The Lady of the Shroud
Bram Stoker

Part 2 out of 7

impossible dream: there is nothing like it in the "Arabian Nights."
However, the details must wait, I am pledged to secrecy for the
present. And you must be pledged too. You won't mind, dear, will
you? What I want to do at present is merely to tell you of my own
good-fortune, and that I shall be going presently to live for a while
at Vissarion. Won't you come with me, Aunt Janet? We shall talk
more of this when I come to Croom; but I want you to keep the subject
in your mind.

Your loving

From Rupert Sent Leger's Journal.
January 4, 1907.

Things have been humming about me so fast that I have had hardly time
to think. But some of the things have been so important, and have so
changed my entire outlook on life, that it may be well to keep some
personal record of them. I may some day want to remember some
detail--perhaps the sequence of events, or something like that--and
it may be useful. It ought to be, if there is any justice in things,
for it will be an awful swot to write it when I have so many things
to think of now. Aunt Janet, I suppose, will like to keep it locked
up for me, as she does with all my journals and papers. That is one
good thing about Aunt Janet amongst many: she has no curiosity, or
else she has some other quality which keeps her from prying as other
women would. It would seem that she has not so much as opened the
cover of one of my journals ever in her life, and that she would not
without my permission. So this can in time go to her also.

I dined last night with Mr. Trent, by his special desire. The dinner
was in his own rooms. Dinner sent in from the hotel. He would not
have any waiters at all, but made them send in the dinner all at
once, and we helped ourselves. As we were quite alone, we could talk
freely, and we got over a lot of ground while we were dining. He
began to tell me about Uncle Roger. I was glad of that, for, of
course, I wanted to know all I could of him, and the fact was I had
seen very little of him. Of course, when I was a small kid he was
often in our house, for he was very fond of mother, and she of him.
But I fancy that a small boy was rather a nuisance to him. And then
I was at school, and he was away in the East. And then poor mother
died while he was living in the Blue Mountains, and I never saw him
again. When I wrote to him about Aunt Janet he answered me very
kindly but he was so very just in the matter that I got afraid of
him. And after that I ran away, and have been roaming ever since; so
there was never a chance of our meeting. But that letter of his has
opened my eyes. To think of him following me that way all over the
world, waiting to hold out a helping hand if I should want it, I only
wish I had known, or even suspected, the sort of man he was, and how
he cared for me, and I would sometimes have come back to see him, if
I had to come half round the world. Well, all I can do now is to
carry out his wishes; that will be my expiation for my neglect. He
knew what he wanted exactly, and I suppose I shall come in time to
know it all and understand it, too.

I was thinking something like this when Mr. Trent began to talk, so
that all he said fitted exactly into my own thought. The two men
were evidently great friends--I should have gathered that, anyhow,
from the Will--and the letters--so I was not surprised when Mr. Trent
told me that they had been to school together, Uncle Roger being a
senior when he was a junior; and had then and ever after shared each
other's confidence. Mr. Trent, I gathered, had from the very first
been in love with my mother, even when she was a little girl; but he
was poor and shy, and did not like to speak. When he had made up his
mind to do so, he found that she had by then met my father, and could
not help seeing that they loved each other. So he was silent. He
told me he had never said a word about it to anyone--not even to my
Uncle Roger, though he knew from one thing and another, though he
never spoke of it, that he would like it. I could not help seeing
that the dear old man regarded me in a sort of parental way--I have
heard of such romantic attachments being transferred to the later
generation. I was not displeased with it; on the contrary, I liked
him better for it. I love my mother so much--I always think of her
in the present--that I cannot think of her as dead. There is a tie
between anyone else who loved her and myself. I tried to let Mr.
Trent see that I liked him, and it pleased him so much that I could
see his liking for me growing greater. Before we parted he told me
that he was going to give up business. He must have understood how
disappointed I was--for how could I ever get along at all without
him?--for he said, as he laid a hand quite affectionately, I thought-
-on my shoulder:

"I shall have one client, though, whose business I always hope to
keep, and for whom I shall be always whilst I live glad to act--if he
will have me." I did not care to speak as I took his hand. He
squeezed mine, too, and said very earnestly:

"I served your uncle's interests to the very best of my ability for
nearly fifty years. He had full confidence in me, and I was proud of
his trust. I can honestly say, Rupert--you won't mind me using that
familiarity, will you?--that, though the interests which I guarded
were so vast that without abusing my trust I could often have used my
knowledge to my personal advantage, I never once, in little matters
or big, abused that trust--no, not even rubbed the bloom off it. And
now that he has remembered me in his Will so generously that I need
work no more, it will be a very genuine pleasure and pride to me to
carry out as well as I can the wishes that I partly knew, and now
realize more fully towards you, his nephew."

In the long chat which we had, and which lasted till midnight, he
told me many very interesting things about Uncle Roger. When, in the
course of conversation, he mentioned that the fortune Uncle Roger
left must be well over a hundred millions, I was so surprised that I
said out loud--I did not mean to ask a question:

"How on earth could a man beginning with nothing realize such a
gigantic fortune?"

"By all honest ways," he answered, "and his clever human insight. He
knew one half of the world, and so kept abreast of all public and
national movements that he knew the critical moment to advance money
required. He was always generous, and always on the side of freedom.
There are nations at this moment only now entering on the
consolidation of their liberty, who owe all to him, who knew when and
how to help. No wonder that in some lands they will drink to his
memory on great occasions as they used to drink his health."

"As you and I shall do now, sir!" I said, as I filled my glass and
stood up. We drank it in bumpers. We did not say a word, either of
us; but the old gentleman held out his hand, and I took it. And so,
holding hands, we drank in silence. It made me feel quite choky; and
I could see that he, too, was moved.

From E. B. Trent's Memoranda.
January 4, 1907.

I asked Mr. Rupert Sent Leger to dine with me at my office alone, as
I wished to have a chat with him. To-morrow Sir Colin and I will
have a formal meeting with him for the settlement of affairs, but I
thought it best to have an informal talk with him alone first, as I
wished to tell him certain matters which will make our meeting to-
morrow more productive of utility, as he can now have more full
understanding of the subjects which we have to discuss. Sir Colin is
all that can be in manhood, and I could wish no better colleague in
the executorship of this phenomenal Will; but he has not had the
privilege of a lifelong friendship with the testator as I have had.
And as Rupert Sent Leger had to learn intimate details regarding his
uncle, I could best make my confidences alone. To-morrow we shall
have plenty of formality. I was delighted with Rupert. He is just
what I could have wished his mother's boy to be--or a son of my own
to be, had I had the good-fortune to have been a father. But this is
not for me. I remember long, long ago reading a passage in Lamb's
Essays which hangs in my mind: "The children of Alice call Bartrum
father." Some of my old friends would laugh to see ME write this,
but these memoranda are for my eyes alone, and no one shall see them
till after my death, unless by my own permission. The boy takes some
qualities after his father; he has a daring that is disturbing to an
old dryasdust lawyer like me. But somehow I like him more than I
ever liked anyone--any man--in my life--more even than his uncle, my
old friend, Roger Melton; and Lord knows I had much cause to like
him. I have more than ever now. It was quite delightful to see the
way the young adventurer was touched by his uncle's thought of him.
He is a truly gallant fellow, but venturesome exploits have not
affected the goodness of heart. It is a pleasure to me to think that
Roger and Colin came together apropos of the boy's thoughtful
generosity towards Miss MacKelpie. The old soldier will be a good
friend to him, or I am much mistaken. With an old lawyer like me,
and an old soldier like him, and a real old gentlewoman like Miss
MacKelpie, who loves the very ground he walks on, to look after him,
together with all his own fine qualities and his marvellous
experience of the world, and the gigantic wealth that will surely be
his, that young man will go far.

Letter from Rupert Sent Leger to Miss Janet MacKelpie, Croom.
January 5, 1907.


It is all over--the first stage of it; and that is as far as I can
get at present. I shall have to wait for a few days--or it may be
weeks--in London for the doing of certain things now necessitated by
my acceptance of Uncle Roger's bequest. But as soon as I can, dear,
I shall come down to Croom and spend with you as many days as
possible. I shall then tell you all I am at liberty to tell, and I
shall thank you personally for your consent to come with me to
Vissarion. Oh, how I wish my dear mother had lived to be with us!
It would have made her happy, I know, to have come; and then we three
who shared together the old dear, hard days would have shared in the
same way the new splendour. I would try to show all my love and
gratitude to you both . . . You must take the whole burden of it now,
dear, for you and I are alone. No, not alone, as we used to be, for
I have now two old friends who are already dear to me. One is so to
you already. Sir Colin is simply splendid, and so, in his own way,
is Mr. Trent. I am lucky, Aunt Janet, to have two such men to think
of affairs for me. Am I not? I shall send you a wire as soon as
ever I can see my way to get through my work; and I want you to think
over all the things you ever wished for in your life, so that I may--
if there is any mortal way of doing so--get them for you. You will
not stand in the way of my having this great pleasure, will you,
dear? Good-bye.

Your loving

E. B. Trent's Memoranda.
January 6, 1907.

The formal meeting of Sir Colin and myself with Rupert Sent Leger
went off quite satisfactorily. From what he had said yesterday, and
again last night, I had almost come to expect an unreserved
acceptance of everything stated or implied in Roger Melton's Will;
but when we had sat round the table--this appeared, by the way, to be
a formality for which we were all prepared, for we sat down as if by
instinct--the very first words he said were:

"As I suppose I must go through this formality, I may as well say at
once that I accept every possible condition which was in the mind of
Uncle Roger; and to this end I am prepared to sign, seal, and
deliver--or whatever is the ritual--whatever document you, sir"--
turning to me--"may think necessary or advisable, and of which you
both approve." He stood up and walked about the room for a few
moments, Sir Colin and I sitting quite still, silent. He came back
to his seat, and after a few seconds of nervousness--a rare thing
with him, I fancy--said: "I hope you both understand--of course, I
know you do; I only speak because this is an occasion for formality--
that I am willing to accept, and at once! I do so, believe me, not
to get possession of this vast fortune, but because of him who has
given it. The man who was fond of me, and who trusted me, and yet
had strength to keep his own feelings in check--who followed me in
spirit to far lands and desperate adventures, and who, though he
might be across the world from me, was ready to put out a hand to
save or help me, was no common man; and his care of my mother's son
meant no common love for my dear mother. And so she and I together
accept his trust, come of it what may. I have been thinking it over
all night, and all the time I could not get out of the idea that
mother was somewhere near me. The only thought that could debar me
from doing as I wished to do--and intend to do--would be that she
would not approve. Now that I am satisfied she would approve, I
accept. Whatever may result or happen, I shall go on following the
course that he has set for me. So help me, God!" Sir Colin stood
up, and I must say a more martial figure I never saw. He was in full
uniform, for he was going on to the King's levee after our business.
He drew his sword from the scabbard and laid it naked on the table
before Rupert, and said:

"You are going, sir, into a strange and danger country--I have been
reading about it since we met--and you will be largely alone amongst
fierce mountaineers who resent the very presence of a stranger, and
to whom you are, and must be, one. If you should ever be in any
trouble and want a man to stand back to back with you, I hope you
will give me the honour!" As he said this pointed to his sword.
Rupert and I were also standing now--one cannot sit down in the
presence of such an act as that. "You are, I am proud to say, allied
with my family: and I only wish to God it was closer to myself."
Rupert took him by the hand and bent his head before him as answered:

"The honour is mine, Sir Colin; and no greater can come to any man
than that which you have just done me. The best way I can show how I
value it will be to call on you if I am ever in such a tight place.
By Jove, sir, this is history repeating itself. Aunt Janet used to
tell me when I was a youngster how MacKelpie of Croom laid his sword
before Prince Charlie. I hope I may tell her of this; it would make
her so proud and happy. Don't imagine, sir, that I am thinking
myself a Charles Edward. It is only that Aunt Janet is so good to me
that I might well think I was."

