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Chapter 9

"Be brave," she cried, "you yet may be our guest,
Our haunted room was ever held the best.
If, then, your valour can the sight sustain
Of rustling curtains and the clinking chain
If your courageous tongue have powers to talk,
When round your bed the horrid ghost shall walk
If you dare ask it why it leaves its tomb,
I'll see your sheets well air'd, and show the Room."
True Story.


The reached the room in which they had dined, and were clamorously
welcomed by Miss Oldbuck.

"Where's the younger womankind?" said the Antiquary.

"Indeed, brother, amang a' the steery, Maria wadna be guided by me she
set away to the Halket-craig-head--I wonder ye didna see her."

"Eh!--what--what's that you say, sister?--did the girl go out in a night
like this to the Halket-head?--Good God! the misery of the night is not
ended yet!"

"But ye winna wait, Monkbarns--ye are so imperative and impatient"--

"Tittle-tattle, woman," said the impatient and agitated Antiquary, "where
is my dear Mary?"

"Just where ye suld be yoursell, Monkbarns--up-stairs, and in her warm
bed."

"I could have sworn it," said Oldbuck laughing, but obviously much
relieved--"I could have sworn it;--the lazy monkey did not care if we
were all drowned together. Why did you say she went out?"

"But ye wadna wait to hear out my tale, Monkbarns--she gaed out, and she
came in again with the gardener sae sune as she saw that nane o' ye were
clodded ower the Craig, and that Miss Wardour was safe in the chariot;
she was hame a quarter of an hour syne, for it's now ganging ten--sair
droukit was she, puir thing, sae I e'en put a glass o' sherry in her
water-gruel."

"Right, Grizel, right--let womankind alone for coddling each other. But
hear me, my venerable sister--start not at the word venerable; it implies
many praiseworthy qualities besides age; though that too is honourable,
albeit it is the last quality for which womankind would wish to be
honoured--But perpend my words: let Lovel and me have forthwith the
relics of the chicken-pie, and the reversion of the port."

"The chicken-pie! the port!--ou dear! brother--there was but a wheen
banes, and scarce a drap o' the wine."

The Antiquary's countenance became clouded, though he was too well bred
to give way, in the presence of a stranger, to his displeased surprise at
the, disappearance of the viands on which he had reckoned with absolute
certainty. But his sister understood these looks of ire. "Ou dear!
Monkbarns, what's the use of making a wark?"

"I make no wark, as ye call it, woman."

"But what's the use o' looking sae glum and glunch about a pickle banes?
--an ye will hae the truth, ye maun ken the minister came in, worthy man
--sair distressed he was, nae doubt, about your precarious situation, as
he ca'd it (for ye ken how weel he's gifted wi' words), and here he wad
bide till he could hear wi' certainty how the matter was likely to gang
wi' ye a'--He said fine things on the duty of resignation to Providence's
will, worthy man! that did he."

Oldbuck replied, catching the same tone, "Worthy man!--he cared not how
soon Monkbarns had devolved on an heir-female, I've a notion;--and while
he was occupied in this Christian office of consolation against impending
evil, I reckon that the chicken-pie and my good port disappeared?"

"Dear brother, how can you speak of sic frivolities, when you have had
sic an escape from the craig?"

"Better than my supper has had from the minister's _craig,_ Grizzle--it's
all discussed, I suppose?"

"Hout, Monkbarns, ye speak as if there was nae mair meat in the house
--wad ye not have had me offer the honest man some slight refreshment
after his walk frae the manse?"

Oldbuck half-whistled, half-hummed, the end of the old Scottish ditty,

O, first they eated the white puddings,
And then they eated the black, O,
And thought the gudeman unto himsell,
The deil clink down wi' that, O!

His sister hastened to silence his murmurs, by proposing some of the
relies of the dinner. He spoke of another bottle of wine, but recommended
in preference a glass of brandy which was really excellent. As no
entreaties could prevail on Lovel to indue the velvet night-cap and
branched morning-gown of his host, Oldbuck, who pretended to a little
knowledge of the medical art, insisted on his going to bed as soon as
possible, and proposed to despatch a messenger (the indefatigable Caxon)
to Fairport early in the morning, to procure him a change of clothes.

This was the first intimation Miss Oldbuck had received that the young
stranger was to be their guest for the night; and such was the surprise
with which she was struck by a proposal so uncommon, that, had the
superincumbent weight of her bead-dress, such as we before described,
been less preponderant, her grey locks must have started up on end, and
hurled it from its position.

