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“We will soon see if that is the case," | mondo ?” inquired Bascara. "Are you exclaimed I, as I leaped from the chaise. aware, gentlemen, what the Château Ghis“I require a stable, a room, and refresh mondo is? Nobody has ever sought shelter ments," said I to the hostess, in that kind of there with impunity, or without having imperious tone which we had generally made a previous compact with the evil found to answer on these occasions ; " and spirit. No! not for millions would I enter these without loss of time; it is in the ser.it: no, I am quite resolved not to attempt vice of the emperor.”
it.” “ Heyday, captain,” cried the good dame, “ I am quite certain that you will accomwith the most perfect assurance; “if the pany us. However, my excellent Bascara," emperor himself were to apply for a lodging said Boutraix, while he encircled the manahe would not even find standing room in ger with a muscular arm, “would it become our hostelry. Provisions and wine you can a brave Castilian to be scared away from a have in plenty, for, thanks to Heaven, there place on account of an absurd tradition ? is no difficulty in procuring them in a town No, no! proceed, my good Bascara, and rest like this. But, on my word of honor, there assured that if the devil attempts to molest is not lodging to be had-save in the Châ- you, Lieutenant Boutraix will step in be. teau Ghismondo."
tween you. By heavens, I should only like “I only wish this terrible castle was to witness such a thing." really not far off,” said I; “ for I would In the meantime we had advanced some certainly sooner pass the night in it than in way on our road, but I must say that the the street."
mules did not press forward very willingly, “Well, that's not at all a bad idea ; the for they were already much overworked and Château Ghismondo is only three-quarters required provender. of a league from here, and shelter is to be “ After all," observed Sergy, "we have found in it at all times and seasons, though not yet heard why the Château de Ghismonpeople seldom avail themselves of this ad- | do is such an object of dread to so many vantage ; you Frenchmen are not men to people. Perhaps it is haunted by ghosts." yield a comfortable lodging to the devil. If “More likely by robbers,” replied I; you like this plan, your carriage shall be “there is generally some foundation for filled with every thing necessary to make these superstitious terrors." you pass a merry night, unless you happen "Is it possible,” said Estevan, in a falterto be disturbed by some mysterious visitor." ing voice, " that any body is unacquainted
In ten minutes after this discussion our with the history of the Castle of Ghismondo ? conveyance was so crammed with good If the gentlemen would like to know any things, that the smallest person could not thing about it, I shall be very happy to have inserted himself. We had resolved to satisfy their curiosity; for my father was proceed on foot.
once inside it. Ah! he was a good creature, “ Where are we to go, captain ?” asked God forgive him for loving drink a little the arriero, who was a little surprised at too much." our preparations.
“ Pray tell us the story," cried Sergy, “Where are we to go?-my poor Es- eagerly. tevan! why, to the Château Ghismondo, in "Oh, that unfortunate Ghismondo!" said all human probability."
Estevan, and then he lowered his voice to a “ To the Château Gbismondo! Then may whisper, as if he feared to be heard by some the blessed Virgin have mercy upon us. My unseen witness. “Unfortunate he was, mules would not even dare to undertake indeed," continued he, "for he drew upon the journey there.”
himself the inexorable anger of God. At “ They will undertake it, however,” and the age of twenty-five, Ghismondo became I slipt a few pieces of money into his hand; the head of the noble family of Las Sierras, " for they will have a luxurious feed after which is so celebrated in our chronicles ; it their fatigue; and remember, my good fel is about three hundred years ago since the low, there are three excellent bottles of old time of which I am speaking, but the exact wine of Palamos for yourself.”
