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The Specter Of Tappington

Scary Books: Humorous Ghost Stories


"It is very odd, though; what can have become of them?" said Charles

Seaforth, as he peeped under the valance of an old-fashioned bedstead,

in an old-fashioned apartment of a still more old-fashioned manor-house;

"'tis confoundedly odd, and I can't make it out at all. Why, Barney,

where are they?--and where the d----l are you?"

No answer
was returned to this appeal; and the lieutenant, who was, in

the main, a reasonable person--at least as reasonable a person as any

young gentleman of twenty-two in "the service" can fairly be expected to

be--cooled when he reflected that his servant could scarcely reply

extempore to a summons which it was impossible he should hear.

An application to the bell was the considerate result; and the footsteps

of as tight a lad as ever put pipe-clay to belt sounded along the


"Come in!" said his master. An ineffectual attempt upon the door

reminded Mr. Seaforth that he had locked himself in. "By Heaven! this

is the oddest thing of all," said he, as he turned the key and admitted

Mr. Maguire into his dormitory.

"Barney, where are my pantaloons?"

"Is it the breeches?" asked the valet, casting an inquiring eye round

the apartment;--"is it the breeches, sir?"

"Yes, what have you done with them?"

"Sure then your honor had them on when you went to bed, and it's

hereabouts they'll be, I'll be bail"; and Barney lifted a fashionable

tunic from a cane-backed arm-chair, proceeding in his examination. But

the search was vain; there was the tunic aforesaid, there was a

smart-looking kerseymere waistcoat; but the most important article of

all in a gentleman's wardrobe was still wanting.

"Where can they be?" asked the master, with a strong accent on the

auxiliary verb.

"Sorrow a know I knows," said the man.

"It must have been the devil, then, after all, who has been here and

carried them off!" cried Seaforth, staring full into Barney's face.

Mr. Maguire was not devoid of the superstition of his countrymen, still

he looked as if he did not quite subscribe to the sequitur.

His master read incredulity in his countenance. "Why, I tell you,

Barney, I put them there, on that arm-chair, when I got into bed; and,

by Heaven! I distinctly saw the ghost of the old fellow they told me

of, come in at midnight, put on my pantaloons, and walk away with them."

"May be so," was the cautious reply.

"I thought, of course, it was a dream; but then--where the d----l are

the breeches?"

The question was more easily asked than answered. Barney renewed his

search, while the lieutenant folded his arms, and, leaning against the

toilet, sunk into a reverie.

"After all, it must be some trick of my laughter-loving cousins," said


"Ah! then, the ladies!" chimed in Mr. Maguire, though the observation

was not addressed to him; "and will it be Miss Caroline or Miss Fanny,

that's stole your honor's things?"

"I hardly know what to think of it," pursued the bereaved lieutenant,

still speaking in soliloquy, with his eye resting dubiously on the

chamber-door. "I locked myself in, that's certain; and--but there must

be some other entrance to the room--pooh! I remember--the private

staircase; how could I be such a fool?" and he crossed the chamber to

where a low oaken doorcase was dimly visible in a distant corner. He

paused before it. Nothing now interfered to screen it from observation;

but it bore tokens of having been at some earlier period concealed by

tapestry, remains of which yet clothed the walls on either side the


"This way they must have come," said Seaforth; "I wish with all my heart

I had caught them!"

"Och! the kittens!" sighed Mr. Barney Maguire.

But the mystery was yet as far from being solved as before. True, there

was the "other door"; but then that, too, on examination, was even

more firmly secured than the one which opened on the gallery--two heavy

bolts on the inside effectually prevented any coup de main on the

lieutenant's bivouac from that quarter. He was more puzzled than ever;

nor did the minutest inspection of the walls and floor throw any light

upon the subject: one thing only was clear--the breeches were gone! "It

is very singular," said the lieutenant.

