J. S. Le Fanu's Ghostly Tales, Volume 4
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 3 out of 3

knew by his heavenly countenance he was come to speak comfort and healing
to my heart.

With humbleness and gratitude, I drank in his sage and holy discourse. I
need not follow the gracious and delightful exposition of God's revealed
will and character with which he cheered and confirmed my faltering
spirit. A solemn joy, a peace and trust, streamed on my heart. The wreck
and desolation there, lost their bleak and ghastly character, like ruins
illuminated by the mellow beams of a solemn summer sunset.

In this conversation, I told him what I had never revealed to any one
before--the absolute terror, in all its stupendous and maddening
amplitude, with which I regarded our ill-omened lodger, and my agonised
anxiety to rid my house of him. My companion answered me--

"I know the person of whom you speak--he designs no good for you or any
other. He, too, knows me, and I have intimated to him that he must now
leave you, and visit you no more. Be firm and bold, trusting in God,
through his Son, like a good soldier, and you will win the victory from a
greater and even worse than he--the _unseen_ enemy of mankind. You need
not see or speak with your evil tenant any more. Call to him from your
hall, in the name of the Most Holy, to leave you bodily, with all that
appertains to him, this evening. He knows that he must go, and will obey
you. But leave the house as soon as may be yourself; you will scarce have
peace in it. Your own remembrances will trouble you and _other minds have
established associations within its walls and chambers too_."

These words sounded mysteriously in my ears.

Let me say here, before I bring my reminiscences to a close, a word or
two about the house in which these detested scenes occurred, and which I
did not long continue to inhabit. What I afterwards learned of it, seemed
to supply in part a dim explanation of these words.

In a country village there is no difficulty in accounting for the
tenacity with which the sinister character of a haunted tenement cleaves
to it. Thin neighbourhoods are favourable to scandal; and in such
localities the reputation of a house, like that of a woman, once blown
upon, never quite recovers. In huge London, however, it is quite another
matter; and, therefore, it was with some surprise that, five years after
I had vacated the house in which the occurrences I have described took
place, I learned that a respectable family who had taken it were obliged
to give it up, on account of annoyances, for which they could not
account, and all proceeding from the apartments formerly occupied by our
"lodger." Among the sounds described were footsteps restlessly
traversing the floor of that room, accompanied by the peculiar tapping
of the crutch.

I was so anxious about this occurrence, that I contrived to have strict
inquiries made into the matter. The result, however, added little to what
I had at first learned--except, indeed, that our old friend, the cat,
bore a part in the transaction as I suspected; for the servant, who had
been placed to sleep in the room, complained that something bounded on
and off, and ran to-and-fro along the foot of the bed, in the dark. The
same servant, while in the room, in the broad daylight, had heard the
sound of walking, and even the rustling of clothes near him, as of people
passing and repassing; and, although he had never seen anything, he yet
became so terrified that he would not remain in the house, and
ultimately, in a short time, left his situation.

These sounds, attention having been called to them, were now incessantly
observed--the measured walking up and down the room, the opening and
closing of the door, and the teazing tap of the crutch--all these sounds
were continually repeated, until at last, worn out, frightened, and
worried, its occupants resolved on abandoning the house.

About four years since, having had occasion to visit the capital, I
resolved on a ramble by Old Brompton, just to see if the house were still
inhabited. I searched for it, however, in vain, and at length, with
difficulty, ascertained its site, upon which now stood two small,
staring, bran-new brick houses, with each a gay enclosure of flowers.
Every trace of our old mansion, and, let us hope, of our "mysterious
lodger," had entirely vanished.

Let me, however, return to my narrative where I left it.

Discoursing upon heavenly matters, my good and gracious friend
accompanied me even within the outer gate of my own house. I asked him to
come in and rest himself, but he would not; and before he turned to
depart, he lifted up his hand, and blessed me and my household.

Having done this, he went away. My eyes followed him till he disappeared,
and I turned to the house. My darling wife was standing at the window of
the parlour. There was a seraphic smile on her face--pale, pure, and
beautiful as death. She was gazing with an humble, heavenly earnestness
on us. The parting blessing of the stranger shed a sweet and hallowed
influence on my heart. I went into the parlour, to my darling: childless
she was now; I had now need to be a tender companion to her.

She raised her arms in a sort of transport, with the same smile of
gratitude and purity, and, throwing them round my neck, she said--

"I have seen him--it is he--the man that came with you to the door, and
blessed us as he went away--is the same I saw in my dream--the same who
took little baby in his arms, and said he would take care of him, and
give him safely to me again."

More than a quarter of a century has glided away since then; other
children have been given us by the good God--children who have been, from
infancy to maturity, a pride and blessing to us. Sorrows and reverses,
too, have occasionally visited us; yet, on the whole, we have been
greatly blessed; prosperity has long since ended all the cares of the
_res angusta domi_, and expanded our power of doing good to our
fellow-creatures. God has given it; and God, we trust, directs its
dispensation. In our children, and--would you think it?--our
_grand_-children, too, the same beneficent God has given us objects that
elicit and return all the delightful affections, and exchange the sweet
converse that makes home and family dearer than aught else, save that
blessed home where the Christian family shall meet at last.

The dear companion of my early love and sorrows still lives, blessed be
Heaven! The evening tints of life have fallen upon her; but the dear
remembrance of a first love, that never grew cold, makes her beauty
changeless for me. As for your humble servant, he is considerably her
senior, and looks it: time has stolen away his raven locks, and given
him a _chevelure_ of snow instead. But, as I said before, I and my wife
love, and, I believe, _admire_ one another more than ever; and I have
often seen our elder children smile archly at one another, when they
thought we did not observe them, thinking, no doubt, how like a pair of
lovers we two were.


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