Woodstock, by Walter Scott

Chapter the Fifteenth.

Now the wasted brands do glow,

While the screech-owl, sounding loud,

Puts the wretch that lies in woe,

In remembrance of a shroud.

Now it is the time of night

That the graves, all gaping wide,

Every one lets out its sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide.

MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

Before the gate of the palace the guards were now doubled. Everard demanded the reason of this from the corporal, whom he found in the hall with his soldiers, sitting or sleeping around a great fire, maintained at the expense of the carved chairs and benches with fragments of which it was furnished.

“Why, verily,” answered the man, “the corps-degarde, as your worship says, will be harassed to pieces by such duty; nevertheless, fear hath gone abroad among us, and no man will mount guard alone. We have drawn in, however, one or two of our outposts from Banbury and elsewhere, and we are to have a relief from Oxford tomorrow.”

Everard continued minute enquiries concerning the sentinels that were posted within as well as without the Lodge; and found that, as they had been stationed under the eye of Harrison himself, the rules of prudent discipline had been exactly observed in the distribution of the posts. There remained nothing therefore for Colonel Everard to do, but, remembering his own adventure of the evening, to recommend that an additional sentinel should be placed, with a companion, if judged indispensable, in that vestibule, or ante-room, from which the long gallery where he had met with the rencontre, and other suites of apartments, diverged. The corporal respectfully promised all obedience to his orders. The serving-men being called, appeared also in double force. Everard demanded to know whether the Commissioners had gone to bed, or whether he could get speech with them? “They are in their bedroom, forsooth,” replied one of the fellows; “but I think they be not yet undressed.”

“What!” said Everard, “are Colonel Desborough and Master Bletson both in the same sleeping apartment?”

“Their honours have so chosen it,” said the man; “and their honours’ secretaries remain upon guard all night.”

“It is the fashion to double guards all over the house,” said Wildrake. “Had I a glimpse of a tolerably good-looking house-maid now, I should know how to fall into the fashion.”

“Peace, fool!” said Everard. —“And where are the Mayor and Master Holdenough?”

“The Mayor is returned to the borough on horseback, behind the trooper, who goes to Oxford for the reinforcement; and the man of the steeple-house hath quartered himself in the chamber which Colonel Desborough had last night, being that in which he is most likely to meet the — your honour understands. The Lord pity us, we are a harassed family!”

“And where be General Harrison’s knaves,” said Tomkins, “that they do not marshal him to his apartment?”

“Here — here — here, Master Tomkins,” said three fellows, pressing forward, with the same consternation on their faces which seemed to pervade the whole inhabitants of Woodstock.

“Away with you, then,” said Tomkins; —“speak not to his worship — you see he is not in the humour.”

“Indeed,” observed Colonel Everard, “he looks singularly wan — his features seem writhen as by a palsy stroke; and though he was talking so fast while we came along, he hath not opened his mouth since we came to the light.”

“It is his manner after such visitations,” said Tomkins. —“Give his honour your arms, Zedekiah and Jonathan, to lead him off — I will follow instantly. — You, Nicodemus, tarry to wait upon me — it is not well walking alone in this mansion.”

“Master Tomkins,” said Everard, “I have heard of you often as a sharp, intelligent man — tell me fairly, are you in earnest afraid of any thing supernatural haunting this house?”

“I would be loth to run the chance, sir,” said Tomkins very gravely; “by looking on my worshipful master, you may form a guess how the living look after they have spoken with the dead.” He bowed low, and took his leave. Everard proceeded to the chamber which the two remaining Commissioners had, for comfort’s sake, chosen to inhabit in company. They were preparing for bed as he went into their apartment. Both started as the door opened — both rejoiced when they saw it was only Everard who entered.

“Hark ye hither,” said Bletson, pulling him aside, “sawest thou ever ass equal to Desborough? — the fellow is as big as an ox, and as timorous as a sheep. He has insisted on my sleeping here, to protect him. Shall we have a merry night on’t, ha? We will, if thou wilt take the third bed, which was prepared for Harrison; but he is gone out, like a mooncalf, to look for the valley of Armageddon in the Park of Woodstock.”

“General Harrison has returned with me but now,” said Everard.

“Nay but, as I shall live, he comes not into our apartment,” said Desborough, overhearing his answer. “No man that has been supping, for aught I know, with the Devil, has a right to sleep among Christian folk.”

