Page images
PDF
EPUB

opportunity which this familiarity afforded him, by re- Eveline answered with dignity, that the daughter curring to any of the topics of the preceding day. of Raymond Berenger was unlikely to listen to any

A halt was made at noon in a small village, where opinions which would affect the dignity of that good the same purveyor had made preparations for their knight's nation and descent; and with ihis assurance, accommodation, and particularly for that of the Lady the Constable finding it impossible to obtain any Eveline; but, something w her surprise, he himself which had more special reference to himself and his remained invisible. The conversation of the Constable suit, was compelled to remain satisfied. He recolof Chester was, doubtless, in the highest degree in- lected also that the castle of Herbert was within two structive; but at Eveline's years, a maiden might be miles of the habitation of the Lady of Baldringham, excused for wishing some addition to the society in and that his separation from Eveline was but for one the person of a younger and less serious attendant; night; yet a sense of the difference betwirt their years, and when she recollected the regularity with which and perhaps of his own deficiency in those lighier Damian Lacy had hitherto made his respects to her, qualifications by which the female heart is supposed she rather wondered at his continued absence. But to be most frequently won, rendered even this temher reflection went no deeper than the passing thought porary absence matter of anxious thought and appreof one who was not quite so much delighted with her hension; so that, during their afternoon journey, he present company as not to believe it capable of an rode in silence by Eveline's side, rather meditating agreeable addition. She was lending a patient ear to what might chance to-morrow, than endeavouring to the account which the Constable gave her of the de-avail himself of present opportunity. In this unsical scent and pedigree of a gallant knight of the distin- manner they travelled on until the point was reached guished family of Herberi, at whose castle he purposed where they were to separate for the evening. to repose during the night, when one of the retinue This was an elevated spot, from which they could announced a messenger from the Lady of Baldring- see, on the right hand, the castle of Amelot Herbert, ham.

rising high upon an eminence, with all its Gothic pia. “My honoured father's aunt," said Eveline, arising nacles and currets; and on the left, low-embowered lọ testify that respect for age and relationship which amongst oaken woods, the rude and lonely dwelling the manners of the time required.

in which the Lady of Baldringham still maintaina "I knew not,” said the Constable, “that my gal- the customs of the Anglo-Saxons, and looked with lant friend had such a relative."

contempt and hatred on all innovations that had been "She was my grandmother's sister," answered introduced since the battle of Hastings. Eveline, "a noble Saxon lady; but she disliked the Here the Constable De Lacy, having charged a pert match formed with a Norman house, and never saw of his men to attend the Lady Eveline to the house her sister after the period of her marriage.'

of her relation, and to keep watch around it with the She broke off, as the messenger, who had the ap- utmost vigilance, but at such a distance as might not pearance of the 'steward of a person of consequence, give offence or inconvenience to the family, kissed har cntered their presence, and, bending his knee reverent- hand, and took a reluctant leave. Eveline proceeded ly, delivered a letter, which, being examined by Father onwards by a path so little trodden, as to show the Aldrovand, was found to contain the following invita- solitary condition of the mansion to which it led. tion, pressed, tot in Fr then the neral lan- Large kine, of an uncommon and valuable breed, guage of communication amongst the gentry, but in were feeding in the rich pastures around; and poe the old Saxon language, modified as it now,was by and then fallow deer, which appeared to have lost the some intermixture of French.

shyness of their nature, tripped across the glades of "If the grand-daughter of Aelfreid of Baldringham the woodland, or stood and lay in small groups under hath so much of the old Saxon strain as to desire to some great oak. The transient pleasure which such a see an ancient relation, who still dwells in the house scene of rural quiet was calculated to afford, changed of her forefathers, and lives after their manner, she is to more serious feelings, when a sudden turn brought thus invited to repose for the night in the dwelling of her at once in front of the inansion-house, of which Ermengarde of Baldringham."

she had seen nothing since she first beheld it from “Your pleasure will be, doubtless, to decline the the point where she parted with the Constable, and present hospitality ?'' said the Constable de Lacy; which she had more than one reason for regarding "the noble Herbert expects us, and has made great with some apprehension. preparation."

