Imatges de pÓgina

first wound, and was invalided for a couple to become a widow again, before St. Venant; of months. This bad beginning did not

but she followed the fortunes of the army damp her ardour; on the contrary, she till the war came to an end, and her occagrew so attached to a military life that she pation with it. forgot the purpose for which she embraced Taking the advice of the Duke of Argyll, it, and never troubled herself to make any Christian Jones petitioned Queen Anne, inquiries about her Richard. The following setting forth that she had served her summer, while foraging, she was taken country as a soldier for twelve years, had prisoner, but was soon exchanged and back received several wounds, and lost two with her regiment. While quartered at husbands in her majesty's service. The Gorcum, Christian had the impudence to petition, presented in person, was most make love to a burgher's daughter, actually graciously received. Perceiving that the fighting a duel with a rival, and wounding petitioner would soon give her another him dangerously. This rival was a sergeant, subject, the queen ordered fifty pounds to and but for the intercession of the girl's be given her to defray expenses, promising father the victorious Amazon would have that if the child proved a boy, he should paid dearly for her triumph; as it was, she receive a commission as soon as he was was dismissed the regiment. She immedi- born. Great was Christian's chagrin when ately entered Lord John Hayes's dragoons, she became the mother of a girl. However, serving with them at the capture of Namur. the queen did not forget her. A pension At the peace of Ryswick the regiment was of a shilling a day was bestowed on her, disbanded, and the she-dragoon returned and she again changed her name by marto England, but never went home—her rying one Davis, a soldier, of course, mind was thoroughly unsexed, and she settling down at Chelsea and laying the hated the idea of confessing her woman- gentry and military under contribution hood.

whenever she needed any extra comforts. Upon the breaking out of the war of the While engaged in nursing her husband, Spanish succession, Christian went back to Christian caught cold; this brought on her old regiment, and did a man's part in serious illness, and ended her adventurous most of the engagements of Marlborough's life on the 7th of July, 1739. This extracampaign of 1702-3. At the battle of Dona- ordinary woman was interred with military vert, in 1704, a ball penetrated her hip. The honours in the burying-ground of the doctors failed to extract the bullet, but Soldiers' Hospital. nearly discovered her secret. At the battle of In 1761, a woman enlisted under the Hochstadt, she was one of a party detached name of Paul Daniel, in the hope of being to guard the prisoners; while performing sent to Germany, where her husband was this duty she came across her husband, serving in the army, but was detected by whom she had not seen for twelve years, a keen-eyed sergeant. In 1813, a farmer's and discovered that he had consoled himself daughter, hailing from Denbighshire, took by taking a Dutch woman as her successor. his majesty's shilling, and entered the The irate dame, making herself known to Fifty-third Regiment, in order to be near the astonished man, gave him a bit of her her lover. She had, however, made a mind, but relieved his fears by declaring slight mistake, and when she found her she had no intention of claiming her rights, sweetheart had joined the Forty-third, the but would be a brother to him so long as damsel's martial desires evaporated, and he did not betray her confidence. This she obtained her discharge. curious bargain was faithfully kept, until a Amazons have not been unknown to the shell fractured Christian's skull at Ramil- | naval service. One Ann Mills served as lies, and the surgeon who trepanned her a seaman on board the Maidstone frigate, found out the long hidden truth, and his and distinguished herself by her personal patient was of course dismissed the service. prowess in an action with a French ship. The officers saw her remarried to Welsh, In 1761, Hannah Whitney, while disportand subscribed a handsome sum by way of ing herself in male attire, was seized by a dowry. No longer allowed to fight, the press-gang, and sent, with other victims, to stout-hearted matron turned cook and Plymouth prison. Indignant at this treatsutler; the officers did not look very closely ment, the fair captive declared she was not into her doings, and she, consequently, what she seemed to be, at the same time turned the change to profitable account. Her letting the authorities know their harshhusband was killed at Taisnieres. Eleven ness had lost them the services of a marine weeks afterwards she married a grenadier, of five years' experience. The fact that a