“He does not propose so,” said Everard; “he sleeps, as I understand, apart — and alone.”

“Not quite alone, I dare say,” said Desborough; “for Harrison hath a sort of attraction for goblins — they fly round him like moths about a candle:— But, I prithee, good Everard, do thou stay with us. I know not how it is, but although thou hast not thy religion always in thy mouth, nor speakest many hard words about it, like Harrison — nor makest long preachments, like a certain most honourable relation of mine who shall be nameless, yet somehow I feel myself safer in thy company than with any of them. As for this Bletson, he is such a mere blasphemer, that I fear the Devil will carry him away ere morning.”

“Did you ever hear such a paltry coward?” said Bletson, apart to Everard. “Do tarry, however, mine honoured Colonel — I know your zeal to assist the distressed, and you see Desborough is in that predicament, that he will require near him more than one example to prevent him thinking of ghosts and fiends.”

“I am sorry I cannot oblige you, gentlemen,” said Everard; “but I have settled my mind to sleep in Victor Lee’s apartment, so I wish you good night; and, if you would repose without disturbance, I would advise that you commend yourselves, during the watches of the night, to Him unto whom night is even as mid-day. I had intended to have spoke with you this evening on the subject of my being here; but I will defer the conference till tomorrow, when, I think, I will be able to show you excellent reasons for leaving Woodstock.”

“We have seen plenty such already,” said Desborough; “for one, I came here to serve the estate, with some moderate advantage to myself for my trouble; but if I am set upon my head again to-night, as I was the night before, I would not stay longer to gain a king’s crown; for I am sure my neck would be unfitted to bear the weight of it.”

“Good night,” exclaimed Everard; and was about to go, when Bletson again pressed close, and whispered to him, “Hark thee, Colonel — you know my friendship for thee — I do implore thee to leave the door of thy apartment open, that if thou meetest with any disturbance, I may hear thee call, and be with thee upon the very instant. Do this, dear Everard, my fears for thee will keep me awake else; for I know that, notwithstanding your excellent sense, you entertain some of those superstitious ideas which we suck in with our mother’s milk, and which constitute the ground of our fears in situations like the present; therefore leave thy door open, if you love me, that you may have ready assistance from me in case of need.”

“My master,” said Wildrake, “trusts, first, in his Bible, sir, and then in his good sword. He has no idea that the Devil can be baffled by the charm of two men lying in one room, still less that the foul fiend can be argued out of existence by the Nullifidians of the Rota.”

Everard seized his imprudent friend by the collar, and dragged him off as he was speaking, keeping fast hold of him till they were both in the chamber of Victor Lee, where they had slept on a former occasion. Even then he continued to hold Wildrake, until the servant had arranged the lights, and was dismissed from the room; then letting him go, addressed him with the upbraiding question, “Art thou not a prudent and sagacious person, who in times like these seek’st every opportunity to argue yourself into a broil, or embroil yourself in an argument? Out on you!”

“Ay, out on me indeed,” said the cavalier; “out on me for a poor tame-spirited creature, that submits to be bandied about in this manner, by a man who is neither better born nor better bred than myself. I tell thee, Mark, you make an unfair use of your advantages over me. Why will you not let me go from you, and live and die after my own fashion?”

“Because, before we had been a week separate, I should hear of your dying after the fashion of a dog. Come, my good friend, what madness was it in thee to fall foul on Harrison, and then to enter into useless argument with Bletson?”

“Why, we are in the Devil’s house, I think, and I would willingly give the landlord his due wherever I travel. To have sent him Harrison, or Bletson now, just as a lunch to stop his appetite, till Crom”—

“Hush! stone walls have ears,” said Everard, looking around him. “Here stands thy night-drink. Look to thy arms, for we must be as careful as if the Avenger of Blood were behind us. Yonder is thy bed — and I, as thou seest, have one prepared in the parlour. The door only divides us.”

“Which I will leave open, in case thou shouldst holla for assistance, as yonder Nullifidian hath it — But how hast thou got all this so well put in order, good patron?”

“I gave the steward Tomkins notice of my purpose to sleep here.”

“A strange fellow that,” said Wildrake, “and, as I judge, has taken measure of every one’s foot — all seems to pass through his hands.”

“He is, I have understood,” replied Everard, “one of the men formed by the times — has a ready gift of preaching and expounding, which keeps him in high terms with the Independents; and recommends himself to the more moderate people by his intelligence and activity.”