Sir Colin bowed grandly:

"Rupert Sent Leger, my dear niece is a woman of great discretion and
discernment. And, moreover, I am thinking she has in her some of the
gift of Second Sight that has been a heritage of our blood. And I am
one with my niece--in everything!" The whole thing was quite regal
in manner; it seemed to take me back to the days of the Pretender.

It was not, however, a time for sentiment, but for action--we had met
regarding the future, not the past; so I produced the short document
I had already prepared. On the strength of his steadfast declaration
that he would accept the terms of the Will and the secret letters, I
had got ready a formal acceptance. When I had once again formally
asked Mr. Sent Leger's wishes, and he had declared his wish to
accept, I got in a couple of my clerks as witnesses.

Then, having again asked him in their presence if it was his wish to
declare acceptance of the conditions, the document was signed and
witnessed, Sir Colin and I both appending our signatures to the

And so the first stage of Rupert Sent Leger's inheritance is
completed. The next step will not have to be undertaken on my part
until the expiration of six months from his entry on his estate at
Vissarion. As he announces his intention of going within a
fortnight, this will mean practically a little over six months from


Letter from Rupert Sent Leger, Castle of Vissarion, the Spear of
Ivan, Land of the Blue Mountains, to Miss Janet MacKelpie, Croom
Castle, Ross-shire, N.B.
January 23, 1907.


As you see, I am here at last. Having got my formal duty done, as
you made me promise--my letters reporting arrival to Sir Colin and
Mr. Trent are lying sealed in front of me ready to post (for nothing
shall go before yours)--I am free to speak to you.

This is a most lovely place, and I hope you will like it. I am quite
sure you will. We passed it in the steamer coming from Trieste to
Durazzo. I knew the locality from the chart, and it was pointed out
to me by one of the officers with whom I had become quite friendly,
and who kindly showed me interesting places whenever we got within
sight of shore. The Spear of Ivan, on which the Castle stands, is a
headland running well out into the sea. It is quite a peculiar
place--a sort of headland on a headland, jutting out into a deep,
wide bay, so that, though it is a promontory, it is as far away from
the traffic of coast life as anything you can conceive. The main
promontory is the end of a range of mountains, and looms up vast,
towering over everything, a mass of sapphire blue. I can well
understand how the country came to be called the "Land of the Blue
Mountains," for it is all mountains, and they are all blue! The
coast-line is magnificent--what is called "iron-bound"--being all
rocky; sometimes great frowning precipices; sometimes jutting spurs
of rock; again little rocky islets, now and again clad with trees and
verdure, at other places stark and bare. Elsewhere are little rocky
bays and indentations--always rock, and often with long, interesting
caves. Some of the shores of the bays are sandy, or else ridges of
beautiful pebbles, where the waves make endless murmur.

But of all the places I have seen--in this land or any other--the
most absolutely beautiful is Vissarion. It stands at the ultimate
point of the promontory--I mean the little, or, rather, lesser
promontory--that continues on the spur of the mountain range. For
the lesser promontory or extension of the mountain is in reality
vast; the lowest bit of cliff along the sea-front is not less than a
couple of hundred feet high. That point of rock is really very
peculiar. I think Dame Nature must, in the early days of her
housekeeping--or, rather, house-BUILDING--have intended to give her
little child, man, a rudimentary lesson in self-protection. It is
just a natural bastion such as a titanic Vauban might have designed
in primeval times. So far as the Castle is concerned, it is alone
visible from the sea. Any enemy approaching could see only that
frowning wall of black rock, of vast height and perpendicular
steepness. Even the old fortifications which crown it are not built,
but cut in the solid rock. A long narrow creek of very deep water,
walled in by high, steep cliffs, runs in behind the Castle, bending
north and west, making safe and secret anchorage. Into the creek
falls over a precipice a mountain-stream, which never fails in volume
of water. On the western shore of that creek is the Castle, a huge
pile of buildings of every style of architecture, from the Twelfth
century to where such things seemed to stop in this dear old-world
land--about the time of Queen Elizabeth. So it is pretty
picturesque. I can tell you. When we got the first glimpse of the
place from the steamer the officer, with whom I was on the bridge,
pointed towards it and said:

"That is where we saw the dead woman floating in a coffin." That was
rather interesting, so I asked him all about it. He took from his
pocket-book a cutting from an Italian paper, which he handed to me.
As I can read and speak Italian fairly well, it was all right; but as
you, my dear Aunt Janet, are not skilled in languages, and as I doubt
if there is any assistance of the kind to be had at Croom, I do not
send it. But as I have heard that the item has been produced in the
last number of The Journal of Occultism, you will be easily able to
get it. As he handed me the cutting he said: "I am Destilia!" His
story was so strange that I asked him a good many questions about it.
He answered me quite frankly on every point, but always adhering
stoutly to the main point--namely, that it was no phantom or mirage,
no dream or imperfect vision in a fog. "We were four in all who saw
it," he said--"three from the bridge and the Englishman, Caulfield--
from the bows--whose account exactly agreed with what we saw.
Captain Mirolani and Falamano and I were all awake and in good trim.
We looked with our night-glasses, which are more than usually
powerful. You know, we need good glasses for the east shore of the
Adriatic and for among the islands to the south. There was a full
moon and a brilliant light. Of course we were a little way off, for
though the Spear of Ivan is in deep water, one has to be careful of
currents, for it is in just such places that the dangerous currents
run." The agent of Lloyd's told me only a few weeks ago that it was
only after a prolonged investigation of the tidal and sea currents
that the house decided to except from ordinary sea risks losses due
to a too close course by the Spear of Ivan. When I tried to get a
little more definite account of the coffin-boat and the dead lady
that is given in The Journal of Occultism he simply shrugged his
shoulders. "Signor, it is all," he said. "That Englishman wrote
everything after endless questioning."

So you see, my dear, that our new home is not without superstitious
interests of its own. It is rather a nice idea, is it not, to have a
dead woman cruising round our promontory in a coffin? I doubt if
even at Croom you can beat that. "Makes the place kind of homey," as
an American would say. When you come, Aunt Janet, you will not feel
lonesome, at any rate, and it will save us the trouble of importing
some of your Highland ghosts to make you feel at home in the new
land. I don't know, but we might ask the stiff to come to tea with
us. Of course, it would be a late tea. Somewhere between midnight
and cock-crow would be about the etiquette of the thing, I fancy!

But I must tell you all the realities of the Castle and around it.
So I will write again within a day or two, and try to let you know
enough to prepare you for coming here. Till then adieu, my dear.

Your loving

From Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie,
January 25, 1907.

I hope I did not frighten you, dear Aunt Janet, by the yarn of the
lady in the coffin. But I know you are not afraid; you have told me
too many weird stories for me to dread that. Besides, you have
Second Sight--latent, at all events. However, there won't be any
more ghosts, or about ghosts, in this letter. I want to tell you all
about our new home. I am so glad you are coming out so soon; I am
beginning to feel so lonesome--I walk about sometimes aimlessly, and
find my thoughts drifting in such an odd way. If I didn't know
better, I might begin to think I was in love! There is no one here
to be in love with; so make your mind easy, Aunt Janet. Not that you
would be unhappy, I know, dear, if I DID fall in love. I suppose I
must marry some day. It is a duty now, I know, when there is such an
estate as Uncle Roger has left me. And I know this: I shall never
marry any woman unless I love her. And I am right sure that if I do
love her you will love her, too, Aunt Janet! Won't you, dear? It
wouldn't be half a delight if you didn't. It won't if you don't.
There, now!

But before I begin to describe Vissarion I shall throw a sop to you
as a chatelaine; that may give you patience to read the rest. The
Castle needs a lot of things to make it comfortable--as you would
consider it. In fact, it is absolutely destitute of everything of a
domestic nature. Uncle Roger had it vetted on the defence side, and
so far it could stand a siege. But it couldn't cook a dinner or go
through a spring-cleaning! As you know, I am not much up in domestic
matters, and so I cannot give you details; but you may take it that
it wants everything. I don't mean furniture, or silver, or even
gold-plate, or works of art, for it is full of the most magnificent
old things that you can imagine. I think Uncle Roger must have been
a collector, and gathered a lot of good things in all sorts of
places, stored them for years, and then sent them here. But as to
glass, china, delft, all sorts of crockery, linen, household
appliances and machinery, cooking utensils--except of the simplest--
there are none. I don't think Uncle Roger could have lived here more
than on a temporary picnic. So far as I only am concerned, I am all
right; a gridiron and a saucepan are all _I_ want--and I can use them
myself. But, dear Aunt Janet, I don't want you to pig it. I would
like you to have everything you can imagine, and all of the very
best. Cost doesn't count now for us, thanks to Uncle Roger; and so I
want you to order all. I know you, dear--being a woman--won't object
to shopping. But it will have to be wholesale. This is an enormous
place, and will swallow up all you can buy--like a quicksand. Do as
you like about choosing, but get all the help you can. Don't be
afraid of getting too much. You can't, or of being idle when you are
here. I assure you that when you come there will be so much to do
and so many things to think of that you will want to get away from it
all. And, besides, Aunt Janet, I hope you won't be too long.
Indeed, I don't wish to be selfish, but your boy is lonely, and wants
you. And when you get here you will be an EMPRESS. I don't
altogether like doing so, lest I should offend a millionairess like
you; but it may facilitate matters, and the way's of commerce are
strict, though devious. So I send you a cheque for 1,000 pounds for
the little things: and a letter to the bank to honour your own
cheques for any amount I have got.

I think, by the way, I should, if I were you, take or send out a few
servants--not too many at first, only just enough to attend on our
two selves. You can arrange to send for any more you may want later.
Engage them, and arrange for their being paid--when they are in our
service we must treat them well--and then they can be at our call as
you find that we want them. I think you should secure, say, fifty or
a hundred--'tis an awfu' big place, Aunt Janet! And in the same way
will you secure--and, of course, arrange for pay similarly--a hundred
men, exclusive of any servants you think it well to have. I should
like the General, if he can give the time, to choose or pass them. I
want clansmen that I can depend on, if need be. We are going to live
in a country which is at present strange to us, and it is well to
look things in the face. I know Sir Colin will only have men who are
a credit to Scotland and to Ross and to Croom--men who will impress
the Blue Mountaineers. I know they will take them to their hearts--
certainly if any of them are bachelors the girls will! Forgive me!
But if we are to settle here, our followers will probably want to
settle also. Moreover, the Blue Mountaineers may want followers
also! And will want them to settle, too, and have successors!

Now for the description of the place. Well, I simply can't just now.
It is all so wonderful and so beautiful. The Castle--I have written
so much already about other things that I really must keep the Castle
for another letter! Love to Sir Colin if he is at Croom. And oh,
dear Aunt Janet, how I wish that my dear mother was coming out! It
all seems so dark and empty without her. How she would have enjoyed
it! How proud she would have been! And, my dear, if she could be
with us again, how grateful she would have been to you for all you
have done for her boy! As I am, believe me, most truly and sincerely
and affectionately grateful.

Your loving

Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie, Croom.
January 26, 1907.


