Chapter 65768437

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Chapter NumberNone
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1877-01-20
Page Number4
Word Count3197
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleThe Ghostly Rental
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SM ? IS \ TALES AND SKETCHES. | THE GHOSTLY KEXTAL. I WAS in my twenty-second you, and I hid just left cottage. I w at liberty to choose my cmr, and I ebon it with much promptness. I afterward renounced it, in troth, with equal ardour, but I have never regretted those two jouthfijl yaa of perplexed and firitrd, bat aba of agreeable and fiu&ful experiment. I sad a tart* Cor theology, and during my college term I bad been an admiring reader of Dr. OamriTiE. 3Ms snM theology of a ersttM sud eueeulent savour ; it seenmrl to offer one the mse of faith delightfully stripped of its thorns. And then (for I xstber Ibink this had jone «hmetndowithit),Ihadtakenafaiiey to the old Drvhnty SefaooL I inn always bad an eye to the back earn* in the human drama, and it aeems to me that I might play my part with a firir chance of applause (trim atjaelf at least), in tint detached and tranquil borne of mud csauiBtry, with ihi respectable avenue on one aide, and ita prospect of green fields and con tact with acres of woodland on tile other. Cambridge, for the lovers of woods and fields, had cbaneed for the wool ejnee those dan. and

the precinct in question has forfeited much of its pastoral mad scbolafbc quietude, it was sHXtun- What it n now has nsthmg to do with my story; and I hare no doubt that there are eta) doottine-hasntad young seniors who, aa they stroll near ct in the summer dusk, promise themselves, later, to taste of its fine leisnrdy quality, For myself* I w not omippuuitoJi I ertabHtbeu myself at a great square, low browed mom, with deep window-benches ; I imng prints fimn Overbade and Ary Schefter on the walla: I arranged my books, with great refinement of dsasmcablon, in the alcoves beside Slw ttl£li t&}BtDBBy'mXBt WOO A D6gafi to BSfl Botima and St Asgostioe. Among mj com psniont were two or tiuee men of ability and of good tsfluowship, wuli whom. I ocomonuty brewed ? fireside bowl ! mod with advent otona tjoorfv aballow, and long country walks, my initifliioo into the clerical mystery inogiwed agreeably enongh. With one of my eomnda I formed an afnTafwinl friendship, and we pMW^o' a yif* deal of time together. UoSonamtdy he fa-d a yTiTyinM* weakness of one of ^'* W-Twt which compelled {dm to lead a very sedentary Cfe, and as I ni a TTt*t^Tf*i^Fr*^ pcdes&ian. ifri* often to etcetch swsj lor my -doiZjr zsmble, with no jiTTT.naani/i-1 hot the vtick in mr hud or He

book in my pocket. But in the me of my legs and tbe cense of unstinted open air, I bam always found '^r'pi py ffnw*gh. I fftiraiifl. perhaps, add that in die enjoyment of a toy ahmrp pair of eyes, I found something of a aofisl pleasure* Uy eyes and I were on excellent terms: tbej were indef*bgmble ohsernsrsof all wayside inddmtw, and to long as (ney were amused I vm contented. Tt u. fnjfttWi^ owing to their inqtntttiTe haMfa foat I r***!* in possBsnou of this nmaxi&fale story* Macb of the atantrftbaottheoia College town is prefc^now, bat it was prettier thirty yean pamphuard which now graces the landscapr, in the direction of the low, blue, Waltfaam HQU, had not yat taken place ; them were no genteel cottages to pot tbe shabby meadows aod acrabby ocebnds to shame— a juxtaposition by which, in later jwht^ wfthwr dement of the contrast has gained- Gsftam crooked ctobv roaaif tnep, fts I nmember them, were more deeply and naturally ran], and tile solitary dwellings on tbe long grassy slopes beside them, foliage in mid-air like the outward dropping ears of a girdled wheat-shea**, sat with their shingled hoods well polled down on their ears. and no prescience whatever of the fashion of French roofs — wzather-wrmkied old peasant women, as yon might call them, qoirtiy wearing the native coif, and never dreaming of mounting bonnets, sad xndecentiy exposing their Tsnenble brows. ^Tfft winter m what is called fin 'open' one; there was much cold, butlfttie enow ; the roads were firm aad free, and I was