year is mentioned in the chronicle. He was: “Do we really go to the Château Ghis-, a bandsome, generous, and brave knight, and possessed such captivating manners, I awaken in his breast some feelings of huthat wherever he went he was welcome; / manity. But, alas ! she had undertaken a but, unfortunately, he was rather fond of task beyond her strength, for Ghismondo, bad company, and did not keep in mind the being stimulated at length by his barbarous fear and love of God, At length he became companions, plunged his dagger into her so notorious for his profligacy, and his prodi- | bosom." gality had so completely ruined him, that “The monster!" exclaimed Sergy, deeply he was obliged to shut himself up in the affected by the story. very castle in which you have so imprudent. “This horrible crime," pursued Estevan, ly resolved to spend the night, for this was “ did not in the least diminish their mirth, all that was left of his rich patrimony. In and they continued to drink and sing licenthis retreat he passed the rest of his days, tious songs in the presence of the dead body, being delighted to escape his creditors and till three o'clock in the morning, when the the many enemies wbich bis reckless pas. men-at-arms, who had discovered that the sions had made bim. His companions were sounds of revelry had ceased, entered the an esquire (who had led as bad a life as banquet hall, and found four bodies stretched himself) and a young page, the corruption on the ground in the midst of pools of blood of whose mind had far outstepped his years. and wine. The three drunkards were carried There were besides, in the castle, a few off to their beds, and the corpse was placed armed men, who had joined in many of the in its winding sheet. The vengeance of crimes of Ghismondo and his two friends, Heaven, however, did not sleep, for Ghisand who had therefore resolved to follow his mondo's eyes were scarcely closed when fortunes. One of the first expeditions which Inez entered his chamber; she was pale and Ghismondo undertook after he had estab-covered with blood; she wore a shroud, and lished himself in the château, was for the soon held forth a flaming hand, which she purpose of procuring himself a companion at length placed heavily on his heart, on the of the other sex; and, like the vile bird exact spot on which she had laid it a few which defiles its nest, he selected his victim hours before. Ghismondo seemed nailed to from the bosom of his own family. Some the bed by some irresistible power, and in said, however, that Inez de las Sierras (this vain attempted to escape from the horrible was the name of his niece) had not been un- apparition; he could express his agony only willingly carried off.
in sighs and groans. The flaming hand ap“However that may be, it is certain that peared actually fastened to the place, and all at once the fair Inez, who had received the heart of Ghismondo burnt and continued a Christian education, became horror-struck to burn until sunrise, when the phantom disat the sinful life she had been leading. Her appeared. His accomplices were visited soul had suddenly been illamined by a ray in a similar manner by the ghost of Inez. of divine grace, and at midnight, on this The next day, and every day during that same night of the year which recalls to the never-ending year, the three wretched men mind of the faithful the Saviour's birth, she sought each other's eyes, to learn, if possible, entered the banqueting hall, contrary to her from their expression, the nature of their usual habit, where these three wicked men dreams, for they did not dare to speak upon were seated round the hearth, and were the subject. The love of excitement and indulging in the most awful excess. Her gain, however, soon plunged them into fresh faith so completely inspired her that she crimes, and at night they revelled in all forgot all fear while she addressed the three kinds of excess, in order to drive away sinners, and pictured to them in the most thought, and to keep off sleep as much as eloquent words, the wickedness of their they could, because they dreaded its apdeeds, and the horror of that eternal punish- proach on account of their nightly visitant. ment which awaits all those who turn not “At length the anniversary of the 24th from their evil courses. She wept and of December arrived, and the three friends prayed, and threw herself at the feet of were sitting as usual round the hearth at Ghismondo, and as she placed her white their evening meal. Suddenly, just as the hand on his heart, which had so lately beaten clock struck twelve, they heard a voice in with the emotion of love, she strove to the adjoining gallery, and in a few seconds afterwards Inez entered the banqueting banqueting room, and there he saw the hall.
ghosts of Ghismondo, of his esquire and “* Here I am,' cried she, and she cast page, and beheld Inez showing them a aside her funeral drapery, and sat down bleeding wound in her bosom, and she be. with them, richly dressed, as she used to do. gan to dance and to approach him with
“To their infinite terror, she began to eat the others, when suddenly my father rebread and drink wine as if she were living, membered the horrible story which he had then she proceeded to dance and sing, and heard, and sank to the ground as if he were to amuse them as bad been her wont; all at dead, and wben he came to himself the next once her hand began to blaze just as they morning, he found himself on the steps of had seen it in their dreams, and she placed the parish church.” it on Ghismondo's heart, as well as on the “Where he had fallen asleep the night esquire's, and the page's ; instantly all was before," said Boutraix, “because he had over, for, in a few minutes, the heart of each taken too much wine; it was a drunkard's of these sinners was reduced to cinders. dream, my poor Estevan; but this infernal The men-at-arms came into the banqueting château, are we never to reach it?” hall as usual at three o'clock, and this time “ We are here at last,” said Estevan. they had to carry away four dead bodies. “And not too soon, for I actually hear
“But this is not all," pursued Estevan. thunder, a most extraordinary thing at this " And I entreat you to listen to me for an time of the year,” observed Sergy. instant before you decide on spending the “It may always be heard at this particunight in the castle. Since the death of lar season, near the Château Ghismondo," Ghismondo, his retreat has become hateful replied the arriero. to every body, and is left in the possession. He had scarcely ceased speaking, when a of the devil ; even the road which leads to vivid flash of lightning darted from the it is deserted, as you may observe ; all that heavens, and displayed the white walls of is known now is, tbat every year, on the the old castle to our view. The chief en24th of December, at midnight, each win. trance appeared to have been long closed, dow in the château becomes immediately but the principal hinges had broken away illuminated, and those who have had courage from the stones which supported them, to enter the dread abode, have seen the owing to the action of the air upon them spirits of the knight, the esquire, and the for centuries, so that we managed with our page, and Inez, visit the banquet hall, and swords to carve a passage through the have witnessed the same scene as I have crumbling doorway, and immediately found described on that memorable 24th of De ourselves in the fore-court. On its left was cember. This is the doom assigned to them a projecting roof, which formed a covering till the end of all time.”
