|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||The Ghostly Rental|
TALES AND SKETCHES.
THE GHOSTLY RENTAL.
A*nnr days later, I suspended my studies and went off for the summer's vacation. I ni absent for eevenl «*, doting which I bid plenty of leisure to analyse my impressions erf the supernatural. I took some eatisbction in the reflection tint I had not been ignobly terrified ; t had not bolted nor swooned— [ bad proceeded witt digmtj. ETeverthelew, I ni
certainly more oomtoitaole wtaen 1 bad pot thirty miles between me and the ecene of my exploit, and I continued for manr days to prefer the daylight to (be dark. My neras bad been powerfully excited ; of (his I ni par. ticnlarly eoneaoos when, under tbe influence of tiie drowsy air of the Ma-tide, my excitement began slowly to ebb. As it disappeared, I attempted to take a sternly ration] -new of my experience. Certainly I bad aeen matOdmg— that to not fancy; but what had I Been; I legieltcd extremely now Quit I had not been bolder, that I bad not gone nearer and inspected tbe apparition more mnmtdy. But it was vary well to talk ; I bad done aa mnch as any man in tiie i-Iwiimaiuw— would ban dared: it was indeed a physical hnposssibuity that I abonld bare advanced. Wu not Una paralyaation of my powers in itaelf a eDpemaboral influence ? Hot necessarily, perhaps, for a ebam ghost Ixtat one accepted misfat do as modi executant as a real ghost Bat why bad I eo easily accepted the sable phantom that wared its hand? Why had it so impressed itself? Unquestion ably, true or false, it was a *a-7 clever phantom. I greatly piefared that it shouldbave been trne — in tbe fizat place beoanael did not care to bare annered and shakes for notninc and in tiie second place became to have awn a weB. autbentieated eohlin is, aa things go, a feather m aquiet man'a cap. I tried, txteretore, to lat my vision rest and to atop turning it oter. But an impnlse sliotujei than my will leuuied at intervals and aet a mocKmg question on my lips. Granted Oat tbe appariiion waa Captain Diamond's daughter; Bit was she it entainly waa her spirit. But was it not her spirit and something more ?' *l^» mnAJftm of September saw me again eatahnabed among the thBologic shades, but I made no haste to revisit the haunted boose. On the thirtieth of September, at noonday, I a feeble rap at my door. I replied with an luviUuD to enlr i, bul as tins ptodnced DO effect I repaired to the door and opened it. Before me atood an elderly necress with her handker* cbasf folded acnes her bosom. She looked at ainwwitf gravity and decenev which aged penons of bar race eo often wear. I stood interrogative, and at but, drawing her hand tram her ample pocket, she held up a little book. Itwestbecopy of Pascal's 'Thoughts' that I bad given to Oifltsin Piamoud. 'Heeae, air,' she said, very mildly, 'do yon know this book? ** PootectW,' said I, ** my irtmt is on the fly MIw3l write iny name if you file, mod yon can conxpan ftmn, I umend, 'igmij— ?** it would oc osraMHa nr,' uc Bud, ** I p«nnnt red. If you wiH gin me your word that is enough. I come,** aba wot 00, ' from the genuemso to whom you gsre the book. He told me to carry it as a token — a token— that is what he called it. He is right down sick, and 'Captain Diamond— rick?' I cried. 'Is his ID mm serious f 'He b very bad— he is all gone.' I expmed my regret and BympalhT, and messenger would show me the way . My conductress directed her steps toward tbe rin-r mnd stopped at m decent little yellow home in one of the streets that descend to it. Sse quickly opened the door and led me in, and I very aoon found myself in tbe presence of my and evidently in a retry feeble state. He lay back on fait paDow ftxnng before him, with bU intensely dork and brieht old eyes touched wi£i tbe glitter of few. Ha apartment was bumble and nrnipnlonriy near, and I could see that my dinky guide wasa teithfij sernnt Captain Diamond, lying there rigid and pale on bis j-i i m 1' _ . . .1,1 _ j _„— . . . _r n 1 wnnB aiiccis, reaaniniea some raggedly carvsu figure on the lid, of a Gothic tomb. He looked at me eSewtiy, and my -T-vnpn withdrew and feftnsabo-. 