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woman fought and died on board one of “Joan, when we were talking about Nelson's ships, came to light in a curious ghosts the other night, at the rectory, you way. In 1807, a young woman, calling only said something about it in joke. What herself Rebecca Ann Johnston, was brought do you think seriously ?” before the lord mayor, having been found, "Seriously, my dear, I think there is no in a sad condition, in the streets. She was necessity to make up one's mind, as we dressed as a sailor, and said she came from are not at all likely to be troubled with Whitby, having deserted from a collier, such visitations." after serving four out of the seven years' “ If you saw a ghost, what would you apprenticeship to which she had been think? what would you do ?” bound by her step-father, who had likewise, "Have you seen a ghost ?" I asked, to bound her mother to the sea, on which she bring matters to a point. met her death at the bombardment of She looked up at me earnestly. Copenhagen. The last female warrior of Joan, I declare to you solemnly that I whom we have anything to say, can believe I have: not once, nor twice, but scarcely be called a British Amazon, un many, many times. My life has been less her having served under the British made wretched; my nights-oh! how can flag entitles her to the designation. All I have such nights, and keep my life and we know about her is contained in the reason ?" following paragraph from the Annual Re- She was trembling violently. I felt that gister of 1815: Amongst the crew of it must all be told now; stroking down the Queen Charlotte, one hundred and ten her hair, I said, as quietly as possible : guns, recently paid off, it is now discovered “ Tell me all about it, child, as distinctly was a female African, who had served as as you can; it will be all right, depend seaman in the royal navy for upwards of upon eleven years, several of which she has “I will—I will tell you all. Hold me been rated able on the books of the above closer, Joan-how I love your dear old ship, by the name of William Brown; and steady hand. You will hold mine when I has served as the captain of the foretop, am dying, won't you, Joany? You will highly to the satisfaction of the officers. take care of me to the last ?” She is a smart figure, about five feet four “Go on, my dear; you are not going to inches in height, possessed of considerable die just yet. strength and great activity ; her features “I don't know-sometimes I feel as if I are rather handsome for a black, and she could not bear much more of this; but I appears to be about twenty-six years of don't want to die, it is horrible to think age. Her share of prize-money is said to of drifting out into the cold shadow-world, be considerable, respecting which she has where-where they are—where she is. been several times within the last few days Oh ! Joan, listen to the wind." at Somerset-place. In her manners she • Never mind the wind, my child,” said exhibits all the traits of a British tar, and I, "and as to death-though it is life takes her grog with her late shipmates you should be thinking about—what is with the greatest gaiety. She says she is death but going to our mother, to your a married woman, and went to sea in con- father—to the Great, Good Father of us sequence of a quarrel with her husband, all ?” who, it is said, has entered a caveat against “But the valley of the shadow of death, her receiving her prize-money. She de- the king of terrors ! Those words have clares her intention of again entering the meaning, Joan. Well, I am telling you service as a volunteer.”

nothing; be patient, and I will. You remember the day we examined the cabinet,

and saw her picture ? the day Mrs. BraceLELGARDE’S INHERITANCE. bridge told us that sad story?”

Yes; and how you waked me up at an IN TWELVE CHAPTERS. CHAPTER VII. unearthly hour the next morning." LELGARDE had forced me into an arm- “You asked me if I had slept badly. chair, and flung herself down on a footstool Now, Joan, I am going to tell you

the at my feet, turning so that she could speak history of that night, solemnly and truly.' without my seeing her face. These pre- Go


I am listening to parations almost frightened me.

What you.” was she going to say ? Her beginning “I fell asleep-and how long I slept I took me by surprise.

do not know-I can hardly say I awoke :

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little woman,

once ?"

that does not describe it-but I became con- is distinct. The vision, or dream, if you scious suddenly; and what roused me was like, fades away, and the next thing that the sound of weeping—such weeping, so happens is that it is morning." despairing, so terrible, Joan, that it made Then this has happened more than my

heart stand still." “My poor little pet, it was Mrs. Brace

“ More than once ? Night after night! bridge had been telling us about those Joan"-she hesitated here—"you fancy terrible hysterical weepings — you were that my liking for Mr. Seymour Kennedy over-wrought by the story, that is all." is strange. Do you know the reason of it?

“Let me go on: next I became con- He has power to lay the ghost.' scious that I could see. There was some “What can you mean?” sort of light, but whether from window, “I mean that the night after his visit, fire, or candle, I cannot tell you, but I and sometimes the night before, I am never saw-yes, distinctly, a figure by my bed. troubled. It is strange, is it not? I don't side ; "I never can remember the dress, like him really; he is most unlike all that I I have only a vague impression of some have been used to make my type of excelloose wrapper, of a light colour; but the lence; but surely he must be destined in face! oh, Joan, believe me, I am not fancy. some way to rule my fate, or why has he ing things; it was the face of Miss Hilda's this strange influence over the curse that portrait, only older, far older, worn and pursues me ?" white, and bathed in tears—such a face of "A curse !--my dear, strong language ! despair, that if you really saw such a one, Those dreams show a bad state of health, you would be wretched for days after- and you ought to have mentioned them wards.”

before." “But, fortunately, it was only seen in a Lelgarde rose and stood before me, lookdream, my pretty one: a dream very easily ing like a ghost herself in her white accounted for. Come, is that all ? wrapper.