rareiy compelled py me wettber to torpo my exercise. One gnj December afternoon I had Booght it in the direction of the adjacent town of Sfedfbni, and I was retracing my steps at an even pace, and watching the pale, cold, tinta— the transparent amber and &ded rosecoloor — which axrtaioed, in wintry &shioa. the western sky, end rrmfndwi me of a sceptical emfle on the lips of a beautifal woman. I came, ss dust was felling, to » narrow road which X had nerer tnvened and which I imagined offered me a short cut home ward. I was about throe miles away ; I was late, and would bare been thankful to make them two, Zdirerged, walked eome ten minute*, and the perceond that the r jad had a very un frequented air. The wheel-nits looked old ; the atwnesB ffwipft* pecolisriy fMTTinhVr And jet down the road stood a housr, so that it must in come degree hare been a thoroughfare. On one aide was a high, natural T^T7rr*HT**\ on the top of wliidi tju MTphed an ?nnHft-rtt rh«tp3_ sw1in«n'

tangled booghs made a atnteb of coarse black lace-work, hong across tbe coldly rosy weat. In a short time I came to to &t hooae, and I im medistiey fnnit^ myself intenuted in it. I ?topped m front of it gazing I hardly knew why, bat with a vague mixture of cariosity and tJnuditT. It was a hoose like most of the j houses thereabouts, except that it was decidedly % \nrn^fo*f}f apecuuen of its HwatT. It stood co a grassy atope, it had its tall, impartially draopms; dm beside it, and ibj old bkek weB-eo«r.*tits, ahnnlrlfr. But it was of wery Urge propoitions, and it had a staking look of sdiduy and etont nrasoftnaber. It bad Iind to ? good old age, too, for tiie wood^work on its door»way and nnder Baeans, csjenillyaadabnndantlyearred, referred it to the middle, at the latest, etun last century. AH this had ones nsjen iwtiilui white, bat tije broad back of tune, i«**Trwg

aninat «he door-posts fora hundred nan, had laid bam tbe grain of the wood. Behind the boose ttretebai en orchard of a fue-tnee, more gnarM and fanta.Be thsn oansl, and wearing, in the deepening dm*, a bbghtedandexfaasstad aspect. All tbe wmdow, of tbe boose ludrosty shutters, without plates*, and llwsr wan cuJeny dnwo. Xbere was no sign of Se aboot its » loolrf Hank, ban aad meant, and yet, aa I lingered near it, it seemed to hara a femuiar meaning— an autfUe ekqoesee. I ban almys thought of tile impression made upon me at first sight, by Oat gray eofaoisl dwelling, as a proof that induction may sometimes be near akin to divination; tor after all, there was nothing on the lace of the matter to warrant tbe rarj serious mdoctiea Oat I made. I fen baek asd crossed the road. Helsstred light of theann eet disengaged itself, as it was about to nnisb, and rested mmtiy for a moment on the time sflrrred front of the old boose. It touched, with perfect regularity, the aeries of email panes in the fan-shaped window shore the door, and twinkM Oere bntsstieany. Hien it died away, and leftthe place moreintenaely sober. At this moment, I said to myself with tin accent of profound connctios— ' Tbt boose ia simply hunted!' Somehow, immediately, I bettered it, and so bag a* I was not shot up inside, tbe idea gara me pleasure. It was implied in tbe aspect of the bonar and it expauaad if*. Half an hoar before, if I had been asked, I would ban and, as befitted a young man who was, explicitly

cultintiug cheerful views of the eaperaatnral, that them were no each tilings as haunted booses. Bat the thralling before me gam a nTidaxantngfrtiM empty words ; it bad been epirituaUybuRtted. He longer I looked at it, Owinteneer seemed the secret that it held. I walked all raond it, I tried to peep here and there, through a ereriee inOieehntteB,aadItaoka puerile satisfaction in laying my band on tbe door-nob and gently taming it- Ef tbe door bad yielded, would I ban penetrated th© dust} eoDnesBr My audacity, tortonatdyt was not put to the test. Tbe prrt'^ was admirably solid and I was un* ibkem to shake it At last I turned away, easting many looks behind ok. I pursued mr way, and, after a longer walk than I had bargained for. reached tin high-road, it i certain distanee below tbe point at which the [oog hue I ban fnniliiweil entered it, stood a comfortable, tidy dwelling, which might hare onemd itself as the model of tbe boose which bin no eenae haunted — which has no «™»h^ f ?^?i.j and knows nothing but Uoofning pmspenty. Ita dean white point started placidly through the dusk, and ita -rine-eonred porch had been dressed in straw ibr the winter. An old, one horse chaise, freighted with two departing visftsa, was leaving the door, and Oaoagh tbe undraped window*, I saw the UmpJit sitting room, and die toUeapread with tbe early 'tea,' which had been mpeonasd for She comfort of tbegueeta. The unstress of tbe boose had come to tite gate with her Mendj; she fingered there after the chaise bad wheeled cnakmgly away, half to watch them down the road, and half to give me, as I rartwri 3b the farifighr, a oaesaoo inguok. She wsa a eametya^nr£ young woman, with a afaarp, dark eye, and I ventured to stop and speak to her, 'Thai house down that Bde^oad,' I said, ''about a mue 6om here— die only one — can yon tell me whom it belongs to?' 8he stared at me a moment, and, I thought, coloured st little ' Onr folks: aerar go down that mad,' she said, briefly.