Please read this as if it was a part of the letter I wrote yesterday.

The Castle itself is so vast that I really can't describe it in
detail. So I am waiting till you come; and then you and I will go
over it together and learn all that we can about it. We shall take
Rooke with us, and, as he is supposed to know every part of it, from
the keep to the torture-chamber, we can spend a few days over it. Of
course, I have been over most of it, since I came--that, is, I went
at various times to see different portions--the battlements, the
bastions, the old guard-room, the hall, the chapel, the walls, the
roof. And I have been through some of the network of rock passages.
Uncle Roger must have spent a mint of money on it, so far as I can
see; and though I am not a soldier, I have been in so many places
fortified in different ways that I am not entirely ignorant of the
subject. He has restored it in such an up-to-date way that it is
practically impregnable to anything under big guns or a siege-train.
He has gone so far as to have certain outworks and the keep covered
with armoured plating of what looks like harveyized steel. You will
wonder when you see it. But as yet I really know only a few rooms,
and am familiar with only one--my own room. The drawing-room--not
the great hall, which is a vast place; the library--a magnificent
one, but in sad disorder--we must get a librarian some day to put it
in trim; and the drawing-room and boudoir and bedroom suite which I
have selected for you, are all fine. But my own room is what suits
me best, though I do not think you would care for it for yourself.
If you do, you shall have it. It was Uncle Roger's own room when he
stayed here; living in it for a few days served to give me more
insight to his character--or rather to his mind--than I could have
otherwise had. It is just the kind of place I like myself; so,
naturally, I understand the other chap who liked it too. It is a
fine big room, not quite within the Castle, but an outlying part of
it. It is not detached, or anything of that sort, but is a sort of
garden-room built on to it. There seems to have been always some
sort of place where it is, for the passages and openings inside seem
to accept or recognize it. It can be shut off if necessary--it would
be in case of attack--by a great slab of steel, just like the door of
a safe, which slides from inside the wall, and can be operated from
either inside or outside--if you know how. That is from my room or
from within the keep. The mechanism is a secret, and no one but
Rooke and I know it. The room opens out through a great French
window--the French window is modern, I take it, and was arranged by
or for Uncle Roger; I think there must have been always a large
opening there, for centuries at least--which opens on a wide terrace
or balcony of white marble, extending right and left. From this a
white marble stair lies straight in front of the window, and leads
down to the garden. The balcony and staircase are quite ancient--of
old Italian work, beautifully carved, and, of course, weather-worn
through centuries. There is just that little tinging of green here
and there which makes all outdoor marble so charming. It is hard to
believe at times that it is a part of a fortified castle, it is so
elegant and free and open. The first glance of it would make a
burglar's heart glad. He would say to himself: "Here is the sort of
crib I like when I'm on the job. You can just walk in and out as you
choose." But, Aunt Janet, old Roger was cuter than any burglar. He
had the place so guarded that the burglar would have been a baffled
burglar. There are two steel shields which can slide out from the
wall and lock into the other side right across the whole big window.
One is a grille of steel bands that open out into diamond-shaped
lozenges. Nothing bigger than a kitten could get through; and yet
you can see the garden and the mountains and the whole view--much the
same as you ladies can see through your veils. The other is a great
sheet of steel, which slides out in a similar way in different
grooves. It is not, of course, so heavy and strong as the safe-door
which covers the little opening in the main wall, but Rooke tells me
it is proof against the heaviest rifle-hall.

Having told you this, I must tell you, too, Aunt Janet, lest you
should be made anxious by the arriere-pensee of all these warlike
measures of defence, that I always sleep at night with one of these
iron screens across the window. Of course, when I am awake I leave
it open. As yet I have tried only, but not used, the grille; and I
don't think I shall ever use anything else, for it is a perfect
guard. If it should be tampered with from outside it would sound an
alarm at the head of the bed, and the pressing of a button would roll
out the solid steel screen in front of it. As a matter of fact, I
have been so used to the open that I don't feel comfortable shut in.
I only close windows against cold or rain. The weather here is
delightful--as yet, at all events--but they tell me that the rainy
season will be on us before very long.

I think you will like my den, aunty dear, though it will doubtless be
a worry to you to see it so untidy. But that can't be helped. I
must be untidy SOMEWHERE; and it is best in my own den!

Again I find my letter so long that I must cut it off now and go on
again to-night. So this must go as it stands. I shall not cause you
to wait to hear all I can tell you about our new home.

Your loving

From Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie,
January 29, 1907.


My den looks out, as I told you in my last letter, on the garden, or,
to speak more accurately, on ONE of the gardens, for there are acres
of them. This is the old one, which must be almost as old as the
Castle itself, for it was within the defences in the old days of
bows. The wall that surrounds the inner portion of it has long ago
been levelled, but sufficient remains at either end where it joined
the outer defences to show the long casemates for the bowmen to shoot
through and the raised stone gallery where they stood. It is just
the same kind of building as the stone-work of the sentry's walk on
the roof and of the great old guard-room under it.

But whatever the garden may have been, and no matter how it was
guarded, it is a most lovely place. There are whole sections of
garden here of various styles--Greek, Italian, French, German, Dutch,
British, Spanish, African, Moorish--all the older nationalities. I
am going to have a new one laid out for you--a Japanese garden. I
have sent to the great gardener of Japan, Minaro, to make the plans
for it, and to come over with workmen to carry it out. He is to
bring trees and shrubs and flowers and stone-work, and everything
that can be required; and you shall superintend the finishing, if not
the doing, of it yourself. We have such a fine head of water here,
and the climate is, they tell me, usually so lovely that we can do
anything in the gardening way. If it should ever turn out that the
climate does not suit, we shall put a great high glass roof over it,
and MAKE a suitable climate.

This garden in front of my room is the old Italian garden. It must
have been done with extraordinary taste and care, for there is not a
bit of it which is not rarely beautiful. Sir Thomas Browne himself,
for all his Quincunx, would have been delighted with it, and have
found material for another "Garden of Cyrus." It is so big that
there are endless "episodes" of garden beauty I think all Italy must
have been ransacked in old times for garden stone-work of exceptional
beauty; and these treasures have been put together by some master-
hand. Even the formal borders of the walks are of old porous stone,
which takes the weather-staining so beautifully, and are carved in
endless variety. Now that the gardens have been so long neglected or
left in abeyance, the green staining has become perfect. Though the
stone-work is itself intact, it has all the picturesque effect of the
wear and ruin wrought by many centuries. I am having it kept for you
just as it is, except that I have had the weeds and undergrowth
cleared away so that its beauties might be visible.

But it is not merely the architect work of the garden that is so
beautiful, nor is the assembling there of the manifold wealth of
floral beauty--there is the beauty that Nature creates by the hand of
her servant, Time. You see, Aunt Janet, how the beautiful garden
inspires a danger-hardened old tramp like me to high-grade sentiments
of poetic fancy! Not only have limestone and sandstone, and even
marble, grown green in time, but even the shrubs planted and then
neglected have developed new kinds of beauty of their own. In some
far-distant time some master-gardener of the Vissarions has tried to
realize an idea--that of tiny plants that would grow just a little
higher than the flowers, so that the effect of an uneven floral
surface would be achieved without any hiding of anything in the
garden seen from anywhere. This is only my reading of what has been
from the effect of what is! In the long period of neglect the shrubs
have outlived the flowers. Nature has been doing her own work all
the time in enforcing the survival of the fittest. The shrubs have
grown and grown, and have overtopped flower and weed, according to
their inherent varieties of stature; to the effect that now you see
irregularly scattered through the garden quite a number--for it is a
big place--of vegetable products which from a landscape standpoint
have something of the general effect of statues without the cramping
feeling of detail. Whoever it was that laid out that part of the
garden or made the choice of items, must have taken pains to get
strange specimens, for all those taller shrubs are in special
colours, mostly yellow or white--white cypress, white holly, yellow
yew, grey-golden box, silver juniper, variegated maple, spiraea, and
numbers of dwarf shrubs whose names I don't know. I only know that
when the moon shines--and this, my dear Aunt Janet, is the very land
of moonlight itself!--they all look ghastly pale. The effect is
weird to the last degree, and I am sure that you will enjoy it. For
myself, as you know, uncanny things hold no fear. I suppose it is
that I have been up against so many different kinds of fears, or,
rather, of things which for most people have terrors of their own,
that I have come to have a contempt--not an active contempt, you
know, but a tolerative contempt--for the whole family of them. And
you, too, will enjoy yourself here famously, I know. You'll have to
collect all the stories of such matters in our new world and make a
new book of facts for the Psychical Research Society. It will be
nice to see your own name on a title-page, won't it, Aunt Janet?

From Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie,
January 30, 1907.


I stopped writing last night--do you know why? Because I wanted to
write more! This sounds a paradox, but it is true. The fact is
that, as I go on telling you of this delightful place, I keep finding
out new beauties myself. Broadly speaking, it IS ALL beautiful. In
the long view or the little view--as the telescope or the microscope
directs--it is all the same. Your eye can turn on nothing that does
not entrance you. I was yesterday roaming about the upper part of
time Castle, and came across some delightful nooks, which at once I
became fond of, and already like them as if I had known them all my
life. I felt at first a sense of greediness when I had appropriated
to myself several rooms in different places--I who have never in my
life had more than one room which I could call my own--and that only
for a time! But when I slept on it the feeling changed, and its
aspect is now not half bad. It is now under another classification--
under a much more important label--PROPRIETORSHIP. If I were writing
philosophy, I should here put in a cynical remark:

"Selfishness is an appanage of poverty. It might appear in the stud-
book as by 'Morals' out of 'Wants.'"

I have now three bedrooms arranged as my own particular dens. One of
the other two was also a choice of Uncle Roger's. It is at the top
of one of the towers to the extreme east, and from it I can catch the
first ray of light over the mountains. I slept in it last night, and
when I woke, as in my travelling I was accustomed to do, at dawn, I
saw from my bed through an open window--a small window, for it is in
a fortress tower--the whole great expanse to the east. Not far off,
and springing from the summit of a great ruin, where long ago a seed
had fallen, rose a great silver-birch, and the half-transparent,
drooping branches and hanging clusters of leaf broke the outline of
the grey hills beyond, for the hills were, for a wonder, grey instead
of blue. There was a mackerel sky, with the clouds dropping on the
mountain-tops till you could hardly say which was which. It was a
mackerel sky of a very bold and extraordinary kind--not a dish of
mackerel, but a world of mackerel! The mountains are certainly most
lovely. In this clear air they usually seem close at hand. It was
only this morning, with the faint glimpse of the dawn whilst the
night clouds were still unpierced by the sunlight, that I seemed to
realize their greatness. I have seen the same enlightening effect of
aerial perspective a few times before--in Colorado, in Upper India,
in Thibet, and in the uplands amongst the Andes.

There is certainly something in looking at things from above which
tends to raise one's own self-esteem. From the height, inequalities
simply disappear. This I have often felt on a big scale when
ballooning, or, better still, from an aeroplane. Even here from the
tower the outlook is somehow quite different from below. One
realizes the place and all around it, not in detail, but as a whole.
I shall certainly sleep up here occasionally, when you have come and
we have settled down to our life as it is to be. I shall live in my
own room downstairs, where I can have the intimacy of the garden.
But I shall appreciate it all the more from now and again losing the
sense of intimacy for a while, and surveying it without the sense of
one's own self-importance.