“I wish it were. Now, Joan, all this Joan,” she said, “I have allowed you does not seem to me like a dream in look- to talk about dreams, but it will not do; it ing back upon it; but what came next, you is no dream, no fancy. Something does will say must have been. I had a vague really visit my room at night.” feeling of being carried-hurried along Her voice, her tone of conviction, the dark galleries, and down cold stairs. Oh, remembrance of the servants' gossip, all this I never can make you understand. I made my blood curdle. Unimaginative as can't get at my own idea, or put it into I am, little as I believe in ghosts, I could words. It was I who endured all this, it hardly command my voice in asking Lelwas I who felt the cold, and the wretched- garde to explain her reasons for what she ness, and the sickening, overwhelming said. terror; and yet it was not I, but another " Every night I lock my door, and I creature: and I pitied that other creature always find it locked in the morning; but —that other, that was I, and yet not I.” my room is entered nevertheless. I always "Nightmare."

put my candle on this chair by the bed. I "Call it so if you will. I grew more con- have repeatedly in the morning found the scious, but the scene was changed. I stood chair moved, the candle and match-box before that cabinet. Do you remember my put on the table. You know," and she saying I fancied it had a secret recess some- smiled a little,“ how you used to fidget me where ?"

about putting my shoes side by side, and “I do."

that I have got into the fixed habit of doing "Well, that recess opened at a touch- Well, I have found them separated, as mine, or that other's—and something was if some foot, treading perhaps in doubtful found there, something was said to me. I light, had disarranged them." have tried for hours and hours to recollect “ A substantial spirit then, Lelgarde, by what, but I cannot—it is all a blank. Only your own showing.' one sentence I seem to have carried away You mean that you think some one is with me, wailed into my ears in a despair- playing me a trick? Who could be so ing moan,' Remember, when the day comes; fiendishly cruel ? Besides, how do you that wrong can never be right.'

account for the cabinet, the secret recess, “And was this all your dream?” all those strange visions which, even in the

“It ends always with some vague feeling daytime, haunt me? I vow to you, Joan, of cold and discomfort, but nothing more that I can never shake them off, except

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when Mr. Kennedy is here. He is so amusing and clever, and I get sometimes so much It was not till daylight was peeping in entertained, and sometimes so angry with through the chinks in the closed shutters him, that just for that time I forget my- that Lelgarde opened her eyes with a self."

freshened, invigorated look which did “And then you do not dream ? Dearest, my heart good. does not that show that it is an effect of “Yes,” she said, in answer to my imagination—the whole thing ?”

anxious questions, "I have slept soundly “I have told myself so ; I almost believed indeed. It seems only a minute ago that it. And then I began to observe the dis- I went to bed. Oh! dearest old Joan! arrangements in my room. Joan, it is use- what a blessing you are to me!" less to fight against it. I am doomed to “And this heavy-treading ghost has not be hunted down—that is what I feel, that been here to-night,” I said, pointing to and nothing else. Tell me, why could I the little slippers ; "everything is just as not live here as a child ? What was it we left it; let us hope that it is exorcised that scared me nearly to death or mad- for good and all.”

Nevertheless, I was resolved to carry She was kneeling before me now, look- Lelgarde away for a little while. I must ing at me with her great woful eyes, full of a own that I felt almost as anxious as she dark terror which I felt almost powerless to could be to get away from Athelstanes, fight against.

the servants' talk tallying so uncomfortably “We will go away, Lelgarde,” I cried; with what she herself had told me, had “you are rich, my darling; you shall not impressed on my mind a vague sense that stay here to be ill. Let us go to Italy: let everything was weird and uncanny, and I us go to Rome, and look up your old friend went about, feeling ready to jump and Harry.”

scream on the smallest provocation. But Things were come to a pass, indeed, when several days and nights passed, and nothing I was driven to this suggestion! I was happened to frighten either of us. Deterglad to see her cheeks colour up, and a more mined not to let Lelgarde pass another natural look return to her eyes.

solitary night as long as we were under · Yes, I should like that,” she said. “Ithat roof, I had a mattress carried into should dearly like it—but I thought I ought her room every night, and I had the satisfacto stay here; it is my home, and my duties tion of seeing her look fresher and brighter lie here."

at every awakening. She had ceased to hang “Your first duty is to get well and restlessly about Miss Hilda's room, and I strong, my pet."

was quite sorry, when, one afternoon, only “ Perhaps so; as it is, I am getting two or three days before that fixed for weaker every day. I cannot tire myself our departure, Mrs. Bracebridge requested into sound sleeping, as I used to do; and her presence there to decide on oh! do you wonder that I dread death ? question of new chintz or dimity, which To become myself one of that fearful, might quite as well have waited till our shadowy world?”

return. “ Hush, Lelgarde, we will talk no more But Mrs. Bracebridge's requests were about it to-night. You shall sleep in not easy to refuse or shirk; and she was my arms, as you did in your baby days. anxious to set all her handmaidens to their Come, let us say our prayers and go to sewing while we were away; so she disbed; and let the ghosts think twice before coursed, pointing out the tattered state of they come and torment my child, now the garniture in question, and Lelgarde she has her old Joan to take care of her.” assented, her eyes all the time roving abont

