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the fiend who had enslaved me through poor Tom Ludlow over the banisters, the awful watches of the night; and, and rattling with a rebound down the harassed and nervous, I rose to the second flight of stairs ; and almost conduties of the day.
currently with this, Tom burst open I had—I can't say exactly why, but my door, and bounced into my room it may have been from the exquisite backwards, in a state of extraordinary anguish and profound impressions of agitation. unearthly horror, with which this I had jumped out of bed and clutched strange phantasmagoria was associated him by the arm before I had any dis- an insurmountable antipathy to de- tinct idea of my own whereabouts. scribing the exact nature of my nightly There we were-in our shirts-standtroubles to my friend and comrade. ing before the open door — staring Generally, however, I told him that I through the great old banister oppowas haunted by abominable dreams ; site, at the lobby window, through and, true to the imputed materialism of which the sickly light of a clouded medicine, we put our heads together moon was gleaming. to dispel my horrors, not by an exor- • What's the matter, Tom? What's cism, but by a tonic.
the matter with you? What the deI will do this tonic justice, and vil's the matter with you, Tom ?" I frankly admit that the accursed por- demanded, shaking him with nervous trait began to intermit its visits under impatience. its influence. What of that? Was He took a long breath before he anthis singular apparition—as full of cha- swered me, and then it was not very racter as of terror-therefore the crea- coherently. tion of my fancy, or the invention of “It's nothing, nothing at all—did I my poor stomach ? Was it, in short, speak ?-what did I say?-_where's the subjective (to borrow the technical slang candle, Richard ? It's dark; I–I had of the day), and not the palpable ag- a candle !" gression and intrusion of an external “Yes, dark enough,” I said ; "but agent? That, good friend, as we will what's the matter?-what is it?-_wby both admit, by no means follows. The don't you speak, Tom?-have you lost evil spirit, who enthralled my senses your wits ?-what is the matter?" in the shape of that portrait, may have 6. The matter? - oh, it is all over. been just as near me, just as energetic, It must have been a dream — nothing just as malignant, though I saw him at all but a dream - don't you think not. What means the whole moral code so? It could not be anything more of revealed religion regarding the due than a dream." keeping of our own bodies, soberness, “Of course," said I, feeling uncomtemperance, &c. ? Here is an obvious monly nervous, “it was a dream.” connexion between the material and “ I thought,” he said, “there was a the invisible; the healthy tone of the man in my room, and — and I jumped system, and its unimpaired energy, out of bed; and - and where's the may, for aught we can tell, guard us candle ?" against influences which would other- “ In your room, most likely," I wise render life itself terrific. The said; “ shall I go and bring it ?” mesmerist and the electro-biologist will “No; stay here-don't
go; fail upon an average with nine patients matter-don't, I tell you ; it was all a out of ten - so may the evil spirit. dream. Bolt the door, Dick; I'll stay Special conditions of the corporeal sys- here with you I feel nervous. So, tem are indispensable to the produc. Dick, like a good fellow, light your tion of certain spiritual phenomena. candle and open the window-I am in The operation succeeds sometimes a shocking state.". sometimes fails—that is all.
I did as he asked me, and robing I found afterwards that my would himself like Granuaile in one of my be sceptical companion had his troubles blankets, he seated himself close beside too. But of these I knew nothing yet. One night, for a wonder, I was Every body knows how contagious sleeping soundly, when I was roused is fear of all sorts, but more especially by a step on the lobby outside my that particular kind of fear under room, followed by the loud clang of which poor Tom was at that moment what turned out to be a large brass labouring. I would not have heard, candlestick, flung with all his force by nor I believe would be bave recapitu
lated, just at that moment, for half the a step on the flight of stairs descend. world, the details of the hideous vision ing from the attics. It was two o'clock, which had so unmanned him.
and the streets were as silent as a “Don't mind telling me anything churchyard - the sounds were, there. about your nonsensical dream, Tom, fore, perfectly distinct. There was a said I, affecting contempt, really in a slow, heavy tread, characterised by panic ; " let us talk about something the emphasis and deliberation of age, else ; but it is quite plain that this descending by the narrow staircase dirty old house disagrees with us both, from above; and, what made the sound and hang me if I stay here any long- more singular, it was plain that the er, to be pestered with indigestion and feet which produced it were perfectly -and-bad nights, so we may as well bare, measuring the descent with somelook out for lodgings—don't you think thing between a pound and a flop, so ?-at once."
