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'It is strange,' said I, turning to the guide, 'that no one lives in so fine a house.'

'Ah! Sir,' said he, 'it is haunted! '

I checked my horse, and turning in the saddle, looked toward the building. It was a modern structure, well built, and of tasteful architecture. The windows were closed with heavy shutters, and the doors barred on the outside. Standing on an eminence, with handsome trees around it, it seemed, although in great neglect and disorder, to have been designed by some person of taste and refinement.

'Who first resided here?' I said to my guide.

'Young Mr. Retzcar. He built it for himself, and lived here for a year.' 'And where is he now ?' inquired I.

‘Ah!' said the guide, shuddering, he was murdered, and his ghost, they say, now haunts the house. Come, let us go on

'Wait one moment,' said I. 'Let me take another look.'

There were no other buildings within half a mile of the inclosure in which the house was situated, but at a short distance could be seen the bustling little village of T. The spot was singularly beautiful. The bluff, or hill, on which the mansion stood was surrounded on three sides by a shallow stream, edged by willows, and over it the former proprietor had constructed rustic bridges, now much out of repair. Many of the trees before the house were old and large, while others appeared to have been planted within a few years, and the general appearance of the place was picturesque and beautiful. I had visited the locality, partly with a view of purchasing a residence, and this place pleased me. Having little belief in haunted houses, I asked: 'Who is the present owner?'

"Mr. Retzcar's half-brother.'

'Where does he reside?'

'In the city.'

'Is it for sale?'

'I have heard so.

But the story of the house, Sir, is a very strange one,'

said my companion. 'Would you like to hear it?'

I assented, and as we rode along was told the following tale :


Some eight years ago, this place the house was not then built offered for sale by old Mr. Dyson's heirs. The parcel of land amounted to about three hundred acres, surrounding the little hill yonder, and many gentlemen came to look at it. None, however, purchased; one made this objection and another that, and for two years the place remained unsold, so that my uncle, who was agent for Mr. Dyson's estate, almost gave up in despair; but six years ago next August there came a young gentleman to look at it. He was Mr. Retzcar. He was a very handsome young man, with black eyes and hair, and hardly seemed twenty years of age. I remember him very well, for I saw

him that day and often afterward. Well, when they drew up to the house and my uncle let down the bars, which used to stand where the gate now is, Mr. Retzcar said: 'Never mind going in. What is the price?'

My uncle told him. I don't know exactly how much it was, but it must have been a large sum.

'How much land?' said Mr. Retzcar.

'Three hundred acres,' said my uncle.

'I'll take it,' said Mr. Retzcar.

'You can buy it on ten years' time,' said my uncle.

'I had rather pay cash,' said Mr. Retzgar.

So they drove back again, and the gentleman sat down and wrote a check for the money; then told my uncle to have the title-deeds made out to him, Francis Retzcar, and that he would call for them. He then went away. My uncle did as directed, but for two or three months heard nothing of the purchaser, and as he had given no address, my uncle concluded to advertise for him as he said 'persons do not ordinarily buy land and pay cash without taking the deeds'- when one day a spanking four-in-hand team came rattling into town, with Mr. Retzcar driving, and another young gentleman with him, who resembled him enough to be his brother—just such black eyes and hair, just such white teeth, and of the same size. They drove directly to my uncle's house. He was at home, and came to the door.

'I've come for my land,' said Mr. Retzcar.

'Your deeds have been waiting for you, Sir,' said my uncle, who was a bit of a wag, 'until they are tired.'

Mr. Retzcar never used to laugh, but if he was pleased, would show his teeth a little, and he showed them then. 'I am going to build a house upon it,' said he. 'Where can Tom Argent and I live until it is finished?'

Tom Argent was the name of the other gentleman.

My uncle found them a boarding-place and a stable for the horses. A servant who rode on the little seat in the wagon behind them, told my uncle that Mr. Retzcar was coming here to live, and that he was very rich, and very odd, but a good gentleman and a kind master, though some persons said he was dissipated.

