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"Mercy on us! I should think so," Nelly exclaimed; "why it's getting on for midnight. Rose has been a-bed, and fast asleep these two hours, I'll be bound. That is, if nothing has happened to Frank," she added to herself.
"Well, well-then it must be to-morrow," said the Squire, lapsing into deep thought.
"Yes, to-morrow," said the steward.
"Sleep upon it, sir."
"LANDLORD," quoth Juddock, finding it rather dull, since no one seemed inclined to talk to him, "I understand your house is haunted. It looks like a receptacle for ghosts. There must be some marvellous story connected with it. Let us have it, I pray of you?"
"I can sing you a ballad about a ghost, captain," Jonas replied, "but it does not relate to this house."
"No matter for that-so the stave be good. Enliven us with it. Attention, gentlemen."
And Jonas sang as follows:
Old Grindrod's Ghost.
OLD GRINDROD was hanged on a gibbet high,
Chains round his middle, and chains round his neck,
And there in all weathers, in sunshine and rain,
Old Grindrod had long been the banquet of crows,
All that's now left of him is a skeleton grim,
So ghastly the sight, that no urchin, at night,
Who can help it, will pass by that way.
*Founded on an incident, related to me, with admirable humour, by my old and much-valued friend, GILBERT WINTER-alas! departed, since these lines were written.
All such as had dared, had sadly been scared,
And soon 'twas the general talk,
That the wretch in his chains, each night took the pains,
To come down from the gibbet—and walk !
The story was told to a Traveller bold,
At an inn, near the moor, by the Host;
He appeals to each guest, and its truth they attest,
"Now, to show you," quoth he, " how afraid I must be,
A rump and a dozen I'll lay ;
That before it strikes One, I will go
"To the gibbet I'll go, and this I will do,
Some address I'll devise, and if Grinny replies,
"Accepted the bet; but the night it is wet,"
Quoth the Host. "Never mind!" said the Guest; "From darkness and rain, the adventure will gain, To my mind, an additional zest."
Now midnight had toll'd, and the Traveller bold
Set out from the inn, all alone;
'Twas a night black as ink, and our friend 'gan to think, That uncommonly cold it had grown.
But of nothing afraid, and by nothing delayed;
Though dark as could be, yet he thought he could see
The gibbet it creaked; and the rusty chains squeaked;
The heavy rain pattered, the hollow bones clattered,
The Traveller's teeth chattered—with cold-not with fright ;
The wind it blew lustily, piercingly, gustily ;
Certainly not an agreeable night!
"Ho! Grindrod, old fellow !" thus loudly did bellow,
The grisly bones rattled, and with the chains battled,
On the ground something stirr'd, but no more then was heard,
Over moorland he dashed, and through quagmire he plashed;
Till the hostel he neared, for greatly he feared
Old Grindrod would leap on his back.
His wager he lost, and something it cost;
But that which annoyed him the most,
The Landlord had acted the Ghost.
Juddock laughed very heartily at the landlord's ditty, as indeed did the rest of the company, including the Squire, who was roused by it from his reverie, and at its conclusion proceeded to replenish the glasses.
"I suspect, Mr. Jonas, you yourself are the cunning landlord who enacted old Grinny's ghost," the giant observed, after taking off his punch.
"No-no, captain, I've as much courage as any man of my inches," Jonas responded, drawing himself up; "but I'm not quite equal to that. Howsomdever, you're not so far out. The landlord in question was a relative of mine, and kept an inn on Pendleton Moor, near Manchester, close to which old Grindrod was hanged in chains. I had the tale from the landlord's own lips-so I know it to be true. But, talking of ghostsour lady in white is sometimes very troublesome. I wish your reverence," he added to the Vicar, "would lay her in the Red Sea."
"Spirits, I fear, are not as easily exorcised as they used to be in Popish times, landlord," Dr. Sidebottom replied, "when the priests compelled them to depart according to the forms prescribed by Saint Gregory and Saint Anthony, as mentioned in the life of the latter by Saint Athanasius. One adjuration, I remember, runs in this way, and I will pronounce it, that we may see whether it will prove efficacious." And extending his pipe like a wand, he pronounced these words in a solemn, emphatic voice: " Adjuro te, Spectrum horribile! per Judicem vivorum et mortuorum, per Factorem mundi, qui habet potestatem mittere te in Gehenna, ut ab hac domo festinus discedas. Audi Spectrum! et time, et victum et prostratum recede in Sinû Arabico!"
"That sounds very dreadful," Jonas exclaimed, in a quaking voice; "the exorcism quite makes one's flesh creep. Lady Juga I hope will hear it, and rest quiet in future."
"Can anybody give us another ghost-story?" the Squire asked. “ look as if you had one ready, captain."
"Why, faith! Squire, I can sing you a ballad which may match the landlord's, if that will serve your turn?"
Nothing better.-Let us have it, by all means."
And wetting his whistle according to custom, Juddock commenced the following legendary strains, which he sang right merrily.
The Barber of Ripon and the Ghostly Basin :
A TALE OF THE CHARNEL-HOUSE.
SINCE Ghost-Stories you want, there is one I can tell
A Barber at Ripon, in Yorkshire, was he,
And as keen in his craft as his best blade could be.
Now Bat had a fancy,-a strange one, you'll own,—
To the Charnel-house 'neath the old Minster he'd been,
'Mid the pile of dry bones that encumber'd the ground,
Well! he got it, at last, from the Sexton, his friend,
As the big bowl is balanced 'twixt finger and thumb,
At the strange yellow object they blink and they stare,
Bat Pigeon, as usual, to rest went that night,
"Unmannerly Barber!" the Spectre exclaimed;
"There it lies on the table," Bat quakingly said;
With this, the wroth Spectre its brainpan clapp'd on,
But ere through the keyhole the Phantom could rush,
When the Sexton, next morn, went the Charnel-house round,
Again the laughter and plaudits were loud and long. Again the glasses were replenished.
"Well, it's easy to make a jest of supernatural appearances when we're all comfortably seated round a table, well provided with appliances for good cheer, as we are now," the Squire remarked; "but, let me tell you, it's very different when you're alone in a large, dark, solitary room; reported to be haunted. I don't think it any reproach to my manhood to confess that I have felt uneasy under such circumstances." what guess honour alludes to," Nelly observed. your refer to the night you once passed here, when you occupied the Haunted Chamber. You may remember I tried to dissuade you from using it, but you laughed at me, and told me you weren't afraid of ghosts or hobgoblins. Doctor Plot sleeps in the room to-night, and he said much the same thing to me. We shall hear whether he changes his note to-morrow."
"I hope he will be spared the sight I beheld-or fancied I beheld,” the Squire rejoined, with a slight shudder.
"Odzooks! what was it you did see, Squire ?" Juddock asked. "On my soul, I don't like to talk of it, captain."
"Ah! gentlemen, this is a very mysterious house, and strange things have happened in it," quoth Jonas, shaking his head; "and no wonder some of the old family can't rest in their graves. Lady Juga is not the only one that walks."
Why, who else does, in the name of wonder, Jonas ?" Nelly cried. "I never saw any other spirit."
"But I have," her husband replied, shaking his head solemnly. "I once beheld a dreadful apparition; in the likeness of a man with a great, gaping wound in his breast, and his shirt all dabbled over with blood. The ghost came out of a closet in the Haunted Room."
Nelly uttered a faint scream.
"Whose ghost could it be, Jonas ?" Roper inquired.
*This ghostly relic may still be seen in the curious Charnel-house of Ripon Minster. And the legend connected with it is devoutly believed by the Sexton, its narrator.