“Has his sincerity ever been doubted?” said Wildrake.

“Never, that I heard of,” said the Colonel; “on the contrary, he has been familiarly called Honest Joe, and Trusty Tomkins. For my part, I believe his sincerity has always kept pace with his interest. — But come, finish thy cup, and to bed. — What, all emptied at one draught!”

“Adszookers, yes — my vow forbids me to make two on’t; but, never fear — the nightcap will only warm my brain, not clog it. So, man or devil, give me notice if you are disturbed, and rely on me in a twinkling.” So saying, the cavalier retreated into his separate apartment, and Colonel Everard, taking off the most cumbrous part of his dress, lay down in his hose and doublet, and composed himself to rest.

He was awakened from sleep by a slow and solemn strain of music, which died away as at a distance. He started up, and felt for his arms, which he found close beside him. His temporary bed being without curtains, he could look around him without difficulty; but as there remained in the chimney only a few red embers of the fire which he had arranged before he went to sleep, it was impossible he could discern any thing. He felt, therefore, in spite of his natural courage, that undefined and thrilling species of tremor which attends a sense that danger is near, and an uncertainty concerning its cause and character. Reluctant as he was to yield belief to supernatural occurrences, we have already said he was not absolutely incredulous; as perhaps, even in this more sceptical age, there are many fewer complete and absolute infidels on this particular than give themselves out for such. Uncertain whether he had not dreamed of these sounds which seemed yet in his ears, he was unwilling to risk the raillery of his friend by summoning him to his assistance. He sat up, therefore, in his bed, not without experiencing that nervous agitation to which brave men as well as cowards are subject; with this difference, that the one sinks under it, like the vine under the hailstorm, and the other collects his energies to shake it off, as the cedar of Lebanon is said to elevate its boughs to disperse the snow which accumulates upon them.

The story of Harrison, in his own absolute despite, and notwithstanding a secret suspicion which he had of trick or connivance, returned on his mind at this dead and solitary hour. Harrison, he remembered, had described the vision by a circumstance of its appearance different from that which his own remark had been calculated to suggest to the mind of the visionary; — that bloody napkin, always pressed to the side, was then a circumstance present either to his bodily eye, or to that of his agitated imagination. Did, then, the murdered revisit the living haunts of those who had forced them from the stage with all their sins unaccounted for? And if they did, might not the same permission authorise other visitations of a similar nature, to warn — to instruct — to punish? Rash are they, was his conclusion, and credulous, who receive as truth every tale of the kind; but no less rash may it be, to limit the power of the Creator over the works which he has made, and to suppose that, by the permission of the Author of Nature, the laws of Nature may not, in peculiar cases, and for high purposes, be temporarily suspended.

While these thoughts passed through Everard’s mind, feelings unknown to him, even when he stood first on the rough and perilous edge of battle, gained ground upon him. He feared he knew not what; and where an open and discernible peril would have drawn out his courage, the absolute uncertainty of his situation increased his sense of the danger. He felt an almost irresistible desire to spring from his bed and heap fuel on the dying embers, expecting by the blaze to see some strange sight in his chamber. He was also strongly tempted to awaken Wildrake; but shame, stronger than fear itself, checked these impulses. What! should it be thought that Markham Everard, held one of the best soldiers who had drawn a sword in this sad war — Markham Everard, who had obtained such distinguished rank in the army of the Parliament, though so young in years, was afraid of remaining by himself in a twilight-room at midnight? It never should be said.

This was, however, no charm for his unpleasant current of thought. There rushed on his mind the various traditions of Victor Lee’s chamber, which, though he had often despised them as vague, unauthenticated, and inconsistent rumours, engendered by ancient superstition, and transmitted from generation to generation by loquacious credulity, had something in them, which, did not tend to allay the present unpleasant state of his nerves. Then, when he recollected the events of that very afternoon, the weapon pressed against his throat, and the strong arm which threw him backward on the floor — if the remembrance served to contradict the idea of flitting phantoms, and unreal daggers, it certainly induced him to believe, that there was in some part of this extensive mansion a party of cavaliers, or malignants, harboured, who might arise in the night, overpower the guards, and execute upon them all, but on Harrison in particular, as one of the regicide judges, that vengeance, which was so eagerly thirsted for by the attached followers of the slaughtered monarch.

