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wall. “Where does that lead to, Mary?” I inquired.
“To the south wing, ma'am,”. replied Mary, solemnly, “to the haunted rooms; we always keep that door shut fast; the mistress keeps the key herself.”
“So it seems, then, that ghosts are amenable to iron bolts and oaken planks," I said, laughing.
"I don't know, ma'am," replied the girl, with a puzzled air, “but there really is a ghost—leastways, a ghostess—in them rooms. And I hope it will stop
“I think it will, Mary; but did you ever see it?”
“No, ma'am, but cook that went away, because she would get to the decanters, did see it."
I had reached my own room now, and I bade Mary good night, and set down my candle on a table in the middle of the room; the light was lost in gloomy space, and the corners were in darkness. I did not like it, for I was not of a romantic turn; if only Rose had had the luck to sleep in such a room, she would have gone wild with delight; for she was always wishing to live in a castle, where there were echoing corridors, and winding stairs, and mysterious doors, and tapestry, and haunted rooms. My tastes were quite of another description. I preferred a modern house, cheerful and well-lighted—the sort of house that ghosts would instinctively shun; and here I was, next door but one to the dreaded south wing.
Albeit, I was rather nervous, and inclined to be foolish. I soon fell asleep, and dreamed that my aunt was the wicked Lady Alice. When I awoke, the morning sun was streaming brightly into the room, and I felt vastly cheered, for there is nothing like brilliant sunshine for chasing away a vague dread of the supernatural. I fell asleep again, and slumbered till nearly breakfast-time.
Yet more! the billows and the depths have MORE:
I had not much leisure to explore the mysteries of the Castle House, for, in less than a week after my arrival there, I was again on my travels: my aunt, and Mrs. Susannah, and myself were on the way to Scarby.
Still, ere I left Lunechester, I had learned the principal thoroughfares in the town by heart; I had seen the parish church just below the Castle, with its ancient tower and green slate roof, and its burying-ground sloping down to the river's brink; I had listened to two sermons by the Rev. John Broadway; and, above all, I could find my way through all the inhabited part of the Castle House.
In the dining-room were several portraits, among them one of the late master of the mansion, my aunt's deceased husband. I had fancied him a stern and gloomy man—a man one might perforce respect and esteem ; but a man to be feared and held in reverence. To my surprise, I looked upon the likeness of a gentleman, not exceeding thirty years of age; very fair and slender, having curls of light hair, and mild blue eyes, and an expression of great sweetness and goodness, blended with melancholy. In the grave wistful tenderness of the fair, almost boyish face; in the quiet sad gaze of the beautiful eyes, I saw something infinitely loveable; and I saw, too, that happiness had never been his portion. I looked again and again at the portrait, wondering why he and his wife had not found satisfaction in their married life, and how it was that persons of so evidently dissimilar a temperament had ever wished or cared to unite their fate. There was another portrait, too, not an oil-painting, but a drawing in coloured chalks; and it was in my aunt's dressing-room, whither she called me on the very morning of our departure for Scarby. It was the portrait of a child of extreme loveliness ; and the gentle blue eyes, and the flaxen curls, and the half-sad and wistful lines round the tiny mouth, disclosed at a glance her parentage-at the first look I knew that she must be Mr. Ryland's daughter. I remembered, too, hearing that my aunt had one little girl in the first year of her marriage, and that she died while yet very young. How hard it must have been to lose that lovely little blossom, her only child !
Mrs. Susannah was in the room, fastening the straps of her mistress's imperial, and when she saw me standing before the beautiful picture she seemed both annoyed and irritated, wherefore I could not
imagine. But when, a little while afterwards, I went back to my own chamber, she followed me, and said in her sharp, vinegary tones, that always set my teeth on edge, “Miss Kendrick, whenever you may happen to be in my lady's room, you must never look at that portrait, nor take any notice of it, or ask any questions about it, or do anything to draw my lady's attention to it. Please to remember.”
This was intolerable. To be tutored by a waiting woman, as if I were a little girl in the nursery ; and to be spoken to in those shrill, thin tones, and in so dictatorial a style it was not to be endured. I drew myself up, and looked my surprise. I saw that she meant impertinence, and I thought it best to show my displeasure by a dignified silence. She seemed to care little, however, whether I received or resented her insolence, for, after giving me a glance of unmistakeable contempt and dislike, she marched out of my room, after a fashion that she imagined to be an exact imitation of her mistress's gait and carriage; and, as she crossed the threshold, I said, “Be good enough, next time you wish to come into this room, to knock at the door before you enter.”
She gave me a look of the blackest malice, and turned away.
I saw that she regarded me in the light of a rival, an intruder, an interloper, who would probably be more to her mistress than she had ever been, and I was certain that she hated me in the depths of her heart, and would do any