I hope you have started on that matter of the servants. For myself,
I don't care a button whether or not there are any servants at all;
but I know well that you won't come till you have made your
arrangements regarding them! Another thing, Aunt Janet. You must
not be killed with work here, and it is all so vast . . . Why can't
you get some sort of secretary who will write your letters and do all
that sort of thing for you? I know you won't have a man secretary;
but there are lots of women now who can write shorthand and
typewrite. You could doubtless get one in the clan--someone with a
desire to better herself. I know you would make her happy here. If
she is not too young, all the better; she will have learned to hold
her tongue and mind her own business, and not be too inquisitive.
That would be a nuisance when we are finding our way about in a new
country and trying to reconcile all sorts of opposites in a whole new
country with new people, whom at first we shan't understand, and who
certainly won't understand us; where every man carries a gun with as
little thought of it as he has of buttons! Good-bye for a while.

Your loving

From Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie,
February 3, 1907.

I am back in my own room again. Already it seems to me that to get
here again is like coming home. I have been going about for the last
few days amongst the mountaineers and trying to make their
acquaintance. It is a tough job; and I can see that there will be
nothing but to stick to it. They are in reality the most primitive
people I ever met--the most fixed to their own ideas, which belong to
centuries back. I can understand now what people were like in
England--not in Queen Elizabeth's time, for that was civilized time,
but in the time of Coeur-de-Lion, or even earlier--and all the time
with the most absolute mastery of weapons of precision. Every man
carries a rifle--and knows how to use it, too. I do believe they
would rather go without their clothes than their guns if they had to
choose between them. They also carry a handjar, which used to be
their national weapon. It is a sort of heavy, straight cutlass, and
they are so expert with it as well as so strong that it is as facile
in the hands of a Blue Mountaineer as is a foil in the hands of a
Persian maitre d'armes. They are so proud and reserved that they
make one feel quite small, and an "outsider" as well. I can see
quite well that they rather resent my being here at all. It is not
personal, for when alone with me they are genial, almost brotherly;
but the moment a few of them get together they are like a sort of
jury, with me as the criminal before them. It is an odd situation,
and quite new to me. I am pretty well accustomed to all sorts of
people, from cannibals to Mahatmas, but I'm blessed if I ever struck
such a type as this--so proud, so haughty, so reserved, so distant,
so absolutely fearless, so honourable, so hospitable. Uncle Roger's
head was level when he chose them out as a people to live amongst.
Do you know, Aunt Janet, I can't help feeling that they are very much
like your own Highlanders--only more so. I'm sure of one thing:
that in the end we shall get on capitally together. But it will be a
slow job, and will need a lot of patience. I have a feeling in my
bones that when they know me better they will be very loyal and very
true; and I am not a hair's-breadth afraid of them or anything they
shall or might do. That is, of course, if I live long enough for
them to have time to know me. Anything may happen with such an
indomitable, proud people to whom pride is more than victuals. After
all, it only needs one man out of a crowd to have a wrong idea or to
make a mistake as to one's motive--and there you are. But it will be
all right that way, I am sure. I am come here to stay, as Uncle
Roger wished. And stay I shall even if it has to be in a little bed
of my own beyond the garden--seven feet odd long, and not too narrow-
-or else a stone-box of equal proportions in the vaults of St. Sava's
Church across the Creek--the old burial-place of the Vissarions and
other noble people for a good many centuries back . . .

I have been reading over this letter, dear Aunt Janet, and I am
afraid the record is rather an alarming one. But don't you go
building up superstitious horrors or fears on it. Honestly, I am
only joking about death--a thing to which I have been rather prone
for a good many years back. Not in very good taste, I suppose, but
certainly very useful when the old man with the black wings goes
flying about you day and night in strange places, sometimes visible
and at others invisible. But you can always hear wings, especially
in the dark, when you cannot see them. YOU know that, Aunt Janet,
who come of a race of warriors, and who have special sight behind or
through the black curtain.

Honestly, I am in no whit afraid of the Blue Mountaineers, nor have I
a doubt of them. I love them already for their splendid qualities,
and I am prepared to love them for themselves. I feel, too, that
they will love me (and incidentally they are sure to love you). I
have a sort of undercurrent of thought that there is something in
their minds concerning me--something not painful, but disturbing;
something that has a base in the past; something that has hope in it
and possible pride, and not a little respect. As yet they can have
had no opportunity of forming such impression from seeing me or from
any thing I have done. Of course, it may be that, although they are
fine, tall, stalwart men, I am still a head and shoulders over the
tallest of them that I have yet seen. I catch their eyes looking up
at me as though they were measuring me, even when they are keeping
away from me, or, rather, keeping me from them at arm's length. I
suppose I shall understand what it all means some day. In the
meantime there is nothing to do but to go on my own way--which is
Uncle Roger's--and wait and be patient and just. I have learned the
value of that, any way, in my life amongst strange peoples. Good-

Your loving

From Rupert Sent Leger, Vissarion, to Janet MacKelpie,
February 24, 1907.


I am more than rejoiced to hear that you are coming here so soon.
This isolation is, I think, getting on my nerves. I thought for a
while last night that I was getting on, but the reaction came all too
soon. I was in my room in the east turret, the room on the
corbeille, and saw here and there men passing silently and swiftly
between the trees as though in secret. By-and-by I located their
meeting-place, which was in a hollow in the midst of the wood just
outside the "natural" garden, as the map or plan of the castle calls
it. I stalked that place for all I was worth, and suddenly walked
straight into the midst of them. There were perhaps two or three
hundred gathered, about the very finest lot of men I ever saw in my
life. It was in its way quite an experience, and one not likely to
be repeated, for, as I told you, in this country every man carries a
rifle, and knows how to use it. I do not think I have seen a single
man (or married man either) without his rifle since I came here. I
wonder if they take them with them to bed! Well, the instant after I
stood amongst them every rifle in the place was aimed straight at me.
Don't be alarmed, Aunt Janet; they did not fire at me. If they had I
should not be writing to you now. I should be in that little bit of
real estate or the stone box, and about as full of lead as I could
hold. Ordinarily, I take it, they would have fired on the instant;
that is the etiquette here. But this time they--all separately but
all together--made a new rule. No one said a word or, so far as I
could see, made a movement. Here came in my own experience. I had
been more than once in a tight place of something of the same kind,
so I simply behaved in the most natural way I could. I felt
conscious--it was all in a flash, remember--that if I showed fear or
cause for fear, or even acknowledged danger by so much as even
holding up my hands, I should have drawn all the fire. They all
remained stock-still, as though they had been turned into stone, for
several seconds. Then a queer kind of look flashed round them like
wind over corn--something like the surprise one shows unconsciously
on waking in a strange place. A second after they each dropped the
rifle to the hollow of his arm and stood ready for anything. It was
all as regular and quick and simultaneous as a salute at St. James's

Happily I had no arms of any kind with me, so that there could be no
complication. I am rather a quick hand myself when there is any
shooting to be done. However, there was no trouble here, but the
contrary; the Blue Mountaineers--it sounds like a new sort of Bond
Street band, doesn't it?--treated me in quite a different way than
they did when I first met them. They were amazingly civil, almost
deferential. But, all time same, they were more distant than ever,
and all the time I was there I could get not a whit closer to them.
They seemed in a sort of way to be afraid or in awe of me. No doubt
that will soon pass away, and when we know one another better we
shall become close friends. They are too fine fellows not to be
worth a little waiting for. (That sentence, by the way, is a pretty
bad sentence! In old days you would have slippered me for it!) Your
journey is all arranged, and I hope you will be comfortable. Rooke
will meet you at Liverpool Street and look after everything.

I shan't write again, but when we meet at Fiume I shall begin to tell
you all the rest. Till then, good-bye. A good journey to you, and a
happy meeting to us both.


Letter from Janet MacKelpie, Vissarion, to Sir Colin MacKelpie,
United Service Club, London.

DEAREST UNCLE, February 28, 1907.

I had a very comfortable journey all across Europe. Rupert wrote to
me some time ago to say that when I got to Vissarion I should be an
Empress, and he certainly took care that on the way here I should be
treated like one. Rooke, who seems a wonderful old man, was in the
next compartment to that reserved for me. At Harwich he had
everything arranged perfectly, and so right on to Fiume. Everywhere
there were attentive officials waiting. I had a carriage all to
myself, which I joined at Antwerp--a whole carriage with a suite of
rooms, dining-room, drawing-room, bedroom, even bath-room. There was
a cook with a kitchen of his own on board, a real chef like a French
nobleman in disguise. There were also a waiter and a servant-maid.
My own maid Maggie was quite awed at first. We were as far as
Cologne before she summoned up courage to order them about. Whenever
we stopped Rooke was on the platform with local officials, and kept
the door of my carriage like a sentry on duty.

At Fiume, when the train slowed down, I saw Rupert waiting on the
platform. He looked magnificent, towering over everybody there like
a giant. He is in perfect health, and seemed glad to see me. He
took me off at once on an automobile to a quay where an electric
launch was waiting. This took us on board a beautiful big steam-
yacht, which was waiting with full steam up and--how he got there I
don't know--Rooke waiting at the gangway.

I had another suite all to myself. Rupert and I had dinner together-
-I think the finest dinner I ever sat down to. This was very nice of
Rupert, for it was all for me. He himself only ate a piece of steak
and drank a glass of water. I went to bed early, for, despite the
luxury of the journey, I was very tired.

I awoke in the grey of the morning, and came on deck. We were close
to the coast. Rupert was on the bridge with the Captain, and Rooke
was acting as pilot. When Rupert saw me, he ran down the ladder and
took me up on the bridge. He left me there while he ran down again
and brought me up a lovely fur cloak which I had never seen. He put
it on me and kissed me. He is the tenderest-hearted boy in the
world, as well as the best and bravest! He made me take his arm
whilst he pointed out Vissarion, towards which we were steering. It
is the most lovely place I ever saw. I won't stop to describe it
now, for it will be better that you see it for yourself and enjoy it
all fresh as I did.

The Castle is an immense place. You had better ship off, as soon as
all is ready here and you can arrange it, the servants whom I
engaged; and I am not sure that we shall not want as many more.
There has hardly been a mop or broom on the place for centuries, and
I doubt if it ever had a thorough good cleaning all over since it was
built. And, do you know, Uncle, that it might be well to double that
little army of yours that you are arranging for Rupert? Indeed, the
boy told me himself that he was going to write to you about it. I
think old Lachlan and his wife, Sandy's Mary, had better be in charge
of the maids when they come over. A lot of lassies like yon will be
iller to keep together than a flock of sheep. So it will be wise to
have authority over them, especially as none of them speaks a word of
foreign tongues. Rooke--you saw him at the station at Liverpool
Street--will, if he be available, go over to bring the whole body
here. He has offered to do it if I should wish. And, by the way, I
think it will be well, when the time comes for their departure, if
not only the lassies, but Lachlan and Sandy's Mary, too, will call
him MISTER Rooke. He is a very important person indeed here. He is,
in fact, a sort of Master of the Castle, and though he is very self-
suppressing, is a man of rarely fine qualities. Also it will be well
to keep authority. When your clansmen come over, he will have charge
of them, too. Dear me! I find I have written such a long letter, I
must stop and get to work. I shall write again.

Your very affectionate

From the Same to the Same.
March 3, 1907.