'Tesaiesjona^be said, at last, 'ft'a yon, tint pood young mac There ? no mistake, is tbn?' 'I hope not; I beEero rin a good joong man. But I am very aorry yon are 3L What can I do for you P' 'I am -very bad; my poor old bones ache bo . and groan rag portentonuy be tried to I QQestiaoed bim ahoot the mturfl of bis malady and the length of time be had been in bad, but be barely needed ma; be aeemed im patient to apeak of something else. He grasped iuj aieeitf pniwn mgwiwaiii nmiy auu wmspeiwi gmekly: 'Too know my time's op V 'Oh, I trust not,' I aaid, mistaking has mranmg 'IehaHcertamly see yon on your 'Ood'bumr he cried. 'But I don't mean Tm dying; not yet a bit What I mean n, I'm doe at the house. This is not -3tj.' 'Oh, exactly! ' But yoo cw'tfo.' 'I eaat go. It's awfid. I aball loae my money. Iflam^yinf, I waotit all the same. I want to pay the doctor. I want to be buried like a respectable man.' -It is the .raring?' I sated.- . 'Ihneramiigat aunart, sharp.' 'I can'l
low my money. Some one else mutt go. I sated Belinda ; but ebe won't hear of h.' ?Ton believe the money will be paid to another penon P' 'We on try, at least. I tare never tiled before and I dost know. But, if joosejrm as aick as a doe, tint my eld bone, ache, *&at I'm dying, perhaps she'll trust you. She don't want me to starve f ' Too would like me to go in your place, flunr m You bava been tiwre once ; yon know what it is. Are yoo afraid?' Ibesitated. 'Give me law iniuutot to reflect,' I aaid, 'and I wul teS you.' My glance wandered over tbe room and rested on the various objects that epoke of the threadbare, decent poverty oT ins occupant. Tnera seemed to be a mute appeal to my pity and my reeotatum in their cracbed and faded apanenaw. ftleanvhue Captain IKamond continued, feebly ; 'I think she'd trust you, as I have trusted you ; she'll Eke your face ; shell see there's no harm in yon. It's a hundred and thirty-three doQan, exactly. Be anre you pnt tiiem into a safe place' 'Yes,' Ieaidst last, ' I arfll go, and, ao far as it dapenda npon me, you aball have tile monej by nine o'clock to-oicbt.n Be seemed gre*dy relieved ; he took my hand and £us£Jy pressed it, and aoon afterward J withdrew. I tried for the rest of the day not to think of my evening's work, bat, of course, I thought of cotbing else. I wfll not deny that I was nervous ; I waa, to fcct« greatly jp«f^taJt andlapentmytime in alternately hopiasthat tbe mystery ahaald prove Jest deep then it appeared, and yet fearing that it might prove too ahallowl Tbe boors psiwjirt very slowly, bat, as the a&emooD began to wane, I started on my mianon. On die way, I stopped at Captain INamond'a modest dwelling, to aak bow be was doing, and to EBcens snob last mabnetionaaahenugbt detireto lay npan me. Tbe old negrese, gravely and inscrutably placid, admitted me, and, in answer to my inquiries, said that tbe Captain was very low; he had - Too must be right smart ' she and, 'if yon want to get hack before be drops off.' A glance assured me that she knew of my prjeeted expedition, though, in her own opaque black pupil, there was not a gleam of ekf-bebayil. ' But why should Captain Diamond drop off?' I asked, 'he entainly eeems Terr weak; but I cannot make out that he has any definite dnesse.' ?? His disease is old age,' aha aaid, eenten ooualy. 'Bat be is not eo old ai Oat ; sixty-seven or sixty-eight, at most' 8be was euent a moment. ' He's worn out ; ne'e used op ; be earft stand it any longer. ' 'Can Ieeehima moment?' I asked; upon which die led ma Mg**' to his mom. He wb« lying in the aame way aa when I bad left him, except that his eyes wen dosed. But be seemed very 'low,' as she had said, and he bad aery little puke. HerertheUsa, I farther learned the doctor had been there in the afternoon and professed himself satisfied. 'He don't know wbaft bean going on.' eaid Belinda curfly. Tbe ok! man stirred a little, opened hii eyw, and after aome time reeogmsed me. Tm going, yon know,' I aaid. 