He endeavoured to console himself on this subject by the number and position of the guards, yet still was dissatisfied with himself for not having taken yet more exact precautions, and for keeping an extorted promise of silence, which might consign so many of his party to the danger of assassination. These thoughts, connected with his military duties, awakened another train of reflections. He bethought himself, that all he could now do, was to visit the sentries, and ascertain that they were awake, alert, on the watch, and so situated, that in time of need they might be ready to support each other. —“This better befits me,” he thought, “than to be here like a child, frightening myself with the old woman’s legend, which I have laughed at when a boy. What although old Victor Lee was a sacrilegious man, as common report goes, and brewed ale in the font which he brought from the ancient palace of Holyrood, while church and building were in flames? And what although his eldest son was when a child scalded to death in the same vessel? How many churches have been demolished since his time? How many fonts desecrated? So many indeed, that were the vengeance of Heaven to visit such aggressions in a supernatural manner, no corner in England, no, not the most petty parish church, but would have its apparition. — Tush, these are idle fancies, unworthy, especially, to be entertained by those educated to believe that sanctity resides in the intention and the act, not in the buildings or fonts, or the form of worship.”

As thus he called together the articles of his Calvinistic creed, the bell of the great clock (a token seldom silent in such narratives) tolled three, and was immediately followed by the hoarse call of the sentinels through vault and gallery, up stairs and beneath, challenging and answering each other with the usual watch-word, All’s Well. Their voices mingled with the deep boom of the bell, yet ceased before that was silent, and when they had died away, the tingling echo of the prolonged knell was scarcely audible. Ere yet that last distant tingling had finally subsided into silence, it seemed as if it again was awakened; and Everard could hardly judge at first whether a new echo had taken up the falling cadence, or whether some other and separate sound was disturbing anew the silence to which the deep knell had, as its voice ceased, consigned the ancient mansion and the woods around it.

But the doubt was soon cleared up. The musical tones which had mingled with the dying echoes of the knell, seemed at first to prolong, and afterwards to survive them. A wild strain of melody, beginning at a distance, and growing louder as it advanced, seemed to pass from room to room, from cabinet to gallery, from hall to bower, through the deserted and dishonoured ruins of the ancient residence of so many sovereigns; and, as it approached, no soldier gave alarm, nor did any of the numerous guests of various degrees, who spent an unpleasant and terrified night in that ancient mansion, seem to dare to announce to each other the inexplicable cause of apprehension.

Everard’s excited state of mind did not permit him to be so passive. The sounds approached so nigh, that it seemed they were performing, in the very next apartment, a solemn service for the dead, when he gave the alarm, by calling loudly to his trusty attendant and friend Wildrake, who slumbered in the next chamber with only a door betwixt them, and even that ajar. “Wildrake — Wildrake! — Up — Up! Dost thou not hear the alarm?” There was no answer from Wildrake, though the musical sounds, which now rung through the apartment, as if the performers had actually been, within its precincts, would have been sufficient to awaken a sleeping person, even without the shout of his comrade and patron.

“Alarm! — Roger Wildrake — alarm!” again called Everard, getting out of bed and grasping his weapons —“Get a light, and cry alarm!” There was no answer. His voice died away as the sound of the music seemed also to die; and the same soft sweet voice, which still to his thinking resembled that of Alice Lee, was heard in his apartment, and, as he thought, at no distance from him.

“Your comrade will not answer,” said the low soft voice. “Those only hear the alarm whose consciences feel the call!”

“Again this mummery!” said Everard. “I am better armed than I was of late; and but for the sound of that voice, the speaker had bought his trifling dear.”

It was singular, we may observe in passing, that the instant the distinct sounds of the human voice were heard by Everard, all idea of supernatural interference was at an end, and the charm by which he had been formerly fettered appeared to be broken; so much is the influence of imaginary or superstitious terror dependent (so far as respects strong judgments at least) upon what is vague or ambiguous; and so readily do distinct tones, and express ideas, bring such judgments back to the current of ordinary life. The voice returned answer, as addressing his thoughts as well as his words.

“We laugh at the weapons thou thinkest should terrify us — Over the guardians of Woodstock they have no power. Fire, if thou wilt, and try the effect of thy weapons. But know, it is not our purpose to harm thee — thou art of a falcon breed, and noble in thy disposition, though, unreclaimed and ill-nurtured, thou hauntest with kites and carrion crows. Wing thy flight from hence on the morrow, for if thou tarriest with the bats, owls, vultures and ravens, which have thought to nestle here, thou wilt inevitably share their fate. Away then, that these halls may be swept and garnished for the reception of those who have a better right to inhabit them.”