All goes well here, and as there is no news, I only write because you
are a dear, and I want to thank you for all the trouble you have
taken for me--and for Rupert. I think we had better wait awhile
before bringing out the servants. Rooke is away on some business for
Rupert, and will not be back for some time; Rupert thinks it may be a
couple of months. There is no one else that he could send to take
charge of the party from home, and I don't like the idea of all those
lassies coming out without an escort. Even Lachlan and Sandy's Mary
are ignorant of foreign languages and foreign ways. But as soon as
Rooke returns we can have them all out. I dare say you will have
some of your clansmen ready by then, and I think the poor girls, who
may feel a bit strange in a new country like this, where the ways are
so different from ours, will feel easier when they know that there
are some of their own mankind near them. Perhaps it might be well
that those of them who are engaged to each other--I know there are
some--should marry before they come out here. It will be more
convenient in many ways, and will save lodgment, and, besides, these
Blue Mountaineers are very handsome men. Good-night.


Sir Colin MacKelpie, Croom, to Janet MacKelpie,
March 9, 1907.


I have duly received both your letters, and am delighted to find you
are so well pleased with your new home. It must certainly be a very
lovely and unique place, and I am myself longing to see it. I came
up here three days ago, and am, as usual, feeling all the better for
a breath of my native air. Time goes on, my dear, and I am beginning
to feel not so young as I was. Tell Rupert that the men are all fit,
and longing to get out to him. They are certainly a fine lot of men.
I don't think I ever saw a finer. I have had them drilled and
trained as soldiers, and, in addition, have had them taught a lot of
trades just as they selected themselves. So he shall have nigh him
men who can turn their hands to anything--not, of course, that they
all know every trade, but amongst them there is someone who can do
whatever may be required. There are blacksmiths, carpenters,
farriers, saddle-makers, gardeners, plumbers, cutlers, gunsmiths, so,
as they all are farmers by origin and sportsmen by practice, they
will make a rare household body of men. They are nearly all first-
class shots, and I am having them practise with revolvers. They are
being taught fencing and broadsword and ju-jitsu; I have organized
them in military form, with their own sergeants and corporals. This
morning I had an inspection, and I assure you, my dear, they could
give points to the Household troop in matters of drill. I tell you I
am proud of my clansmen!

I think you are quite wise about waiting to bring out the lassies,
and wiser still about the marrying. I dare say there will be more
marrying when they all get settled in a foreign country. I shall be
glad of it, for as Rupert is going to settle there, it will be good
for him to have round him a little colony of his own people. And it
will be good for them, too, for I know he will be good to them--as
you will, my dear. The hills are barren here, and life is hard, and
each year there is more and more demand for crofts, and sooner or
later our people must thin out. And mayhap our little settlement of
MacKelpie clan away beyond the frontiers of the Empire may be some
service to the nation and the King. But this is a dream! I see that
here I am beginning to realise in myself one part of Isaiah's

"Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream

By the way, my dear, talking about dreams, I am sending you out some
boxes of books which were in your rooms. They are nearly all on odd
subjects that WE understand--Second Sight, Ghosts, Dreams (that was
what brought the matter to my mind just now), superstitions,
Vampires, Wehr-Wolves, and all such uncanny folk and things. I
looked over some of these books, and found your marks and underlining
and comments, so I fancy you will miss them in your new home. You
will, I am sure, feel more at ease with such old friends close to
you. I have taken the names and sent the list to London, so that
when you pay me a visit again you will be at home in all ways. If
you come to me altogether, you will be more welcome still--if
possible. But I am sure that Rupert, who I know loves you very much,
will try to make you so happy that you will not want to leave him.
So I will have to come out often to see you both, even at the cost of
leaving Croom for so long. Strange, is it not? that now, when,
through Roger Melton's more than kind remembrance of me, I am able to
go where I will and do what I will, I want more and more to remain at
home by my own ingle. I don't think that anyone but you or Rupert
could get me away from it. I am working very hard at my little
regiment, as I call it. They are simply fine, and will, I am sure,
do us credit. The uniforms are all made, and well made, too. There
is not a man of them that does not look like an officer. I tell you,
Janet, that when we turn out the Vissarion Guard we shall feel proud
of them. I dare say that a couple of months will do all that can be
done here. I shall come out with them myself. Rupert writes me that
he thinks it will be more comfortable to come out direct in a ship of
our own. So when I go up to London in a few weeks' time I shall see
about chartering a suitable vessel. It will certainly save a lot of
trouble to us and anxiety to our people. Would it not be well when I
am getting the ship, if I charter one big enough to take out all your
lassies, too? It is not as if they were strangers. After all, my
dear, soldiers are soldiers and lassies are lassies. But these are
all kinsfolk, as well as clansmen and clanswomen, and I, their Chief,
shall be there. Let me know your views and wishes in this respect.
Mr. Trent, whom I saw before leaving London, asked me to "convey to
you his most respectful remembrances"--these were his very words, and
here they are. Trent is a nice fellow, and I like him. He has
promised to pay me a visit here before the month is up, and I look
forward to our both enjoying ourselves.

Good-bye, my dear, and the Lord watch over you and our dear boy.

Your affectionate Uncle,



April 3, 1907.

I have waited till now--well into midday--before beginning to set
down the details of the strange episode of last night. I have spoken
with persons whom I know to be of normal type. I have breakfasted,
as usual heartily, and have every reason to consider myself in
perfect health and sanity. So that the record following may be
regarded as not only true in substance, but exact as to details. I
have investigated and reported on too many cases for the Psychical
Research Society to be ignorant of the necessity for absolute
accuracy in such matters of even the minutest detail.

Yesterday was Tuesday, the second day of April, 1907. I passed a day
of interest, with its fair amount of work of varying kinds. Aunt
Janet and I lunched together, had a stroll round the gardens after
tea--especially examining the site for the new Japanese garden, which
we shall call "Janet's Garden." We went in mackintoshes, for the
rainy season is in its full, the only sign of its not being a
repetition of the Deluge being that breaks in the continuance are
beginning. They are short at present but will doubtless enlarge
themselves as the season comes towards an end. We dined together at
seven. After dinner I had a cigar, and then joined Aunt Janet for an
hour in her drawing-room. I left her at half-past ten, when I went
to my own room and wrote some letters. At ten minutes past eleven I
wound my watch, so I know the time accurately. Having prepared for
bed, I drew back the heavy curtain in front of my window, which opens
on the marble steps into the Italian garden. I had put out my light
before drawing back the curtain, for I wanted to have a look at the
scene before turning in. Aunt Janet has always had an old-fashioned
idea of the need (or propriety, I hardly know which) of keeping
windows closed and curtains drawn. I am gradually getting her to
leave my room alone in this respect, but at present the change is in
its fitful stage, and of course I must not hurry matters or be too
persistent, as it would hurt her feelings. This night was one of
those under the old regime. It was a delight to look out, for the
scene was perfect of its own kind. The long spell of rain--the
ceaseless downpour which had for the time flooded everywhere--had
passed, and water in abnormal places rather trickled than ran. We
were now beginning to be in the sloppy rather than the deluged stage.
There was plenty of light to see by, for the moon had begun to show
out fitfully through the masses of flying clouds. The uncertain
light made weird shadows with the shrubs and statues in the garden.
The long straight walk which leads from the marble steps is strewn
with fine sand white from the quartz strand in the nook to the south
of the Castle. Tall shrubs of white holly, yew, juniper, cypress,
and variegated maple and spiraea, which stood at intervals along the
walk and its branches, appeared ghost-like in the fitful moonlight.
The many vases and statues and urns, always like phantoms in a half-
light, were more than ever weird. Last night the moonlight was
unusually effective, and showed not only the gardens down to the
defending wall, but the deep gloom of the great forest-trees beyond;
and beyond that, again, to where the mountain chain began, the forest
running up their silvered slopes flamelike in form, deviated here and
there by great crags and the outcropping rocky sinews of the vast

Whilst I was looking at this lovely prospect, I thought I saw
something white flit, like a modified white flash, at odd moments
from one to another of the shrubs or statues--anything which would
afford cover from observation. At first I was not sure whether I
really saw anything or did not. This was in itself a little
disturbing to me, for I have been so long trained to minute
observation of facts surrounding me, on which often depend not only
my own life, but the lives of others, that I have become accustomed
to trust my eyes; and anything creating the faintest doubt in this
respect is a cause of more or less anxiety to me. Now, however, that
my attention was called to myself, I looked more keenly, and in a
very short time was satisfied that something was moving--something
clad in white. It was natural enough that my thoughts should tend
towards something uncanny--the belief that this place is haunted,
conveyed in a thousand ways of speech and inference. Aunt Janet's
eerie beliefs, fortified by her books on occult subjects--and of
late, in our isolation from the rest of the world, the subject of
daily conversations--helped to this end. No wonder, then, that,
fully awake and with senses all on edge, I waited for some further
manifestation from this ghostly visitor--as in my mind I took it to
be. It must surely be a ghost or spiritual manifestation of some
kind which moved in this silent way. In order to see and hear
better, I softly moved back the folding grille, opened the French
window, and stepped out, bare-footed and pyjama-clad as I was, on the
marble terrace. How cold the wet marble was! How heavy smelled the
rain-laden garden! It was as though the night and the damp, and even
the moonlight, were drawing the aroma from all the flowers that
blossomed. The whole night seemed to exhale heavy, half-intoxicating
odours! I stood at the head of the marble steps, and all immediately
before me was ghostly in the extreme--the white marble terrace and
steps, the white walks of quartz-sand glistening under the fitful
moonlight; the shrubs of white or pale green or yellow,--all looking
dim and ghostly in the glamorous light; the white statues and vases.
And amongst them, still flitting noiselessly, that mysterious elusive
figure which I could not say was based on fact or imagination. I
held my breath, listening intently for every sound; but sound there
was none, save those of the night and its denizens. Owls hooted in
the forest; bats, taking advantage of the cessation of the rain,
flitted about silently, like shadows in the air. But there was no
more sign of moving ghost or phantom, or whatever I had seen might
have been--if, indeed, there had been anything except imagination.

So, after waiting awhile, I returned to my room, closed the window,
drew the grille across again, and dragged the heavy curtain before
the opening; then, having extinguished my candles, went to bed in the
dark. In a few minutes I must have been asleep.

"What was that?" I almost heard the words of my own thought as I sat
up in bed wide awake. To memory rather than present hearing the
disturbing sound had seemed like the faint tapping at the window.
For some seconds I listened, mechanically but intently, with bated
breath and that quick beating of the heart which in a timorous person
speaks for fear, and for expectation in another. In the stillness
the sound came again--this time a very, very faint but unmistakable
tapping at the glass door.

I jumped up, drew back the curtain, and for a moment stood appalled.

There, outside on the balcony, in the now brilliant moonlight, stood
a woman, wrapped in white grave-clothes saturated with water, which
dripped on the marble floor, making a pool which trickled slowly down
the wet steps. Attitude and dress and circumstance all conveyed the
idea that, though she moved and spoke, she was not quick, but dead.
She was young and very beautiful, but pale, like the grey pallor of
death. Through the still white of her face, which made her look as
cold as the wet marble she stood on, her dark eyes seemed to gleam
with a strange but enticing lustre. Even in the unsearching
moonlight, which is after all rather deceptive than illuminative, I
could not but notice one rare quality of her eyes. Each had some
quality of refraction which made it look as though it contained a
star. At every movement she made, the stars exhibited new beauties,
of more rare and radiant force. She looked at me imploringly as the
heavy curtain rolled back, and in eloquent gestures implored me to
admit her. Instinctively I obeyed; I rolled back the steel grille,
and threw open the French window. I noticed that she shivered and
trembled as the glass door fell open. Indeed, she seemed so overcome
with cold as to seem almost unable to move. In the sense of her
helplessness all idea of the strangeness of the situation entirely
disappeared. It was not as if my first idea of death taken from her
cerements was negatived. It was simply that I did not think of it at
all; I was content to accept things as they were--she was a woman,
and in some dreadful trouble; that was enough.

