dezembro 04, 2012

Northern Lights and other psychic stories by E. D'Espérance 4

Northern Lights and other psychic stories
by E. D'Espérance.

Author of Shadowland

George Redway

Read the contents here.


The warning spirit

Not more than three hours' journey by rail from one of the large cities of Europe, lies the valuable estate owned by the Count of K. The present owner is, so far as th direct line goes, the last representative of his name and race - a race for many generations famed for their deeds of prowess and bravery in the wars of their deeds prowess and bravery in the wars of their country, as well as, in more remote ages, for the boldness with which they robbed and plundered their neighbours to enrich themselves.

How far this system contributed to the wealth and extent of the estate is not known at the present day, though the descendants of the ancient owners of the soil tell still with bitterness of the wrongs they suffered at the hands of the old of K.

Be this as it may; if the estates have thriven and prospered, the owners thereof have dwindled away, till when the present proprietor is laid in the vault, where fifteen generations of this ancestors have been laid to rest before him, the race of K. will be known no more among the living.

It is believed by all the country fork round about that this event is not far off, for they say that he has but eighteen months to live, unless the traditions of his race prove unreliable in his particular case; one of there traditions being that, from time immemorial, the lords of K. have received three years for repentance, good works, and making their peace with Heaven.

"Not too long in this case," say the country people bitterly, for it is hinted that the page whereon the history for Count K.'s life is written is not too fair and unblemished. Some say that nothing less than a grave will bury the hatred and loathing that have grown up in the hearts of his dependants.

Maybe the stories told of him take colour from the bitterness still cherished in the hearts os those who were once masters in the land where they are now servants, for the present tillers of the soil are not the people to forgive or forget injuries, and if they do their duty by their master, it is done with and unsmiling, stolid indifference, that covers in many instances but badly the smouldering dislike they have inherited from their ancestors, for those who have robbed them of their land.

It may be that the stories told by them of Count K. would sound differently if told by some one who loved him; but since his mother, broken-hearted and despairing, lay down her weary head, and sobbed her last breath away in a prayer for the son who had disappointed her, there have been none with sufficient love in their hearts to cast the mantle of charity over the dark record.

A wife's love might have saved him, thought his mother, and she tried to arrange a marriage between him and a bright young girl, daughter to one of their neighbours. But dark stories of the life led by her lover reached the ears for the young lady and her parents, and the engagement was broken off.

The disappointment broke the last band which held the young man in check. He plunged deeper into the mire of dissipation, threw off the slight control his mother had over him, and became an openly avowed materialist and atheist, laughing to scorn the religious observances of his people, and the admonitions of the priests.

In spite of his many extravagances he was singularly penurious, extorting the last farthing from his tenants and creditors, forgiving no part of any debt, and spending as little as possible on anything except his own personal pleasures, or the whim of the moment.

As grew older, he grew fonder of money for money's own sake. One for his pleasures, after receiving his rents of proceeds from sales, was to count ans arrange the gold and notes, which he kept in a sage built into the wall of his own room.

The lock of this sage was a peculiar one, the secret of which was only known to himself. No one but he could open it, even when possessed of the key, though the door closed of itself whit a spring.

On day, about two years ago, his valet - who by the way was a new-comer, and had not as yet made himself acquainted with the different members of the family or household - was engaged in arranging his master's wardrobe, when a lady whom he had not seen before entered the room, saying, "Your master need your help. He is in the safe, go quickly?"

Without stopping to ask a question the man hurried to his master's chamber, where, from muffled sound and gasping cries from the interior of the safe, he found that the lady had spoke truly.

The man alarmed the household, and every means was tried in vain to open the door. A locksmith was brought quickly, but his skill availed nothing, and in the meantime the imprisoned count was suffocanting.

With more common sense than is usually possessed by his class, the locksmith drilled a couple of holes through the iron door, to admit air, while he proceeded with assistance to file round the lock This was work of time, and before it was accomplished the wretched captive was more dead than alive. 

Later, when somewhat recovered, the count called his valet to him, and asked how it happened that he discovered the accident of his incarceration. The man explained the entrance of the lady, and her command that he should go quickly to his master's assistance.

"What lady? Who was she?" demanded the count.

"I do not know, I never saw her before, and I did not stop to think."

"Well for me that you did not," muttered the count grimly; "but go at once and make inquiries as to who it was."

The man departed on his errand and presently returned, puzzled and a little bewildered. He could find no one among the household resembling the lady, nor could he ascertain that any one had any knowledge of her.

The count seemed disturbed by this announcement, and after questioning the man closely as to the appearance of the lady, he took a pile of photographs and told the man to look through them, and see if the photograph of the mysterious lady was amongst them. Glancing at one after another of the pictures, the man picked out one and said, "This is the portrait of the lady, sir!"