The house, for it could not be termed a castle, siis Your presence, my lord,” said Eveline, "will only two stories high, low and massively built, en more than console him for my absence. It is fitting doors and windows forining the heavy round archa and proper that I should meet my aunt's advances to which is usually called Saxon ;-the walls were manreconciliation, since she has condescended to make tled with various creeping plants, which had crept them."

along them undisturbed-grass grew up to the rest De Lacy's brow was slightly clouded, for seldom threshold, at which hung a buffalo's horn, sustad had he met with any thing approaching to contra- by a brass chain. A massive door of black oak close dicuion of his pleasure. “I pray you to reflect, Lady a gate, which much resembled the ancient entrance Eveline," he said, " that your aunt's house is probably of a ruined sepulchre, and not a soul appeared to acdefenceless, or at least very imperfectly guarded.- knowledge or greet their arrival. Would it not be your pleasure that I should continue "Were ! you, my Lady Eveline, said the officions my dutiful attendance ?"

dame Gillian, I would turn bridle yet; for this old Of that, my lord, mine aunt can, in her own dungeon seems little likely to afford food or shelter to house, be the sole judge; and methinks, as she has Christian folks." pot deemed it necessary to request the honour of your Eveline imposed silence on her indiscreet attendant lordship's company, it were unbecoming in me to though herself exchanging a look with Rose which permit you to take the trouble of attendance :--you confessed something like timidity, as she commanded have already had but too much on my account. Raoul to blow the horn at the gate. "I have heard.**

"But for the sake of your own safety, madam,” said she said, " that my aunt loves the ancient customs De Lacy, unwilling to leave his charge.

so well, that she is loath to admit into her halls any * My safety, my lord, cannot be endangered in the thing younger than the time of Edward the Conhouse of so near a relative; whatever precautions she fessor. may take on her own behalf, will doubtless be amply Raoul, in the mean time, cursing the rude instrumet sufficient for mine.'

which baffled his skill in sounding a regular call, and "I hope it will be found so," said De Lacy; "and I gave voice only to a tremendous and discordant

roar, will at least add to them the security of a patrol around which seemed to shake the old walls, thick as they the castle during your abode in it." He stopped, and were, repeated his summons three times before they then proceeded with some hesitation to express his obtained admittance. On the third sounding, the hope, that Eveline, now about to visit a kinswoman gate opened, and a numerous retinue of servants of whose prejudices against the Norman race were ge- both sexes appeared in the dark and narrow hall at nerally known, would be on her guard against what the upper end of which a great fire of wood was send she might hear upon that subject.

ing ils furnace-blast up an antique chimney, wbose

[ocr errors]

front, as extensive as that of a modern kitchen, was their persons as plain as if (Saint Mary defend us !) carved over with ornaments of massive stone, and they were altogether without garments! And see, garnished on the top with a long range of niches, from Berwine, these gauds on the neck, and that neck each of which frowned the inage of some Saxon itself uncovered as low as the shoulder--these be the saint, whose barbarous name was scarce to be found guises which strangers have bronght into merry in the Romish calendar.

England! and this pouch, like a player's placket, The same officer who had brought the invitation hath but little to do with housewifery, I wot; and from his lady to Eveline, now stepped forward, as the dagger, too, like a glee-man's wife, that rides a she supposed to assist her from her palfrey; but it mumming in masculine apparel--dost thou ever go was in reality to lead it by the bridle-rein into the to the wars, maiden, that thou wearest steel at thy paved hall itself, and up to a raised platform, or dais, girdle?" at the upper end of which she was at length permitted Eveline, equally surprised and disobliged by the to disniount. Two matrons of advanced years, and depreciating catalogue of her apparel, replied to the four young women of gentle birth, educated by the last question with some spirit, -- " The mode may bounty of Ermengarde, attended with reverence the have altered, madam; but I only wear such gararrival of her kinswoman. Eveline would have in- ments as are now worn by those of my age and condiquired of them for her grand-aunt, but the matrons tion. For the poniard, may it please you, it is not with much respect laid their fingers on their mouths, many days since I regarded it as the lasi resource as if to enjoin her silence; a gesture which, united to betwixt me and dishonour." the singularity of her reception in other respects, still "'The maiden speaks well and boldly, Berwine," further excited her curiosity to see her venerable said Dame Ermengarde; "and, in truth, pass we relative.