I am thus particular about my own emotions, as I may have to refer to
them again in matters of comprehension or comparison. The whole
thing is so vastly strange and abnormal that the least thing may
afterwards give some guiding light or clue to something otherwise not
understandable. I have always found that in recondite matters first
impressions are of more real value than later conclusions. We humans
place far too little reliance on instinct as against reason; and yet
instinct is the great gift of Nature to all animals for their
protection and the fulfilment of their functions generally.

When I stepped out on the balcony, not thinking of my costume, I
found that the woman was benumbed and hardly able to move. Even when
I asked her to enter, and supplemented my words with gestures in case
she should not understand my language, she stood stock-still, only
rocking slightly to and fro as though she had just strength enough
left to balance herself on her feet. I was afraid, from the
condition in which she was, that she might drop down dead at any
moment. So I took her by the hand to lead her in. But she seemed
too weak to even make the attempt. When I pulled her slightly
forward, thinking to help her, she tottered, and would have fallen
had I not caught her in my arms. Then, half lifting her, I moved her
forwards. Her feet, relieved of her weight, now seemed able to make
the necessary effort; and so, I almost carrying her, we moved into
the room. She was at the very end of her strength; I had to lift her
over the sill. In obedience to her motion, I closed the French
window and bolted it. I supposed the warmth of the room--though
cool, it was warmer than the damp air without--affected her quickly,
for on the instant she seemed to begin to recover herself. In a few
seconds, as though she had reacquired her strength, she herself
pulled the heavy curtain across the window. This left us in
darkness, through which I heard her say in English:

"Light. Get a light!"

I found matches, and at once lit a candle. As the wick flared, she
moved over to the door of the room, and tried if the lock and bolt
were fastened. Satisfied as to this, she moved towards me, her wet
shroud leaving a trail of moisture on the green carpet. By this time
the wax of the candle had melted sufficiently to let me see her
clearly. She was shaking and quivering as though in an ague; she
drew the wet shroud around her piteously. Instinctively I spoke:

"Can I do anything for you?"

She answered, still in English, and in a voice of thrilling, almost
piercing sweetness, which seemed somehow to go straight to my heart,
and affected me strangely: "Give me warmth."

I hurried to the fireplace. It was empty; there was no fire laid. I
turned to her, and said:

"Wait just a few minutes here. I shall call someone, and get help--
and fire."

Her voice seemed to ring with intensity as she answered without a

"No, no! Rather would I be"--here she hesitated for an instant, but
as she caught sight of her cerements went on hurriedly--"as I am. I
trust you--not others; and you must not betray my trust." Almost
instantly she fell into a frightful fit of shivering, drawing again
her death-clothes close to her, so piteously that it wrung my heart.
I suppose I am a practical man. At any rate, I am accustomed to
action. I took from its place beside my bed a thick Jaeger dressing-
gown of dark brown--it was, of course, of extra length--and held it
out to her as I said:

"Put that on. It is the only warm thing here which would be
suitable. Stay; you must remove that wet--wet"--I stumbled about for
a word that would not be offensive--"that frock--dress--costume--
whatever it is." I pointed to where, in the corner of the room,
stood a chintz-covered folding-screen which fences in my cold sponge
bath, which is laid ready for me overnight, as I am an early riser.

She bowed gravely, and taking the dressing-gown in a long, white,
finely-shaped hand, bore it behind the screen. There was a slight
rustle, and then a hollow "flop" as the wet garment fell on the
floor; more rustling and rubbing, and a minute later she emerged
wrapped from head to foot in the long Jaeger garment, which trailed
on the floor behind her, though she was a tall woman. She was still
shivering painfully, however. I took a flask of brandy and a glass
from a cupboard, and offered her some; but with a motion of her hand
she refused it, though she moaned grievously.

"Oh, I am so cold--so cold!" Her teeth were chattering. I was
pained at her sad condition, and said despairingly, for I was at my
wits' end to know what to do:

"Tell me anything that I can do to help you, and I will do it. I may
not call help; there is no fire--nothing to make it with; you will
not take some brandy. What on earth can I do to give you warmth?"

Her answer certainly surprised me when it came, though it was
practical enough--so practical that I should not have dared to say
it. She looked me straight in the face for a few seconds before
speaking. Then, with an air of girlish innocence which disarmed
suspicion and convinced me at once of her simple faith, she said in a
voice that at once thrilled me and evoked all my pity:

"Let me rest for a while, and cover me up with rugs. That may give
me warmth. I am dying of cold. And I have a deadly fear upon me--a
deadly fear. Sit by me, and let me hold your hand. You are big and
strong, and you look brave. It will reassure me. I am not myself a
coward, but to-night fear has got me by the throat. I can hardly
breathe. Do let me stay till I am warm. If you only knew what I
have gone through, and have to go through still, I am sure you would
pity me and help me."

To say that I was astonished would be a mild description of my
feelings. I was not shocked. The life which I have led was not one
which makes for prudery. To travel in strange places amongst strange
peoples with strange views of their own is to have odd experiences
and peculiar adventures now and again; a man without human passions
is not the type necessary for an adventurous life, such as I myself
have had. But even a man of passions and experiences can, when he
respects a woman, be shocked--even prudish--where his own opinion of
her is concerned. Such must bring to her guarding any generosity
which he has, and any self-restraint also. Even should she place
herself in a doubtful position, her honour calls to his honour. This
is a call which may not be--MUST not be--unanswered. Even passion
must pause for at least a while at sound of such a trumpet-call.

This woman I did respect--much respect. Her youth and beauty; her
manifest ignorance of evil; her superb disdain of convention, which
could only come through hereditary dignity; her terrible fear and
suffering--for there must be more in her unhappy condition than meets
the eye--would all demand respect, even if one did not hasten to
yield it. Nevertheless, I thought it necessary to enter a protest
against her embarrassing suggestion. I certainly did feel a fool
when making it, also a cad. I can truly say it was made only for her
good, and out of the best of me, such as I am. I felt impossibly
awkward; and stuttered and stumbled before I spoke:

"But surely--the convenances! Your being here alone at night! Mrs.

She interrupted me with an incomparable dignity--a dignity which had
the effect of shutting me up like a clasp-knife and making me feel a
decided inferior--and a poor show at that. There was such a gracious
simplicity and honesty in it, too, such self-respecting knowledge of
herself and her position, that I could be neither angry nor hurt. I
could only feel ashamed of myself, and of my own littleness of mind
and morals. She seemed in her icy coldness--now spiritual as well as
bodily--like an incarnate figure of Pride as she answered:

"What are convenances or conventions to me! If you only knew where I
have come from--the existence (if it can be called so) which I have
had--the loneliness--the horror! And besides, it is for me to MAKE
conventions, not to yield my personal freedom of action to them.
Even as I am--even here and in this garb--I am above convention.
Convenances do not trouble me or hamper me. That, at least, I have
won by what I have gone through, even if it had never come to me
through any other way. Let me stay." She said the last words, in
spite of all her pride, appealingly. But still, there was a note of
high pride in all this--in all she said and did, in her attitude and
movement, in the tones of her voice, in the loftiness of her carriage
and the steadfast look of her open, starlit eyes. Altogether, there
was something so rarely lofty in herself and all that clad her that,
face to face with it and with her, my feeble attempt at moral
precaution seemed puny, ridiculous, and out of place. Without a word
in the doing, I took from an old chiffonier chest an armful of
blankets, several of which I threw over her as she lay, for in the
meantime, having replaced the coverlet, she had lain down at length
on the bed. I took a chair, and sat down beside her. When she
stretched out her hand from beneath the pile of wraps, I took it in
mine, saying:

"Get warm and rest. Sleep if you can. You need not fear; I shall
guard you with my life."

She looked at me gratefully, her starry eyes taking a new light more
full of illumination than was afforded by the wax candle, which was
shaded from her by my body . . . She was horribly cold, and her teeth
chattered so violently that I feared lest she should have incurred
some dangerous evil from her wetting and the cold that followed it.
I felt, however, so awkward that I could find no words to express my
fears; moreover, I hardly dared say anything at all regarding herself
after the haughty way in which she had received my well-meant
protest. Manifestly I was but to her as a sort of refuge and
provider of heat, altogether impersonal, and not to be regarded in
any degree as an individual. In these humiliating circumstances what
could I do but sit quiet--and wait developments?

Little by little the fierce chattering of her teeth began to abate as
the warmth of her surroundings stole through her. I also felt, even
in this strangely awakening position, the influence of the quiet; and
sleep began to steal over me. Several times I tried to fend it off,
but, as I could not make any overt movement without alarming my
strange and beautiful companion, I had to yield myself to drowsiness.
I was still in such an overwhelming stupor of surprise that I could
not even think freely. There was nothing for me but to control
myself and wait. Before I could well fix my thoughts I was asleep.

I was recalled to consciousness by hearing, even through the pall of
sleep that bound me, the crowing of a cock in some of the out-offices
of the castle. At the same instant the figure, lying deathly still
but for the gentle heaving of her bosom, began to struggle wildly.
The sound had won through the gates of her sleep also. With a swift,
gliding motion she slipped from the bed to the floor, saying in a
fierce whisper as she pulled herself up to her full height:

"Let me out! I must go! I must go!"

By this time I was fully awake, and the whole position of things came
to me in an instant which I shall never--can never--forget: the dim
light of the candle, now nearly burned down to the socket, all the
dimmer from the fact that the first grey gleam of morning was
stealing in round the edges of the heavy curtain; the tall, slim
figure in the brown dressing-gown whose over-length trailed on the
floor, the black hair showing glossy in the light, and increasing by
contrast the marble whiteness of the face, in which the black eyes
sent through their stars fiery gleams. She appeared quite in a
frenzy of haste; her eagerness was simply irresistible.

I was so stupefied with amazement, as well as with sleep, that I did
not attempt to stop her, but began instinctively to help her by
furthering her wishes. As she ran behind the screen, and, as far as
sound could inform me,--began frantically to disrobe herself of the
warm dressing-gown and to don again the ice-cold wet shroud, I pulled
back the curtain from the window, and drew the bolt of the glass
door. As I did so she was already behind me, shivering. As I threw
open the door she glided out with a swift silent movement, but
trembling in an agonized way. As she passed me, she murmured in a
low voice, which was almost lost in the chattering of her teeth:

"Oh, thank you--thank you a thousand times! But I must go. I MUST!
I MUST! I shall come again, and try to show my gratitude. Do not
condemn me as ungrateful--till then." And she was gone.

I watched her pass the length of the white path, flitting from shrub
to shrub or statue as she had come. In the cold grey light of the
undeveloped dawn she seemed even more ghostly than she had done in
the black shadow of the night.

When she disappeared from sight in the shadow of the wood, I stood on
the terrace for a long time watching, in case I should be afforded
another glimpse of her, for there was now no doubt in my mind that
she had for me some strange attraction. I felt even then that the
look in those glorious starry eyes would be with me always so long as
I might live. There was some fascination which went deeper than my
eyes or my flesh or my heart--down deep into the very depths of my
soul. My mind was all in a whirl, so that I could hardly think
coherently. It all was like a dream; the reality seemed far away.
It was not possible to doubt that the phantom figure which had been
so close to me during the dark hours of the night was actual flesh
and blood. Yet she was so cold, so cold! Altogether I could not fix
my mind to either proposition: that it was a living woman who had
held my hand, or a dead body reanimated for the time or the occasion
in some strange manner.

