesty King James ;” and then mentioned to his lords, that he wished as slowly retreated to its former place, to travel incog. a short journey. On and remained stationary. In the meanThursday, September the 11th, 1616, time, James sat at the table, the very the noble couple proceeded on their picture of horror; his teeth chattering, journey; and, though the conversation and his knees knocking together. The of James was no doubt interesting and letter remained unopened at his feet, amusing, we shall forbear noticing it till the voice of the Earl, recalling his here, and proceed to matters of more scattered senses, urged him to take it up importance. When they arrived at the and read it. “Ah mon,' said James, castle, James waived his distinction, in a low tone of voice, “ Wha would and commanded the Earl to speak to tak’ ought to read fra’ the evil ane? him in the language of a friend to a Bide awee; I'll tak’ a soup of wine, friend; in which character he was in- and maybe I'll read it.” The Earl troduced to the Countess, who was in- waited till James had refreshed himformed, that through curiosity, he self, he then took up the letter with a would watch in the haunted chamber. trembling hand, ever and aron casting After supper, the Countess retired, and a fearful glance on the mysterious the Earl proposed to his royal compan- figure before him, and with horror and ion to enter on their adventure. James amazement, read as follows:was very far from evincing his former 6 Has your sacred majesty forgotten readiness; however, to spare himself your ancient liege subject, Henry, Earl the appellation of a coward, he essayed of Northumberland ?" The astonishto perform his part with a good grace, ment of James, at finding himself reand, accordingly, walked, preceded by cognized, knew no bounds; especially Harold, with great solemnity, to the when the person, who mysteriously chamber in question. They had not stood before him, was his quondam gone many paces when James, in some friend and associate, the old Earl of thing not very far from a downright fit Northumberland.. He instantly assumof trembling, whispered to the Earl, ed the monarch, and, while he contem“ Deil take me, Harold, if I think God plated the figure, beheld it throw aside would let the awld ano come to plague the cloak in which it was enveloped, good christians !" turning with an anx- and display to his astonished spectators, ious look to the Earl, who, though in- the fine majestic towering figure of the clined to be serious enough, could old Earl of Northumberland, reported scarcely avoid laughing at the incipient to have fallen in the skirmish with the terrors of James. He answered in the Welsh! His few grey hairs strayed negative. “Weel,” be replied, “ weel, gracefully over his wrinkled forehead,
and betokened the sorrow and distress quitted. After a short consultation, they to which he had been subjected. settled on the following plan ; they ex“Come forward,” said the king, “ and tinguished the light, drew the curtains by touching our royal hand convince'us round the bed, called up six of the men you're neither dead, nor a ghaist.” The servants, and armed them. They Earl, majestically stalked forward, did then brought them into the chamber as was directed, and then walked to with their shoes off, and stationed them his astonished son, hastily saluted him, at proper distances round the wall, as stood back, and exclaimed, “ Follow the darkness would shade them. They immediately, or you are all lost.” were to approach behind each man who “ Weel,” said James, “ you wadna, I should come up to the bed, and seize think, betray our sovereign majesty into and bind him, the moment they heard the hands of ghaist, or other frightful the report of a pistol, which they rightbeings ; so we'll e'en follow you.” He ly enough conjectured would be fired accordingly grasped a sword and pistol, by Ferdillan himself. The servants, as did the young Earl; and after being by the king's own order, were not to informed by their noble conductor, that proceed to extremities, except their own their lives depended on their silence and personal safety absolutely required it. cautiousness, both followed the Earl to Thus cautioned, they proceeded to their a large trap door, through which he ambush, and remained in profound sihad entered, and carefully descended. lence, till the clock struck two. In a They found themselves in darkness not few moments the trap door opened, and 6 visible” when they reached the bot- a man arose, with a dark lantern in his tom. They were conducted silently hand. Four others, masked and armalong a narrow walk, and came to ed, followed him. They slowly proanother flight of steps, which having ceeded to the bed and stood round it. descended led them into a kind of vault. The Earl's servants silently came from Here their guide stopped them, and their ambush, and each took his station solemnly informed them, “whatever behind one of the assassins. Ferdillan you see or hear, speak not a syllable; drew aside the curtains, as did the rest, but when I point with my hand, si- and all fixed their pistols into the bed. lently rise and follow me back again, Instantly they were seized, thrown or we all perish.” James, in an agony down, and firmly bound, back to back: of terror, silently imploring his merciful the bell was rung, lights were called for, father in heaven to tak’ pity on him, and the prisoners carried to the castle leaned on the Earl's arm, and again dungeons without having spoken a syllathey proceeded, till, at a distance, ble ; for horror, amazement and pasthrough an aperture in the wall, they sion, choaked their utterance. saw a light, and heard the low murmur When they were safely secured, the of voices. The Earl once more put Earl called for refreshments to be laid out, his hand to his lips, and they proceed- and then ordered the remainder of the ed to the spot, and anxiously listened. household to bed. He shortly detailed to “When two o'clock strikes,” said a his anxious auditors, that, after the voice, “ we will all proceed along the before-mentioned skirmish with the vault and passage, to the Earl's bed- Welsh, he was returning home, and had chamber.” “ Yes," answered a voice arrived, late at night, at the great gate which was instantly recognized as the of the castle, when he was suddenly villain Jacques's—“ only the Earl is in seized by two men in masks, and, tohis room, for he sees a ghost every gether with his servant, thrown from night, he says ; so we'll e’en fire at his horse. He immediately drew his mortal and ghost.” “ Ayo,” respond- sword and defended himself with despeed the first voice, “ Ferdillan's anger ration ; but was at last overpowered, shall rest only when Northumberland is and his servant killed on the spot. He in the adjoining vault.” The Earl gave was bound hand and foot, carried to a the signal for retiring, which they in- dungeon under the castle, and his vicstantly obeyed, and soon found them- tuals brought to him every day, and selves in the chamber which they had pushed through the iron grating, by the