but over some of these vain fripperies, is attired in a It was soon gratified; for, through a pair of fold- comely fashion.-- Thy father, I hear, fell knight-like ing-doors, which

opened not far from the platform on in the field of battle.' which she stood, she was ushered into a large low "He did so," answered Eveline her eyes filling apartment hung with arras; at the upper end of with tears at the recollection of her recent loss. which, under a species of canopy, was seated the an- "I never saw him," continued Dame Ermengarde ; cient Lady of Baldringham. "Fourscore years had "he carried the old Norman scorn towards the Saxon not quenched the brightness of her eyes, or bent an stock, whom they wed but for what they can make inch of her stately height; her gray hair was still so by them, as the bramble clings to the elm ;--nay, profuse as to form a tier, combined as it was with a never seek to vindicate him," she continued, observchaplet of ivy leaves; her long dark-coloured gown ing that Eveline was about to speak, "I have known fell in ample folds, and the broidered girdle, which the Norman spirit for many a year ere thou wert gathered it around her, was fastened by a buckle of born." gold, studded with precious stones, which were worth At this moment the steward appeared in the chaman Earl's ransom ; her features, which had once been ber, and, after a long genuflection, asked his lady's beautiful, or rather majestic, bore still, though faded pleasure concerning the guard of Norman soldiers and wrinkled, an air of melancholy and stern grandeur, who remained without the mansion. that assorted well with her garb and deportment. She "Norman soldiers so near the house of Baldringhad a staff of ebony in her hand; at her feet rested a ham !" said the old lady, fiercely; "who brings them large aged wolf-dog, who pricked his ears and bristled hither, and for what purpose ?". up his neck, as the step of a stranger, a sound so sel- "They came, as I think,” said the sewer, “to wait dom heard in those halls, approached the chair in on and guard this gracious young lady." which his aged mistress sat motionless.

“What, my daughter," said Ermengarde, in a tone "Peace, Thryme," said the venerable dame; "and of melancholy reproach, "darest thou not trust thythou, daughter of the house of Baldringham, ap- self unguarded for one night in the castle of thy foreproach, and fear not their ancient servant.

fathers?" The hound sunk down to his couchant posture “God forbid else!" said Eveline. “But these men when she spoke, and, excepting the red glare of his are not mine, nor under my authority. They are part eyes, might have seemed a bieroglyphical emblem, of the train of the Constable De Lacy, who left them lying at the feet of some ancient priestess of Woden to watch around the castle, thinking there might be or Freya ; so strongly did the appearance of Ermen- danger from robbers." garde, with her rod and her chaplet, correspond with 'Robbers," said Ermengarde, “have never harmed the ideas of the days of Paganism. Yet he who had the house of Baldringham, since a Norman robber thus deemed of her would have done therein much stole from it its best treasure in the person of thy injustice to a venerable Christian matron, who had grandmother.-And so, poor bird, thou art already given many a hide of land to holy church, in honour captive-unhappy Autterer! But it is thy loi, and of God and Saint Dunstan.

wherefore should I wonder or repine? When was Ermengarde's reception of Eveline was of the there fair maiden with a wealthy dower, but she was same antiquated and formal cast with her mansion ere maturity destined to be the slave of some of those and her exterior. She did not at first arise from her petty kings, who allow us to call nothing ours that seat when the noble maiden approached her, nor did their passions can covet? Well-I cannot aid theeshe even admit her to the salute which she advanced I am but a poor and neglected woman, feeble both to offer; but, laying her hand on Eveline's arm, from sex and age.--And to which of these De Lacys stopped her as she advanced, and perused her counte- art thou the destined household drudge ?" nance with an earnest and unsparing eye of minule A question so asked, and by one whose prejudices observation.

were of such a determined character, was not likely Berwine,” she said to the most favoured of the to draw from Eveline any confession of the real cirtwo attendants, our niece hath the skin and eyes of cumstances in which she was placed, since it was the Saxon hue; but the hue of her eye-brows and but too plain her Saxon relation could have afforded hair is from the foreigner and alien.- Thou art, never- her neither sound counsel nor useful assistance. She theless, welcome to my house, maiden,” she added, replied therefore briefly, that as the Lacys, and the addressing Eveline, "especially if thou canst bear to Normans in general, were unwelcome to her kinshear that thou art not absolutely a perfect creature, as woman, she would entreat of the commander of the doubtless these flatterers around thee have taught patrol to withdraw it from the neighbourhood of Baldthee to believe."