'I going for tout money. Have yoo anytinag more to say !' He raised himself slowly, and witb a painful efibrt, againstbis pulows ; but he named baldly to understand me. 'the home, yon know,' I ssid. ?* Your daughter.' He rubbed his forehead, slowly, awhue, and at hat, his comprehension awoke. 'An, yea,' he murmured, I trust yon. A hundred and thirty-One dolbn. In old pieces— all in old piecee.' Sum he added more vigorously, and with ebtjgbteniog eye: ' Be very respectful— be -very polite. If not-if sot ? ' and hit voice fimed again. 'Oh, I certainly ehall be,' I eaid, with a rather forced amue. 'Bat, if not?' 'If not, I ehmll know it!' he said, very gravely. And with this, his eyes ejoaad and be sank down again. I took my departure and punned my journey with a sufficient reariute step. When I reached the house, I made a propoiatory bow in front of it, in emulation of Captain Diamond. I had timed my walk so as to be abb to enter without delay; night had already fallen. I turned the key, opened the door and abut it behind me. Then I struck a light, and bund the two candlesticks I had need before, stanaWon the tables in the entry. I applied a match to both of them, took them op and went into tbe parlour. It waa empty, and though I waited awhile, it remained empty. I passed then into the other rooms on the same floor, and DO dark image rose before me to cheek say steps. At bat. I came out into (he ban apin, andstood aragbmg the question of going op atairs. The before, and I anpraacbe? it rti pnfoood nBatroat. At the toot, I passed, looking up, with my band en the bslnabadeTl was acutely mimlanl., and my '| 'ili-m was joacmed. Suwhr, in the darknees abire, the black fignre that I had aero betore took shape, bans notanffluaioo; it waaafignra,«ndthe aame. I gam it time to define nsalf, end watched it stand and look down at me with its hidden fa*. Ihm, deliberately, I SfM op my vnioe and apoks. 'Ihaveeomein ptaceof Obtain Diamond, atm.reqn.est,- I aaid, ' He is very a ; be i, unable to learn bis bad. He earneatly bags that yoo wffl pay the mousy to me: I ami immediately n^ it to him.- Ibeogan stood HM14*flTII1tft- f'f'H DO wBgB. 'Captain Diamood would bare come » he ante able to more,' I added, is ? moment, appeeimilj;«!iuth«isiitteriftmabU.-' AttmsthefipmsaJowly -mvoued its face and showed meadua, white mask; Own itiiegan down/ to deaeaod tbe atafaa. InatmoHvely I bS back before it, retnatimjtothedoorof On
front sitting-room. With my eje-st21 fired on it, I moved backward across the threshold; then letopped intiie middle of tbe room end set down my lights. Hie figure advanced ; it aeemed to be (bat of a tall woman, dressed in vaporous black crape. Aa I drew near, I saw looked extremely pile anoTaad. We etood gating at each other; my agitation had com pletelj. vanished; lams only deeply interested. 'Is my father dangetoady ill r said the At the eoundof id voice— gentle, tremulous, and perfectly human— I started fcrwari; I felt a rebound of exatmnent. I drew a uug breath, I gave a sort of ay, for what lew teliae me was not a disembodied apirit, bet a beautiful woman, an aidadout actress. ImUneU^Jy, immteUf. by tbe fbree of re action against my credulity, I aUttUied oat my hand and eased the long veil that muffled her head. I gave it aiiolent jeit, dogged it needy oft; andetook staring at Blaise fur person, of about Sre-aod-thirty. I comprehended ber at a glance; her long black dresa, bar pale, eorrow worn Cue, painted to look paler, her very fine eyes,— the colour of her father's,— and her sense of outrage at my movement. 'ICy father, I aanpose,' she cried, 'did not send yon hereto insult me !* and shetnmed away rapidly, took op one of tbe candles and mored toward the door. Here die paused, looked at me again, hesitated, and then drew a purse from her pocket and flung it down on the floor. 'There is your money!' ebe aaid, majestically. ? 1 etood there, wavering between aTnawmmt and shame, and aaw her case out into the ball. Hen I picked op the pane. Tbe next moment, I heard ? load shriek and a era* of something dropping, and ebe came staggering back into tbe room without Iht light. 