I succeeded in making Lelgarde smile, with the hunted look which I hoped had but I must confess that I was feeling very entirely left them. I cut short the good old shaky, for all my bold speeches. Lelgarde, lady's speech as much as I could, and when thoroughly exhausted, and safe in my arms, she was gone I tried to hurry my sister off at was soon sleeping heavily with her head once to the drawing-room; but she lingered, pillowed on my shoulder; but I lay awake and, as if drawn by some irresistible attracall night long, listening to the wind, trem- tion to the ebony cabinet, opened it, and bling at the driving rain, and hearing in again began fingering it in every direction, every slamming door and creaking window with the perplexed look of a child over a ghostly footsteps coming to haunt my puzzle. darling

"I cannot make it out,” she murmured.

some moon


“Sunday, to-morrow,” I said, as if I had as I had often seen with what more than not heard her; “I suppose Mr. Seymour waking caution she could guide her steps. Kennedy will be here; our sudden move Evenly and softly she moved down the will take him by surprise.'

broad, shallow stairs ; across the hall, “He has a fine evening for his journey,” and into Miss Hilda's room; I following. she said, closing the cabinet, and we went Straight to the cabinet she walked—the into the drawing-room.

filled the

with its pale That night I awoke. suddenly, with the brightness, and I could see all her peculiar sensation of not waking naturally, actions distinctly. She opened the doors, with a tightening of the breath, and a vague she took out and laid aside, without an feeling of terror. My bed faced the door instant's hesitation, the third drawer on -and that door-that door which I had the right-hand side: she ran her fingers myself locked overnight-stood wide open, over some small ivory mouldings, which showing the black passage outside. It had formed a pattern round the pigeon-hole come then, whatever it was—this night- thus revealed; they were exactly alike, but walking horror-its haunting presence was I saw her select one, and then-not press to manifest itself also to me. We burned it, as she had always tried to do when awake a night-light, and I raised myself softly, and —but draw it towards her. It remained looked at Lelgarde's bed to see if she were in her hand, a long, ivory-headed peg, and awake or not. The bed was empty! there dropped into the aperture from

Never sball I forget that moment of above a small square receptacle—a sort wild, perfectly unreasoning horror. Had of drawer, closely packed with papers. this dreadful thing the power to lure her She took them, unfolded them one by away to some fearful doom? Could such one, looking with her fixed, unseeing things be permitted in a world God go- eyes, straight before her all the while ; verned ?

folded them up and put them back, reThese thoughts went whirling through placing' one after the other, box, peg, my brain, while I threw myself out of and drawer, closed the cabinet, then rebed, and made one spring to the door; at peated, in the dull voice of a child saying the same moment the moonlight came a lesson which it does not understand : streaming through the long line of win- “If that day should ever come, I will dows along the gallery; and, a few yards look here, and remember that wrong can in front of me, full in the flood of light, never be right.” glided along a white-robed female figure. Then she left the room, mounted the On, on, on, with even footsteps—at the stairs, traversed the long gallery, finally, head of the stairs it paused for half a to my intense relief, entered her room, remoment, and I got a clearer view of it. locked the door, barely giving me time to Is it the spirit of Hilda Atheling ? No, slip in after her, and laid herself down in that desolate figure in Harry Goldie's pic- her bed. I took the precaution of extractture has surely stepped out of his canvas. ing the door-key, and putting it under my It is Lelgarde, Lelgarde herself! though pillow: and then, chilled to the bone, and the fixed, corpse-like features, the dead ex- a good deal perplexed, but wonderfully pression of the eyes are most unlike her. comforted, I composed myself to sleep. Thanks to stout nerves and common sense, “Are you certain ? Was it really so ?” in one minute I understood the whole- Lelgarde asked incredulously, when kneel. Lelgarde had resumed the naughty tricks ing by her bedside in the early morning I of her childhood, and was walking in her told her all the adventures of the night. sleep. All was explained now; the white Then, throwing her arm round my neck, and figure, the disarranged room, the unfas- drawing my ear down close to her lips, tened door. In the relief of that moment she whispered: I could have laughed aloud, but I checked “ Are you sure I was alone ?” And I every sound that could disturb her sleep. felt her quiver with superstitious dread. The doctor's assurances, long ago uttered, “My dearest, you must use your comrecurred to my mind, that to wake her mon sense,” I said, with all the authority hastily might cost her her reason or her life. I could muster ; you know this is nothing

As I had often done in days gone by, new, only an old habit resumed.” I crept after her, keeping down my breath, “A habit that grew out of my first visit holding myself ready to clasp and soothe here, Joan; and what natural power could her, should she suddenly awake, and toler- lead me to find out that secret drawer ably free from uneasiness about her safety, which I can never have seen opened ?”

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