* * * * *

Tappington (generally called Tapton) Everard is an antiquated but

commodious manor-house in the eastern division of the county of Kent. A

former proprietor had been high-sheriff in the days of Elizabeth, and

many a dark and dismal tradition was yet extant of the licentiousness of

his life, and the enormity of his offenses. The Glen, which the keeper's

daughter was seen to enter, but never known to quit, still frowns darkly

as of yore; while an ineradicable blood-stain on the oaken stair yet

bids defiance to the united energies of soap and sand. But it is with

one particular apartment that a deed of more especial atrocity is said

to be connected. A stranger guest--so runs the legend--arrived

unexpectedly at the mansion of the "Bad Sir Giles." They met in

apparent friendship; but the ill-concealed scowl on their master's brow

told the domestics that the visit was not a welcome one; the banquet,

however, was not spared; the wine-cup circulated freely--too freely,

perhaps--for sounds of discord at length reached the ears of even the

excluded serving-men, as they were doing their best to imitate their

betters in the lower hall. Alarmed, some of them ventured to approach

the parlor, one, an old and favored retainer of the house, went so far

as to break in upon his master's privacy. Sir Giles, already high in

oath, fiercely enjoined his absence, and he retired; not, however,

before he had distinctly heard from the stranger's lips a menace that

"there was that within his pocket which could disprove the knight's

right to issue that or any other command within the walls of Tapton."

The intrusion, though momentary, seemed to have produced a beneficial

effect; the voices of the disputants fell, and the conversation was

carried on thenceforth in a more subdued tone, till, as evening closed

in, the domestics, when summoned to attend with lights, found not only

cordiality restored, but that a still deeper carouse was meditated.

Fresh stoups, and from the choicest bins, were produced; nor was it till

at a late, or rather early hour, that the revelers sought their


The one allotted to the stranger occupied the first floor of the

eastern angle of the building, and had once been the favorite apartment

of Sir Giles himself. Scandal ascribed this preference to the facility

which a private staircase, communicating with the grounds, had afforded

him, in the old knight's time, of following his wicked courses unchecked

by parental observation; a consideration which ceased to be of weight

when the death of his father left him uncontrolled master of his estate

and actions. From that period Sir Giles had established himself in what

were called the "state apartments," and the "oaken chamber" was rarely

tenanted, save on occasions of extraordinary festivity, or when the yule

log drew an unusually large accession of guests around the Christmas


On this eventful night it was prepared for the unknown visitor, who

sought his couch heated and inflamed from his midnight orgies, and in

the morning was found in his bed a swollen and blackened corpse. No

marks of violence appeared upon the body; but the livid hue of the lips,

and certain dark-colored spots visible on the skin, aroused suspicions

which those who entertained them were too timid to express. Apoplexy,

induced by the excesses of the preceding night, Sir Giles's confidential

leech pronounced to be the cause of his sudden dissolution. The body was

buried in peace; and though some shook their heads as they witnessed the

haste with which the funeral rites were hurried on, none ventured to

murmur. Other events arose to distract the attention of the retainers;

men's minds became occupied by the stirring politics of the day; while

the near approach of that formidable armada, so vainly arrogating itself

a title which the very elements joined with human valor to disprove,

soon interfered to weaken, if not obliterate, all remembrance of the

nameless stranger who had died within the walls of Tapton Everard.

Years rolled on: the "Bad Sir Giles" had himself long since gone to his

account, the last, as it was believed, of his immediate line; though a

few of the older tenants were sometimes heard to speak of an elder

brother, who had disappeared in early life, and never inherited the

estate. Rumors, too, of his having left a son in foreign lands, were at

one time rife; but they died away, nothing occurring to support them:

the property passed unchallenged to a collateral branch of the family,

and the secret, if secret there were, was buried in Denton churchyard,

in the lonely grave of the mysterious stranger. One circumstance alone

occurred, after a long-intervening period, to revive the memory of these

transactions. Some workmen employed in grubbing an old plantation, for

the purpose of raising on its site a modern shrubbery, dug up, in the

execution of their task, the mildewed remnants of what seemed to have

been once a garment. On more minute inspection, enough remained of

silken slashes and a coarse embroidery, to identify the relics as having

once formed part of a pair of trunk hose; while a few papers which fell

from them, altogether illegible from damp and age, were by the unlearned

rustics conveyed to the then owner of the estate.

Whether the squire was more successful in deciphering them was never

known; he certainly never alluded to their contents; and little would

have been thought of the matter but for the inconvenient memory of one

old woman, who declared she heard her grandfather say, that when the

"strange guest" was poisoned, though all the rest of his clothes were

there, his breeches, the supposed repository of the supposed documents,

could never be found. The master of Tapton Everard smiled when he heard

Dame Jones's hint of deeds which might impeach the validity of his own

title in favor of some unknown descendant of some unknown heir; and the

story was rarely alluded to, save by one or two miracle-mongers, who had

heard that others had seen the ghost of old Sir Giles, in his night-cap,

issue from the postern, enter the adjoining copse, and wring his shadowy

hands in agony, as he seemed to search vainly for something hidden among

the evergreens. The stranger's death-room had, of course, been

occasionally haunted from the time of his decease; but the periods of

visitation had latterly become very rare--even Mrs. Botherby, the

housekeeper, being forced to admit that, during her long sojourn at the

manor, she had never "met with anything worse than herself"; though, as

the old lady afterwards added upon more mature reflection, "I must say I

think I saw the devil once."

