Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

eyes were

less guide, who to all appearance was now stretched a breathless corpse before me. His

sunk and fixed, but not closed; a white foam surrounded his mouth, and the Jivid paleness of death was upon him. Cold, wet, and stiffening, I ordered his once dig, nified form to be laid before a fire, while some of the poor old soldiers (who stood by, dripping water from their forlorn persons, and visibly affected by the melancholy spectacle before thenı) at my request engaged to rub him with warm cloths.

Upwards of an hour was spent in endeavours to recal a life which to me had become so precious, but which had now, too evidently, fled for ever to the eternal abodes of futurity. They were all vain, and with much sorrow our attempts were relinquished. It was with the greatest difficulty that my old hostess could be prevailed upon to suffer the de, ceased to remain upon her premises for that night, but the promise of reward had, at length, such an effect upon her, that she allowed it to be laid upon the floor of a back apartment, which was not in much use, and which was situated immediately under my bed-room; observing that if his ghost did haunt that part of her house it would not be of much consequence, because scarcely any body ever went there.

A serjeant of the invalids who was present, observed that the body must be carefully pre. served for the inspection of a coroner, before whose inquest it must be taken on the following morning ; and that to preserve it in some degree from the attacks of vermin, with which the house and indeed the whole neighbourhood swarmed to an unusual degree, it was proposed that we should place it in a large thick sack, which was used for the conveyance of potatoes,

tie

up the mouth, and deposit it in the room before mentioned.

This proposition meeting with the approbation of all parties, the body was carefully desposited in the sack, and placed upon the ground of the apartment proposed, which appeared to be used for no other purpose than as a receptacle for peatturf. This ceremony being preformed, the door of the room fastened, and the poor soldiers being well supplied with whiskey, I once more retired to my own apartment, amidst the condolence of these honest people, who appeared to lame n

with great sincerity of grief, the death of the poor Highlander, whom it seemed was not un. known to my old landlady.

Fearing the attacks of vermin, I did not pull off all my clothes, but having placed my candle un. extinguished upon the hearth, I crawled into the dismal hole, that was appropriated for my repose with my travelling cloak enfolded close roundme. Labouring under the impression of so many melancholy circumstances as had befallen me on the preceding day, it was in vain that I waited for the happy approaches of sleep whose healing balm was denied to my agitated feelings, and in a feverish state of anxiety, I rolled to and fro in my narrow abode, until my fever had increased to a state of actual phrensy, and my imagination tortured me with a rapid conception of horrid images which I could scarcely endure.

In this miserable state of being, I suddenly heard or imagined I heard, a strange noise below, in the apartment immediately under mine and in which the corpse of the unfortunate Highlander was deposited. I listened with minute attention for its repetition, but all remained still as the abode of death for a considerable time, when as I was again relapsing

into my former mood of despondency, it was repeated with additional strange sounds unlike any thing I had ever heard, and I listened with a degree of attention that nearly suspended ani. mation, endeavouring in vain to account for its existence. At length, after a loud crash it ceased, and all was again silent as a tomb.

These unusual and unaccountable sounds had at once raised my curiosity and my fears to a violent conflict, I wished to be made acquainted with their cause, and yet my foolish fears for a long time prevented me ; but, at length, perceiva ing my candle to be nearly consumed, I resolved to benefit by its light, and having worked up a strong degree of resolution, I seized the dying taper wrapped my cloak closely about me, and gently stole down stairs. All was perfectly still, when I arived at the door of the suspected aparte ment, and I stood for awhile undetermined whe. ther to proceed or retire once more to my room, but imagining that I again heard some low inde. terminate sounds within, I unlocked the door and rushed into the apartment. My candle threw but a faint and impartial light around, which rendered every object extremely dubious, however, I advanced towards the sack, which

had been desposited in the centre of the floor as being the first object of consequence to be ex. amined, and held the light down to it.

But what was my surprise and astonishment, when I beheld a long slit made in the side of the sack which was now empty, and its late inhabitant remoyed! I started backwards, and gazed around with a stupid, fearful stare, in hopes and yet afraid of beholding some horrible object that should remove my fears, or increase my uneasi.

ness.

In a remote and gloomy corner of the apart. ment, sitting upon a pile of peat-turf, I beheld the naked figure of a man, placed with his head rested upon his hands, while his eyes were steadily fixed upon

all

my movements. His features were not so far deathlike that I could not disco. ver the lineaments of the generous Highlander, but a more horrid figure I never beheld than he appeared, sitting in an immoveable attitude in such a gloomy spot, while his body seemed almost covered with black dust from the peat upon which he sat.

My fears were far from being abated upon the discovery of this miserable and shocking spectacle. My mind was enervated by the conflict.

« AnteriorContinua »