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Chapter 15

I see a hand you cannot see,
Which beckons me away;
I hear a voice you cannot hear,
Which says I must not stay.

When Eveline first opened her eyes, it seemed to be without any
recollection of what had passed on the night preceding. She looked
round the apartment, which was coarsely and scantily furnished, as
one destined for the use of domestics and menials, and said to
Rose, with a smile, "Our good kinswoman maintains the ancient
Saxon hospitality at a homely rate, so far as lodging is
concerned. I could have willingly parted with last night's profuse
supper, to have obtained a bed of a softer texture. Methinks my
limbs feel as if I had been under all the flails of a Franklin's

"I am glad to see you so pleasant, madam," answered Rose,
discreetly avoiding any reference to the events of the night

Dame Gillian was not so scrupulous. "Your ladyship last night lay
down on a better bed than this," she said, "unless I am much
mistaken; and Rose Flammock and yourself know best why you left

If a look could have killed, Dame Gillian would have been in
deadly peril from that which Rose shot at her, by way of rebuke
for this ill-advised communication. It had instantly the effect
which was to be apprehended, for Lady Eveline seemed at first
surprised and confused; then, as recollections of the past
arranged themselves in her memory, she folded her hands, looked on
the ground, and wept bitterly, with much agitation.

Rose entreated her to be comforted, and offered to fetch the old
Saxon chaplain of the house to administer spiritual consolation,
if her grief rejected temporal comfort.

"No--call him not," said Eveline, raising her head and drying her
eyes--"I have had enough of Saxon kindness. What a fool was I to
expect, in that hard and unfeeling woman, any commiseration for my
youth--my late sufferings--my orphan condition! I will not permit
her a poor triumph over the Norman blood of Berenger, by letting
her see how much I have suffered under her inhuman infliction. But
first, Rose, answer me truly, was any inmate of Baldringham
witness to my distress last night?"

Rose assured her that she had been tended exclusively by her own
retinue, herself and Gillian, Blanche and Ternotte. She seemed to
receive satisfaction from this assurance. "Hear me, both of you,"
she said, "and observe my words, as you love and as you fear me.
Let no syllable be breathed from your lips of what has happened
this night. Carry the same charge to my maidens. Lend me thine
instant aid, Gillian, and thine, my dearest Rose, to change these
disordered garments, and arrange this dishevelled hair. It was a
poor vengeance she sought, and all because of my country. I am
resolved she shall not see the slightest trace of the sufferings
she has inflicted."

As she spoke thus, her eyes flashed with indignation, which seemed
to dry up the tears that had before filled them. Rose saw the
change of her manner with a mixture of pleasure and concern, being
aware that her mistress's predominant failing was incident to her,
as a spoiled child, who, accustomed to be treated with kindness,
deference, and indulgence, by all around her, was apt to resent
warmly whatever resembled neglect or contradiction.

"God knows," said the faithful bower-maiden, "I would hold my hand
out to catch drops of molten lead, rather than endure your tears;
and yet, my sweet mistress, I would rather at present see you
grieved than angry. This ancient lady hath, it would seem, but
acted according to some old superstitious rite of her family,
which is in part yours. Her name is respectable, both from her
conduct and possessions; and hard pressed as you are by the
Normans, with whom your kinswoman, the Prioress, is sure to take
part. I was in hope you might have had some shelter and
countenance from the Lady of Baldringham."

"Never, Rose, never," answered Eveline; "you know not--you cannot
fuess what she has made me suffer--exposing me to witchcraft and
fiends. Thyself said it, and said it truly--the Saxons are still
half Pagans, void of Christianity, as of nurture and kindliness."

"Ay, but," replied Rose, "I spoke then to dissuade you from a
danger now that the danger is passed and over, I may judge of it

"Speak not for them, Rose," replied Eveline, angrily; "no innocent
victim was ever offered up at the altar of a fiend with more
indifference than my father's kinswoman delivered up me--me, an
orphan, bereaved of my natural and powerful support. I hate her
cruelty--I hate her house--I hate the thought of all that has
happened here--of all, Rose, except thy matchless faith and
fearless attachment. Go, bid our train saddle directly--I will be
gone instantly--I will not attire myself" she added, rejecting the
assistance she had at first required--"I will have no ceremony--
tarry for no leave-taking."

