« PreviousContinue »
I congratulated Mr. Peach on the talent of intuence he possessed, and his happy art of management in its application : when arriving at an old mansion-house, empty, with a porch delightfully situated for a sight of the country, I told Mr. P. I should seat myself in it, possibly till his return, if his rounds were not very extensive. He said most probably he should be back in an hour, as he should now resume his usual pace; and added, 'tis not every one
would sit alone in that porch, for 'tis generally believed hereabout, that the old house is haunted : and truly I think too, there is good ground for the report. I just mention this, in case you, Sir, dislike such places. I assured Mr. Peach, his intelligence would make no alteration in my intention of awaiting on this spot his return; when I should solicit information from him, respecting the good ground, as he supposed, the report
The Haunted House.
s soon as Mr. Peach returned to the haunted house, where I had continued the appointed hour without experiencing any alarm, I requested him to favor me with the history of the ghost, supposed to visit this venerable looking mansion. " I knew nothing of him, Şir," replied Humphrey, “but as I heard the story from a good old man, his servant, so you shall have it from me, and judge for yourself. This house with a large estate belonging, was inhabited by a very worthy gentleman, his wife and three daughters.
He had one son, the grief of his heart, for he early took to wicked courses, insomuch that his father was forced to send him away to a distant part of the kingdom ; for he had even threatened his life. When the old gentleman died, this young man being heir to the estate, came immediately and took possession of the mansion, and turned out his mother and sisters, and all the servants, exeept the one (Nicholas Ridman) the good old man I knew. He would have turned him off too, but he was much in his late father's confidence, and knew money concerns relating to the estate, so that his presence was almost necessary. The step he took after the possession of his inheritance, was to send for many of his! wicked companions to make merry, and a grand entertainment was prepared against the day of their arrival. Nicholas Ridman waited on them at dinner ; but, as he told me, he secretly resolved, that as it was the first, so it should be the last time he would ever wait on a set of reprobates. He said his very blood chilled, when he recollected the profane shocking words he heard from them, and the ridicule they made of his late good master, whom he loved, as though he had been his own father : he seemed to be before his eyes all the day, as witnessing the scenes which were passing. Well, night came, and the party were all nearly intoxicated. Supper was set out; and they seated themselves at the table, the master of course at the head. He had taken his knife and fork in his hand, when his eye seemingly was caught by something he saw at the door of the room, which stood open opposite him, and lead into a large hall. Nicholas had his back towards it, but on seeing his young master look, he turned to look also, and assured me, he verily thought he saw his old one standing there, but before he could be quite sure, he was
gone. Nicholas and all the rest were now engaged in attention to the young gentleman, whose eye was still fixed on the door, wholly regardless of all the enquiries made by the company ; till in a few minutes he fainted away. Such a scene cannot, as Nicholas said, be described; for as he caught his young master in his arms, he could not help exclaiming-No wonder he faints, he saw his good father looking in at the door, and I saw him too!' They started from their seats, and ran out of the house, leaving their friend to the care of his servants, who sent for physicians.
Before one could arrive he was in a high phrenzy; and in less than three days after, he departed this life, without appearing to have an interval of reason from the moment of his seizure. Now, Sir, what think you of all this?"
“Exactly as I did before,” replied I, “as respects the appearance of ghosts; for the feelings as you describe of this good old servant, had placed his master before his imagination the whole of the day, and he owns at last he was not sure he really saw him.”
Aye, Sir, but the effect produced on the young gentleman; don't you think he must have seen him?"
“The sudden seizure of a brain fever, no doubt,"
said I, “ doubly awful under these circumstances, and possibly intended to exhibit the displeasure of God against such a profligate character in the eyes of his companions. Sudden death, or the destruction of reason, is often the consequences of immoderate drinking Alexander the Great, as he is called, because he was a great conqueror, died by a fit of intemperance after a feast, as sudden as this unhappy young heir."
“Well, Sir," returned Humphrey, “it might be so, I won't set up my opinion against wiser ones; and I remember Nicholas said, he had heard that hard drinking had affected his young master's brain before; so that warning had been given him, as it is to mest sinners, if they would but attend. But if you'll please to hear, I will give you a further reason for supposing this house has been haunted."
Receiving permission Mr. Peach proceeded. “ The old lady, his mother, and her daughters returned to the mansion. The young ladies married away, so that the old lady was left alone with her servants, and sometimes a young lady, a cousin I believe, from whom I heard the remainder of this ghost story. As the old lady only wished for female servants to reside with her, she gave Nicholas Ridman a cottage and bit of ground, where he