very ugly to hear. Tom agreed, and, after an interval, I knew quite well that my attendant said
had gone away many hours before, “ I have been thinking, Richard, and that nobody but myself had any that it is a long time since I saw my business in the house. It was quite father, and I have made up my mind plain also that the person who was to go down to-morrow and return in a coming down stairs had no intention day or two, and you can take rooms whatever of concealing his movements; for us in the meantime.”
but, on the contrary, appeared disposI fancied that this resolution, ob- ed to make even more noise, and proviously the result of the vision which ceed more deliberately, than was at all had so profoundly scared him, would necessary. When the step reached probably vanish next morning with the the foot of the stairs outside my room, damps and shadows of night. But I it seemed to stop; and I expected was mistaken. Off went Tom at peep every moment to see my door open of day to the country, having agreed spontaneously, and give admission to that so soon as I had secured suitable the original of my detested portrait. lodgings, I was to recall him by letter I was, however, relieved in a few se. from his visit to my Uncle Ludlow. conds by hearing the descent renewed,
Now, anxious as I was to change my just in the same manner, upon the quarters, it so happened, owing to a staircase leading down to the drawingseries of petty procrastinations and ac- rooms, and thence, after another pause, cidents, that nearly a week elapsed down the next flight, and so on to the before my bargain was made and my hall, whence I heard no more. letter of recall on the wing to Tom; Now, by the time the sound bad and, in the meantime, a trifling adven- ceased, I was wound up, as they say, ture or two had occurred to your to a very unpleasant pitch of excitehumble servant, which, absurd as they ment. I listened, but there was not a now appear, diminished by distance, stir. I screwed up my courage to a did certainly at the time serve to whet decisive experiment-opened my door, my appetite for change considerably. and in a Stentorian voice bawled over
A night or two after the departure the banisters, “ Who's there?” There of my comrade, I was sitting by my was no answer, but the ringing of my bedroom fire, the door locked, and the own voice through the empty old house ingredients of a tumbler of hot whisky- - no renewal of the movement; nopunch upon the crazy spider-table; thing, in short, to give my unpleasant for, as the best mode of keeping the sensations a definite direction. There
is, I think, something most disagree" Black spirits and white, Blue spirits and grey,"
ably disenchanting in the sound of one's
own voice under such circumstances, with which I was environed, at bay, I exerted in solitude, and in vain. It had adopted the practice recommended redoubled my sense of isolation, and by the wisdom of my ancestors, and my misgivings increased on perceiving " kept my spirits up by pouring spirits that the door, which I certainly thought down.” I had thrown aside my vo. I had left open, was closed behind me; lume of " Anatomy," and was treating in a vague alarm, lest my retreat should myself by way of a tonic, preparatory be cut off, I got again into my room to my punch and bed, to half-a-dozen as quickly as I could, where I repages of the “Spectator," when I heard mained in a state of imaginary blockade, and very uncomfortable indeed, distance of the entire staircase through till morning:
the solitude of my haunted dwelling, Next night brought no return of and at an hour when no good influence my barefooted fellow-lodger; but the was stirring ? Confound it !- the night following, being in my bed, and whole affair was abominable. I was in the dark — somewhere, I suppose, out of spirits, and dreaded the apabout the same bour as before, I dis- proach of night. tinctly heard the old fellow again de- It came, ushered ominously in with scending from the garrets.
a tunder-storm and dull torrents of deThis time I had had my punch, and pressing rain. Earlier than usual the the morale of the garrison was conse- streets grew silent; and by twelve quently excellent. I jumped out of o'clock nothing but the comfortless bed, clutched the poker as I passed pattering of the rain was to be beard. the expiring fire, and in a moment was I made myself as snug as I could. I upon the lobby. The sound had ceased lighted two candles, instead of one. I by this time — the dark and chill were forswore bed, and held myself in readiscouraging; and, guess my horror, diness for a sally, candle in hand; for, when I saw, or thought I saw, a black coute qui coute, I was resolved to see monster, whether in the shape of a the being, if visible at all, who troubled man or a bear I could not say, stand- the nightly stillness of my mansion. I ing, with its back to the wall, on the was fidgetty and nervous, and tried in lobby, facing me, with a pair of great vain to interest myself with my books. greenish eyes shining dimly out. Now, I walked up and down my room, whistI must be frank, and confess that the ling in turn martial and hilarious cupboard which displayed our plates music, and listening ever and anon for and cups stood just there, though at the dreaded noise. I sate down and the moment I did not recollect it. At stared at the square label on the sothe same time I must honestly say, that lemn and reserved-looking black bottle, making every allowance for an excited until “ FLANAGAN AND Co.'s BEST OLD imagination, I never could satisfy my- Malt Whisky” grew into a sort of self that I was made the dupe of my subdued accompaniment to all the fan. own fancy in this matter; for this ap- tastic and horrible speculations which parition, after one or two shiftings of chased one another through my brain. shape, as if in the act of incipient trans- Silence, meanwhile, grew more siformation, began, as it seemed on se- lent, and darkness darker. I listened cond thoughts, to advance upon me in in vain for the rumble of a vehicle, or its original form. From an instinct the mellowed clamor of a distant row. of terror rather than of courage, I There was nothing but the sound of a burled the poker, with all my force, at rising wind, which had succeeded the its head; and to the music of a horrid thunder-storm that had travelled over crash made my way into my room, and the Dublin mountains quite out of double-locked the door. Then, in a hearing. In the middle of this great minute more, I heard the borrid bare city I began to feel myself alone with feet walk down the stairs, till the sound nature, and Heaven knows what beside. ceased in the hall, as on the former My courage was ebbing. Punch, howoccasion.