In the hurried and agitated manner of her mistress, Rose
recognized with anxiety another mood of the same irritable and
excited temperament, which had before discharged itself in tears
and fits. But perceiving, at the same time, that remonstrance was
in vain, she gave the necessary orders for collecting their
company, saddling, and preparing for departure; hoping, that as
her mistress removed to a farther distance from the scene where
her mind had received so severe a shock, her equanimity might, by
degrees, be restored.

Dame Gillian, accordingly, was busied with arranging the packages
of her lady, and all the rest of Lady Eveline's retinue in
preparing for instant departure, when, preceded by her steward,
who acted also as a sort of gentleman-usher, leaning upon her
confidential Berwine, and followed by two or three more of the
most distinguished of her household, with looks of displeasure on
her ancient yet lofty brow, the Lady Ermengarde entered the

Eveline, with a trembling and hurried hand, a burning cheek, and
other signs of agitation, was herself busied about the arrangement
of some baggage, when her relation made her appearance. At once,
to Rose's great surprise, she exerted a strong command over
herself, and, repressing every external appearance of disorder,
she advanced to meet her relation, with a calm and haughty
stateliness equal to her own.

"I come to give you good morning, our niece," said Ermengarde,
haughtily indeed, yet with more deference than she seemed at first
to have intended, so much did the bearing of Eveline impose
respect upon her;--"I find that you have been pleased to shift
that chamber which was assigned you, in conformity with the
ancient custom of this household, and betake yourself to the
apartment of a menial."

"Are you surprised at that, lady?" demanded Eveline in her turn;
"or are you disappointed that you find me not a corpse, within the
limits of the chamber which your hospitality and affection
allotted to me?"

"Your sleep, then, has been broken?" said Ermengarde, looking
fixedly at the Lady Eveline, as she spoke.

"If I complain not, madam, the evil must be deemed of little
consequence. What has happened is over and passed, and it is not
my intention to trouble you with the recital."

"She of the ruddy finger," replied Ermengarde, triumphantly,
"loves not the blood of the stranger."

"She had less reason, while she walked the earth, to love that of
the Saxon," said Eveline, "unless her legend speaks false in that
matter; and unless, as I well suspect, your house is haunted, not
by the soul of the dead who suffered within its walls, but by evil
spirits, such as the descendants of Hengist and Horsa are said
still in secret to worship."

"You are pleasant, maiden," replied the old lady, scornfully, "or,
if your words are meant in earnest, the shaft of your censure has
glanced aside. A house, blessed by the holy Saint Dunstan, and by
the royal and holy Confessor, is no abode for evil spirits."

"The house of Baldringham," replied Eveline, "is no abode for
those who fear such spirits; and as I will, with all humility,
avow myself of the number, I shall presently leave it to the
custody of Saint Dunstan."

"Not till you have broken your fast, I trust?" said the Lady of
Baldringham; "you will not, I hope, do my years and our
relationship such foul disgrace?"

"Pardon me, madam," replied the Lady Eveline; "those who have
experienced your hospitality at night, have little occasion for
breakfast in the morning.--Rose, are not those loitering knaves
assembled in the court-yard, or are they yet on their couches,
making up for the slumber they have lost by midnight

Rose announced that her train was in the court, and mounted; when,
with a low reverence, Eveline endeavoured to pass her relation,
and leave the apartment without farther ceremony. Ermengarde at
first confronted her with a grim and furious glance, which seemed
to show a soul fraught with more rage than the thin blood and
rigid features of extreme old age had the power of expressing, and
raised her ebony staff as if about even to proceed to some act of
personal violence. But she changed her purpose, and suddenly made
way for Eveline, who passed without farther parley; and as she
descended the staircase, which conducted from the apartment to the
gateway, she heard the voice of her aunt behind her, like that of
an aged and offended sibyl, denouncing wrath and wo upon her
insolence and presumption.

"Pride," she exclaimed, "goeth before destruction, and a haughty
spirit before a fall. She who scorneth the house of her
forefathers, a stone from its battlements shall crush her! She who
mocks the gray hairs of a parent, never shall one of her own locks
be silvered with age! She who weds with a man of war and of blood,
her end shall neither be peaceful nor bloodless!"

