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Lyndert — I'll attend him.
He'll stay the night through, doubtless. Dear Iole,
Youthful or old ? Did he not mention to thee
His name or dignity ?
Tell what the first was.
Call hither-water ? dear, dear sister, what
Off, Hubert, off, and leave her! I can tend her. (Exit Hubert.
Let me rise up. Oh, Bertha, keep me not.
Let, let, oh, let me go.
Was it not true?
Pale as a statue but a moment past,
What can have caused this ?
I am not well, nor have been—nothing-come.
Shake off this causeless anxiousness : a fear
Exeunt, Bertha supporting Tole.
A TALE OF THE HALL.
By THEODORE BRUNNE.
“ Talk of your German Universities," said the little old man, “pooh! pooh ? there's romance enough at home, without going half-a-mile for it: only people never think of it."
PICKWICK PAPERS. “ Upon my word, a very well-looking house ; antique, but creditable.”
SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.
It was about the end of July, or beginning of August, in the year 18—, having left for awhile the dry and musty leaves of the law, for the beautiful and verdant ones of the country, and “all those pieces or parcels of arable, meadow, and pasture land” for the realities themselves, that I found myself whirling along on the top of a stage coach to the Town of B- -- as fast as the Society for the prevention of Cruelty would permit. It was a lovely day, the intense hotness of the noontide sun was contracted by a soft and gentle breeze, whilst the pretty picturesque views which ever and anon opened to the sight and then were lost again behind a clump of trees, or the shady groves of a park inspired me with feelings of delight known only to those who have experienced them. All nature seemed gay, the little birds chirped merrily from tree to tree. The joke and the laugh sounded loud from our coach's company, and frequent and loud as the best of their jokes' cracked the serpentine thong of our driver. He was one of the present generation of coachmen, and not the true bred John Bull fellow of some twenty or thirty years since. His figure was rather stout, but well proportioned'; he was dressed in a snuff coloured coat and drab inexpressibles, with handsome valentia waistcoat, a bunch of flowers, probably the gift of some enamorata adorned his left breast, high over which spread the copious brim of a “Radical” that was cocked knowingly upon his head; and from his mouth a real Havannah wafted its smoky perfumes into the faces of the passengers, whilst he handled the ribbands”and whipin such a “slap-up”style as wouldmake the heart of every City “ 'prentice” yearn for a Sunday trip in a hired chay-cart, and was imitated by each blue-frocked butcher's boy whom we chanced to meet driving home his master's cart from market. Merrily we wheeled along, and many a knowing nod did our driver bestow upon the pretty giggling chamber-maids who popped their heads from the bedroom windows as we passed through each town; and many a newspaper and pacquet were jerked from the skilful hand of our driver to the gaping barmaid of a country inn. Gallantly We rattled thro' each pleasant village which skirted the road-side, and often did the aged matron or rosy-cheeked damsel peer over the hatch of a cottage door, while troops of chubby-faced children chased us through the village, each endeavouring to mount behind the coach ; and thus amused, the time slipped insensibly away, and before I was aware of it I found myself at the town of B-, Here I dismounted, and having performed the three
first things which every traveller does on arriving at his journey's end, viz. looking to my
luggage, kicking out my legs, and feeing the coachman, deposited the traveling bag with all my goods and chattels therein contained on the back of a sturdy little urchin, and proceeded on foot up the road opposite to the inn where we had stopped, which led to my destination. I had when a child been here before, and consequently the scene was not new to me. A thousand pleasing recollections rush upon the mind while thus viewing a place which has pleased us in our infancy; and though not associated by that sweet and electrifying word, a home, or endeared to us by the ties of friendship and early connexions, yet still they possess an interest, and serve to draw our attention more minutely to the scene, by comparing the present with the past, and observing the alterations which the ever moving hand of time, and the laborious one of man are constantly making upon the face of the earth. On visiting a place which I have seen in former years, it always seems to have decreased in size ; how this could be accounted for I know not, nor have I met with the like sensations described by those who have written of returning to the scenes of infancy, or depicted the pleasures of memory ; perhaps it is a feeling peculiar to myself, or may be, as our powers of vision enlarge and increase, so the objects upon which they fall appear to have become smaller.