ringham. So saying, she at lengh arose, and saluted her niece Not so, my niece," said the old lady; with a kiss on the forehead. She released her not, cannot escape the Norman neighbourhood, or get behowever, from her grasp, but proceeded to give the yond the sound of their curfew, it signifies not whether attention to her garments which she had hitherto they be near our walls or more far off so that they bestowed upon her features.

enter them not.--And, Berwine, bid Hundwolf drench Saint Dunstan keep us from vanity!" she said; the Normans with liquor and gorge them with food "and so this is the new guise-and modest maidens --food of the best, and liquor of the strongest. Let wear such tunics as these, showing the shape of them not say the old Saxon hag is churlish of her hos

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

as we

pitality. Broach a piece of wine, for I warrant their She paused here in displeasure; for she resented in gentile stomachs brook no ale."

some measure, her aunt's conduct, as unkind and inBerwine, her huge bunch of keys jangling at her hospitable. And yet when she reflected upon ibe girdle, withdrew to give the necessary directions, and foundation of the legend of the chamber to whuch se presently returned. Mean while Ermengarde pro- was consigned, she could not but regard the Lady of ceeded to question her niece more closely. Is it that Baldringham as having considerable reason for her thou wilt not, or canst not, tell me to which of the conduct, according to the traditions of the family, and De Lacys thou art to be bondswoman ?-to the over the belief of the times, in which Eveline herself was weening Constable, who, sheathed in impenetrable devout. armour, and mounted on a swift and strong horse as invulnerable as himself, takes pride that he rides down and stabs at his ease, and with perfect safety, the

CHAPTER XIV. naked Welshmen?--or is it to his nephew, ihe beard

Sometimes, methinks, I hear the groans of ghosts, less Damian ?-or must thy possessions go to mend

Then hollow sounds and lamentable screams; a breach in the fortunes of that other cousin, Randal Then, like a dying echo from afar, Lacy, the decayed reveller, who, they say can no My mother's voice, that cries, " Wed not, Almeydalonger ruffle it among the debauched crusaders for

Forewarned, Almeyda, marriage is thy enne" want of means?

" My honoured aunt,” replied Eveline, naturally The evening at Baldringham would have seemed displeased with this discourse, "to none of the Lacys of portentous and unendurable length, had it not bred and I trust to none other, Saxon or Norman, will that apprehended danger makes time pass guilly your kinswoman become a household drudge. There betwixt us and the dreaded hour, and that if Érette was, before the death of my honourable father, some felt little interested or amused by the conversanon si treaty betwixt him and the Constable, on which ac- her aunt and Berwine, which turned upon tbe long count I cannot at present decline his attendance;, but deduction of their ancestors from the warike Horse what maybe the issue of it, fate must determine. and the feats of Saxon champions, and the mira.

"But I can show thee, niece, how the balance of cles of Saxon monks, she was still beiter pleased fate inclines," said Ermengarde, in a low and mys- to listen to these legends, than to anticipate ba terious voice. “Those united with us by blood have, retreat to the destined and dreaded apartment where in some sort, the privilege of looking forward beyond she was to pass the night. There lacked not, hosthe points of present time, and seeing in their very bud ever, such amusement as the house of Baldringham the thorns or flowers which are one day to encircle could afford to pass away the evening. Blessed by their head."

a grave old Saxon monk, the chaplain of the house, " For my own sake, noble kinswoman," answered a sumptuous entertainment, which might bare safEveline, “I would decline such foreknowledge, even ficed twenty hungry men, was served up before Erwere it possible to acquire it without trangressing the mengarde and her niece, whose sole assistants be rules of the Church. Could I have foreseen what has sides the reverend man, were Berwine and Rose befallen me within these last unhappy days, I had lost Flammock. Eveline was the less inclined to do the enjoyment of every happy momeni before that justice to this excess of hospitality, that the dishes time."