Hurrying to escape from these and other ominous denunciations,
Eveline rushed from the house, mounted her palfrey with the
precipitation of a fugitive, and, surrounded by her attendants,
who had caught a part of her alarm, though without conjecturing
the cause, rode hastily into the forest; old Raoul, who was well
acquainted with the country, acting as their guide.

Agitated more than she was willing to confess to herself, by thus
leaving the habitation of so near a relation, loaded with
maledictions, instead of the blessings which are usually bestowed
on a departing kinswoman, Eveline hastened forward, until the huge
oak-trees with intervening arms had hidden from her view the fatal

The trampling and galloping of horse was soon after heard,
announcing the approach of the patrol left by the Constable for
the protection of the mansion, and who now, collecting from their
different stations, came prepared to attend the Lady Eveline on
her farther road to Gloucester, great part of which lay through
the extensive forest of Deane, then a silvan region of large
extent, though now much denuded of trees for the service of the
iron mines. The Cavaliers came up to join the retinue of Lady
Eveline, with armour glittering in the morning rays, trumpets
sounding, horses prancing, neighing, and thrown, each by his
chivalrous rider, into the attitude best qualified to exhibit the
beauty of the steed and dexterity of the horseman; while their
lances, streaming with long penoncelles, were brandished in every
manner which could display elation of heart and readiness of hand.
The sense of the military character of her countrymen of Normandy
gave to Eveline a feeling at once of security and of triumph,
which operated towards the dispelling of her gloomy thoughts, and
of the feverish disorder which affected her nerves. The rising sun
also--the song of the birds among the bowers--the lowing of the
cattle as they were driven to pasture--the sight of the hind, who,
with her fawn trotting by her side, often crossed some forest
glade within view of the travellers,--all contributed to dispel
the terror of Eveline's nocturnal visions, and soothe to rest the
more angry passions which had agitated her bosom at her departure
from Baldringham. She suffered her palfrey to slacken his pace,
and, with female attention to propriety, began to adjust her
riding robes, and compose her head-dress, disordered in her hasty
departure. Rose saw her cheek assume a paler but more settled hue,
instead of the angry hectic which had coloured it--saw her eye
become more steady as she looked with a sort of triumph upon her
military attendants, and pardoned (what on other occasions she
would probably have made some reply to) her enthusiastic
exclamations in praise of her countrymen.

"We journey safe," said Eveline, "under the care of the princely
and victorious Normans. Theirs is the noble wrath of the lion,
which destroys or is appeased at once--there is no guile in their
romantic affection, no sullenness mixed with their generous
indignation--they know the duties of the hall as well as those of
battle; and were they to be surpassed in the arts of war, (which
will only be when Plinlimmon is removed from its base,) they would
still remain superior to every other people in generosity and

"If I do not feel all their merits so strongly as if I shared
their blood." said Rose, "I am at least glad to see them around
us, in woods which are said to abound with dangers of various
kinds. And I confess, my heart is the lighter, that I can now no
longer observe the least vestige of that ancient mansion, in which
we passed so unpleasant a night, and the recollection of which
will always be odious to me."

Eveline looked sharply at her. "Confess the truth, Rose; thou
wouldst give thy best kirtle to know all of my horrible

"It is but confessing that I am a woman," answered Rose; "and did
I say a man, I dare say the difference of sex would imply but a
small abatement of curiosity."

"Thou makest no parade of other feelings, which prompt thee to
inquire into my fortunes," said Eveline; "but, sweet Rose, I give
thee not the less credit for them. Believe me, thou shalt know
all--but, I think, not now."

"At your pleasure," said Rose; "and yet, methinks, the bearing in
your solitary bosom such a fearful secret will only render the
weight more intolerable. On my silence you may rely as on that of
the Holy Image, which hears us confess what it never reveals.
Besides, such things become familiar to the imagination when they
have been spoken of, and that which is familiar gradually becomes
stripped of its terrors."

"Thou speakest with reason, my prudent Rose; and surely in this
gallant troop, borne like a flower on a bush by my good palfrey
Yseulte--fresh gales blowing round us, flowers opening and birds
singing, and having thee by my bridle-rein, I ought to feel this a
fitting time to communicate what thou hast so good a title to
know. And--yes!--thou shalt know all!--Thou art not, I presume,
ignorant of the qualities of what the Saxons of this land call a

"Pardon me, lady," answered Rose, "my father discouraged my
listening to such discourses. I might see evil spirits enough, he
said, without my imagination being taught to form, such as were
fantastical. The word Bahr-geist, I have heard used by Gillian and
other Saxons; but to me it only conveys some idea of indefinite
terror, of which I never asked nor received an explanation."