But to my story, every thing seemed to have remained nearly the same as when I last saw them; the mill on the right hand swinging round its ponderous sails as it was wont; a millstone was leaning in picturesque relief against the monotony of the dark and dingy sides of the round-house, whilst the clacking noise of the works so admired by all true lovers of nature awakened the solitude which reigned around.
Further on the road gradually descends, and becomes bounded on either sides by high banks or hedges, and the shingley spire of the town church is. lost behind the trees. I looked, but in vain, for a little brook which had formerly rippled down the side of the hilly road, but to my sorrow it was gone : the spring had been up. It seemed as if a friend of mine infancy had departed, and nought save the earthy mound remained to mark the being which had once existed. Often have I watched its crystal stream, beaming in the morning sun, dance joyfully down the hill, leaping every pebble or other impediment which might chance to lie in its way, and then separating into various mimic channels till it at length joining into a body, discharged itself into a rivulet that meandered pleasantly across the road. Away trudged I and my sequel, and observed the old towers of the adjoining church peeping through the trees : my conductor swung open a large five-Jarred gate, which came to with a clang that made the old hall echo; forward I went, amusing myself by admiring the pure whiteness of the house, with the sun shining full upon it; whilst a black cloud, promising a thorough soaking to any un. lucky wight who might chance to come under its evil influence, formed a fine back ground to the building, as well as the bright sunny verdure of the trees that waved luxuriantly around. It was a long plaster building, consisting of a body and two wings, with tall and narrow casement windows, built not after the “ Elizabethan style,” to a favourite of which queen's history states it to have belonged, but rather of plaster of that delectable smoothness" of which Harrison, the historian, says, “ nothing in his judgment could be done with more exactness," and to the manifest improvement of the thatched timber buildings of former buildings.
No sooner had I passed the porch embellished with the arms of its ancient lord* and stood within the old wainscotted hall, adorr.ed with various emblems of the chace, and ancient arms, than my olfactory nerves were assailed by that smell which truly reminds one that
• There's ne'er a luck about the house
Upon a washing day.” however, finding no one there, and hearing not a sound, saving the adjoining church clock striking the second hour after mid-day, I resolved like all journeymen of the present time to follow its example, and strike too. sooner had the brazen knocker echoed its full tappings through the hall,
* A Lion rampant, between three crosslets fitchy.
than it was followed by a protracted howl, which ended in a variety of yappings and mappings, and finally died away into a growl. “ Cave Curam," as an old Roman would have exclaimed, thought I, but the caution was un. necessary, for it proceeded from a pet poodle dog who had comfortably encased himself in a capacious arm chair, and seemed to have taken his seat as a member for Barking, resembling many members of a certain celebrated House, who for a very great cry produce very little wool. Soon however, there came a strange sound of opening of doors, and clanking of pattens, tittering of females, vociferating of names, odours of steam, and every other pleasure appartenant to a “regular wash;” then there appeared a damsel with bare arms, looking like Adam and Eve in Paradise, because they were so-a(p)py (excuse this perpetration, reader, I am a cockney) round which she was alternately spanning tightly the middle finger and thumb, drawing them quickly down to her wrist; then was the sloppy apron thrown over the right hand more sloppy to turn the handle of the parlour door, fearful of wetting the brass knob; and then this angel of the suds withdrew to inform missus
was awaiting in the “best parlour.” Having received a hearty welcome, unattended by any of the formalities attendant on civilian life, I soon found myself quite at home, although some forty or fifty miles from it; and in a short time the welcome sound of a tintinnabulum summoned us to dinner. From the dinner table we retired to the porch to enjoy the freshness of the evening, after the shower that had previously fallen. Mine host was busily engaged in that occupation which Dr. Johnson, although (to use his own words)“ he had no extraordinary skill in plain work or embroidery,” used to look upon with the greatest interest, with his amiable daughter similarly employed, occupied one of the benches; and the two sons with your humble servant were seated on the other. As I do not possess an anthropographic pen, I shall venture nothing of their persons, but conclude this remark by saying, that the time flew swiftly and pleasantly away in conversation concerning the recent novels and most favourite songs, with other unimportant chit-chat of ton.
