Author: “The Duchess”
Release Date: June 13, 2005 [EBook #16053]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of this project gutenberg EBOOK the haunted chamber ***
Produced by Bill Tozier, Barbara Tozier, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
The Haunted Chamber
The sun has “dropped down,” and the “day is dead.” The silence and calm of coming night are over everything. The shadowy twilight lies softly on sleeping flowers and swaying boughs, on quiet fountains—the marble basins of which gleam snow-white in the uncertain light—on the glimpse of the distant ocean seen through the giant elms. A floating mist hangs in the still warm air, making heaven and earth mingle in one sweet confusion.
The ivy creeping up the ancient walls of the castle is rustling and whispering as the evening breeze sweeps over it. High up the tendrils climb, past mullioned windows and quaint devices, until they reach even to the old tower, and twine lovingly round it, and push through the long apertures in the masonry of the walls of the haunted chamber.
It is here that the shadows cast their heaviest gloom. All this corner of the old tower is wrapped in darkness, as though to obscure the scene of terrible crimes of past centuries.
Ghosts of dead-and-gone lords and ladies seem to peer out mysteriously from the openings in this quaint chamber, wherein no servant, male or female, of the castle has ever yet been known to set foot. It is full of dire horrors to them, and replete with legends of by-gone days and grewsome sights ghastly enough to make the stoutest heart quail.
In the days of the Stuarts an old earl had hanged himself in that room, rather than face the world with dishonor attached to his name; and earlier still a beauteous dame, fair but frail, had been incarcerated there, and slowly starved to death by her relentless lord. There was even in the last century a baronet—the earldom had been lost to the Dynecourts during the Commonwealth—who, having quarreled with his friend over a reigning belle, had smitten him across the cheek with his glove, and then challenged him to mortal combat. The duel had been fought in the luckless chamber, and had only ended with the death of both combatants; the blood stains upon the flooring were large and deep, and to this day the boards bear silent witness to the sanguinary character of that secret fight.
Just now, standing outside the castle in the warmth and softness of the dying daylight, one can hardly think of by-gone horrors, or aught that is sad and sinful.