The Castle Apparition





Translated by the Rev. Weeden Butler, Jun. from a Monkish Manuscript.





In the vicinity of Chamberry, a town in Savoy, stood the ancient mansion

of the Albertini: round it were several little buildings, in which were

deposited the cattle, poultry, &c. &c. belonging to the family. A young

gentleman, by name Barbarosse, came to the chateau on a visit for a few

days; he was cordially received, being of a pleasing lively disposition;

and an elegant room in the east wing was prepared for his accommodation.



The family, and their young guests, spent the day very agreeably; and,

after supper, they sat round a comfortable large fire, and diverted

themselves with songs and stories: the former, as is generally the case,

were some of the sprightly, some of the tender and pathetic kind; but

the latter were, for the most part, of the melancholy cast, particularly

those which related to preternatural occurrences. The social party

separated at half past twelve o'clock; and Barbarosse retired to his

chamber. It was a handsome room on the first floor, having three doors;

two of these belonged to two little closets, one on the right that

overlooked a farm-yard, and another more to the left that presented a

view through the window of a large romantic wood; the third door was

that by which he entered his room, after traversing a long passage. Our

youth had visited this room in the morning, and looked out of the window

to enjoy the prospect for a great while.



As he entered this apartment, with his mind full of the diversion just

left, he set his candle down upon the table, and looked about him. There

was an excellent fire in the chimney, with an iron grating before it, to

prevent accidents; a large elbow-chair stood near it; and, not being at

all sleepy, he sat down reflecting on the amusements of the day, and

endeavoured to remember the tales he had heard. In some he thought he

perceived strong traits of truth; and in others he discovered palpable

fiction and absurdity. Whilst he was deliberating on the various

incidents, the heavy watch-bell tolled two; but Barbarosse did not

attend to it, being deeply engaged in his contemplations. He was

suddenly awakened from his reveries by an uncommon rustling sound

issuing from the closet on the right hand; and, listening attentively,

he heard distinct taps upon the floor at short intervals.



Alarmed at the circumstance, he walked slowly to his bed-side, and drew

forth his pocket-pistols from under the pillow; these he carefully

placed upon the table, and resumed the elbow-chair. All was again still

as death; and nought but the winds, which whistled round the watch-tower

and the adjacent buildings, could be heard.



Barbarosse looked towards the door of the closet, which he then, and not

till then, perceived was not shut, but found that it hung upon the jar;

immediately a furious blast forced it wide open; the taper burnt blue,

and the fire seemed almost extinct.



Barbarosse arose, put forth a silent hasty ejaculation of prayer, and

sat down again; again he heard the noise! He started up, seized the

pistols, and stood motionless; whilst large cold drops of dew hung upon

his face. Still his heart continued firm, and he grew more composed,

when the rustling taps were renewed! Barbarosse desperately invoked the

protection of Heaven, cocked one of the pistols, and was about to rush

into the portentous apartment, when the noise increased and drew nearer:

a loud peal of thunder, that seemed to rend the firmament, shook

violently the solid battlements of the watch-tower; the deep-toned bell

tolled three, and its hollow sound long vibrated on the ear of

Barbarosse with fainter and fainter murmurs; when a tremendous cry

thrilled him with terror and dismay; and, lo! the long-dreaded spectre

stalked into the middle of the room: and Barbarosse, overcome with

surprise and astonishment at the unexpected apparition, sunk down

convulsed[B] in his chair.



The phantom was armed de cap en pied, and clad in a black garment. On

his crest a black plume waved majestically; and, instead of a glove or

any other sort of lady's favour, he wore a blood-red token. He bore no

weapon of offence in his hand; but a gloomy shield, made of the feathers

of some kind of bird, was cast over each shoulder. He was booted and

spurred; and, looking upon Barbarosse with ardent eyes, raised his

feathery arms, and struck them vehemently against his sides, making at

the same time the most vociferous noise!



Then it was, that Barbarosse found he had not shut down the window in

the morning; from which neglect it happened, that a black game-cock

had flown into the closet, and created all this inexpressible confusion.





FOOTNOTES:



[B] Lest any of the faculty should wish, ineffectually, to be informed

what species of convulsions affected Barbarosse, I think it proper

(observes the translator) to satisfy their truly laudable curiosity by

anticipation, and to assure them, fois d'homme d'honneur, that this

disorder was a convulsion of laughter.





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