“Well said, Dick!” exclaimed Doctor Torvey; “I own to your conclusion; but there ain’t a soul here but ourselves—and we’re all friends, and you are your own master—and, hang it, you’ll tell us that story about the drowned woman, as you heard it from your father long ago.”
“Ay, do, and keep us to our liquor, my hearty!” cried the Captain.
Mr. Peers looked his entreaty; and deaf Mr. Hollar, having no interest in the petition, was at least a safe witness, and, with his pipe in his lips, a cozy piece of furniture.
Richard Turnbull had his punch beside him; he looked over his shoulder. The door was closed, the fire was cheery, and the punch was fragrant, and all friendly faces about him. So said he:
“Gentlemen, as you’re pleased to wish it, I don’t see no great harm in it; and at any rate, ’twill prevent mistakes. It is more than ninety years since. My father was but a boy then; and many a time I have heard him tell it in this very room.”
And looking into his glass he mused, and stirred his punch slowly.
The Drowned Woman
“It ain’t much of a homminy,” said the host of the George. “I’ll not keep you long over it, gentlemen. There was a handsome young lady, Miss Mary Feltram o’ Cloostedd by name. She was the last o’ that family; and had gone very poor. There’s but the walls o’ the house left now; grass growing in the hall, and ivy over the gables; there’s no one livin’ has ever hard tell o’ smoke out o’ they chimblies. It stands on t’other side o’ the lake, on the level wi’ a deal o’ a’ad trees behint and aside it at the gap o’ the clough, under the pike o’ Maiden Fells. Ye may see it wi’ a spyin’-glass from the boatbield at Mardykes Hall.”
“I’ve been there fifty times,” said the Doctor.
“Well there was dealin’s betwixt the two families; and there’s good and bad in every family; but the Mardykes, in them days, was a wild lot. And when old Feltram o’ Cloostedd died, and the young lady his daughter was left a ward o’ Sir Jasper Mardykes—an ill day for her, poor lass!—twenty year older than her he was, an’ more; and nothin’ about him, they say, to make anyone like or love him, ill-faur’d and little and dow.”