were all of the gross and substanual nature which 'Nevertheless, daughter," said the Lady of Bald- the Saxons admired, but which contrasted disadvan. ringham, “thou, like others of thy race, must within tageously with the refined and delicate cookery of this house conform to the rule, of passing one night the Normans, as did the moderate cup of light and within the chamber of the Red-Finger.-Berwine, high-flavoured Gascon wine, tempered with more see that it be prepared for my niece's reception.' than half its quantity of the purest water, with the

"I-I-have heard speak of that chamber, gracious mighty ale, the high-spiced pigment and bippocras aunt," said Eveline, timidly, "and if it may consist and the other potent liquors, which, one after ano with your good pleasure, I would not now choose to ther, were in vain proffered for her acceptance by the pales petits night here.. My health bas suffered by my steward Hundwolf, in honour of the hospitality of delay to another time the usage, which I have heard Neither were the stated amusements of the evenis peculiar to the daughters of the house of Baldring. ing more congenial to Eveline's taste, than the proham."

fusion of her aunt's solid refection. When the boards “And which, notwithstanding, you would willingly and tresses, on which the viands had been smec avoid," said the old Saxon lady, bending her brows were withdrawn from the apartment, the mentals, angrily. "Has not such disobedience cost your house under direction of the steward, proceeded to light enough already ?"

several long waxen torches, one of which was stado, "Indeed, honoured and gracious lady,” said Ber- ated for the purpose of marking the passing time, ant wine, unable to forbear interference, though well dividing it into portions. These were announced by knowing the obstinacy of her patroness, that cham- means of brasen balls, suspended by threads from ber is in disrepair, and cannot easily on a sudden be the torch, the spaces betwixt them being calculated made fit for the Lady Eveline; and the noble damsel to occupy a certain time in burning; so that when looks so pale, and hath lately suffered so much, that, the fame reached the thread, and the balls fell, each might I have the permission to advise, this were better in succession, into a brasen basin, placed for its recep delayed."

tion, the office of a modern clock was in some degree "Thou art a fool, Berwine,” said the old lady, discharged. By this light the party was arranged for sternly; "thinkest thou I will bring, anger and mis- the evening. fortune on my house, by suffering this girl to leave it The ancient Ermengarde's lofty and ample cbar without rendering the usual homage to the Red-Fin- was removed, according to ancient custom, trom the ger? Go to-let the room be made ready-small pre- middle of the apartment to the warmest side of a paration may serve, if she cherish not the Norman large grate, filled with charcoal, and her guest was nicely about bed and lodging. Do not reply; but do placed on her right, as the seat of honour. Berwine as I command thee. And you, Eveline-are you so then arranged in due order the females of the house far degenerated from the brave spirit of your ancestry hold, and having seen that each was engaged with that you dare not pass a few hours in an ancient apart- her own proper task, sat herself down to ply the spinment?"

dle and distaff. The men, in a more remote circle "You are my hostess, gracious madam,” said Eve- betook themselves to the repairing of their imple line, "and must assign my apartment where you mients of husbandry, or new furbishing weapons of judge proper--my courage is such as innocence and the chase, under the direction of the steward Hundsome pride of blood and birth have given me. It has wolf. For the amusement of the family thus assembeen, of late

, severely tried; but, since such is your bled, an old glee-man sung to a harp, which had bar pleasure, and the custom of your house, my heart is four strings, a long and apparently interminable le yet strong enough to encounter what you propose to gend, upon some religious subject, which was rensubject me to.

dered almost unintelligible to Eveline, by the extreme and complicated affectation of the poet, who, in order passages; these by their light enaoled them to to indulge in the alliteration which was accounted descend ihe steps of a winding stair, whose inone great ornament of Saxon poetry, had sacrificed equality and ruggedness showed iis antiquity; and sense to sound, and used words in the most forced finally led into a tolerably large chamber on the and remote sense, provided they could be compelled lower story of the edifice, to which some old hanginto his service. There was also all the obscurity ings, a lively fire on the hearth, the moonbeams stealarising from clision, and from the most extravagant ing ihrough a latticed window, and the boughs of a and hyperbolical epithets.

myrtle plant which grew around the casement, gave Eveline, though well acquainted with the Saxon no uncomfortable appearance. language, soon left off listening to the singer, to re- "This,” said Berwine, “is the resting-place of Hect for a moment on the gay jabliaur and imagina- your attendants," and she pointed to the couches tive lais of the Norman mimstrels, and then to anti- which had been prepared for Ruse and Dame Gilcipate, with anxious apprehension, what nature of lian; "we,” she added, " proceed farther.” visitation she might be exposed to in the mysterious She then took a torch from the attendant maidens chamber in which she was doomed to pass the night. both of whom seemed to shrink back with fear,