"Lord haud a care o' us!" exclaimed the astounded maiden.

"What's the matter now, Grizel?"

"Wad ye but just speak a moment, Monkbarns?"

"Speak!--what should I speak about? I want to get to my bed--and this
poor young fellow--let a bed be made ready for him instantly."

"A bed?--The Lord preserve us!" again ejaculated Grizel.

"Why, what's the matter now?--are there not beds and rooms enough in the
house?--was it not an ancient _hospitium,_ in which, I am warranted to
say, beds were nightly made down for a score of pilgrims?"

"O dear, Monkbarns! wha kens what they might do lang syne?--but in our
time--beds--ay, troth, there's beds enow sic as they are--and rooms enow
too--but ye ken yoursell the beds haena been sleepit in, Lord kens the
time, nor the rooms aired.--If I had kenn'd, Mary and me might hae gaen
down to the manse--Miss Beckie is aye fond to see us--(and sae is the
minister, brother)--But now, gude save us!"--

"Is there not the Green Room, Grizel?"

"Troth is there, and it is in decent order too, though naebody has
sleepit there since Dr. Heavysterne, and"--

"And what?"

"And what! I am sure ye ken yoursell what a night he had--ye wadna expose
the young gentleman to the like o' that, wad ye?"

Lovel interfered upon hearing this altercation, and protested he would
far rather walk home than put them to the least inconvenience--that the
exercise would be of service to him--that he knew the road perfectly, by
night or day, to Fairport--that the storm was abating, and so forth
--adding all that civility could suggest as an excuse for escaping from
a hospitality which seemed more inconvenient to his host than he could
possibly have anticipated. But the howling of the wind, and the pattering
of the rain against the windows, with his knowledge of the preceding
fatigues of the evening, must have prohibited Oldbuck, even had he
entertained less regard for his young friend than he really felt, from
permitting him to depart. Besides, he was piqued in honour to show that
he himself was not governed by womankind--"Sit ye down, sit ye down, sit
ye down, man," he reiterated;--"an ye part so, I would I might never draw
a cork again, and here comes out one from a prime bottle of--strong ale
--right _anno domini_--none of your Wassia Quassia decoctions, but brewed
of Monkbarns barley--John of the Girnel never drew a better flagon to
entertain a wandering minstrel, or palmer, with the freshest news from
Palestine.--And to remove from your mind the slightest wish to depart,
know, that if you do so, your character as a gallant knight is gone for
ever. Why, 'tis an adventure, man, to sleep in the Green Room at
Monkbarns.--Sister, pray see it got ready--And, although the bold
adventurer, Heavysterne, dree'd pain and dolour in that charmed
apartment, it is no reason why a gallant knight like you, nearly twice as
tall, and not half so heavy, should not encounter and break the spell."

"What! a haunted apartment, I suppose?"

"To be sure, to be sure--every mansion in this country of the slightest
antiquity has its ghosts and its haunted chamber, and you must not
suppose us worse off than our neighbours. They are going, indeed,
somewhat out of fashion. I have seen the day, when if you had doubted the
reality of a ghost in an old manor-house you ran the risk of being made a
ghost yourself, as Hamlet says.--Yes, if you had challenged the existence
of Redcowl in the Castle of Glenstirym, old Sir Peter Pepperbrand would
have had ye out to his court-yard, made you betake yourself to your
weapon, and if your trick of fence were not the better, would have
sticked you like a paddock, on his own baronial midden-stead. I once
narrowly escaped such an affray--but I humbled myself, and apologised to
Redcowl; for, even in my younger days, I was no friend to the
_monomachia,_ or duel, and would rather walk with Sir Priest than with
Sir Knight--I care not who knows so much of my valour. Thank God, I am
old now, and can indulge my irritabilities without the necessity of
supporting them by cold steel."

Here Miss Oldbuck re-entered, with a singularly sage expression of
countenance.--"Mr. Lovel's bed's ready, brother--clean sheets--weel aired
--a spunk of fire in the chimney--I am sure, Mr. Lovel," (addressing
him), "it's no for the trouble--and I hope you will have a good night's
rest--But"--

"You are resolved," said the Antiquary, "to do what you can to prevent
it."

"Me?--I am sure I have said naething, Monkbarns."

"My dear madam," said Lovel, "allow me to ask you the meaning of your
obliging anxiety on my account."