ever, which makes beasts of so many, If the apparition of the night before made a man of me again—just in time was an ocular delusion of my fancy to hear with tolerable nerve and firmsporting with the dark outlines of our ness the lumpy, flabby, naked feet decupboard, and if its horrid eyes were liberately descending the stairs again. nothing but a pair of inverted teacups, I took a candle, not without a tre. I had, at all events, the satisfaction of mor. As I crossed the floor I tried to having launched the poker with admi. extemporise a prayer, but stopped short rable effect, and in true "fancy" phrase, to listen, and never finished it. The “knocked its two daylights into one,” steps continued. I confess I hesitated as the commingled fragments of my for some seconds at the door before I tea-service testified. I did my best to took heart of grace and opened it. gather comfort and courage from these When I peeped out the lobby was perevidences; but it would not do. And fectly empty — there was no monster then what could I say of those horrid standing on the staircase; and, as the bare feet, and the regular tramp, detested sound ceased, I was reassured tramp, tramp, which measured the enough to venture forward nearly to
the banisters. Horror of horrors! lighted. As to myself, I assure you within a stair or two beneath the spot that no earthly consideration could where I stood the unearthly tread have induced me ever again to pass a smote the floor. My eye caught night in this disastrous old house." something in motion; it was about the * Confound the house!" I ejaculated, size of Goliah's foot - it was grey, with a genuine mixture of fear and deheavy, and flapped with a dead weight testation, “we have not had a pleasant from one step to another. As I am hour since we came to live here;" and alive, it was the most monstrous grey so I went on, and related incidentally rat I ever beheld or imagined. my adventure with the plethoric old Shakspeare says_“Some men there
rat. are cannot abide a gaping pig, and "Well, if that were all,” said my some that are mad if they behold a cousin, affecting to make light of the cat.” I went well-nigh out of my wits matter, “ I don't think I should have when I beheld this rat ; for, laugh at minded it very much.” me as you may, it fixed upon me, I " Ay, but its eye-its countenance, thoughi, a perfectly human expression my dear Tom,” urged I; “ if you had of malice ; and, as it shuffled about seen that, you would have felt it might and looked up into my face almost be anything but what it seemed." from between my feet, I saw, I could “ I incline to think the best conjurer swear it-I felt it then, and know it in such a case would be an able-bodied now, the infernal gaze and the accursed cat,” he said, with a provoking chuccountenance of my old friend in the kle. portrait, transfused into the visage of “ But let us hear your own adventhe bloated vermin before me.
ture," I said, tartly. I bounced into my room again with At this challenge he looked uneasily a feeling of loathing and horror I can- round him. I had poked up a very not describe, and locked and bolted unpleasant recollection. my door as if a lion had been at the * You shall hear it, Dick; I'll tell it other side. D-n him or it; curse to you," he said. “Begad, sir, I should the portrait and its original! I felt in feel quite queer, though, in telling it my soul that the rat-yes, the rat, the here, though we are too strong a body RAT I had just seen, was that evil being for ghosts to meddle with just now." in masqueradle, and rambling through Though he spoke this like a joke, I the house upon some infernal night think it was a serious calculation. Our lark.