Such was the legend attached to Tapton Everard, and such the story which

the lively Caroline Ingoldsby detailed to her equally mercurial cousin,

Charles Seaforth, lieutenant in the Hon. East India Company's second

regiment of Bombay Fencibles, as arm-in-arm they promenaded a gallery

decked with some dozen grim-looking ancestral portraits, and, among

others, with that of the redoubted Sir Giles himself. The gallant

commander had that very morning paid his first visit to the house of his

maternal uncle, after an absence of several years passed with his

regiment on the arid plains of Hindostan, whence he was now returned on

a three years' furlough. He had gone out a boy--he returned a man; but

the impression made upon his youthful fancy by his favorite cousin

remained unimpaired, and to Tapton he directed his steps, even before he

sought the home of his widowed mother--comforting himself in this breach

of filial decorum by the reflection that, as the manor was so little out

of his way, it would be unkind to pass, as it were, the door of his

relatives, without just looking in for a few hours.

But he found his uncle as hospitable, and his cousin more charming than

ever; and the looks of one, and the requests of the other, soon

precluded the possibility of refusing to lengthen the "few hours" into

a few days, though the house was at the moment full of visitors.

The Peterses were from Ramsgate; and Mr., Mrs., and the two Miss

Simpkinsons, from Bath, had come to pass a month with the family; and

Tom Ingoldsby had brought down his college friend the Honorable Augustus

Sucklethumbkin, with his groom and pointers, to take a fortnight's

shooting. And then there was Mrs. Ogleton, the rich young widow, with

her large black eyes, who, people did say, was setting her cap at the

young squire, though Mrs. Botherby did not believe it; and, above all,

there was Mademoiselle Pauline, her femme de chambre, who

"mon-Dieu'd" everything and everybody, and cried "Quel horreur!" at

Mrs. Botherby's cap. In short, to use the last-named and much-respected

lady's own expression, the house was "choke-full" to the very

attics--all save the "oaken chamber," which, as the lieutenant expressed

a most magnanimous disregard of ghosts, was forthwith appropriated to

his particular accommodation. Mr. Maguire meanwhile was fain to share

the apartment of Oliver Dobbs, the squire's own man; a jocular proposal

of joint occupancy having been first indignantly rejected by

"Mademoiselle," though preferred with the "laste taste in life" of Mr.

Barney's most insinuating brogue.

* * * * *

"Come, Charles, the urn is absolutely getting cold; your breakfast will

be quite spoiled: what can have made you so idle?" Such was the morning

salutation of Miss Ingoldsby to the militaire as he entered the

breakfast-room half an hour after the latest of the party.

"A pretty gentleman, truly, to make an appointment with," chimed in Miss

Frances. "What is become of our ramble to the rocks before breakfast?"

"Oh! the young men never think of keeping a promise now," said Mrs.

Peters, a little ferret-faced woman with underdone eyes.

"When I was a young man," said Mr. Peters, "I remember I always made a

point of----"

"Pray, how long ago was that?" asked Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

"Why, sir, when I married Mrs. Peters, I was--let me see--I was----"

"Do pray hold your tongue, P., and eat your breakfast!" interrupted his

better half, who had a mortal horror of chronological references; "it's

very rude to tease people with your family affairs."

The lieutenant had by this time taken his seat in silence--a

good-humored nod, and a glance, half-smiling, half-inquisitive, being

the extent of his salutation. Smitten as he was, and in the immediate

presence of her who had made so large a hole in his heart, his manner

was evidently distrait, which the fair Caroline in her secret soul

attributed to his being solely occupied by her agremens: how would she

have bridled had she known that they only shared his meditations with a

pair of breeches!

Charles drank his coffee and spiked some half-dozen eggs, darting

occasionally a penetrating glance at the ladies, in hope of detecting

the supposed waggery by the evidence of some furtive smile or conscious

look. But in vain; not a dimple moved indicative of roguery, nor did the

slightest elevation of eyebrow rise confirmative of his suspicions.