The hour of parting at length approached. At half which was readily caught by Dame Gilian, although an hour before midnight, a period ascertained by the she was not probably aware of the cause. But Rose consumption of the huge waxen torch, the ball which Flammock, unbidden, followed her mistress without was secured to it fell clanging into the brasen basin hesitation, as Berwine conducted her through a small placed beneath, and announced to all the hour of rest. wicket at the upper end of the apartment, clenched The old glee-man paused in his song instantaneously, with many an iron nail, into a secord but smaller and in the middle of a stanza, and the household | anteroom or wardrobe, at the end of which was a were all on foot at the signal, some retiring to their similar door. This wardrobe had also its casement own apartments, others lighting torches or bearing mantled with evergreens, and, like the former, it was lamps to conduct the visiters to their places of repose. faintly enlightened by the moonbeam. Among these last was a bevy of bower-women, lo Berwinc paused here, and pointing to Rose, dewhom the duty was assigned of conveying the Lady manded of Eveline, " Why does she follow?". Eveline to her chamber for the night. Her aunt took "To share my mistress's danger, be it what it a solemn leave of her, crossed her forehead, kissed it, may," answered Rose, with her characteristic readiand whispered in her ear, “Be courageous, and beness of speech and resolution. "Speak,” she said, fortunate.

my dearest lady," grasping Eveline's hand, while "May not my bower-maiden, Rose Flammock, or she addressed her; "You will not drive your Rose my tirewoman, Dame Gillian, Raoul's wife, remain from you? If I am less high-minded than one of in the apartment with me for this night ?" said Eve-your bonsted race, I am bold and quick-witted in all line.

honest service. You tremble like the aspen! Do not "Flammock-Raoul!" repeated Ermengarde, an- go into this apartment-do not be gulled by all this grily; "is thy household thus made up? The Fle- poinp and mystery of terrible preparation; bid defimings are the cold palsy to Britain, ihe Normans ance to this antiquated, and, I think, half-pagan the burning fever !''

superstition." And the poor Welsh will add," said Rose, whose 'The Lady Eveline must go, minion,” replied Berresentment began to surpass her awe for the ancient wine, sternly; "and she must go without any malaSaxon dame, "that the Anglo-Saxons were the ori- pert adviser or companion.” ginal discase, and resemble a wasting pestilence.". "Must go-musi go!" repeated Rose; “Is this

“Thou art too bold, sweetheart," said the Lady language to a free and noble maiden ?-Sweet lady; Ermengarde, looking at the Flemish maiden from give me once but the least hint that you wish it, and under her dark brows; "and yet there is wit in thy their must g shall be put to the trial. I will call words. Saxon, Dane, and Norman, have rolled like from the casement on the Norman cavaliers, and tell successive billows over the land, each having strength them we have fallen into a den of witches, instead to subdue what they lacked wisdom to keep. When of a house of hospitality. shall it be otherwise ?"

"Silence, madwoman!" said Berwine, her voice "When Saxon, and Briton, and Norman, and quivering with anger and fear; " you know not who Fleming,” answered Rose boldly, shall learn to dwells in the next chamber !! call themselves by one name, and think themselves "I will call those who will soon see to that," said alike children of the land they are born in."

Rose, flying to the casement, when Eveline, seizing "Ha!' exclaimed the Lady of Baldringham, in her arm in her turn, compelled her to stop. the tone of one half surprised, half pleased. Then "I thank thy kindness, Rose," she said, “but turning to her relation, she said, "There are words it cannot help me in this matter. She who enters and wit in this maiden; see that she use, but do not yonder door, must do so alone.” abuse them."