Everard answered in a raised voice. —“Once more I warn you, think not to defy me in vain. I am no child to be frightened by goblins’ tales; and no coward, armed as I am, to be alarmed at the threats of banditti. If I give you a moment’s indulgence, it is for the sake of dear and misguided friends, who may be concerned with this dangerous gambol. Know, I can bring a troop of soldiers round the castle, who will search its most inward recesses for the author of this audacious frolic; and if that search should fail, it will cost but a few barrels of gunpowder to make the mansion a heap of ruins, and bury under them the authors of such an ill-judged pastime.”

“You speak proudly, Sir Colonel,” said another voice, similar to that harsher and stronger tone by which he had been addressed in the gallery; “try your courage in this direction.”

“You should not dare me twice,” said Colonel Everard, “had I a glimpse of light to take aim by.”

As he spoke, a sudden gleam of light was thrown with a brilliancy which almost dazzled the speaker, showing distinctly a form somewhat resembling that of Victor Lee, as represented in his picture, holding in one hand a lady completely veiled, and in the other his leading-staff, or truncheon. Both figures were animated, and, as it appeared, standing within six feet of him.

“Were it not for the woman,” said Everard, “I would not be thus mortally dared.”

“Spare not for the female form, but do your worst,” replied the same voice. “I defy you.”

“Repeat your defiance when I have counted thrice,” said Everard, “and take the punishment of your insolence. Once — I have cocked my pistol — Twice — I never missed my aim — By all that is sacred, I fire if you do not withdraw. When I pronounce the next number, I will shoot you dead where you stand. I am yet unwilling to shed blood — I give you another chance of flight — once — twice — THRICE!”

Everard aimed at the bosom, and discharged his pistol. The figure waved its arm in an attitude of scorn; and a loud laugh arose, during which the light, as gradually growing weaker, danced and glimmered upon the apparition of the aged knight, and then disappeared. Everard’s life-blood ran cold to his heart —“Had he been of human mould,” he thought, “the bullet must have pierced him — but I have neither will nor power to fight with supernatural beings.”

The feeling of oppression was now so strong as to be actually sickening. He groped his way, however, to the fireside, and flung on the embers which were yet gleaming, a handful of dry fuel. It presently blazed, and afforded him light to see the room in every direction. He looked cautiously, almost timidly, around, and half expected some horrible phantom to become visible. But he saw nothing save the old furniture, the reading desk, and other articles, which had been left in the same state as when Sir Henry Lee departed. He felt an uncontrollable desire, mingled with much repugnance, to look at the portrait of the ancient knight, which the form he had seen so strongly resembled. He hesitated betwixt the opposing feelings, but at length snatched, with desperate resolution, the taper which he had extinguished, and relighted it, ere the blaze of the fuel had again died away. He held it up to the ancient portrait of Victor Lee, and gazed on it with eager curiosity, not unmingled with fear. Almost the childish terrors of his earlier days returned, and he thought the severe pale eye of the ancient warrior followed his, and menaced him with its displeasure. And although he quickly argued himself out of such an absurd belief, yet the mixed feelings of his mind were expressed in words that seemed half addressed to the ancient portrait.

“Soul of my mother’s ancestor,” he said, “be it for weal or for woe, by designing men, or by supernatural beings, that these ancient halls are disturbed, I am resolved to leave them on the morrow.”

“I rejoice to hear it, with all my soul,” said a voice behind him.

He turned, saw a tall figure in white, with a sort of turban upon its head, and dropping the candle in the exertion, instantly grappled with it.

Thou at least art palpable,” he said.

“Palpable?” answered he whom he grasped so strongly —”‘Sdeath, methinks you might know that — without the risk of choking me; and if you loose me not, I’ll show you that two can play at the game of wrestling.”

“Roger Wildrake!” said Everard, letting the cavalier loose, and stepping back.

“Roger Wildrake? ay, truly. Did you take me for Roger Bacon, come to help you raise the devil? — for the place smells of sulphur consumedly.”

“It is the pistol I fired — Did you not hear it?”

“Why, yes, it was the first thing waked me — for that nightcap which I pulled on, made me sleep like a dormouse — Pshaw, I feel my brains giddy with it yet.”