--But tfa a abort way to Medfotd,' I answered* BhegBTeaUtUetoesorhet head. 'Perhaps it would turn out a bang way. At any rate, we don't use it.' This was innsmtmg. A thrifty Yankee hooseoold most ban good reasons for this score; of tfane-ssring uiumascs. 'Bat you know the house, sties* ?' I ssid. 'We!!, I have sees ft.' ??And to whom does it belong?' Sbe gsre alittie laugh and looked away, as if she were aware that, to a stranger, her words mifiibt seem to savour of agricultural anperstibon. 'X guess it belongs to them that an in it.' 'Bnt is there any one in it? It is completed dosed.' come oat, anj no one ever gon in.' And the But I laid my band on her ana, respectfully. 'Ton mean,' I asid, 'that the honse is haunted?1* She drew herself sway, coloured, raised ber lips, and hurried into die boose, where in a moment, the curtains stare dropped over the windows. For several days, I thought repeatedly of Bus little adventure, but I took eome eatisftctiou in keeping ft to mvasjf. 0 tbe bouse is not haunted, it was usoqbb to expose my iiniiginatiTte I whunt, and if it was, it was agraeable to drain I «L_ Ann mT * Mtllmat - ' T Jl_^_

mined, of course, to pass that sray again ; and a week later— it was the but day of the year— I reinced my stops. I s^pnaehed the bouse from the opposite dimebon, and found myself before -it at about tbe samebour as before. 33ie light was failing, the sky low and g»y ; «he wind wailed along the bard, hare cround, and made slow eddies of tbeirost blackened lesvei. H» mdaacbnly mansioii etood dun, eeeming to gsjher tbe winter twilight around i», aad mask itsetfiurt,iMcrutBblj. I hardly inew on what errand I bad come, but I bad a vague feeling Uisl if Has tnne tbe door-knob were to tnrp and the door to ones, I abould take my heart in my Tunis, aad let them dose behind me. Who ?wwb tafte uijaUwms tnnant- to wuuui the good woman at the comer had ?unded? What had beeu eeen or heard— what was related? 'She door was as stnbborn as before, and my imper window to be tfarown «pen, nor asy sbiag*, pale bee to be thrown out I veutuuau even to new toe rusty *T--''^ n' and give it faaif-e4uieu raps, but they made a tit, dead aound, aod around no echo. SamOiarity breeds contempt; Idee'ttaowirhatl should bmiotnam, if,

intbedBtance,uptheroad(th«esmeoneIhau followed), I had not eeen a solitary figure advancing. I was unwilling to be observed hs«urjiigmboutth»iu-&med dwelling, andlaought refuge among the dense shadows of a grove of pines near bj, where I might peep forth, and yet remain invisible. Presently, tbe at comer grew near, and I ueiueined that *je was making straight for tbe bouse. He was « little, old 1 man. was* ™lmnioous doak, of a sort of muitarr cut. He carried a walking-stick, and advanced in a slow, pain&I, aomewhat hobbling ttshiou, but with an an* of extreme nesourtatin. He turned off from the road, and followed the rsgue wbeel-back, aad wttbm a few yards ct the boose he named. He looked up at it fixedly and aaarchmgly, as if he were cuuuliiig the windows, or noting certain familiar marks. Then he took off his bat, and bent oier slowly as ff be were performing an obeisance. As be stood mcorered, I bads good look at him. He was, u I have said, a dimmutve old man, but it would have been hard to decide whether be belonged to this world or to tbe other. His need reminded me, vaguely, of the portraits of Andrew Jackson. He bad a crop of gritzM hair, as atuT as * brash, a ban, pale, smooth ehaven tacr, and an eye of intense bt3bancy, sui mounted with raics brows, wluch bed re mained1 perfectly Mac*. His fate, m well as tns doak, ????»?«* to besongto as old soldier; he looked like m retired mflitary man of » modest raovai ; but be struck me as *\ii'nJfrv the fTatstiir ptiTuen of wen ancn a pemonage to be cceen trie aud grotesque. When be bad finished his ?slate, he advanced to the door, fumbled is the folds of his desk, which hung down tancu farther in front than behind, ana |r'J'~*1 a key. Its he slowly ana csrefaur inserted into the .lock, and tneu, appamntly, be 1m nwl it. Bat tin door did not immedmteiy open : vlrst he bent Us head, tamed bis ear, aad stood listen ing, aud then he looked up and down the road.

