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would make hot cold, and cold hot. But untouched it would do nothing. No sooner, then, did the beautiful finger of Tou-Keen come in contact with it than the thermometer in the bath was at 'Cocoa-nut milk boils;' and the lovely Empress, who was at the moment laughing ho, ho, ho! at one side of her mouth, forthwith laughed oh, oh, oh! on the other.
The fish began to wriggle their tails very lively, and to turn up their noses: the birds to sing as merrily as though a pie had been opened; but Tou-Keen wriggled worse than the fish, and sung out more loudly than her feathered companions.
Her attendants came tottering into the chamber. Oh, remarkable sight! in the very bath in which Si-Long had been roasted, Tou-Keen was stewed!
Tou-Keen lived just long enough to devise most fantastic tortures for those who had made the bath, for those who conveyed it to Peking, for those who prepared it for her use, and for all the members of her household. But unfortunately Tou-Keen died; and the Emperor wisely considered that the loss of so excellent a mistress and empress would be sufficient torture for all his loyal subjects.
Between ourselves,-the Emperor had grown tired of her tyranny, and was very well pleased to be thus quit of his lady; so he sent an order to King-te-chin and to all the other porcelain factories, commanding that the youth who had formed such a wonderful bath, and who had disposed of himself in such a wonderful manner, should thenceforth be worshipped as the god of the furnaces; and he himself made a present of three junk-loads of paper to be burned before his shrine. Thus the promise of the joss was fulfilled, that the Emperor should yet honour Si-Long, and that Si-Long's name should go forth through all the land, and be remembered through all ages.
The Emperor, though pleased, mourned very affectionately for the beautiful Tou-keen, and always preserved with great care a purse manu
factured from her skin.
You would, perhaps, wish to know what became of the old physician. Being ill, in a moment of infatuation he prescribed for himself.
GHOST GOSSIPS AT BLAKESLEY HOUSE.
BY THE AUTHOR OF 'STEPHEN DUGARD.'
WHEN they assembled in the morning they found their numbers reinforced by the arrival of Major Grooby and his maiden sister, first cousins of Mrs. Dagleish. This was a valuable accession; for the Major was a first-rate story-teller, and Miss Sophia Grooby a first-rate believer. Both of them had seen and heard more supernatural things than had ever fallen to the lot of any one person; and as to the Major, he lived in daily fear of some bodily harm from an old woman in his parish, whom he knew to be a witch.
And here it has just occurred to us that we have left our readers in utter ignorance upon one or two subjects with which they have an undoubted right to be acquainted. Who is Mrs. Dagleish, at whose house the little circle were keeping their Christmas? And where was her house situated? And, lastly, who were her friends, Mr. Carliel, Simon Barnardiston, Hugh Buckner and the rest of them? We shall explain these several matters with all possible brevity.
Mrs. Dagleish was the widow of a poor schoolmaster, and the sister of a rich sugar-baker. When the former died, he left her nothing, not even a child. When the latter died he bequeathed her two children, Mary and Stephen Falconer, with something approaching to nearly five hundred a year, and a substantial brick-built mansion of the time of Elizabeth, about two miles from Bewdley, on the road to Kidderminster. Her brother, Abraham Falconer, of Whitechapel, bought it with the intention of passing the remainder of his days there, being a native of Kidderminster; but Heaven ordained it otherwise, as is frequently the case with our sublunary arrangements; for the very day the purchase was completed, and he had executed his will, settling it, and his whole fortune, upon his sister after his death, he was walking along Cheapside in a high wind, which blew off a chimney-pot, that descended on his head, and killed him on the spot. When Mrs. Dagleish took possession of Blakesley House, (so the mansion was called,) the first thing she did was to have all the chimney-pots taken down, and all the chimneys carried up three feet higher, and well secured with iron girders. So much for what some people think of destiny, and their power to shun it.
With respect to Simon Barnardiston, Hugh Buckner, and Mr. Carliel, it will be enough to record of them, that the first was the son of a Birmingham manufacturer, age twenty-five, and considered by himself as the future husband of Mary Falconer; the second, a clergyman's son, age twenty-three, entertaining in secret the same hopes as Simon, but with nothing in their favour except Mary's own opinion (also a secret at present,) which was, that Simon Barnardiston would certainly not be her husband, whoever might be; and the third a retired conveyancer, age forty-five, or thereabouts, an old friend of poor Abraham Falconer, whose will he had drawn, and therefore knew something about its contents, which made him regard his sister, Mrs. Dagleish, as the only wo
man he had ever seen that could tempt him to renounce his bachelor's vow. With the relationship of Major and Miss Grooby the reader is already acquainted.
