« PreviousContinue »
dier, the war-horse and his rider. Say to the Evil One, I have power to appeal our conflict even till that day, and that in the front of that fearful day he will again meet with Harrison.' I went back with this answer to the stranger, and his face was writhed into such a deadly frown as a mere human brow hath seldom worn. * Return to him,' he said, and say it is my
and that if he come not instantly down to speak with me, I will mount the stairs to him. Say that I COMMAND him to descend, by the token, that, on the field of Naseby, he did not the work negligently."
“ I have heard,” whispered Wildrake,—who felt more and more strongly the contagion of superstition,—“ that these words were blasphemously used by Harrison when he shot my poor friend Dick."
“What happened next?” said Everard. “See that thou speakest the truth.”
“ As gospel unexpounded by a steeple-man,” said the independent; “ yet truly it is but little I have to say. I saw my master come down, with a blank, yet resolved air; and when he entered the hall and saw the stranger, he made a
pause. The other waved on him as if to follow, and walked out at the portal. My worthy patron seerned as if he were about to follow, yet again paused, when this visitant, be he man or fiend, re-entered, and said, “ Obey thy doom.
By pathless march, by greenwood tree,
So saying, he stalked out, and my master followed him into the wood.-I followed also at a distance. But when I came up, my master was alone, and bearing himself as you now behold him.”
“Thou hast had a wonderful memory, friend," said the Colonel, coldly, “ to remember these rhymes in a single recitation—there seems something of practice in all this.”
“A single recitation, my honoured sir ?” exclaimed the independent,"alaek, the rhyme is seldom out of my poor master's mouth, when, as sometimes haps, he is less triumphant in his
wrestles with Satan. But it was the first time I ever heard it uttered by another; and, to say truth, he ever seems to repeat it unwillingly, as a child after his pedagogue, and as it was not indited by his own head, as the Psalmist saith.”
“ It is strange,” said Everard,—“I have heard and read that the spirits of the slaughtered have strange power over the slayer ; but I am astonished to believe there may be truth in such tales. -Roger Wildrake--what art thou afraid of, man ?-why dost thou shift thy place thus ?”
“ Fear? it is not fear—it is hate, deadly hate. -I see the murderer of poor Dick before me, and-see, he throws himself into a postureof fence
-Sa-sa-say'st thou, brood of a butcher's mastiff? thou shalt not want an antagonist.
Ere any one could stop him, Wildrake threw aside his cloak, drew his sword, and almost with a single bound cleared the distance betwixt him and Harrison, and crossed swords with the latter, as he stood brandishing his weapon, as if in immediate expectation of an assailant. Accordingly, the Republican General was not for an instant taken at unawares, but the moment the swords clashed, he shouted, “Ha! I feel thee
now, thou hast come in body at last.-Welcome! welcome !—the sword of the Lord and of Gideon !"
“ Part them, part them," cried Everard, as he and Tomkins, at first astonished at the suddenness of the affray, hastened to interfere. Everard, seizing on the cavalier, drew him forcibly backwards, while Tomkins contrived, with risk and difficulty, to master Harrison's sword, while the General exclaimed, “ Ha! two to one-two to one !-thus fight demons.” Wildrake, on his side, swore a dreadful oath, and added, “ Markham, you have cancelled every obligation I owed youthey are all out of sight-gone, d-n me.”
“ You have indeed acquitted these obligations rarely,” said Everard. 6 Who knows how this affair shall be explained and answered ?”
“ I will answer it with my life,” said Wild. rake.
“Good now, be silent,” said Tomkins, “and let me manage. It shall be so ordered that the good General shall never know that he hath encountered with a mortal man; only let that man of Moab put his sword into the scabbard's rest, and be still."
“Wildrake, let me entreat thee to sheathe thy sword,” said Everard ; “else, on my life, thou must turn it against me.”
“ No, 'fore George, not so mad as that neither but I'll have another day with him.”
Thou, another day !” exclaimed Harrison, whose eye had still remained fixed on the spot where he found such palpable resistance. “ Yes, I know thee well; day by day, week by week, thou makest the same idle request, for thou knowest that my heart quivers at thy voice.But my hand trembles not when opposed to thine
-the spirit is willing to the combat, if the flesh be weak when opposed to that which is not of the flesh.”
“ Now, peace all, for Heaven's sake,"—said the steward Tomkins; then added, addressing his master, “ there is no one here, if it please your Excellence, but Tomkins and the worthy Colonel Everard."
General Harrison, as sometimes happens in cases of partial insanity, (that is, supposing his to have been a case of mental delusion,) though