"Then I will enter it in your stead, my dearest She is as kind and faithful, as she is prompt and lady," said Rose. "You are palc--you are coldready-witted,” said Eveline. "I pray you, dearest you will die of terror if you go on. There may be aunt, let me use her company for this night." as much of trick as of supernatural agency in this

"It may not be-it were dangerous to both. Alone matter-me they shall not deceive-or if some stern you must learn your destiny, as have all the females spirit craves a victim,-better Rose than her lady.” of our race, excepting your grandmother; and what "Forbear, forbear," said Eveline, rousing up her have been the consequences of her neglecting the own spirits; you make me ashamed of myself. rules of our house? Lo! her descendant stands be- This is an ancient ordeal, which regards the females fore me an orphan, m the very bloom of youth.' descended from the house of Baldringham as far

"I will go then," said Eveline, with a sigh of as in the third degree, and them only. I did not resignation; "and it shall never be said I incurred indeed expect, in my present circumstances, to have future wo, to shun present terror."

been called upon to undergo it; but, since the hour "Your attendants," said the Lady Ermengarde, sunmons me, I will meet it as freely as any of my

may occupy the anteroom, and be almost within ancestors. your call. Berwine will show you the apartment- So saying, she took the torch from the hand of I cannot; for ve, thou knowest, who have once Perwine, and wishing good-night to her and Rose, entered it, return not thither again. Farewell, my gently disengaged herself, from the hold of the latter, child, and may heaven bless thee !''

and advanced into the mysterious chamber. Rose With more of human emotion and sympathy than pressed after her so far as to see that it was an she had yet shown, the lady again saluted Eveline, apartment of moderate dimensions, resembling that and signed to her to follow Berwine, who, attended through which they had last passed, and lighted by by two damsels bearing torches, waited to conduct the moonbeams, which came through a window her to the dreaded apartment.

lying on the same range with those of the anterooms. Their torches glared along the rudely built walls More she could not see, for Eveline turned on the and dark arched roofs of one or two long winding threshold, and kissing her at the same time, thrust

VOL. IV.-4R

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

her gently back into the smaller apartment which 'The window next to mine is that of the Lady Eveline she had just left, shut the door of communication, Berenger, whom you are appointed to guard. Please and barred and bolted it, as if in security against her to give heedful watch upon this side of the castle." well-meant intrusion.

"Doubt it not, lady," answered the cavalier ; and, Berwine now exhorted Rose, as she valued her enveloping himself in his long chappe, or military life, to retire into the first anteroom, where the beds watch-cloak, he withdrew to a large oak-tree at were prepared, and betake herself, 'if not to rest, at some distance, and stood there with folded arms, and least to silence and devotion; but the faithful Flemish leaning on his lance, more like a trophy of armour girl stoutly refused her entreaties, and resisted her than a living warrior. commands.

Emboldened by the consciousness, that in case of "Talk not to me of danger,” she said; "here I need succour was close at hand, Rose drew back into remain, that I may be at least within hearing of my her little chamber, and having ascertained by listening mistress's danger, and wo betide those who shall that there was no noise or stirring in that of Eveline, offer her injury ? -Take notice, that iwenty Norman she began to make some preparations for her own spears surround this inhospitable dwelling, prompt repose. For this purpose she went into the outward to avenge whatsoever injury shall be offered to the anteroom, where Dame Gillian, whose fears had daughter of Raymond Berenger."

given way to the soporiferous effects of a cous "Reserve your threats for those who are mortal,” | draught of lithe-alos, (mild ale, of the first strength said Berwine, in a low, but piercing whisper; "the and quality,) slept as sound a sleep as that generous owner of yonder chamber fears them not. "Farewell Saxon beverage could procure. -thy danger be on thine own head!"

Muttering an indignant censure on her sloth and She departed leaving Rose strangely agitated by indifference, Rose caught, from the empty couch what had passed, and somewhat appalled at her last which had been destined for her own use the upper words. ***These Saxons," said the maiden, within covering, and dragging it with her into the inner herself, "are but half converted after all, and hold anteroom, disposed it so as, with the assistance of many of their old hellish rites in the worship of ele- the rushes which strewed that apartment, to form a mentary spirits. Their very saints are unlike to the sort of couch upon which, half seated, half reclined. saints of any Christian country, and have, as it were, she resolved to pass the night in as close attendance a look of something savage and fiendish-their very upon her mistress as circumstances permitted. names sound pagan and diabolical. It is fearful being Thus seated, her eye on the pale planet which alone here--and all is silent as death in the apartment sailed in full glory through the blue sky of midnigbi, into which my lady has been thus strangely com- she

proposed to herself that sleep should not visit her pelled. Shall I call up Gillian ?-but no-she has eyelids till the dawn of morning should assure her neither sense, nor courage, nor principle, to aid me on of Eveline's safety. such an occasion-better alone than have a false Her thoughts, mean while rested on the boundless friend for company. I will see if the Normans are and shadowy world beyond the grave and on the on their post, since it is to them I must trust, if a great and perhaps yet undecided question, whetha moment of need should arrive."