The difficulty was too great for me to make up my mind upon it, even
had I wanted to. But, in any case, I did not want to. This would,
no doubt, come in time. But till then I wished to dream on, as
anyone does in a dream which can still be blissful though there be
pauses of pain, or ghastliness, or doubt, or terror.

So I closed the window and drew the curtain again, feeling for the
first time the cold in which I had stood on the wet marble floor of
the terrace when my bare feet began to get warm on the soft carpet.
To get rid of the chill feeling I got into the bed on which SHE had
lain, and as the warmth restored me tried to think coherently. For a
short while I was going over the facts of the night--or what seemed
as facts to my remembrance. But as I continued to think, the
possibilities of any result seemed to get less, and I found myself
vainly trying to reconcile with the logic of life the grim episode of
the night. The effort proved to be too much for such concentration
as was left to me; moreover, interrupted sleep was clamant, and would
not be denied. What I dreamt of--if I dreamt at all--I know not. I
only know that I was ready for waking when the time came. It came
with a violent knocking at my door. I sprang from bed, fully awake
in a second, drew the bolt, and slipped back to bed. With a hurried
"May I come in?" Aunt Janet entered. She seemed relieved when she
saw me, and gave without my asking an explanation of her

"Oh, laddie, I hae been so uneasy aboot ye all the nicht. I hae had
dreams an' veesions an' a' sorts o' uncanny fancies. I fear that--"
She was by now drawing back the curtain, and as her eyes took in the
marks of wet all over the floor the current of her thoughts changed:

"Why, laddie, whativer hae ye been doin' wi' yer baith? Oh, the mess
ye hae made! 'Tis sinful to gie sic trouble an' waste . . . " And
so she went on. I was glad to hear the tirade, which was only what a
good housewife, outraged in her sentiments of order, would have made.
I listened in patience--with pleasure when I thought of what she
would have thought (and said) had she known the real facts. I was
well pleased to have got off so easily.

April 10, 1907.

For some days after what I call "the episode" I was in a strange
condition of mind. I did not take anyone--not even Aunt Janet--into
confidence. Even she dear, and open-hearted and liberal-minded as
she is, might not have understood well enough to be just and
tolerant; and I did not care to hear any adverse comment on my
strange visitor. Somehow I could not bear the thought of anyone
finding fault with her or in her, though, strangely enough, I was
eternally defending her to myself; for, despite my wishes,
embarrassing thoughts WOULD come again and again, and again in all
sorts and variants of queries difficult to answer. I found myself
defending her, sometimes as a woman hard pressed by spiritual fear
and physical suffering, sometimes as not being amenable to laws that
govern the Living. Indeed, I could not make up my mind whether I
looked on her as a living human being or as one with some strange
existence in another world, and having only a chance foothold in our
own. In such doubt imagination began to work, and thoughts of evil,
of danger, of doubt, even of fear, began to crowd on me with such
persistence and in such varied forms that I found my instinct of
reticence growing into a settled purpose. The value of this
instinctive precaution was promptly shown by Aunt Janet's state of
mind, with consequent revelation of it. She became full of gloomy
prognostications and what I thought were morbid fears. For the first
time in my life I discovered that Aunt Janet had nerves! I had long
had a secret belief that she was gifted, to some degree at any rate,
with Second Sight, which quality, or whatever it is, skilled in the
powers if not the lore of superstition, manages to keep at stretch
not only the mind of its immediate pathic, but of others relevant to
it. Perhaps this natural quality had received a fresh impetus from
the arrival of some cases of her books sent on by Sir Colin. She
appeared to read and reread these works, which were chiefly on occult
subjects, day and night, except when she was imparting to me choice
excerpts of the most baleful and fearsome kind. Indeed, before a
week was over I found myself to be an expert in the history of the
cult, as well as in its manifestations, which latter I had been
versed in for a good many years.

The result of all this was that it set me brooding. Such, at least,
I gathered was the fact when Aunt Janet took me to task for it. She
always speaks out according to her convictions, so that her thinking
I brooded was to me a proof that I did; and after a personal
examination I came--reluctantly--to the conclusion that she was
right, so far, at any rate, as my outer conduct was concerned. The
state of mind I was in, however, kept me from making any
acknowledgment of it--the real cause of my keeping so much to myself
and of being so distrait. And so I went on, torturing myself as
before with introspective questioning; and she, with her mind set on
my actions, and endeavouring to find a cause for them, continued and
expounded her beliefs and fears.

Her nightly chats with me when we were alone after dinner--for I had
come to avoid her questioning at other times--kept my imagination at
high pressure. Despite myself, I could not but find new cause for
concern in the perennial founts of her superstition. I had thought,
years ago, that I had then sounded the depths of this branch of
psychicism; but this new phase of thought, founded on the really deep
hold which the existence of my beautiful visitor and her sad and
dreadful circumstances had taken upon me, brought me a new concern in
the matter of self-importance. I came to think that I must
reconstruct my self-values, and begin a fresh understanding of
ethical beliefs. Do what I would, my mind would keep turning on the
uncanny subjects brought before it. I began to apply them one by one
to my own late experience, and unconsciously to try to fit them in
turn to the present case.

The effect of this brooding was that I was, despite my own will,
struck by the similarity of circumstances bearing on my visitor, and
the conditions apportioned by tradition and superstition to such
strange survivals from earlier ages as these partial existences which
are rather Undead than Living--still walking the earth, though
claimed by the world of the Dead. Amongst them are the Vampire, or
the Wehr-Wolf. To this class also might belong in a measure the
Doppelganger--one of whose dual existences commonly belongs to the
actual world around it. So, too, the denizens of the world of
Astralism. In any of these named worlds there is a material
presence--which must be created, if only for a single or periodic
purpose. It matters not whether a material presence already created
can be receptive of a disembodied soul, or a soul unattached can have
a body built up for it or around it; or, again, whether the body of a
dead person can be made seeming quick through some diabolic influence
manifested in the present, or an inheritance or result of some
baleful use of malefic power in the past. The result is the same in
each case, though the ways be widely different: a soul and a body
which are not in unity but brought together for strange purposes
through stranger means and by powers still more strange.

Through much thought and a process of exclusions the eerie form which
seemed to be most in correspondence with my adventure, and most
suitable to my fascinating visitor, appeared to be the Vampire.
Doppelganger, Astral creations, and all such-like, did not comply
with the conditions of my night experience. The Wehr-Wolf is but a
variant of the Vampire, and so needed not to be classed or examined
at all. Then it was that, thus focussed, the Lady of the Shroud (for
so I came to hold her in my mind) began to assume a new force. Aunt
Janet's library afforded me clues which I followed with avidity. In
my secret heart I hated the quest, and did not wish to go on with it.
But in this I was not my own master. Do what I would--brush away
doubts never so often, new doubts and imaginings came in their stead.
The circumstance almost repeated the parable of the Seven Devils who
took the place of the exorcised one. Doubts I could stand.
Imaginings I could stand. But doubts and imaginings together made a
force so fell that I was driven to accept any reading of the mystery
which might presumably afford a foothold for satisfying thought. And
so I came to accept tentatively the Vampire theory--accept it, at
least, so far as to examine it as judicially as was given me to do.
As the days wore on, so the conviction grew. The more I read on the
subject, the more directly the evidences pointed towards this view.
The more I thought, the more obstinate became the conviction. I
ransacked Aunt Janet's volumes again and again to find anything to
the contrary; but in vain. Again, no matter how obstinate were my
convictions at any given time, unsettlement came with fresh thinking
over the argument, so that I was kept in a harassing state of

Briefly, the evidence in favour of accord between the facts of the
case and the Vampire theory were:

Her coming was at night--the time the Vampire is according to the
theory, free to move at will.

She wore her shroud--a necessity of coming fresh from grave or tomb;
for there is nothing occult about clothing which is not subject to
astral or other influences.

She had to be helped into my room--in strict accordance with what one
sceptical critic of occultism has called "the Vampire etiquette."

She made violent haste in getting away at cock-crow.

She seemed preternaturally cold; her sleep was almost abnormal in
intensity, and yet the sound of the cock-crowing came through it.

These things showed her to be subject to SOME laws, though not in
exact accord within those which govern human beings. Under the
stress of such circumstances as she must have gone through, her
vitality seemed more than human--the quality of vitality which could
outlive ordinary burial. Again, such purpose as she had shown in
donning, under stress of some compelling direction, her ice-cold wet
shroud, and, wrapt in it, going out again into the night, was hardly
normal for a woman.

But if so, and if she was indeed a Vampire, might not whatever it may
be that holds such beings in thrall be by some means or other
exorcised? To find the means must be my next task. I am actually
pining to see her again. Never before have I been stirred to my
depths by anyone. Come it from Heaven or Hell, from the Earth or the
Grave, it does not matter; I shall make it my task to win her back to
life and peace. If she be indeed a Vampire, the task may be hard and
long; if she be not so, and if it be merely that circumstances have
so gathered round her as to produce that impression, the task may be
simpler and the result more sweet. No, not more sweet; for what can
be more sweet than to restore the lost or seemingly lost soul of the
woman you love! There, the truth is out at last! I suppose that I
have fallen in love with her. If so, it is too late for me to fight
against it. I can only wait with what patience I can till I see her
again. But to that end I can do nothing. I know absolutely nothing
about her--not even her name. Patience!

April 16, 1907.

The only relief I have had from the haunting anxiety regarding the
Lady of the Shroud has been in the troubled state of my adopted
country. There has evidently been something up which I have not been
allowed to know. The mountaineers are troubled and restless; are
wandering about, singly and in parties, and holding meetings in
strange places. This is what I gather used to be in old days when
intrigues were on foot with Turks, Greeks, Austrians, Italians,
Russians. This concerns me vitally, for my mind has long been made
up to share the fortunes of the Land of the Blue Mountains. For good
or ill I mean to stay here: J'y suis, j'y reste. I share henceforth
the lot of the Blue Mountaineers; and not Turkey, nor Greece, nor
Austria, nor Italy, nor Russia--no, not France nor Germany either;
not man nor God nor Devil shall drive me from my purpose. With these
patriots I throw in my lot! My only difficulty seemed at first to be
with the men themselves. They are so proud that at the beginning I
feared they would not even accord me the honour of being one of them!
However, things always move on somehow, no matter what difficulties
there be at the beginning. Never mind! When one looks back at an
accomplished fact the beginning is not to be seen--and if it were it
would not matter. It is not of any account, anyhow.

I heard that there was going to be a great meeting near here
yesterday afternoon, and I attended it. I think it was a success.
If such is any proof, I felt elated as well as satisfied when I came
away. Aunt Janet's Second Sight on the subject was comforting,
though grim, and in a measure disconcerting. When I was saying good-
night she asked me to bend down my head. As I did so, she laid her
hands on it and passed them all over it. I heard her say to herself:

"Strange! There's nothing there; yet I could have sworn I saw it!"
I asked her to explain, but she would not. For once she was a little
obstinate, and refused point blank to even talk of the subject. She
was not worried nor unhappy; so I had no cause for concern. I said
nothing, but I shall wait and see. Most mysteries become plain or
disappear altogether in time. But about the meeting--lest I forget!

