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me uncomfortable. But this was not so strange as the change which, after a time, was evident in Kate. She had become, in less than a week, cold and constrained. I was to have spent a day with her; but she made some apology, and, in doing so, burst into tears. Something was evidently wrong, which I felt satisfied time must disclose.
"In about a week more she came to see me by myself, looking ten years older. She closed the door of my room, and then said she desired to tell me something which she felt I could hardly believe, but that, if I was not afraid, I might come and judge for myself.
"After Robert's return, she said, for a week or so they had been delightfully happy. But very soonshe thought about the tenth day, or rather night-they were alarmed by loud raps and knocks in Robert's room. It was the back room on the same floor on which Mrs. Land her daughter slept together in a large front bed-chamber. They heard him swearing at the noise, as if it had been at his servant; but the man did not sleep in the house. At last he threw his boots at it; and the more violent he became, the more violent seemed to grow the disturbance.
"At last his mother ventured to knock at his door and ask what was the matter. He told her to come in. She brought a lighted candle and set it on the table. As she entered, her son's favorite pointer rushed out of the room. 'So,' he said, 'the dog's gone! I have not been able to keep a dog in my room at night for years; but under your roof, mother, I fancied, I hoped, I might escape a persecution that I see now pursues me even here. I am sorry for Kate's canary-bird that hung behind the curtain. I heard it fluttering after the first round. Of course it is dead!'
"The old lady got up, all trembling, to look at poor
Kate's bird. It was dead, at the bottom of the cage,all its feathers ruffled.
"Is there no Bible in the room?' she inquired. 'Yes,' he drew one from under his pillow: 'that, I think, protects me from blows.' He looked so dreadfully exhausted that his mother wished to leave the room, to get him some wine. 'No: stay here: do not leave me!' he entreated. Hardly had he ceased speaking, when some huge, heavy substance seemed rolling down the chimney and flopped on the hearth; but Mrs. Lsaw nothing. The next moment, as from a strong wind, the light was extinguished, while knocks and raps and a rushing sound passed round the apartment. Robert L alternately prayed and swore; and the old lady, usually remarkable for her self-possession, had great difficulty in preventing herself from fainting. The noise continued, sometimes seeming like violent thumps, sometimes the sounds appearing to trickle around the
"At last her other son, roused by the disturbance, came in, and found his mother on her knees, praying. "That night she slept in her son's room, or rather attempted to do so; for sleep was impossible, though her bed was not touched or shaken. Kate remained outside
the open door. It was impossible to see, because, immediately after the first plunge down the chimney, the lights were extinguished.
"The next morning, Robert told his family that for more than ten years he had been the victim of this spiritpersecution. If he lay in his tent, it was there, disturbing his brother officers, who gradually shunned the society of 'the haunted man,' as they called him,-one who 'must have done something to draw down such punishment.' When on leave of absence, he was generally free from the visitation for three or four nights; then it found him out again. He never was suffered to remain
A SUGGESTED EXPLANATION
in a lodging; being regularly warned out' by the householders, who would not endure the noise.
"After breakfast, the next-door neighbors sent in to complain of the noises of the preceding night. On the succeeding nights, several friends (two or three of whom I knew) sat up with Mrs. L, and sought to investigate, according to human means, the cause. In vain! They verified the fact; the cause remained hidden in mystery.
"Kate wished me to hear for myself; but I had not courage to do so, nor would my dear mother have permitted it.
"No inducement could prevail on the pointer to return to his master's room, by day or night. He was a recent purchase, and, until the first noise in London came, had appreciated Robert's kindness. After that, he evidently disliked his master. It is the old story over again,' said Robert. I could never keep a dog. I thought I would try again; but I shall never have any thing to love, and nothing will ever be permitted to love me.' The animal soon after got out; and they supposed it ran away, or was stolen.
"The young man, seeing his mother and sister fading away under anxiety and want of rest, told them he could bear his affliction better by himself, and would therefore go to Ireland, his native country, and reside in some detached country cottage, where he could fish and shoot.
"He went. Before his departure I once heard the poor fellow say, 'It is hard to be so punished; but perhaps I have deserved it.'
“I learned, afterward, that there was more than a suspicion that he had abandoned an unfortunate girl
'Loved not wisely, but too well;'
OF THE PRECEDING CASE.
and that she died in America. Be this as it may, in Ireland, as elsewhere, the visitation followed him unceasingly.
"This spirit never spoke, never answered questions; and the mode of communicating now so general was not then known. If it had been, there might have been a different result.
"As it was, Robert L's mode of life in his native country gave his mother great anxiety. I had no clew, however, to his ultimate fate; for his sister would not tell me where in Ireland he had made his miserable home.
"My friend Kate married immediately after her brother left. She was a bride, a mother, and a corpse within a year; and her death really broke her mother's heart: so that in two years the family seemed to have vanished, as if I had never known them. I have sometimes thought, however, that if the dear old lady had not received such a shock from her son's spiritual visitor, she would not have been crushed by the loss of her daughter; but she told me she had nothing left to bind her to this world.
"I have often regretted that I had not watched with my young friend one night; but the facts I have thrown together were known to certainly twenty persons in London."*
One rarely finds a narrative better authenticated, or more strongly indicating the reality of an ultramundane agency, than this. It is attested by the name of a lady well and favorably known to the literary world. It is true that, deterred by her fears, she did not personally witness the disturbances. But if she had, would it have added materially to the weight of her testimony as it stands? Could she doubt the reality of these appalling
* Extracted from Mrs. Hall's letter to me, dated London, March 31, 1859.
REMARKS ON THE PRECEDING CASE.
demonstrations? Can we doubt it? The testimony of the sister and the mother, whose lives this fearful visitation darkened if it did not shorten, to say nothing of the corroborative evidence furnished by friends who sat up with them expressly to seek out some explanation, can we refuse credit to all this? The haggard and careworn looks of the sufferer, his blighted life,could these have been simulated? The confession to his family, wrung from him by the recurrence, in his mother's house, of the torment he could no longer conceal,—could that be a lie? Dumb animals attested the contrary. The death of the canary-bird, the terror of the dog,— could fancy cause the one or create the other? Or shall we resort to the hypothesis of human agency? Ten years had the avenging sounds pursued the unfortunate In tent or tavern, in country or city, go where he would, the terrible Intrusion still dogged his steps. The maternal home was no city of refuge from the pursuer. To the wilds of Ireland it followed the culprit in his retreat. Even if such human vengeance were conceivable, would not human ingenuity be powerless to carry it out?
But, if we concede the reality and the spiritual character of the demonstration, are we to admit also the explanation hypothetically suggested by the narrator? Was Robert L
really thus punished, through life, for one of the worst, because one of the most selfish and heartless and misery-bringing, in the list of human sins? He himself seemed to be of that opinion: "Perhaps I have deserved it" was the verdict of his conscience. may be rash, with our present limited knowledge of ultramundane laws, to assert any thing in the premises; knowing as we do that tens of thousands of such offenders pass through life unwhipped of justice.*
* It does not by any means follow, however, that because many similar ffenders escape unpunished, there was nothing retributive in the incidents