Cousin,' said the Major, addressing Mrs. Dagleish, 'do you remember, as you enter Worcester by the London road, a small wood on the right, which skirts a gently-rising eminence?'
'Perfectly well. Why do you ask?'
I went through that wood the day before yesterday, along with my old friend, Colonel Henniker, who is a Worcester man, and who took me there to see the spot where one of the most dreadful occurrences took place that ever I heard of.'
"What, only the day before yesterday?' inquired Mrs. Dagleish.
'Oh, no! above a hundred years ago; during the time of Oliver Cromwell; and it happened to Oliver himself.'
'What was it?' asked Mary Falconer.
'I'll tell it you, my dear,' replied the Major, just as my friend told it me. You have read of the battle of Worcester, I sup
Oh, yes; between poor King Charles and that cruel tyrant Oliver Cromwell.'
Very well. You must know, then, there was one Colonel Lindsay serving with the Parliamentary army, and on the morning of that battle Cromwell took this man with him into the wood I have mentioned, bidding him note whatever happened. They had not proceeded far before Lindsay turned very pale, and felt, as he said, a strange unaccountable dread stealing over him, which he could not account for. Cromwell, who noticed his perturbation, began to rally him, " Tush, man!" he exclaimed, "what megrims be these? Come forward." On they went. Presently, however, Lindsay, stopping again, protested he could not proceed another step, so overpowering was the vague mysterious terror that had seized him. Cromwell, after sternly reproaching him for his weakness or cowardice, bade him remain where he was, and mark what would take place. He obeyed; watched the General as he penetrated deeper into the wood; and saw him met by a grave-looking, elderly gentleman, with a roll of parchment in his hand, which he delivered to Noll, who perused it with great eager
'Lindsay heard them at high words, particularly Oliver, who said with great warmth, "This is but for seven years. I was to have had it for oneand-twenty, and one-and-twenty it shall be."
'Cromwell then lowered his demand; but insisted fiercely that he would have fourteen years. The devil, however, was inflexible.'
I knew it was the devil,' murmured Miss Grooby audibly.
'And coolly remarked, "That if he (Cromwell) would not accept the proposed terms, there were those who would jump at them." This staggered Noll; and after a moment's pause he seized the parchment, and returning to Lindsay, exclaimed with a triumphant air," Come along! The battle is ours. I long to be engaged!"
'Mark what followed,' continued Major Grooby. The devil returned to-I need not say where-'
'Lord! how shocking!' exclaimed Mrs. Dagleish.
And deposited the duplicate of this compact in his strong chest.
Cromwell returned to the army, impatient to give battle: and Lindsay, who had no affection, it seems, for a conflict thus auspicated, resolved to make his escape as soon as he could. After the first charge he put spurs to his horse, rode away, and travelled with all speed till he arrived at the house of one Mr. Thoroughgood, an intimate friend of his, and a minister, who lived in the county of Norfolk. When he saw him, Lindsay related all the particulars of what he had witnessed in the wood, concluding with this remarkable prediction, "Cromwell will certainly die the day seven years that the battle was fought." Which he did-on his favourite 3d of September. The battle of Worcester took place September 3d, 1651, and Cromwell's death, September 3d, 1658. Moreover, it is mentioned in history, there was a tremendous storm the day he died, which some of the versatile poets of the day, who had flattered him while living, accounted for in a way very much akin to this business, though I warrant they knew nothing of it at the time.'
'I perceive,' said Major Grooby, addressing Mr. Carliel, that you do not believe this story.'
'Not quite,' answered Mr. Carliel, smiling.
'Well, observed the Major, all I can say is, that my friend, Colonel Henniker, believes it, for he assured me that there is still preserved in the family of the Thoroughgoods a Common Place Book, in which a son of Mr. Thoroughgood, then about twelve years of age, wrote down, at his father's desire, and from Lindsay's own mouth, every word of it.' 'Did your friend ever see that Common Place Book?" inquired Mr. Carliel.