When I joined the mountaineers who had assembled, I really think they
were glad to see me; though some of them seemed adverse, and others
did not seem over well satisfied. However, absolute unity is very
seldom to be found. Indeed, it is almost impossible; and in a free
community is not altogether to be desired. When it is apparent, the
gathering lacks that sense of individual feeling which makes for the
real consensus of opinion--which is the real unity of purpose. The
meeting was at first, therefore, a little cold and distant. But
presently it began to thaw, and after some fiery harangues I was
asked to speak. Happily, I had begun to learn the Balkan language as
soon as ever Uncle Roger's wishes had been made known to me, and as I
have some facility of tongues and a great deal of experience, I soon
began to know something of it. Indeed, when I had been here a few
weeks, with opportunity of speaking daily with the people themselves,
and learned to understand the intonations and vocal inflexions, I
felt quite easy in speaking it. I understood every word which had up
to then been spoken at the meeting, and when I spoke myself I felt
that they understood. That is an experience which every speaker has
in a certain way and up to a certain point. He knows by some kind of
instinct if his hearers are with him; if they respond, they must
certainly have understood. Last night this was marked. I felt it
every instant I was talking and when I came to realize that the men
were in strict accord with my general views, I took them into
confidence with regard to my own personal purpose. It was the
beginning of a mutual trust; so for peroration I told them that I had
come to the conclusion that what they wanted most for their own
protection and the security and consolidation of their nation was
arms--arms of the very latest pattern. Here they interrupted me with
wild cheers, which so strung me up that I went farther than I
intended, and made a daring venture. "Ay," I repeated, "the security
and consolidation of your country--of OUR country, for I have come to
live amongst you. Here is my home whilst I live. I am with you
heart and soul. I shall live with you, fight shoulder to shoulder
with you, and, if need be, shall die with you!" Here the shouting
was terrific, and the younger men raised their guns to fire a salute
in Blue Mountain fashion. But on the instant the Vladika {1} held up
his hands and motioned them to desist. In the immediate silence he
spoke, sharply at first, but later ascending to a high pitch of
single-minded, lofty eloquence. His words rang in my ears long after
the meeting was over and other thoughts had come between them and the

"Silence!" he thundered. "Make no echoes in the forest or through
the hills at this dire time of stress and threatened danger to our
land. Bethink ye of this meeting, held here and in secret, in order
that no whisper of it may be heard afar. Have ye all, brave men of
the Blue Mountains, come hither through the forest like shadows that
some of you, thoughtless, may enlighten your enemies as to our secret
purpose? The thunder of your guns would doubtless sound well in the
ears of those who wish us ill and try to work us wrong. Fellow-
countrymen, know ye not that the Turk is awake once more for our
harming? The Bureau of Spies has risen from the torpor which came on
it when the purpose against our Teuta roused our mountains to such
anger that the frontiers blazed with passion, and were swept with
fire and sword. Moreover, there is a traitor somewhere in the land,
or else incautious carelessness has served the same base purpose.
Something of our needs--our doing, whose secret we have tried to
hide, has gone out. The myrmidons of the Turk are close on our
borders, and it may be that some of them have passed our guards and
are amidst us unknown. So it behoves us doubly to be discreet.
Believe me that I share with you, my brothers, our love for the
gallant Englishman who has come amongst us to share our sorrows and
ambitions--and I trust it may be our joys. We are all united in the
wish to do him honour--though not in the way by which danger might be
carried on the wings of love. My brothers, our newest brother comes
to us from the Great Nation which amongst the nations has been our
only friend, and which has ere now helped us in our direst need--that
mighty Britain whose hand has ever been raised in the cause of
freedom. We of the Blue Mountains know her best as she stands with
sword in hand face to face with our foes. And this, her son and now
our brother, brings further to our need the hand of a giant and the
heart of a lion. Later on, when danger does not ring us round, when
silence is no longer our outer guard; we shall bid him welcome in
true fashion of our land. But till then he will believe--for he is
great-hearted--that our love and thanks and welcome are not to be
measured by sound. When the time comes, then shall be sound in his
honour--not of rifles alone, but bells and cannon and the mighty
voice of a free people shouting as one. But now we must be wise and
silent, for the Turk is once again at our gates. Alas! the cause of
his former coming may not be, for she whose beauty and nobility and
whose place in our nation and in our hearts tempted him to fraud and
violence is not with us to share even our anxiety."

Here his voice broke, and there arose from all a deep wailing sound,
which rose and rose till the woods around us seemed broken by a
mighty and long-sustained sob. The orator saw that his purpose was
accomplished, and with a short sentence finished his harangue: "But
the need of our nation still remains!" Then, with an eloquent
gesture to me to proceed, he merged in the crowd and disappeared.

How could I even attempt to follow such a speaker with any hope of
success? I simply told them what I had already done in the way of
help, saying:

"As you needed arms, I have got them. My agent sends me word through
the code between us that he has procured for me--for us--fifty
thousand of the newest-pattern rifles, the French Ingis-Malbron,
which has surpassed all others, and sufficient ammunition to last for
a year of war. The first section is in hand, and will soon be ready
for consignment. There are other war materials, too, which, when
they arrive, will enable every man and woman--even the children--of
our land to take a part in its defence should such be needed. My
brothers, I am with you in all things, for good or ill!"

It made me very proud to hear the mighty shout which arose. I had
felt exalted before, but now this personal development almost
unmanned me. I was glad of the long-sustained applause to recover my

I was quite satisfied that the meeting did not want to hear any other
speaker, for they began to melt away without any formal notification
having been given. I doubt if there will be another meeting soon
again. The weather has begun to break, and we are in for another
spell of rain. It is disagreeable, of course; but it has its own
charm. It was during a spell of wet weather that the Lady of the
Shroud came to me. Perhaps the rain may bring her again. I hope so,
with all my soul.

April 23, 1907.

The rain has continued for four whole days and nights, and the low-
lying ground is like a quagmire in places. In the sunlight the whole
mountains glisten with running streams and falling water. I feel a
strange kind of elation, but from no visible cause. Aunt Janet
rather queered it by telling me, as she said good-night, to be very
careful of myself, as she had seen in a dream last night a figure in
a shroud. I fear she was not pleased that I did not take it with all
the seriousness that she did. I would not wound her for the world if
I could help it, but the idea of a shroud gets too near the bone to
be safe, and I had to fend her off at all hazards. So when I doubted
if the Fates regarded the visionary shroud as of necessity
appertaining to me, she said, in a way that was, for her, almost

"Take care, laddie. 'Tis ill jesting wi' the powers o' time

Perhaps it was that her talk put the subject in my mind. The woman
needed no such aid; she was always there; but when I locked myself
into my room that night, I half expected to find her in the room. I
was not sleepy, so I took a book of Aunt Janet's and began to read.
The title was "On the Powers and Qualities of Disembodied Spirits."
"Your grammar," said I to the author, "is hardly attractive, but I
may learn something which might apply to her. I shall read your
book." Before settling down to it, however, I thought I would have a
look at the garden. Since the night of the visit the garden seemed
to have a new attractiveness for me: a night seldom passed without
my having a last look at it before turning in. So I drew the great
curtain and looked out.

The scene was beautiful, but almost entirely desolate. All was
ghastly in the raw, hard gleams of moonlight coming fitfully through
the masses of flying cloud. The wind was rising, and the air was
damp and cold. I looked round the room instinctively, and noticed
that the fire was laid ready for lighting, and that there were small-
cut logs of wood piled beside the hearth. Ever since that night I
have had a fire laid ready. I was tempted to light it, but as I
never have a fire unless I sleep in the open, I hesitated to begin.
I went back to the window, and, opening the catch, stepped out on the
terrace. As I looked down the white walk and let my eyes range over
the expanse of the garden, where everything glistened as the
moonlight caught the wet, I half expected to see some white figure
flitting amongst the shrubs and statues. The whole scene of the
former visit came back to me so vividly that I could hardly believe
that any time had passed since then. It was the same scene, and
again late in the evening. Life in Vissarion was primitive, and
early hours prevailed--though not so late as on that night.

As I looked I thought I caught a glimpse of something white far away.
It was only a ray of moonlight coming through the rugged edge of a
cloud. But all the same it set me in a strange state of
perturbation. Somehow I seemed to lose sight of my own identity. It
was as though I was hypnotized by the situation or by memory, or
perhaps by some occult force. Without thinking of what I was doing,
or being conscious of any reason for it, I crossed the room and set
light to the fire. Then I blew out the candle and came to the window
again. I never thought it might be a foolish thing to do--to stand
at a window with a light behind me in this country, where every man
carries a gun with him always. I was in my evening clothes, too,
with my breast well marked by a white shirt. I opened the window and
stepped out on the terrace. There I stood for many minutes,
thinking. All the time my eyes kept ranging over the garden. Once I
thought I saw a white figure moving, but it was not followed up, so,
becoming conscious that it was again beginning to rain, I stepped
back into the room, shut the window, and drew the curtain. Then I
realized the comforting appearance of the fire, and went over and
stood before it.

Hark! Once more there was a gentle tapping at the window. I rushed
over to it and drew the curtain.

There, out on the rain-beaten terrace, stood the white shrouded
figure, more desolate-appearing than ever. Ghastly pale she looked,
as before, but her eyes had an eager look which was new. I took it
that she was attracted by the fire, which was by now well ablaze, and
was throwing up jets of flame as the dry logs crackled. The leaping
flames threw fitful light across the room, and every gleam threw the
white-clad figure into prominence, showing the gleam of the black
eyes, and fixing the stars that lay in them.

Without a word I threw open the window, and, taking the white hand
extended to me, drew into the room the Lady of the Shroud.

As she entered and felt the warmth of the blazing fire, a glad look
spread over her face. She made a movement as if to run to it. But
she drew back an instant after, looking round with instinctive
caution. She closed the window and bolted it, touched the lever
which spread the grille across the opening, and pulled close the
curtain behind it. Then she went swiftly to the door and tried if it
was locked. Satisfied as to this, she came quickly over to the fire,
and, kneeling before it, stretched out her numbed hands to the blaze.
Almost on the instant her wet shroud began to steam. I stood
wondering. The precautions of secrecy in the midst of her suffering-
-for that she did suffer was only too painfully manifest--must have
presupposed some danger. Then and there my mind was made up that
there should no harm assail her that I by any means could fend off.
Still, the present must be attended to; pneumonia and other ills
stalked behind such a chill as must infallibly come on her unless
precautions were taken. I took again the dressing-gown which she had
worn before and handed it to her, motioning as I did so towards the
screen which had made a dressing-room for her on the former occasion.
To my surprise she hesitated. I waited. She waited, too, and then
laid down the dressing-gown on the edge of the stone fender. So I

"Won't you change as you did before? Your--your frock can then be
dried. Do! It will be so much safer for you to be dry clad when you
resume your own dress."

"How can I whilst you are here?"

Her words made me stare, so different were they from her acts of the
other visit. I simply bowed--speech on such a subject would be at
least inadequate--and walked over to the window. Passing behind the
curtain, I opened the window. Before stepping out on to the terrace,
I looked into the room and said:

"Take your own time. There is no hurry. I dare say you will find
there all you may want. I shall remain on the terrace until you
summon me." With that I went out on the terrace, drawing close the
glass door behind me.

I stood looking out on the dreary scene for what seemed a very short
time, my mind in a whirl. There came a rustle from within, and I saw
a dark brown figure steal round the edge of the curtain. A white
hand was raised, and beckoned me to come in. I entered, bolting the
window behind me. She had passed across the room, and was again
kneeling before the fire with her hands outstretched. The shroud was


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