On wings of thunder, honor bound, Search me out, I drum the sound. Twist and turn in the night, Dragon come, my guiding light. Protector, guardian, friend not foe, Come to me, see my sigil glow. Strong and true, this friendship charm, I beacon... Read more of Dragon's Charm at White Magic.caInformational Site Network Informational

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The Rival Ghosts
BY BRANDER MATTHEWS The good ship sped on her way ac...

When Sextus sought Erichtho he chose his time in t...

The Eight-mile Lock
It was in the August of 1889, when I was just arranging...

The Benedictine's Voices
My friend, as a lad, was in a strait between the choice...

Drake's Drum
Sir Francis Drake--who appears to have been especi...

Giles The Shepherd And Spectre
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ...

The Superstitious Couple
In the letters from a gentleman on his travels in Ita...

Lord Lyttelton's Ghost
"Sir," said Dr. Johnson, "it is the most extraordinary ...

The Fascination Of The Ghost Story
What is the fascination we feel for the mystery of...

Pontifex Of The God Bel

The Man Who Went Too Far

The little village of St. Faith's nestles in a hollow of wooded hill up
on the north bank of the river Fawn in the county of Hampshire, huddling
close round its gray Norman church as if for spiritual protection
against the fays and fairies, the trolls and "little people," who might
be supposed still to linger in the vast empty spaces of the New Forest,
and to come after dusk and do their doubtful businesses. Once outside
the hamlet you may walk in any direction (so long as you avoid the high
road which leads to Brockenhurst) for the length of a summer afternoon
without seeing sign of human habitation, or possibly even catching sight
of another human being. Shaggy wild ponies may stop their feeding for a
moment as you pass, the white scuts of rabbits will vanish into their
burrows, a brown viper perhaps will glide from your path into a clump of
heather, and unseen birds will chuckle in the bushes, but it may easily
happen that for a long day you will see nothing human. But you will not
feel in the least lonely; in summer, at any rate, the sunlight will be
gay with butterflies, and the air thick with all those woodland sounds
which like instruments in an orchestra combine to play the great
symphony of the yearly festival of June. Winds whisper in the birches,
and sigh among the firs; bees are busy with their redolent labor among
the heather, a myriad birds chirp in the green temples of the forest
trees, and the voice of the river prattling over stony places, bubbling
into pools, chuckling and gulping round corners, gives you the sense
that many presences and companions are near at hand.

Yet, oddly enough, though one would have thought that these benign and
cheerful influences of wholesome air and spaciousness of forest were
very healthful comrades for a man, in so far as nature can really
influence this wonderful human genus which has in these centuries
learned to defy her most violent storms in its well-established houses,
to bridle her torrents and make them light its streets, to tunnel her
mountains and plow her seas, the inhabitants of St. Faith's will not
willingly venture into the forest after dark. For in spite of the
silence and loneliness of the hooded night it seems that a man is not
sure in what company he may suddenly find himself, and though it is
difficult to get from these villagers any very clear story of occult
appearances, the feeling is widespread. One story indeed I have heard
with some definiteness, the tale of a monstrous goat that has been seen
to skip with hellish glee about the woods and shady places, and this
perhaps is connected with the story which I have here attempted to piece
together. It too is well-known to them; for all remember the young
artist who died here not long ago, a young man, or so he struck the
beholder, of great personal beauty, with something about him that made
men's faces to smile and brighten when they looked on him. His ghost
they will tell you "walks" constantly by the stream and through the
woods which he loved so, and in especial it haunts a certain house, the
last of the village, where he lived, and its garden in which he was done
to death. For my part I am inclined to think that the terror of the
Forest dates chiefly from that day. So, such as the story is, I have set
it forth in connected form. It is based partly on the accounts of the
villagers, but mainly on that of Darcy, a friend of mine and a friend of
the man with whom these events were chiefly concerned.

The day had been one of untarnished midsummer splendor, and as the sun
drew near to its setting, the glory of the evening grew every moment
more crystalline, more miraculous. Westward from St. Faith's the
beechwood which stretched for some miles toward the heathery upland
beyond already cast its veil of clear shadow over the red roofs of the
village, but the spire of the gray church, over-topping all, still
pointed a flaming orange finger into the sky. The river Fawn, which runs
below, lay in sheets of sky-reflected blue, and wound its dreamy devious
course round the edge of this wood, where a rough two-planked bridge
crossed from the bottom of the garden of the last house in the village,
and communicated by means of a little wicker gate with the wood itself.
Then once out of the shadow of the wood the stream lay in flaming pools
of the molten crimson of the sunset, and lost itself in the haze of
woodland distances.

This house at the end of the village stood outside the shadow, and the
lawn which sloped down to the river was still flecked with sunlight.
Garden-beds of dazzling color lined its gravel walks, and down the
middle of it ran a brick pergola, half-hidden in clusters of
rambler-rose and purple with starry clematis. At the bottom end of it,
between two of its pillars, was slung a hammock containing a
shirt-sleeved figure.

The house itself lay somewhat remote from the rest of the village, and a
footpath leading across two fields, now tall and fragrant with hay, was
its only communication with the high road. It was low-built, only two
stories in height, and like the garden, its walls were a mass of
flowering roses. A narrow stone terrace ran along the garden front, over
which was stretched an awning, and on the terrace a young silent-footed
man-servant was busied with the laying of the table for dinner. He was
neat-handed and quick with his job, and having finished it he went back
into the house, and reappeared again with a large rough bath-towel on
his arm. With this he went to the hammock in the pergola.

"Nearly eight, sir," he said.

"Has Mr. Darcy come yet?" asked a voice from the hammock.

"No, sir."

"If I'm not back when he comes, tell him that I'm just having a bathe
before dinner."

The servant went back to the house, and after a moment or two Frank
Halton struggled to a sitting posture, and slipped out on to the grass.
He was of medium height and rather slender in build, but the supple ease
and grace of his movements gave the impression of great physical
strength: even his descent from the hammock was not an awkward
performance. His face and hands were of very dark complexion, either
from constant exposure to wind and sun, or, as his black hair and dark
eyes tended to show, from some strain of southern blood. His head was
small, his face of an exquisite beauty of modeling, while the smoothness
of its contour would have led you to believe that he was a beardless lad
still in his teens. But something, some look which living and experience
alone can give, seemed to contradict that, and finding yourself

completely puzzled as to his age, you would next moment probably cease
to think about that, and only look at this glorious specimen of young
manhood with wondering satisfaction.

He was dressed as became the season and the heat, and wore only a shirt
open at the neck, and a pair of flannel trousers. His head, covered very
thickly with a somewhat rebellious crop of short curly hair, was bare as
he strolled across the lawn to the bathing-place that lay below. Then
for a moment there was silence, then the sound of splashed and divided
waters, and presently after, a great shout of ecstatic joy, as he swam
up-stream with the foamed water standing in a frill round his neck. Then
after some five minutes of limb-stretching struggle with the flood, he
turned over on his back, and with arms thrown wide, floated down-stream,
ripple-cradled and inert. His eyes were shut, and between half-parted
lips he talked gently to himself.

"I am one with it," he said to himself, "the river and I, I and the
river. The coolness and splash of it is I, and the water-herbs that wave
in it are I also. And my strength and my limbs are not mine but the
river's. It is all one, all one, dear Fawn."

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