to a kind of cattle shed; this had been These last words made Boutraix burst formerly used as a shelter for the horses of into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. I the governor of the castle from the inclem
“Go to the devil,” cried be, while he ency of the season; we were exceedingly slapped the arriero familiarly on the shoul. delighted when we perceived this rough der; "nothing but prejudice, my good Cas stable, for it was just wbat we required for tilian ; this is one of the old grandmothers' housing the mules and carriage. tales of the superstitious times which are “This will do famously for my mules," no longer credited in Spain. Come, spur on cried Estevan, who appeared more contented your mules, I would drink a toast to Satan and composed than he had been during the himself to see the supper sooner prepared." journey, “and you know, gentlemen, that
“ These were exactly my father's words,” there is a proverb which says, 'that the remarked Estevan.
muleteer is always comfortable wherever "Well, but,” said Sergy, “ you have not his mules are well lodged,' and I feel, with yet told us what your father saw, that so a little bit of something to eat, and the terrified him."
three bottles of wine which the captain “ Exactly what I mentioned before, gen- promised me, I shall do well." tlemen; after having passed a long gallery “Here they are,” exclaimed I, “and two of portraits, he came to the entrance of the loaves and a quarter of roast lamb besides, for your supper ; you will not fare badly, I | what an arm and hand! This is exactly think; and now, having taken care of your what Inez ought to be.” comfort as well as the mules, we must lose “And what she was,” said Sergy, with no time in preparing our own repast." warmth. “Come here,” cried be, while he
We lighted four torches, and then mounted dragged me after him, “I have found a good the grand staircase, which was strewn with light for it, and have managed to catch the dust and litter; when we reached the land- expression of the eyes. I never beheld eyes ing-place on the first story we rested a mo- which appealed more completely to the soul ment to take breath; on our left was a -'tis life-like.” long corridor, which was so narrow and so “Wait, wait a moment,” exclaimed Boudark that our torches could not pierce its traix, whose tall figure enabled him to reach obscurity; immediately before us was a the frame ; " there is a name written here in door, or rather there had been one, which German, or Hebrew, for aught I know," and led to various apartments; we continued to he grasped hold of the picture ; " I would pursue our inquiries, and at length we en- as soon take the trouble of explaining the tered a gallery, the walls of which I per- Koran,” said he. ceived were hung with portraits ; to these “Inez de las Sierras, Inez de las Sierras," I eagerly drew the attention of my com- cried Sergy, enthusiastically ; “read for panions, who had not yet remarked them yourselves.”
“ Yes, pictures," cried Boutraix, “as cer- "Hither, gentlemen, follow me," shouted tain as there is a God in heaven. Is it Boutraix, who had left us looking at the possible that the drunken father of that portraits. “Here is a hall of reception, simpleton of an arriero could have come as which will make us forget all regret at quitfar as this ?”
ting Mattaro; why, faith, 'tis a banquet “ Impossible, you know," remarked Sergy, room worthy of a prince.” with a scornful smile, “ for, if you remem The ball to which Boutraix drew our atber, he fell asleep on the steps of the parish tention was in a much better state of preschurch, because he was so tipsy that he ervation than any other part of the castle, could go no farther.”
it was lighted at one end by two very nar“My good fellow, I am not asking you row windows, which, from their particular for your opinion," said Boutraix, while he position, had remained tolerably uninjured produced his eyeglass, and began to ex- from the effects of age and climate. The amine minutely the broken frames. “Yes, hangings of printed leather, and the strange they are actually pictures, and, if I mistake antique chairs gave to the whole apartment not, they are portraits of the family of Las an air of rude magnificence; there was a Sierras."
round table, too, which immediately brought Sergy meanwhile had seized a torch, and to our recollection the impious revels in was gazing eagerly at one of the portraits. which Ghismondo so often indulged.