Well, they went to old widow Holly's to board until the house was built; and in a day or two, down from the city came dozens of carpenters and masons, and commenced their work. Mr. Retzcar used to drive over with his four-inhand, (he was very fond of horses, and always kept splendid ones,) to the house, and sit in his phaton and swear at the workmen, showing his teeth at them, until they were as afraid of him as if he were the Old Nick himself. He had an awful temper sometimes, and one day a mason, at whom he was swearing, made some impudent reply. So Mr. Retzcar jumped out of his photon and beat him on the head with the butt end of his whip till the blood came, and then gave him half-a-dozen gold pieces. And Mr. Tom Argent laughed very loudly. After he had driven to the house in the morning, he would ride around for about an hour, always going at a break-neck speed, and then home to the widow Holly's, where I have often heard her say he and this Mr. Tom


Argent would shut themselves up in their rooms and drink and talk all the rest of the day.

He had so many men employed, that the house was building very fast, but it did not appear to be done quick enough for him; so he sent for eight or ten more workmen from the city, and two or three gardeners; and in about two months the buildings were nearly finished. Then there came some servants from the city a house-keeper, two maids and another groom-and Mr. Retzcar went to live in his new house.

All this time, however, he never went away from the village, but Mr. Argent went once or twice; and while he was gone, Mr. Retzcar would come sometimes to my uncle's house and sit for an hour or two. My uncle was the only man in the whole town of whom he took any notice. So he was not very popular, and the women in the place used to say he was a dreadful creature, and never went to church, and drank. Beside, one day he was driving as usual at a terrible speed down the street, when he happened to see Susan Saxon, who was then considered the prettiest girl in town, standing at her father's gate; and he pulled the four horses up short, handed the lines to Mr. Tom Argent, jumped out, ran up and put his arms around her neck and kissed her, and was in the phaton again and off in less time than I tell it. And that caused a good deal of talk, I can tell you."


Well, he would sit and smoke in my uncle's parlor, and bring always a bottle of some kind of liquor with him; and my uncle, who likes a glass some- L times, would drink with them, and Mr. Retzcar would tell about foreign parts where he had travelled, but never any thing about himself.

One evening he was sitting there smoking and drinking and telling my uncle of curious things which he had seen in all quarters of the world; and he talked so agreeably, that no one could tire of listening. And my uncle asked him in a friendly way how old he was? Mr. Retzcar showed his teeth, and said: 'Aşk Tom Argent.'

And then my uncle said: 'Pray, Sir, if it be not impertinent, who is this Mr. Tom Argent? He resembles you so much that he must be some relative of yours.'

Then Mr. Retzcar swore two or three foreign oaths, and told my uncle's little boy to go to the widow Holly's and bring another bottle. Then drawing near my uncle, he said: 'Tom Argent-is Tom Argent, no relation, to be sure, but he shall never leave me. -never!' And he pulled off a little cap he always wore, and on top of his head appeared a long, narrow strip of scalp, on which no hair grew.

'Tom Argent,' he said, 'has n't that mark!' and then he showed his teeth and went to drinking. And my uncle says he never saw any one take so much liquor as he took that night without becoming intoxicated. Well, Sir, the house was nearly done, and Mr. Retzcar discharged all the workmen except three, who were there for two months after he went into the house, though no one saw them do much of any account. My uncle has been there, and says that the plan of the building is very odd and old-fashioned, with queer recesses and all that sort of thing.

Mr. Tom Argent went to the city, with directions to buy furniture-for the widow Holly says that her servant-girl listened at the door, though I believe it was herself, for she was always a gossiping old thing — and Mr. Retzcar says to Mr. Tom Argent: 'Now, you get every thing on this list. But, d-n you, Tom, don't go near her!'

What the latter part of the sentence meant we never found out.

The furniture came, and mighty fine it was; and the house appeared very elegant, both inside and out. One evening Mr. Retzcar came down to the village and spoke to every one he met, and was very agreeable, affable and kindly toward all, though he had never condescended to notice any one before, and asked my uncle to come with him and see his house. So my uncle went; and 'Squire Petters, whom they met, was asked to go too; and at the house they were made to sit down and drink elegant wine; and Mr. Retzcar talked very pleasantly to them. But Mr. Tom Argent was quiet and scornful, though very polite. Mr. Retzcar, among other queer things which he said, remarked that night to Mr. Argent, before my uncle and 'Squire Petters: 'A month from Monday and our year is up.' And 'Squire Petters says that Mr. Argent cast the most awfully spiteful glance toward him imaginable, so much so, that he said to my uncle on going out of the house that night: 'I wonder if those gentlemen are as great friends as they pretend to be ?'