“And wherefore came you not on the instant? — I never needed help more.”

“I came as fast as I could,” answered Wildrake; “but it was some time ere I got my senses collected, for I was dreaming of that cursed field at Naseby — and then the door of my room was shut, and hard to open, till I played the locksmith with my foot.”

“How! it was open when I went to bed,” said Everard.

“It was locked when I came out of bed, though,” said Wildrake, “and I marvel you heard me not when I forced it open.”

“My mind was occupied otherwise,” said Everard.

“Well,” said Wildrake, “but what has happened? — Here am I bolt upright, and ready to fight, if this yawning fit will give me leave — Mother Redcap’s mightiest is weaker than I drank last night, by a bushel to a barleycorn — I have quaffed the very elixir of malt — Ha — yaw.”

“And some opiate besides, I should think,” said Everard.

“Very like — very like — less than the pistol-shot would not waken me; even me, who with but an ordinary grace-cup, sleep as lightly as a maiden on the first of May, when she watches for the earliest beam to go to gather dew. But what are you about to do next?”

“Nothing,” answered Everard.

“Nothing?” said Wildrake, in surprise.

“I speak it,” said Colonel Everard, “less for your information, than for that of others who may hear me, that I will leave the Lodge this morning, and, if it is possible, remove the Commissioners.”

“Hark,” said Wildrake, “do you not hear some noise like the distant sound of the applause of a theatre? The goblins of the place rejoice in your departure.”

“I shall leave Woodstock,” said Everard, “to the occupation of my uncle Sir Henry Lee, and his family, if they choose to resume it; not that I am frightened into this as a concession to the series of artifices which have been played off on this occasion, but solely because such was my intention from the beginning. But let me warn,” (he added, raising his voice,)—“let me warn the parties concerned in this combination, that though it may pass off successfully on a fool like Desborough, a visionary like Harrison, a coward like Bletson”—

Here a voice distinctly spoke, as standing near them —“or a wise, moderate, and resolute person, like Colonel Everard.”

“By Heaven, the voice came from the picture,” said Wildrake, drawing his sword; “I will pink his plated armour for him.”

“Offer no violence,” said Everard, startled at the interruption, but resuming with firmness what he was saying —“Let those engaged be aware, that however this string of artifices may be immediately successful, it must, when closely looked into, be attended with the punishment of all concerned — the total demolition of Woodstock, and the irremediable downfall of the family of Lee. Let all concerned think of this, and desist in time.”

He paused, and almost expected a reply, but none such came.

“It is a very odd thing,” said Wildrake; “but — yaw-ha — my brain cannot compass it just now; it whirls round like a toast in a bowl of muscadine; I must sit down — haw-yaw — and discuss it at leisure — Gramercy, good elbow-chair.”

So saying, he threw himself, or rather sank gradually down on a large easy-chair which had been often pressed by the weight of stout Sir Henry Lee, and in an instant was sound asleep. Everard was far from feeling the same inclination for slumber, yet his mind was relieved of the apprehension of any farther visitation that night; for he considered his treaty to evacuate Woodstock as made known to, and accepted in all probability by, those whom the intrusion of the Commissioners had induced to take such singular measures for expelling them. His opinion, which had for a time bent towards a belief in something supernatural in the disturbances, had now returned to the more rational mode of accounting for them by dexterous combination, for which such a mansion as Woodstock afforded so many facilities.

He heaped the hearth with fuel, lighted the candle, and examining poor Wildrake’s situation, adjusted him as easily in the chair as he could, the cavalier stirring his limbs no more than an infant. His situation went far, in his patron’s opinion, to infer trick and confederacy, for ghosts have no occasion to drug men’s possets. He threw himself on the bed, and while he thought these strange circumstances over, a sweet and low strain of music stole through the chamber, the words “Good night — good night — good night,” thrice repeated, each time in a softer and more distant tone, seeming to assure him that the goblins and he were at truce, if not at peace, and that he had no more disturbance to expect that night. He had scarcely the courage to call out a “good night;” for, after all his conviction of the existence of a trick, it was so well performed as to bring with it a feeling of fear, just like what an audience experience during the performance of a tragic scene, which they know to be unreal, and which yet affects their passions by its near approach to nature. Sleep overtook him at last, and left him not till broad daylight on the ensuing morning.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29