"Know then," said Eveline, "it is a spectre, usually the image of
a departed person, who, either for wrong sustained in some
particular place during life, or through treasure hidden there, or
from some such other cause, haunts the spot from time to time,
becomes familiar to those who dwell there, takes an interest in
their fate, occasionally for good, in other instances or times for
evil. The Bahr-geist is, therefore, sometimes regarded as the good
genius, sometimes as the avenging fiend, attached to particular
families and classes of men. It is the lot of the family of
Baldringham (of no mean note in other respects) to be subject to
the visits of such a being."

"May I ask the cause (if it be known) of such visitation?" said
Rose, desirous to avail herself to the uttermost of the
communicative mood of her young lady, which might not perhaps last
very long.

"I know the legend but imperfectly," replied Eveline, proceeding
with a degree of calmness, the result of strong exertion over her
mental anxiety, "but in general it runs thus:--Baldrick, the Saxon
hero who first possessed yonder dwelling, became enamoured of a
fair Briton, said to have been descended from those Druids of whom
the Welsh speak so much, and deemed not unacquainted with the arts
of sorcery which they practised, when they offered up human
sacrifices amid those circles of unhewn and living rock, of which
thou hast seen so many. After more than two years' wedlock,
Baldrick became weary of his wife to such a point, that he formed
the cruel resolution of putting her to death. Some say he doubted
her fidelity--some that the matter was pressed on him by the
church, as she was suspected of heresy--some that he removed her
to make way for a more wealthy marriage--but all agree in the
result. He sent two of his Cnichts to the house of Baldringham, to
put to death the unfortunate Vanda, and commanded them to bring
him the ring which had circled her finger on the day of wedlock,
in token that his orders were accomplished. The men were ruthless
in their office; they strangled Vanda in yonder apartment, and as
the hand was so swollen that no effort could draw off the ring,
they obtained possession of it by severing the finger. But long
before the return of those cruel perpetrators of her death, the
shadow of Vanda had appeared before her appalled husband, and
holding up to him her bloody hand, made him fearfully sensible how
well his savage commands had been obeyed. After haunting him in
peace and war, in desert, court, and camp, until he died
despairingly on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Bahr-geist, or
ghost of the murdered Vanda, became so terrible in the House of
Baldringham, that the succour of Saint Dunstan was itself scarcely
sufficient to put bounds to her visitation. Yea, the blessed
saint, when he had succeeded in his exorcism, did, in requital of
Baldrick's crime, impose a strong and enduring penalty upon every
female descendant of the house in the third degree; namely, that
once in their lives, and before their twenty-first year, they
should each spend a solitary night in the chamber of the murdered
Vanda, saying therein certain prayers, as well for her repose, as
for the suffering soul of her murderer. During that awful space,
it is generally believed that the spirit of the murdered person
appears to the female who observes the vigil, and shows some sign
of her future good or bad fortune. If favourable, she appears with
a smiling aspect, and crosses them with her unbloodied hand; but
she announces evil fortune by showing the hand from which the
finger was severed, with a stern countenance, as if resenting upon
the descendant of her husband his inhuman cruelty. Sometimes she
is said to speak. These particulars I learned long since from an
old Saxon dame, the mother of our Margery, who had been an
attendant on my grandmother, and left the House of Baldringham
when she made her escape from it with my father's father."

"Did your grandmother ever render this homage," said Rose, "which
seems to me--under favour of St. Dunstan--to bring humanity into
too close intercourse with a being of a doubtful nature?"

"My grandfather thought so, and never permitted my grandmother to
revisit the house of Baldringham after her marriage; hence
disunion betwixt him and his son on the one part, and the members
of that family on the other. They laid sundry misfortunes, and
particularly the loss of male heirs which at that time befell
them, to my parent's not having done the hereditary homage to the
bloody-fingered Bahr-geist."

"And how could you, my dearest lady," said Rose, "knowing that
they held among them a usage so hideous, think of accepting the
invitation of Lady Ermengarde?"