Hints and insinuations passed unheeded--more particular inquiries were

out of the question--the subject was unapproachable.

In the meantime, "patent cords" were just the thing for a morning's

ride; and, breakfast ended, away cantered the party over the downs,

till, every faculty absorbed by the beauties, animate and inanimate,

which surrounded him. Lieutenant Seaforth of the Bombay Fencibles

bestowed no more thought upon his breeches than if he had been born on

the top of Ben Lomond.

* * * * *

Another night had passed away; the sun rose brilliantly, forming with

his level beams a splendid rainbow in the far-off west, whither the

heavy cloud, which for the last two hours had been pouring its waters on

the earth, was now flying before him.

"Ah! then, and it's little good it'll be the claning of ye,"

apostrophized Mr. Barney Maguire, as he deposited, in front of his

master's toilet, a pair of "bran new" jockey boots, one of Hoby's

primest fits, which the lieutenant had purchased in his way through

town. On that very morning had they come for the first time under the

valet's depurating hand, so little soiled, indeed, from the turfy ride

of the preceding day, that a less scrupulous domestic might, perhaps,

have considered the application of "Warren's Matchless," or oxalic acid,

altogether superfluous. Not so Barney: with the nicest care had he

removed the slightest impurity from each polished surface, and there

they stood, rejoicing in their sable radiance. No wonder a pang shot

across Mr. Maguire's breast as he thought on the work now cut out for

them, so different from the light labors of the day before; no wonder he

murmured with a sigh, as the scarce dried window-panes disclosed a road

now inch deep in mud! "Ah! then, it's little good claning of ye!"--for

well had he learned in the hall below that eight miles of a stiff clay

soil lay between the manor and Bolsover Abbey, whose picturesque ruins,

"Like ancient Rome, majestic in decay,"

the party had determined to explore. The master had already commenced

dressing, and the man was fitting straps upon a light pair of

crane-necked spurs, when his hand was arrested by the old

question--"Barney, where are the breeches?"

They were nowhere to be found!

* * * * *

Mr. Seaforth descended that morning, whip in hand, and equipped in a

handsome green riding-frock, but no "breeches and boots to match" were

there: loose jean trousers, surmounting a pair of diminutive

Wellingtons, embraced, somewhat incongruously, his nether man, vice

the "patent cords," returned, like yesterday's pantaloons, absent

without leave. The "top-boots" had a holiday.

"A fine morning after the rain," said Mr. Simpkinson from Bath.

"Just the thing for the 'ops," said Mr. Peters. "I remember when I was a


"Do hold your tongue, P.," said Mrs. Peters--advice which that exemplary

matron was in the constant habit of administering to "her P." as she

called him, whenever he prepared to vent his reminiscences. Her precise

reason for this it would be difficult to determine, unless, indeed, the

story be true which a little bird had whispered into Mrs. Botherby's

ear--Mr. Peters, though now a wealthy man had received a liberal

education at a charity school, and was apt to recur to the days of his

muffin-cap and leathers. As usual, he took his wife's hint in good part,

and "paused in his reply."

"A glorious day for the ruins!" said young Ingoldsby. "But Charles, what

the deuce are you about? you don't mean to ride through our lanes in

such toggery as that?"

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "won't yo' be very wet?"

"You had better take Tom's cab," quoth the squire.

But this proposition was at once over-ruled; Mrs. Ogleton had already

nailed the cab, a vehicle of all others the best adapted for a snug


"Or drive Miss Julia in the phaeton?" No; that was the post of Mr.

Peters, who, indifferent as an equestrian, had acquired some fame as a

whip while traveling through the midland counties for the firm of

Bagshaw, Snivelby, and Ghrimes.

"Thank you, I shall ride with my cousins," said Charles, with as much

nonchalance as he could assume--and he did so; Mr. Ingoldsby, Mrs.

Peters, Mr. Simpkinson from Bath, and his eldest daughter with her

album, following in the family coach. The gentleman-commoner "voted

the affair d----d slow," and declined the party altogether in favor of

the gamekeeper and a cigar. "There was 'no fun' in looking at old

houses!" Mrs. Simpkinson preferred a short sejour in the still-room

with Mrs. Botherby, who had promised to initiate her in that grand

arcanum, the transmutation of gooseberry jam into Guava jelly.

* * * * *

"Did you ever see an old abbey before, Mrs. Peters?"

"Yes, miss, a French one; we have got one at Ramsgate; he teaches the

Miss Joneses to parley-voo and is turned of sixty."