'I don't know; but his mother was a Thoroughgood, and a branch of this same Norfolk family, and it is very likely, therefore, that he has seen it; though for my part I never thought of asking him the question, because we have plenty of instances of similar compacts, and still more numerous ones of divers dealings with the Prince of Darkness.'
'Dr. Faustus, to wit, and that terrible libertine, Don Juan,' said Mary Falconer.
'Nay,' replied the Major, we need not go so far back as the days of Dr. Faustus and Don Juan, for examples. There was a man in my native town, a schoolmaster of the name of Warbeck, who sold himself to the devil merely that he might have his revenge upon a fellow-townsman, who had carried off his sweetheart. My father was his doctor, and in the course of his attendance upon him, learned the full particulars which I have often heard him relate.'
'Let us hear them,' said Mr. Carliel.
The Major, who was never so happy as when he had an opportunity of telling all the marvellous stories he had collected, drank off his cup of coffee, and began.
'Richard Warbeck, when I knew him, was a tall, thin, pale-faced, hollow-eyed, and grey-headed old man, limping about upon crutches; but in his younger days he was accounted handsome, and a very devil among the women."
'We e may guess what sort of women,' remarked Miss Grooby, drawing herself up several inches.
The Major went on. Among those with whom he fell in love, was one Grace Amos, a farmer's daughter, a beautiful creature, as I have heard. But I remember her too: Goody Amos she was then
called, and gained a scanty livelihood in summer, (in winter she used to go into the workhouse,) by gathering wild flowers, making them into nosegays, and selling them from door to door. Everybody bought of her, from charity and pity for her misfortunes. Poor thing! she went mad when Richard had his revenge; and no wonder, as you'll say when you hear what it was. I have told you she was one of his sweethearts, and they were to have been married; but before the day came, there came another lover in the way, a dashing recruiting sergeant, named Wilkinson; and Grace Amos became Mrs. Wilkinson, instead of Mrs. Warbeck.
"When Richard heard that Sergeant Wilkinson was about to marry Grace, and when he had wrung from the poor girl herself a confession of the truth, he laid his hand upon her arm, and said, "If there is a God in heaven, or a Devil in hell, you shall rue this!" And with these words he left her.
'It appeared he had in his possession an old book upon necromancy, where he found instructions how, by hellish charms and potent spells, to raise the Evil One. Though he refused to tell my father all the means he employed-declaring, indeed, that he dare not—he related very exactly the horrible scene which followed.
'He was in his bed-room towards midnight, it being the seventh night of his incantations, when, just as the church clock struck twelve, a rushing noise, like a violent gust of wind, passed through the chamber, extinguishing the lights, and leaving him in total darkness. Nothing dismayed, he performed the remaining part of his fearful task, which was to open a vein in his left arm, and catch as much blood as would fill a wine-glass. This he was to fling, or rather sprinkle, towards the four corners of the room, saying, as he did so, "I call you east-I call you west-I call you north-I call you south-come, and speak to me! He had no sooner uttered these words than he felt himself grasped round the waist as if a belt of hot iron encircled him, and a voice, that resembled the hissing of a serpent, whispered in his ear
"I am come to thee,
Now come with me!"
'Richard lost his senses, and remembered nothing more till he found himself standing in the church porch, by the side of a little old man leaning on a crutch-stick. He was not more than four feet in height, wore a sort of Spanish dress, with a black velvet mantle, and a hat of the same material, turned up in front, which disclosed a countenance remarkable for its intense malignity of expression, rather than for anything either hideous or diabolical. Richard, who was bewildered, forgot that the demon had no power to speak till spoken to; so there they stood for several minutes, he looking at the fiend he had evoked, trembling from head to foot, and the fiend glaring upon him with eyes that every moment grew more and more lustrous with rage, till at last they appeared like two globes of fire.
"The Lord protect me!" exclaimed Richard, at length, as he perceived the increasing fury of his companion.
'Then the demon said, "Thou fool! thou couldst have no power to summon me till thy soul had renounced heaven. I am thy lord now-thy lord and slave-thy lord to command, thy slave to obey thee. What wouldst thou have? Wealth? "Tis thine! The power to gratify every earth-born wish? 'Tis thine. Fifty years thou shalt revel in worldly bliss,