And now the sun in all the splendour of a summer's eve, “ tired of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,” sunk down into his crimson couch, casting in the foliage around a brown and sombre tint. The birds were twitting their vesper hymns, which gradually died away into a dead silence, save when the nightingale told its melodious tale of love to the blushing rose, or a zephyr came lazily through the trees-and ever and anon a heavily laden bee passed drowsily along, tired with the day's work, to deposit the produce of its labours in the cell; whilst myriads of buzzing ephemerals of the day were dancing
in the air, a sure prognostic to the rustic philosopher of a fine morrow. The now fading scarlet was succeeded by a golden tinge, which merged into the blue ether, and a dark wall of clouds assuming many a grotesque form rose like the barriers of a godhead's dwelling. Now night, habited in a black mantle, stepped forth upon the silent earth, decked with brilliant diamonds; while the lovely moon "wandering, companionless,” rose slowly o’er the trees, casting a soft refulgent light around
“Et jam summa procul villarum culmina fumat
Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbræ.” As we went through the darkened hall into the supper room, a corner was pointed out in which a man had been mysteriously found dead, and consequently“ all feared to pass them alone after dark, as strange noises had been heard,” and every night at the witching hour his spirit was said to perambulate that apartment of the ground floor, throwing down chairs, overturning tables, and the like, yet in the morning they were always found in their proper places. Never before had I the pleasure of being in a haunted house, and therefore was very much interested in the affair, which furnished a pleasing topic of conversation during supper.
The numerous accounts which were related of the domestics (for they were the only persons) who had seen it; the noises, the groans, the whinings and sighs which had been
heard were truly amusing, and though not credited by the narrators, get it was easily discerned that they would not be over anxious to pass alone through the ball at midnight.
It was late ere I retired to my dormitory: being one of those sultry nights common to this season, brilliantly lighted by the harvest moon, I extinguished the candle, and threw open the casement to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding scenery: There is a pleasing listlessness which one sinks into at this stilly hour of night, a rest to the wearied mind, and doubly 80 to him who is accustomed to be pent up within the murky walls of a noisy city. 'Tis then that memory reverts to the scenes of former times,
“ The smiles, the tears
Of boyhoods' years,
The eyes that shone,
Now dimm'd and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken;" interrupted only by the melodious out-pourings of the bird of night, or the laughing of a wanton zephyr as it passes along, 'till raising the head of some sleeping flower it causes it to sigh forth the odours that have been collecting within its inverted bell which steal upon the enraptured senses.
“ From the turf like the voice and the instrument, some call this solitude ! but it cannot be ; there is a spirit of love and life pervading the whole universe; we seem to hold communion at this balmy hour with aërial beings, too holy and too pure to have their dwelling upon this vile earth
“O! there are spirits of the air
And genii of the evening breeze,
As star-beams among twilight trees.” The earth, the woods, the winds, and waves, all have voices which proclaim the wonders and greatness of their Creator and Director.
" This is not solitude ! 'tis but to hold
Converse with nature's God, and view his stores unroll’d.” The church clock solemnly tolled forth the hour of twelve, and aroused me from the reverie into which I had fallen ; being unable to sleep, I resolved to steal softly into the garden, to enjoy the beauties of the night, passing down the old staircase from a long rambling passage, I entered the hall; when the tale of the ghost flashed upon my recollection. I am, unfortunately, not superstitious; I say unfortunately because I think with Squire Bracebridge, that a superstitious person must live in a kind of fairy land.
However, I was induced from an unaccountable curiosity to wait here a short time to see if any thing transpired, and seated myself upon the corner of an anciently carved oak table, which stands where I suppose the fire-place was in former days, but which is now blocked up. I had remained there for some time when suddenly a figure glided softly across the hall; again and again it passed—at length opening a trap door, it beckoned, and like the little man in drab shorts vanished down the ladder.” Taking a brace of pistols from the wall, wbich I discovered to be loaded, I followed, and descended some steps into a dark passage. A chill unearthly dampness came upon me; it seems I was traversing the habitation of the dead ; but I passed onward heedless of consequences and anxious to see where it would terminate. Presently I stumbled upon a flight of stone steps, which I cautiously ascended; when methought I caught a glimpse of the fugitive, and hurried onward, but to my disappointment it proved to be a moon-beam that had cast itself through an aperture in the wall, which convinced me I had risen again from beneath the earth ; but where was I ?—this was a mystery. It is reported that there is a passage running from this place to C- -r Castle,