"Ou, Monkbarns does not like to hear of it--but he kens himsell that the
room has an ill name. It's weel minded that it was there auld Rab Tull
the town-clerk was sleeping when he had that marvellous communication
about the grand law-plea between us and the feuars at the Mussel-craig.
--It had cost a hantle siller, Mr. Lovel; for law-pleas were no carried on
without siller lang syne mair than they are now--and the Monkbarns of
that day--our gudesire, Mr. Lovel, as I said before--was like to be
waured afore the Session for want of a paper--Monkbarns there kens weel
what paper it was, but I'se warrant he'll no help me out wi' my tale--but
it was a paper of great significance to the plea, and we were to be
waured for want o't. Aweel, the cause was to come on before the fifteen
--in presence, as they ca't--and auld Rab Tull, the town-clerk, he cam ower
to make a last search for the paper that was wanting, before our gudesire
gaed into Edinburgh to look after his plea--so there was little time to
come and gang on. He was but a doited snuffy body, Rab, as I've heard
--but then he was the town-clerk of Fairport, and the Monkbarns heritors
aye employed him on account of their connection wi' the burgh, ye ken."

"Sister Grizel, this is abominable," interrupted Oldbuck; "I vow to
Heaven ye might have raised the ghosts of every abbot of Trotcosey, since
the days of Waldimir, in the time you have been detailing the
introduction to this single spectre.--Learn to be succinct in your
narrative.--Imitate the concise style of old Aubrey, an experienced
ghost-seer, who entered his memoranda on these subjects in a terse
business-like manner; _exempli gratia_--At Cirencester, 5th March, 1670,
was an apparition.--Being demanded whether good spirit or bad, made no
answer, but instantly disappeared with a curious perfume, and a melodious
twang'--_Vide_ his Miscellanies, p. eighteen, as well as I can remember,
and near the middle of the page."

"O, Monkbarns, man! do ye think everybody is as book-learned as
yoursell?--But ye like to gar folk look like fools--ye can do that to Sir
Arthur, and the minister his very sell."

"Nature has been beforehand with me, Grizel, in both these instances, and
in another which shall be nameless--but take a glass of ale, Grizel, and
proceed with your story, for it waxes late."

"Jenny's just warming your bed, Monkbarns, and ye maun e'en wait till
she's done.--Weel, I was at the search that our gudesire, Monkbarns that
then was, made wi' auld Rab Tull's assistance;--but ne'er-be-licket could
they find that was to their purpose. Aud sae, after they bad touzled out
mony a leather poke-full o' papers, the town-clerk had his drap punch at
e'en to wash the dust out of his throat--we never were glass-breakers in
this house, Mr. Lovel, but the body bad got sic a trick of sippling and
tippling wi' the bailies and deacons when they met (which was amaist ilka
night) concerning the common gude o' the burgh, that he couldna weel
sleep without it--But his punch he gat, and to bed he gaed; and in the
middle of the night he got a fearfu' wakening!--he was never just himsell
after it, and he was strucken wi' the dead palsy that very day four
years. He thought, Mr. Lovel, that he heard the curtains o' his bed
fissil, and out he lookit, fancying, puir man, it might hae been the cat
--But he saw--God hae a care o' us! it gars my flesh aye creep, though I
hae tauld the story twenty times--he saw a weel-fa'ard auld gentleman
standing by his bedside, in the moonlight, in a queer-fashioned dress,
wi' mony a button and band-string about it, and that part o' his garments
which it does not become a leddy to particulareeze, was baith side and
wide, and as mony plies o't as of ony Hamburgh skipper's--He had a beard
too, and whiskers turned upwards on his upper-lip, as lang as baudrons'
--and mony mair particulars there were that Rab Tull tauld o', but they are
forgotten now--it's an auld story. Aweel, Rab was a just-living man for a
country writer--and he was less feared than maybe might just hae been
expected; and he asked in the name o' goodness what the apparition
wanted--and the spirit answered in an unknown tongue. Then Rab said he
tried him wi' Erse, for he cam in his youth frae the braes of Glenlivat
--but it wadna do. Aweel, in this strait, he bethought him of the twa or
three words o' Latin that he used in making out the town's deeds, and he
had nae sooner tried the spirit wi' that, than out cam sic a blatter o'
Latin about his lugs, that poor Rab Tull, wha was nae great scholar, was
clean overwhelmed. Od, but he was a bauld body, and he minded the Latin
name for the deed that he was wanting. It was something about a cart, I
fancy, for the ghaist cried aye, _Carter, carter_--"

"_Carta,_ you transformer of languages!" cried Oldbuck;--"if my ancestor
had learned no other language in the other world, at least he would not
forget the Latinity for which he was so famous while in this."