'My father— my fatherr she cried: and with parted lips ami dilated eyes, she rushed toanvdme. ?? Tour tamer— where P' I demanded. ' In the faaO, at tbe foot of tbe enum.' I stepped fbrwardtogo out, but she seized '' He is in white,'' eh* cried, in bis shirt. If s not he!' 'Why, yoor father it in his home, in his bed, extremely iU,' I answered. She looked at me fixedly, with eesrehmg eyei. 'Dying?' 'I hope not,' I stuttered. She gave a long moan and covered bar 'ace with her hands. 'Oh, heavens, I have aeen bis ghost!' ahe cried. She atm held my arm ; she seemed too terrified to release it. ' His ghost V I echoed, -It-ethepomabmratof mylongfollyf' she went on. 'Ah,' esii I. '' it's the ponishmeot of my indisenbjon — of my nolancs!' 'lake me away, take me away V she ened, abX cfaneing to my aim. 'Hot there'— as I waa turaing toward the ban and the front door —'not there, for pity's sake! By this door— the back entrance.** And enatehmg the other candles from tbe table, she led me throngfa the ndghbourine room into the back part of tbe 'Ton bare been pbyim; eD these yean * moat eXtRaoromaiy game, I saod. She looked at me sombrely, and aaemed dismenoed to reply. 'I came in perfect good faith,' I went on. 'The last time— three months aeo — yon remember? — yxxa gteatiy tVightenedme. Of eoniae it was an axLiaoHiinBTy gam^ ehe answered at last 'Bat it was Ox only way.' 'Had be not forgiven you?' '80 long as be thought me deed, yea. ITbere have been things in my life be could not tbreive.'' I beshatafl- and the—-' And where is yoor hosbandrlasksd. 'I have no husband— I have never bad a tauband.' She made a gesture winch checked xuther queatMOs, and moved rapidly mway. I walked with her round the bouse to the road, and ahe When we reached the road ebe stopped, and asked me which way I waa going. I pointed to the road by which I had come, and she said —'I take tbe other. Too are going to mj father's?' sbe added. ** Directly.' I said. 'Win you let me know toHnomnr whmt yon bava found?' 'With pleasure. _ But how aball I com She aeamedatauas, and looked about bar. 'Write a few words,' ebe said, -and put them under that stone.' And ehe pointed to one of the Uvaalabs that bordered Hie old we!L I gsva bar my promise to comply, and aba turned away. ' I know mv road,' ahe said. ' Every ? thing is arranged. If a an oU atory.' I returned to town at a aajiugiug pace, and marched abaagbttothe little yelWhouee near to river. 1 took the liberty of entering without 4 t*-w*j anOa wwiniHiif*'g no rater motion, mads my way to Captain Diamond'a room. Outaide the door, on a low bench, with folded arms, aat tba aaUa BeGnaa. -Howbher leafed. ' He'a cone to glory.' 'Oead?'IcaSr Sherosewithaeortoffeagicchnckle. ??He-aaabiga *-istasanr of them now r Ipasaed into the room and found the old ?sra lying vm irradsoiiasbiT npd ?no atuit I wrote tint evening ? few Goes which Ipro poaad on tbe morrow to xaaee beoaath Oe atone, near the waD ?; bat my pronnee was not deatiaad to be lexecoted. I dept Oat xught very p— it ana natmal^^gxl io iny raBtJaasnaBj left ny bed to walk about the room. Aa I owl aa I eanght aight, in passing my window, of ? red gaswintto north ?«atuu Ay. A bonae waa aaArcin tbeoonntry# and crioeody jmilmig tut. It ky in the aame direotkmwitbi scaoe
of my evenine'e adrentarea, and as I atood wateumg tbe crimson horizon t was atertled by a sharp memory. I bad blown oat tbe candle which ugfatrd me, with my campamon, to the door through which we escaped, bat I bad wot accounted for tbe other light, which ahe carried into tbe ball and dropped— fceaveB knew wbaie — in her oauaterua'iou. The next day I walked oatwBzimy folded letter and turned out into the familiar cross-road. Die haunted house was a mass of chaned beams and emoldefxag ashes; the well-cover bad beeo palled otT, m quest of water, by a few neighbours who had had the aadaehy to contest what they must ban regarded aa a damon-kiodM Maze, (he loose atones were completely displaced, and tbe earth had been InmpM into puddles.