Hebe was in a corner of the room, un. Next morning I was early trudging packivg our cracked delf tea and dinthrough the miry streets ; and, among ner-services in a basket. She soon other transactions, posted a peremp- suspended operations, and with mouth tory note recalling Tom. On my re- and eyes wide open became an absorbturn, however, I found a letter from ed listener. Tom's experiences were my absent " chum," announcing his in- told nearly in these words :tended return next day. I was doubly “ I saw it three times, Dick – three rejoiced at this, because I had suc. distinct times; and I am perfectly cerceeded in getting rooms; and because tain it meant me some infernal harm. the change of scene and return of my I was, I say, in danger — in extreme comrade were rendered specially plea- danger; for, if nothing else had hapsant by the last night's half ridiculous pened, my reason would most certainly half horrible adventure.
have failed me, unless I had escaped so I slept extemporaneously in my new soon. Thank God, I did escape. quarters in Digges’-street that night, “ The first night of this bateful disand next morning returned for break- turbance, I was lying in the attitude fast to the haunted mansion, where I of sleep, in that lumbering old bed. I was certain Tom would call immediately hate to think of it. I was really wide on his arrival.
awake, though I had put out my canI was quite right-he came; and al- dle, and was lying as quietly as if I most his first question referred to the had been asleep; and although acciprimary object of our change of resi- dentally restless, my thoughts were rundence.
ning in a cheerful and agreeable chan. “ Thank God," he said with genuine nel. fervor, on hearing that all was ar- "I think it must have been two o'clock ranged. “On your account I am de- at least when I thought I heard a
sound in that_that odious dark recess by recounting the tale of my sufferat the far end of the bedroom. It was ings. as if some one was drawing a piece of " It required some nerve, I can tell cord slowly along the floor, listing it you, to go to my haunted chamber up, and dropping it softly down again next night, and lie down quietly in the in coils. I sate up once or twice in same bed,” continued Tom. “ I did my bed, but could see nothing, so I so with a degree of trepidation, which, concluded it must be mice in the wains- I am not ashamed to say, a very little cot. I felt no emotion graver than cu- matter would have sufficed to stimuriosity, and after few minutes late to downright panic. This night, ceased to observe it.
however, passed off quietly enough, as While lying in this state, strange also the next; and so too did two or to say, without at first a suspicion of three more. I grew more confident, anything supernatural, on a sudden and began to fancy that I believed in I saw an old man, rather stout and the theories of spectral illusions, with square, in a sort of roan-red dress- which I had at first vainly tried to iming-gown, and with a black cap on pose upon my convictions. his head, moving stiflly and slowly “ The apparition had been, indeed, in a diagonal direction, from the recess, altogether anomalous. It had crossed across the floor of the bedroom, pass- the room without any recognition of ing my bed at the foot, and entering my presence: I had not disturbed it, the lumber-closet at the left. He bad and it had no mission to me. What, something under his arm ; his head then, was the imaginable use of its hung a little at one side ; and, merci. crossing the room in a visible shape at ful God! when I saw his face.”
all? Of course it might have been in Tom stopped for a while, and then the closet instead of going there, as said
easily as it introduced itself into the " That awful countenance, which recess without entering the chamber in living or dying I never can forget, dis- a shape discernible by the senses. Beclosed what he was. Without turning sides, how the deuce had I seen it? to the right or left, he passed beside It was a dark night; I had no candle; me, and entered the closet by the bed's there was no fire; and yet I saw it as head.
distinctly, in colouring and outline, as “While this fearful and indescribable ever I beheld human form! A catype of death and guilt was passing, I taleptic dream would explain it all; felt that I had no more power to speak and I was determined that a dream it or stir than if I had been myself a should be. corpse. For hours after it had disap- “One of the most remarkable plicnopeared I was too terrified and wenk to mena connected with the practice of move. As soon as daylight came, I mendacity is the vast number of delibe. took courage, and examined the room, rate lies we tell to ourselves, whom, of and especially the course which the all persons, we can least expect to defrightful intruder had seemed to take, ceive. In all this, I need hardly tell but there was not a vestige to indicate you, Dick, I was simply lying to myself, anybody's having passed there; no sign and did not believe one word of the of any disturbing agency visible among wretched humbug. Yet I went on, as the lumber tbat strewed the floor of men will do, like persevering charlathe closet.
tans and impostors, who tire people “I now began to recover a little. I into credulity by the mere force of rewas fagged and exhausted, and at last, iteration; so I hoped to win myself overpowered by a feverish sleep. I over at last to a comfortable scepti. came down late; and finding you out cism about the ghost. of spirits, on account of your dreams “ He had not appeared a second time about the portrait, whose original I - that certainly was a comfort ; and am now certain disclosed himself to what, after all, did I care for him, and me, I did not care to talk about the his queer old toggery and strange looks? infernal vision. In fact, I was trying Not a fig! I was nothing the worse to persuade myself that the whole thing for having seen him, and a good was an illusion, and I did not like to story the better. So I tumbled into revive in their intensity the hated im- bed, put out my candle, and, cheered pressions of the past night - or, to by a loud drunken quarrel in the back risk the constancy of my scepticism, tane, went fast asleep.