"Weel, weel, _carta_ be it then, but they ca'd it _carter_ that tell'd me
the story. It cried aye _carta,_ if sae be that it was _carta,_ and made
a sign to Rab to follow it. Rab Tull keepit a Highland heart, and banged
out o' bed, and till some of his readiest claes--and he did follow the
thing up stairs and down stairs to the place we ca' the high dow-cot--(a
sort of a little tower in the corner of the auld house, where there was a
Tickle o' useless boxes and trunks)--and there the ghaist gae Rab a kick
wi' the tae foot, and a kick wi' the tother, to that very auld
east-country tabernacle of a cabinet that my brother has standing beside
his library table, and then disappeared like a fuff o' tobacco, leaving
Rab in a very pitiful condition."

"_Tenues secessit in auras,_" quoth Oldbuck. "Marry, sir, _mansit odor_
--But, sure enough, the deed was there found in a drawer of this forgotten
repository, which contained many other curious old papers, now properly
labelled and arranged, and which seemed to have belonged to my ancestor,
the first possessor of Monkbarns. The deed, thus strangely recovered, was
the original Charter of Erection of the Abbey, Abbey Lands, and so forth,
of Trotcosey, comprehending Monkbarns and others, into a Lordship of
Regality in favour of the first Earl of Glengibber, a favourite of James
the Sixth. It is subscribed by the King at Westminster, the seventeenth
day of January, A. D. one thousand six hundred and twelve--thirteen. It's
not worth while to repeat the witnesses' names."

"I would rather," said Lovel with awakened curiosity, "I would rather
hear your opinion of the way in which the deed was discovered."

"Why, if I wanted a patron for my legend, I could find no less a one than
Saint Augustine, who tells the story of a deceased person appearing to
his son, when sued for a debt which had been paid, and directing him
where, to find the discharge.*

*Note D. Mr. Rutherford's dream.

But I rather opine with Lord Bacon, who says that imagination is much
akin to miracle-working faith. There was always some idle story of the
room being haunted by the spirit of Aldobrand Oldenbuck, my
great-great-great-grandfather--it's a shame to the English language that,
we have not a less clumsy way of expressing a relationship of which we
have occasion to think and speak so frequently. He was a foreigner, and
wore his national dress, of which tradition had preserved an accurate
description; and indeed there is a print of him, supposed to be by
Reginald Elstracke, pulling the press with his own hand, as it works off
the sheets of his scarce edition of the Augsburg Confession. He was a
chemist as well as a good mechanic, and either of these qualities in this
country was at that time sufficient to constitute a white witch at least.
This superstitious old writer had heard all this, and probably believed
it, and in his sleep the image and idea of my ancestor recalled that of
his cabinet, which, with the grateful attention to antiquities and the
memory of our ancestors not unusually met with, had been pushed into the
pigeon-house to be out of the way--Add a _quantum sufficit_ of
exaggeration, and you have a key to the whole mystery."

"O brother! brother! but Dr. Heavysterne, brother--whose sleep was so
sore broken, that he declared he wadna pass another night in the Green
Room to get all Monkbarns, so that Mary and I were forced to yield our"--

"Why, Grizel, the doctor is a good, honest, pudding-headed German, of
much merit in his own way, but fond of the mystical, like many of his
countrymen. You and he had a traffic the whole evening in which you
received tales of Mesmer, Shropfer, Cagliostro, and other modern
pretenders to the mystery of raising spirits, discovering hidden
treasure, and so forth, in exchange for your legends of the green
bedchamber;--and considering that the _Illustrissimus_ ate a pound and a
half of Scotch collops to supper, smoked six pipes, and drank ale and
brandy in proportion, I am not surprised at his having a fit of the
night-mare. But everything is now ready. Permit me to light you to your
apartment, Mr. Lovel--I am sure you have need of rest--and I trust my
ancestor is too sensible of the duties of hospitality to interfere with
the repose which you have so well merited by your manly and gallant
behaviour."

So saying, the Antiquary took up a bedroom candlestick of massive silver
and antique form, which, he observed, was wrought out of the silver found
in the mines of the Harz mountains, and had been the property of the very
personage who had supplied them with a subject for conversation. And
having so said, he led the way through many a dusky and winding passage,
now ascending, and anon descending again, until he came to the apartment
destined for his young guest.

Sir Walter Scott

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