"I can hardly answer you the question," answered Eveline. "Partly
I feared my father's recent calamity, to be slain (as I have heard
him say his aunt once prophesied of him) by the enemy he most
despised, might be the result of this rite having been neglected;
and partly I hoped, that if my mind should be appalled at the
danger, when it presented itself closer to my eye, it could not be
urged on me in courtesy and humanity. You saw how soon my cruel-
hearted relative pounced upon the opportunity, and how impossible
it became for me, bearing the name, and, I trust, the spirit of
Berenger, to escape from the net in which I had involved myself."

"No regard for name or rank should have engaged me," replied Rose,
"to place myself where apprehension alone, even without the
terrors of a real visitation, might have punished my presumption
with insanity. But what, in the name of Heaven, did you see at
this horrible rendezvous?"

"Ay, there is the question," said Eveline, raising her hand to her
brow--"how I could witness that which I distinctly saw, yet be
able to retain command of thought and intellect!--I had recited
the prescribed devotions for the murderer and his victim, and
sitting down on the couch which was assigned me, had laid aside
such of my clothes as might impede my rest--I had surmounted, in
short, the first shock which I experienced in committing myself to
this mysterious chamber, and I hoped to pass the night in slumber
as sound as my thoughts were innocent. But I was fearfully
disappointed. I cannot judge how long I had slept, when my bosom
was oppressed by an unusual weight, which seemed at once to stifle
my voice, stop the beating of my heart, and prevent me from
drawing my breath; and when I looked up to discover the cause of
this horrible suffocation, the form of the murdered British matron
stood over my couch taller than life, shadowy, and with a
countenance where traits of dignity and beauty were mingled with a
fierce expression of vengeful exultation. She held over me the
hand which bore the bloody marks of her husband's cruelty, and
seemed as if she signed the cross, devoting me to destruction;
while, with an unearthly tone, she uttered these words:--

`Widow'd wife, and married maid,
Betrothed, betrayer, and betray'd!'

The phantom stooped over me as she spoke, and lowered her gory
fingers, as if to touch my face, when, terror giving me the power
of which it at first deprived me, I screamed aloud--the casement
of the apartment was thrown open with a loud noise,--and--But what
signifies my telling all this to thee, Rose, who show so plainly,
by the movement of eye and lip, that you consider me as a silly
and childish dreamer?"

"Be not angry, my dear lady," said Rose; "I do indeed believe that
the witch we call Mara [Footnote: Ephialtes, or Nightmare] has
been dealing with you; but she, you know, is by leeches considered
as no real phantom, but solely the creation of our own
imagination, disordered by causes which arise from bodily

"Thou art learned, maiden," said Eveline, rather peevishly; "but
when I assure thee that my better angel came to my assistance in a
human form.--that at his appearance the fiend vanished--and that
he transported me in his arms out of the chamber of terror, I
think thou wilt, as a good Christian, put more faith in that which
I tell you."

"Indeed, indeed, my sweetest mistress, I cannot," replied Rose.
"It is even that circumstance of the guardian angel which makes me
consider the whole as a dream. A Norman sentinel, whom I myself
called from his post on purpose, did indeed come to your
assistance, and, breaking into your apartment, transported you to
that where I myself received you from his arms in a lifeless

"A Norman soldier, ha!" said Eveline, colouring extremely; "and to
whom, maiden, did you dare give commission to break into my
sleeping chamber?"

"Your eyes flash anger, madam, but is it reasonable they should?--
Did I not hear your screams of agony, and was I to stand fettered
by ceremony at such a moment?--no more than if the castle had been
on fire."

"I ask you again, Rose," said her mistress, still with
discomposure, though less angrily than at first, "whom you
directed to break into my apartment?"

"Indeed, I know not, lady," said Rose; "for beside that he was
muffled in his mantle, little chance was there of my knowing his
features, even had I seen them fully. But I can soon discover the
cavalier; and I will set about it, that I may give him the reward
I promised, and warn him to be silent and discreet in this

"Do so," said Eveline; "and if you find him among those soldiers
who attend us, I will indeed lean to thine opinion, and think that
fantasy had the chief share in the evils I have endured the last

Rose struck her palfrey with the rod, and, accompanied by her
mistress, rode up to Philip Guarine, the Constable's squire, who
for the present commanded their little escort. "Good Guarine," she
said, "I had talk with one of these sentinels last night from my
window, and he did me some service, for which I promised him
recompense--Will you inquire for the man, that I may pay him his

"Truly, I will owe him a guerdon, also, pretty maiden," answered
the squire; "for if a lance of them approached near enough the
house to hold speech from the windows, he transgressed the precise
orders of his watch."