the separation of its inhabitants from those of this Thus reflecting, Rose Flammock went to the win. temporal sphere is absolute and decided, or whetha dow of the little apartment, in order to satisfy herself influenced by motives which we cannot appreciate, of the vigilance of the sentinels, and to ascertain the they continue to hold shadowy communication with exact situation of the corps de garde. The moon those yet existing in earthly reality of flesh and blood ? was at the full, and enabled her to see with accuracy To have denied this, would, in the age of crusades the nature of the ground without. In the first place, and of miracles, have incurred the guilt of beress; she was rather disappointed to find, that instead of but Rose's firm good sense led her to doubt at least being so near the earth as she supposed, the range of the frequency of supernatural interference, and she windows, which gave light as well to the two ante- comforted herself with an opinion, contradicted, rooms as to the mysterious chamber itself, looked down however, by her own involuntary starts and shudder. upon an ancient moat, by which they were divided ings at every leaf which moved, that, in submitting from the level ground on the farther side. The defence to the performance of the rite imposed on her, Eveline which this fosse afforded seemed to have been long incurred no real danger, and only sacrificed to an obneglected, and the bottom, entirely dry, was choked solete family superstition. in many places with bushes and low trees, which As this conviction strengthened on Rose's mind, her rose up against the wall of the castle, and by means purpose of vigilance began to decline-ber thoughts of which it seemed to Rose the windows might be wandered to objects towards which they were not easily scaled, and the mansion entered. From the directed, like sheep which stray beyond the charz level plain beyond, the space adjoining to the castle of their shepherd-her eyes no longer brought back was in a considerable degree clear, and the moon- to her a distinct apprehension of the broad, round beams slumbered on its close and beautiful turf, mixed silvery orb on which they continued to gaze 4 with long shadows of the towers and trees. Beyond length they closed, and seated on the folded mantle this esplanade lay the forest ground, with a few gigan- her back resting against the wall of the apartment, tic oaks scattered individually along the skirt of its and her white arms folded on her bosom, Rose Flamdark andample domain, like champions who take :heir mock fell fast asleep. ground of defiance in front of a line of arrayed battle. Her repose was fearfully broken by a sbrill and

The calm beauty and repose of a scene so lovely, piercing shriek from the apartment where her laty the stillness of all around, and the more matured reposed. To start up and fly to the door was the reflections which the whole suggested, quieted, in work of a moment with the generous girl, who neva some measure, the apprehensions which the events permitted fear to struggle with love or duty. The of the evening had inspired, "After all,” she reflected, door was secured with both bar and bolt; and another "why should I be so anxious on account of the Lady fainter scream, or rather groan, seemed to say, ad Eveline? There is among the proud Normans and must be instant, or in vain. Rose next rushed to the the dogged Saxons scarce a single family of note, window, and screamed rather than called to the but must needs be held distinguished from others by Norman soldier, who distinguished by the white folds some superstitious observance peculiar to their race, as of his watch-cloak, still retained his position under the if they thought it scorn to go to Heaven like a poor old oak-tree. simple Fleming, such as I am.-Could I but see a At the cry of "Help, help!-the Lady Eveline Norman sentinel, I would hold myself satisfied of is murdered " the seeming statue, starting at once my mistress's security:--And yonder one stalks along into active exertion, sped with the swiftness of a the gloom, wrapt in his long white mantle, and the race-horse to the brink of the moat, and was about moon tipping the point of his lance with silver.- to cross it, opposite to the spot where Rose stood af What bo, Sir Cavalier !" The Norman turned his steps, and approached the

the open casement, urging him to speed by voice and

gesture. ditch as she spoke. "What is your pleasure damsel ?". "Not here-not here!" she exclaimed with breath. he demanded.

| less precipitation, as she saw him make towards her

« PreviousContinue »