« السابقةمتابعة »
tempt and malignity, as he asked the sufferer, “ How like you the fire my coals have kindled ?” The power of motion, which terror suspended in his two brothers, seemed to be restored to Martin by the energy of his courage. He raised himself on the cart, bent his brows, and, clenching his fist, shook it at the spectre with a ghastly look of hate and defiance. The goblin vanished with his usual tremendous and explosive laugh, and left Waldeck exhausted with the effort of expiring nature.
The terrified brethren turned their vehicle towards the towers of a convent, which arose in a wood of pine trees beside the road. They were charitably received by a barefooted and longbearded capuchin, and Martin survived only to complete the first confession he had made since the day of his sudden prosperity, and to receive absolution from the very priest whom, precisely on that day three years, he had assisted to pelt out of the hamlet of Morgenbrodt. The three years of precarious prosperity were supposed to have a mysterious correspondence with the number of his visits to the spectral fire upon the hill.
The body of Martin Waldeck was interred in the convent where he expired, in which his brothers, having assumed the habit of the order, lived and died in the performance of acts of charity and devotion. His lands, to which no one asserted any claim, lay waste until they were reassumed by the emperor as a lapsed fief, and the ruins of the castle, which Waldeck had called by his own name, are still shunned by the miner
and forester, as haunted by evil spirits. Thus were the miseries attendant upon wealth, hastily attained and ill employed, exemplified in the fortunes of Martin Waldeck. SIR W, SCOTT.
MARTHA THE GIPSY. LONDON may appear an unbefitting scene for a story so romantic as that, which I have here set down: but, strange and wild as is the tale I bave to tell, it is true ; and therefore the scene of action shall not be changed; nor will I alter nor vary from the truth, save that the names of the personages in my domestic drama shall be fictitious.
To say that I am superstitious would be, in the minds of many wise personages, to write myself down an ass; but to say that I do not believe that which follows, as I am sure it was believed by him who related it to me, would be to discredit the testimony of a friend, as honourable and brave as ever trod the earth. He has been snatched from the world, of which he was a bright ornament, and has left more than his sweet suffering widow and his orphan children, affectionately to deplore his loss.
It is, I find, right and judicious most carefully and publicly, to disavow a belief in supernatural visitings; but it will be long before I become either so wise or so bold as to make any such unqualified declaration. I am not weak enough to imagine myself surrounded by spirits and phantoms, or jostling through a crowd of spectres, as I walk the streets; neither do I give credence to all the idle tales of ancient dames, or frightened children, touching such matters : but when I breathe the air, and see the grass grow under my feet, I cannot but feel that He who gives me power to inhale the one, or stand erect upon the other, has also the power to use for special purposes such means and agency, as he, in his wisdom may see fit; and which, in point of fact, are not more incomprehensible to us, than the very simplest effects which we every day witness, arising from unknown causes.
Philosophers may pore, and in the might of their littleness, and the erudition of their ignorance, develope and disclose, argue and discuss; but when the sage, who sneers at the possibility of ghosts, will explain to me the doctrine of attraction and gravitation, or tell me why the wind blows, why the tides ebb and flow, or why the light shines-effects perceptible by all men-then will I admit the justice of his incredulity-then will I join the ranks of the incredulous.--However, a truce with my views and reflections : proceed we to the narrative.
In the vicinity of Bedford-square lived a respectable and honest man, whose name the reader will be pleased to consider, Harding. He had married early; his wife was an exemplary woman; and his son and daughter were grown into that companionable age, at which children repay, with their society and accomplishments, the tender cares which parents bestow upon their offspring in their early infancy.
Mr. Harding held a responsible and respectable
situation under the government, in an office in Somerset House. His income was adequate to all his wants and wishes; his family was a family of love ; and perhaps, taking into consideration the limited desires of what may be fairly called middling life, no man was ever more contented, or better satisfied with his lot, than he.
Maria Harding, his daughter, was a modest, unassuming, and interesting girl, full of feeling and gentleness. She was timid and retiring ; but the modesty which cast down her fine black eyes, could not veil the intellect which beamed in them. Her health was by no means strong ; and the paleness of her cheek—too frequently, alas ! lighted by the hectic flush of our indigenous complaint-gave a deep interest to her counte
She was watched and reared by her tender mother, with all the care and attention which a being so delicate and so ill suited to the perils and troubles of this world demanded.
George, her brother, was a bold and intelligent lad, full of rude health and fearless independence. His character was frequently the subject of his father's contemplation : and he saw in his disposition, his mind, his pursuits, and propensities, the promise of future success in active life.
With these children, possessing as they did the most enviable characteristics of their respective sexes, Mr. and Mrs. Harding, with thankfulness to Providence, acknowledged their happiness, and their perfect satisfaction, with the portion assigned to them in this transitory world.
Maria was about nineteen, and had, as was natural, attracted the regards, and thence gra
dually chained the affections, of a distant relative, whose ample fortune, added to his personal and mental good qualities, rendered him a most acceptable suitor to her parents, which Maria's heart silently acknowledged he would have been to her, had he been poor and pennyless.
The father of this intended husband of Maria was a man of importance, possessing much personal interest, through which, George, the brother of his intended daughter-in-law, was to be placed in that diplomatic seminary in Downingstreet, whence, in due time, he was to rise through all the grades of office, (which, with his peculiar talents, his friends, and especially his mother, was convinced he would so ably fill), and at last turn out an ambassador, as mighty and mysterious as my Lord Belmont, of whom I have had occasion to speak in another part of this collection of narratives.
The parents, however, of young Langdale and of Maria Harding were agreed, that there was no necessity for hastening the alliance between their families, seeing that the united ages of the couple did not exceed thirty-nine years; and seeing, moreover, that the elder Mr. Langdale, for private reasons of his own, wished his son to attain to the age of twenty-one before he married ; and seeing, moreover still, that Mrs. Langdale, who was little more than six-and-thirty years of age herself, had reasons, which she also meant to be private, for seeking to delay as much as possible, a ceremony, the result of which, in all probability, would confer upon her, somewhat too early in life to be agreeable to a lady of her