“Look," cried he,“ look at this knight of It cost us several journeys to bring hither the gloomy countenance, this must be Ghis- our provisions, as well as wood for making mondo bimself; how admirably the painter a fire; we found every thing safe, however, has expressed in his young features all the even Bascara's trunk of finery, and at length lassitude of voluptuousness, and the wear we had carried in all the good cheer for our and tear of crime! It makes one melan- evening meal. choly to look upon it."
“I should not wonder,” remarked I, “if “ Well, the portrait next to it,” said I, our party of to-night were to add a fresh " will refresh your eyes, after gazing at its pretext for the credulity of the inhabitants; gloomy companion,” while I inwardly smiled it is just the hour when Ghismondo is said at his conjecture; "it is the portrait of a to come every year to take part in his inwoman, and if it was in a better state of fernal banquet, and our lights, which must preservation, and nearer to us, you would be seen through the windows, will certainly certainly fall into raptures on the charms of cause the superstitious to think that a feast Inez de las Sierras, for you may easily im- of demons is going forward ; I dare say it agine it is her. What an elegant and digni- was upon a similar circumstance that Estefied figure, and wbat a graceful attitude! van's story was founded.”
“ And perhaps, too,” remarked Boutraix, i Inez de las Sierras has not yet visited us," “some persons who happened to be here on and we laughed merrily that we should all a 24th of December, amused themselves in have happened to make so absurd an obdressing up and performing the parts of servation. Ghismondo and his comrades; now, here is “Zounds !” cried Boutraix, as he attempted a knight's suit, which seems as if it had to rise, though rather unsteadily; “ we will been made for the captain, and there is drink the health of the demoiselle Inez de another which I think will make me look las Sierras, and her speedy deliverance from the picture of the esquire, this page's co- torment." quetish costume is admirably adapted for “ To the health of the fair Inez," said relieving the drooping though handsome Sergy. countenance of my good friend Sergy; pray “ To her health,” replied I, as I touched confess that this is a glorious idea of mine, their glasses. and that it promises us a night of glorious “Here I am," answered a voice which fun and gayety."
seemed to proceed from the adjoining gallery While Boutraix was chattering, he had of pictures. attired himself from head to foot, and we “Humph !” muttered Boutraix seating had followed his example, laughing heartily himself again, “it's not a bad joke whoever all the time.
| has played it." “But who is to personate the fair Inez, I looked behind me, and saw Bascara pale we never thonght of that; it seems to me and trembling with fear. that no one could better perform her part “That rogue of a muleteer has taken too than the amiable Bascara, to whom pature much wine," said I, “and is amusing himself has been very bountiful in external gifts, if at our expense.” he would only do us this favor."
“Here I am ! here I am !" repeated the “Gentlemen," replied Bascara, “I have no same voice, “ a hearty greeting and welcome objection to assist in any joke which does not to the guests of the Château Ghismondo." concern the welfare of my soul, but in this “ It is a woman's voice, and a young wo affair my conscience will not allow me to man's too,” said Sergy, and he rose from his join ; you will learn, perhaps to your cost, chair with elegant self-possession. that you cannot brave the powers of hell Precisely at the same moment we perwith impunity."
| ceived a white phantom at the farther end “ That will do, my good fellow," exclaimed of the hall; suddenly it moved towards us Boutraix,“ keep your chair, and eat, drink, with great rapidity, and when it reached us, pray, and sleep; don't alarm yourself, Inez it threw off its winding-sheet. never comes till dessert, and I only hope “Here I am !” said the phantom, and she may come.”
seated itself in Inez's place, at the same time “ God preserve us from such a thing !" it sighed deeply, and pushed aside its long cried Bascara.
black hair, which was carelessly confined Our supper was ready, and accordingly we with bows of cherry-colored ribbon ; none of seated ourselves ; I took a place opposite the us had ever beheld such refined and regular fire, Boutraix, the esquire, was on my right description of beauty. hand, and Sergy, the page on my left. Inez's “There is no question about its being a seat was opposite to me, and was unoccupied. woman,” said I in an under tone, " and since I glanced round the table, and perceived we are all agreed that whatever happens that, notwithstanding our attempt at a joke, must be explained by some natural circumwe were all mightily serious. Sergy, who stance, we have nothing to do but to follow was always more easily impressed than Bou- the rules of French politeness,—the result traix and I, seemed more affected by the will clear up the mystery, if it can be cleared scene than we were. We drank plenty of up." wine, not having much else to do; at length We resumed our seats, and offered rewe discovered, by our watches, it was ex. freshment to the unknown, who appeared to actly twelve o'clock; we took another bottle be perfectly famished; she eat and drank of wine, and when we had nearly finished it without speaking ; in a few minutes, indeed, we shouted out joyfully, “ Midnight, and she seemed to have forgotten all about us,