During the month after this visit, Mr. Retzcar came often to the village, and was so sociable that every one commenced to like him, although he used to swear terribly. When one day a servant came down from his house in a terrible excitement, crying out that his master had been murdered. My uncle was called to go up with others to the inquest.

The body of poor Mr. Retzcar lay on the floor of the library in the same dress, the servants said, he had breakfasted in a couple of hours before, with three dreadful knife-wounds in his bosom, and his face so beaten and bruised that it was almost impossible to tell if it were he or Mr. Tom Argent; but the long, hairless mark on his head, and his rings and pins, which he always wore, identified him. The servants said in testimony, that Mr. Tom Argent had gone to the city two days before, and during his absence Mr. Retzcar had acted very strangely, and kept his room all the time; had talked incoherently, and eaten nothing. That Mr. Argent had returned that morning, and Mr. Retzcar and he went into the library to smoke a cigar; where after about two hours the house-keeper had found the body of the unfortunate gentleman as it now lay. That the probabilities were that he had been murdered by Mr. Tom Argent, for high words were often heard between them.

A hue and cry was raised for the latter, but he was never found. It is supposed that he somehow concealed himself in that forest you see in the distance for some weeks, and then escaped to some foreign country. But we are here at the tavern, said my guide dismounting.

'Who settled Mr. Retzcar's affairs?' inquired I.

'His half-brother, a Mr. Bylenne, who happened to come a few days after. ward, with the intention of visiting him, and found him dead. He merely told us that he had not seen Mr. Retzcar since childhood, and only happened by chance

to discover his present abode. He gave little information, except that the poor gentleman had resided mostly abroad; and as for Argent, he knew nothing of him.'

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And now,' said I, 'pray tell me why people consider the house haunted?' 'Why, Sir, Mr. Bylenne tried to sell it to a gentleman from the city, and he sent his servants there to prepare the place for him, and they heard such dreadful noises that they would n't stay, and told the purchaser; and he being a timid person, gave up the bargain. I believe Mr. Bylenne wishes to sell it now. Good night, Sir. I hope my story has not been tedious?'

I had been riding on horse-back through the country, looking at several residences with a desire to purchase, and this man who related the foregoing had kindly volunteered to guide me across a swampy road which I had passed before arriving at the lonely house to which my tale relates. I had seen no residence which pleased me so well. And after eating my supper, on mature consideration, I concluded, if the price suited and the interior pleased me as well as the exterior, to purchase it. I was young, and too sensible a man to fear any thing from ghosts. When next in the city, I called on Mr. Bylenne, who I found to be a grave gentleman, of about forty-five years of age. I told him of my intentions, and inquired the price of the house. He offered it at a reasonable figure, and giving me the keys, requested me to look at it, and buy the furniture also, if it suited me.

I returned to the village of T-, taking with me a man-servant, in whom I had every confidence. I rode over to the house, and up, the carriage-roaduntrodden since the days of the eccentric Mr. Retzcar's four-in-hand. Unlocking and unbarring the front-door, I entered it. It seemed an ordinarily-built house, with a broad hall through the middle, and fine, large, well-furnished rooms on either side. On the left was a curiously-shaped apartment, in a wing, which I judged from the now empty book-cases, to have been the library. In the centre of the carpet was a dark stain, covering a foot square at least, which I concluded was made by the blood of the unhappy Retzcar. But what struck me as being peculiarly strange, was, that the room appeared of a triangular shape. I stepped outside, and observed that the wing was square. I looked around to see if there were any corner-openings or sliding-panels, but could find none; but my difficulty was solved by observing that behind the bookcase, in the narrow end of the room, were knobs, hidden by the frames of those upon the outside. I pushed on one of them, and it flew open, disclosing a row of shelves well filled with elegantly-bound volumes. As I opened these, there was a clatter as of a multitude of rats rushing through the interior. These are the ghosts!' said I laughingly. At this moment my servant William came in, telling me that a terrible thunder-storm was gathering, and that we had best take our departure before it commenced. I went to the front-door, and heavy drops were already falling. We will wait,' I said, 'until it is over.' 'But,' said William, 'it is now near night, and it will be perhaps too dark to return then, as the roads are so very bad.'

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'Well, if worst comes to worst, we can stay here.'

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