SstaB^arre4assred,heanpliedbisagad aboalder to one of the deep-Bet panels, and pressed a moment. He door yielded— opening into perfect darkness. He stopped again on tbe threshold, and again reiiHWed fan bat and made his bow. Then he went in, sod carefully dosed the door behind him. Who in the world was be, and what was hii errand? He might bare been a Sgote out of one of Hoffiman's tales. Was be vision or a reality— an inmate of the bouse, or a tamuiar, tnendiy visitor? What had been the meaning, in other case, of us myarie genuflexioOB, and bow did be propose to proceed, to that jumw daoVnessr I emerged from my nbmneot, and observed narrowly saveral of tbe windows. In each of them, at an interval, a ray of light became viable in file dunks between the two leases of the ehuttem. Sridently, he was lighting up ; waaheKOjng to live a party— s, ghostly revel? My curiosity grew intense, but I was quite at. losi bow to satisfy it. Fora moment I thought or lapping peremptorily at tbe door: but I dtsmisied this idea as unmannerly, and calcu lated to break theapdl, if open there was. I walked round the house and tried, without violence, to open one of toe lower sriadowa. Jt resisted, but I had better fortune, in a moment, with another. Biere was a risk, eertamly, in the trick I was skying— - nsk of being seen from sriDnn, or (worse) seeing, myself, eome thint that I should repent of seeing. Bat and &bb risk was highly agreeable. Through U« parting of the shutters I looked into s lighted room— a room lighted by two candles in old brass flambeaux, placed upon the nnntet ebeU. It was apparently a sort of baeknadonr, and it had retained all its furniture. This was of s homely, otd-bsbioned pattern, and «x-- ?atod of hair-doth chain and sobs, spare mahogany tables, aad framed aampten bung upon the walls. Sut sltfooogb the iimids was fiumisbed, it had a strangely uuinhabitod look ; tbe tables and chairs were in rigid poeMooi, aad no small, familiar object were visible. I eooid not see everything, and 1 could only guess attbe eiialg'tee, on my vigbt, of « lezijs folding-door. It was apparently open, and the light of the neighbouring room passed through it. t waited for some time, but tbe room re mauwd empty. At but I became conscious that a large shadow was projected upon tbe

wall opposite tne tolamg-door — toe studow, evidaxtfy, of s- figure in liie adjoining room. It was tall and grotesque, and seemed to represent a person Bitting perfectly motionless, in profile. I thought I recognised the perpen dicular bristles and fiu~arehing nose of my littie old man. There was a strange firedmss in bis posrore ; be appeared to be seated, aod looking intently at aomettung. I watched the shadow a tong time, nut A never stirred. At last, however, just aa toy patience began to eoto, H moved slowly, rose to tbeceuine, and became indistinct I don't know what 1 jhooldhare seen next, but by an irresistible impulse, I dosed tbe ebuttrr. Was it delicacy?— was it poausanimii?? I can bardlyaay. Ibngered, nevertheless, near tbe house, hoping that my friend would re-appear. I was not dissppoiDtfrt ; for be at but emerged, looking just as when he had gone in, and taking his leave in the same eeremomoos fismion. ffte lijbta, I bad already observed, had disappeared from the crevice of each of the windows.) He need about before the door, took off hia hat, and made an obsequkMiB bow. As be tamed away I had ? hundred minds to speak to bun, but I Irt him depart in pesos. 'Bat, I may say, was pure delicacy . -you wul snawtsr, perhaps^ that it came too late. It seemed to me that be had a right to resent my observation ; though my own right to exercise it (ft* ghost* WMtTmtte question) struck am as equally poanite. I eoa tinued to watch him as he hobbiBd eofily down the bank, asi along tiw londy road. The? I fniisingly rantaated in the op|wisite dimebjon. I was tempted tofcuowhim, at e distance, to ass what became of him; but tine, toe, seemed indeBcate; and I confess, moreover, that I felt (he iodination to csqnt a Utde, m it were, with my discovery— to pull apart the petals of the flower one by one. To If Coiionti.