The man noticed that his master grew very pale and looked startled, but after a moment's silence he recovered himself with an effort, and said indifferently, "So! that was she! Well, let the matter drop, and see to it that there is no gossiping about the affair. I don't want to ba made a laughingstock for all the clowns in the neighbourhood. And let there be no talk of the lady."

These injunctions, however, came too late. The particulars of the count's narrow escape had already become noised abroad, and it was not long before the story of the visit of the mysterious lady became public property. The servants and retainers of the castle recognised, by the description given by the valet, that she was no other than late countess - the mother of the their master - who had died some ten or twelve years before.

This news startled the young valet considerably, the more so as he found the photograph he had so unhesitatingly declared to be that of the lady who had warned him to be that of the late mistress of the castle.

He had some thoughts of leaving his place, but his master, contrary to his usual custom, took a fancy to the young man, probably because he had been instrumental in saving his life, and prevailed upon him to remain. So he stayed on, and his master place more and more confidence in him, as he grew accustomed to his habits.

About six month after the occurrence narrated, Hans, the valet, was, according to his master's instructions, arranging some letters and papers on his writing table. Becoming for a moment engrossed in a paper he held in his hand, he was startled by hearing a rustling of the letters he had laid to one side behind him. Turning hastily, he saw to his terror and surprise the same mysterious lady who had appeared to him before. Unlike then, he knew now that she was no earthly visitant, and this knowledge almost paralysed him for the moment. Recovering himself, he was about to rush from the room, when, with a commanding gesture, she bade him remain, and listen to a message she would give him for his master.

The man fearfully obeyed, and listened tremblingly to the words that fell in clear, distinct, and awe-inspiring accents from the lips of the lady - listened till his brain reeled and his heart palpitated with fear.

"Tell him these things, nor forget any part of the message I have given you. Furthermore, I charge you that, when you have repeated my words to my son, your master, you will never, while he lives, reveal to living creature what I have this day charged you to deliver to him."

Fixing her eyes on the panic-stricken man, the lady dissolved into thin air, and the valet, with a groan, sank insensible to the floor, where he was afterwards found by his master.

What the message was I know not, nor has the most inquisitive succeeded in eliciting one syllable of its purport from either mast or man. But a great and unlooked-for change has taken place. From the life of idle dissipation and wild orgies, that made him hated and feared by all who knew him, the count has become almost a hermit in his castle, secluding himself in his own apartments, denying himself to all his old associates, seeing no one, speaking with no one, except those who have to do with the management of his estates.

The valet too is changed, from the young, careless, light-hearted lad, he has become a serious, thoughtful man, who waits on and attends his master with the kindly solicitude of one who knows that a doom is hanging overhead and must inevitably fall.

There is a mysterious donor who gives largely to charities, and has endowed an asylum for the blind and the deaf and dumb who, by some unknown means, makes himself acquainted with the need of the aged and poor and relieves their necessities; pays for the help of some nursing sisters to attend the sick; who has restored the church, repaired the tumble-down cottages, and has led supply of pure water to the villages. The name of this benefactor has not transpired, yet no one questions his individuality. Several children of doubtful parentage, who hitherto have run wild about the cottages, have been sent away to school, and their future provided for. And at the castle itself has appeared a young man, who is the acknowledged heir to much of the vast property; a young man frail and delicate, as if his hold on life was very slight. Though he bears another name, there is too strong a resemblance between his face and the more worn features of the count, to leave room for doubt as to the relationship between them.

The count spends his time in fasting and praying, and one day was found senseless on his knees before the altar, in the little, till now unused, chapel of the castle. The doctor who was called to his assistance was shocked to discover signs of an incurable disease in his patient, and with much reluctance tried to break the unwelcome news that he could not hope to live to become old.

"I know it, doctor; I have known it for more than a year, and I know when it will end. We K.'s have to be thankful that so much time is given us to put our affairs in order. I shall not scandalise the world much longer. The new master ill not be a Count of K., but he will be a better man than his - than I have been."

Even while writing the closing words of this story the church bells are tolling at K., and dismay is written on every face, for the news told by the bells is that the young heir and future master lies cold and dead.

The count, looking spectre-like in his wan misery and grief, fives orders that the body shall be placed in the burial-place of his ancestors, and beside the coffin shall be left a place for his own.

For obvious reasons I have not given the name of the Lord of K., though the story as I have given it is known to all the countryside, nor does any one doubt the identity of the mysterious lady - that she is the spirit of the mother of the count, who, true to the traditions of her family, gave her son a timely warning of his fate.

Time will show; and, meanwhile, the priest and others who scout the stories of modern spiritualistic wonders believe unquestionably that God permits such manifestations as here recorded.


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