There were echoes among the walls as I walked about the court. I entered the keep by a low and frowning doorway: the lower floor consisted of a large dungeon-like room, with a vaulted roof; on the left hand was a winding staircase in the thickness of the wall; it looked anything but inviting; yet I stole softly up, my heart beating. On the top of the first flight of stairs was an arched doorway, to the left was a dark passage, to the right, stairs leading still higher. I stepped under the arch and found myself in an apartment somewhat similar to the one below, but higher. There was an object at the farther end.
An old woman, at least eighty, was seated on a stone, cowering over a few sticks burning feebly on what had once been a right noble and cheerful hearth; her side-glance was towards the doorway as I entered, for she had heard my foot-steps. I stood suddenly still, and her haggard glance rested on my face.
‘Is this your house, mother?’ I at length demanded, in the language which I thought she would best understand.
‘Yes, my house, my own house; the house of the broken-hearted.’
‘Any other person’s house?’ I demanded.
‘My own house, the beggar’s house—the accursed house of Cromwell!’
A visit—Figure of a man—The dog of peace—The raw wound—The guardroom—Boy soldier—Person in authority—Never solitary—Clergyman and family—Still-hunting—Fairy man—Near sunset—Bagg—Left-handed hitter—Irish and supernatural—At Swanton Morley.
One morning I set out, designing to pay a visit to my brother at the place where he was detached; the distance was rather considerable, yet I hoped to be back by evening fall, for I was now a shrewd walker, thanks to constant practice. I set out early, and, directing my course towards the north, I had in less than two hours accomplished considerably more than half of the journey. The weather had at first been propitious: a slight frost had rendered the ground firm to the tread, and the skies were clear; but now a change came over the scene, the skies darkened, and a heavy snowstorm came on; the road then lay straight through a bog, and was bounded by a deep trench on both sides; I was making the best of my way, keeping as nearly as I could in the middle of the road, lest, blinded by the snow which was frequently borne into my eyes by the wind, I might fall into the dyke, when all at once I heard a shout to windward, and turning my eyes I saw the figure of a man, and what appeared to be an animal of some kind, coming across the bog with great speed, in the direction of myself; the nature of the ground seemed to offer but little impediment to these beings, both clearing the holes and abysses which lay in their way with surprising agility; the animal was, however, some slight way in advance, and, bounding over the dyke, appeared on the road just