"Tush! you must forgive that for my sake," said Rose. "I warrant,
had I called on yourself, stout Guarine, I should have had
influence to bring you under my chamber window."

Guarine laughed, and shrugged his shoulders. "True it is," he
said, "when women are in place, discipline is in danger."

He then went to make the necessary inquiries among his band, and
returned with the assurance, that his soldiers, generally and
severally, denied having approached the mansion of the Lady
Ermengarde on the preceding night.

"Thou seest, Rose," said Eveline, with a significant look to her

"The poor rogues are afraid of Guarine's severity," said Rose,
"and dare not tell the truth--I shall have some one in private
claiming the reward of me."

"I would I had the privilege myself, damsel," said Guarine; "but
for these fellows, they are not so timorous as you suppose them,
being even too ready to avouch their roguery when it hath less
excuse--Besides, I promised them impunity.--Have you any thing
farther to order?"

"Nothing, good Guarine," said Eveline; "only this small donative
to procure wine for thy soldiers, that they may spend the next
night more merrily than the last.--And now he is gone,--Maiden,
thou must, I think, be now well aware, that what thou sawest was
no earthly being?"

"I must believe mine own ears and eyes, madam," replied Rose.

"Do--but allow me the same privilege," answered Eveline. "Believe
me that my deliverer (for so I must call him) bore the features of
one who neither was, nor could be, in the neighbourhood of
Baldringham. Tell me but one thing--What dost thou think of this
extraordinary prediction--

'Widow'd wife, and wedded maid,
Betrothed, betrayer, and betray'd'

Thou wilt say it is an idle invention of my brain--but think it
for a moment the speech of a true diviner, and what wouldst thou
say of it?"

"That you may be betrayed, my dearest lady, but never can be a
betrayer," answered Rose, with animation.

Eveline reached her hand out to her friend, and as she pressed
affectionately that which Rose gave in return, she whispered to
her with energy, "I thank thee for the judgment, which my own
heart confirms."

A cloud of dust now announced the approach of the Constable of
Chester and his retinue, augmented by the attendance of his host
Sir William Herbert, and some of his neighbours and kinsmen, who
came to pay their respects to the orphan of the Garde Doloureuse,
by which appellation Eveline was known upon her passage through
their territory.

Eveline remarked, that, at their greeting, De Lacy looked with
displeased surprise at the disarrangement of her dress and
equipage, which her hasty departure from Baldringham had
necessarily occasioned; and she was, on her part, struck with an
expression of countenance which seemed to say, "I am not to be
treated as an ordinary person, who may be received with
negligence, and treated slightly with impunity." For the first
time, she thought that, though always deficient in grace and
beauty, the Constable's countenance was formed to express the more
angry passions with force and vivacity, and that she who shared
his rank and name must lay her account with the implicit surrender
of her will and wishes to those of an arbitrary lord and master.

But the cloud soon passed from the Constable's brow; and in the
conversation which he afterwards maintained with Herbert and the
other knights and gentlemen, who from time to time came to greet
and accompany them for a little way on their journey, Eveline had
occasion to admire his superiority, both of sense and expression,
and to remark the attention and deference with which his words
were listened to by men too high in rank, and too proud, readily
to admit any pre-eminence that was not founded on acknowledged
merit. The regard of women is generally much influenced by the
estimation which an individual maintains in the opinion of men;
and Eveline, when she concluded her journey in the Benedictine
nunnery in Gloucester, could not think without respect upon the
renowned warrior, and celebrated politician, whose acknowledged
abilities appeared to place him above every one whom she had seen
approach him. His wife, Eveline thought, (and she was not without
ambition,) if relinquishing some of those qualities in a husband
which are in youth most captivating to the female imagination,
must be still generally honoured and respected, and have
contentment, if not romantic felicity, within her reach.

Sir Walter Scott