Miss Simpkinson closed her album with an air of ineffable disdain.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath was a professed antiquary, and one of the

first water; he was master of Gwillim's Heraldry, and Mill's History of

the Crusades; knew every plate in the Monasticon; had written an essay

on the origin and dignity of the office of overseer, and settled the

date on a Queen Anne's farthing. An influential member of the

Antiquarian Society, to whose "Beauties of Bagnigge Wells" he had been a

liberal subscriber, procured him a seat at the board of that learned

body, since which happy epoch Sylvanus Urban had not a more

indefatigable correspondent. His inaugural essay on the President's

cocked hat was considered a miracle of erudition; and his account of the

earliest application of gilding to gingerbread, a masterpiece of

antiquarian research. His eldest daughter was of a kindred spirit: if

her father's mantle had not fallen upon her, it was only because he had

not thrown it off himself; she had caught hold of its tail, however,

while it yet hung upon his honored shoulders. To souls so congenial,

what a sight was the magnificent ruin of Bolsover! its broken arches,

its mouldering pinnacles, and the airy tracery of its half-demolished

windows. The party were in raptures; Mr. Simpkinson began to meditate an

essay, and his daughter an ode: even Seaforth, as he gazed on these

lonely relics of the olden time, was betrayed into a momentary

forgetfulness of his love and losses; the widow's eye-glass turned from

her cicisbeo's whiskers to the mantling ivy; Mrs. Peters wiped her

spectacles; and "her P." supposed the central tower "had once been the

county jail." The squire was a philosopher, and had been there often

before, so he ordered out the cold tongue and chickens.

"Bolsover Priory," said Mr. Simpkinson, with the air of a

connoisseur--"Bolsover Priory was founded in the reign of Henry the

Sixth, about the beginning of the eleventh century. Hugh de Bolsover had

accompanied that monarch to the Holy Land, in the expedition undertaken

by way of penance for the murder of his young nephews in the Tower. Upon

the dissolution of the monasteries, the veteran was enfeoffed in the

lands and manor, to which he gave his own name of Bowlsover, or

Bee-owls-over (by corruption Bolsover)--a Bee in chief, over three Owls,

all proper, being the armorial ensigns borne by this distinguished

crusader at the siege of Acre."

"Ah! that was Sir Sidney Smith," said Mr. Peters; "I've heard tell of

him, and all about Mrs. Partington, and----"

"P. be quiet, and don't expose yourself!" sharply interrupted his lady.

P. was silenced, and betook himself to the bottled stout.

"These lands," continued the antiquary, "were held in grand serjeantry

by the presentation of three white owls and pot of honey----"

"Lassy me! how nice!" said Miss Julia. Mr. Peters licked his lips.

"Pray give me leave, my dear--owls and honey, whenever the king should

come a rat-catching into this part of the country."

"Rat-catching!" ejaculated the squire, pausing abruptly in the

mastication of a drumstick.

"To be sure, my dear sir; don't you remember the rats came under the

forest laws--a minor species of venison? 'Rats and mice, and such small

deer,' eh?--Shakespeare, you know. Our ancestors ate rats ('The nasty

fellows!' shuddered Miss Julia, in a parenthesis); and owls, you know,

are capital mousers----"

"I've seen a howl," said Mr. Peters; "there's one in the Sohological

Gardens--a little hook-nosed chap in a wig--only its feathers and----"

Poor P. was destined never to finish a speech.

"Do be quiet!" cried the authoritative voice; and the would-be

naturalist shrank into his shell, like a snail in the "Sohological


"You should read Blount's Jocular Tenures, Mr. Ingoldsby," pursued

Simpkinson. "A learned man was Blount! Why, sir, His Royal Highness the

Duke of York once paid a silver horse-shoe to Lord Ferrers----"

"I've heard of him," broke in the incorrigible Peters; "he was hanged at

the Old Bailey in a silk rope for shooting Dr. Johnson."

The antiquary vouchsafed no notice of the interruption; but, taking a

pinch of snuff, continued his harangue.

"A silver horse-shoe, sir, which is due from every scion of royalty who

rides across one of his manors; and if you look into the penny county

histories, now publishing by an eminent friend of mine, you will find

that Langhale in Co. Norf. was held by one Baldwin per saltum,

sufflatum, et pettum; that is, he was to come every Christmas into

Westminster Hall, there to take a leap, cry hem! and----"

"Mr. Simpkinson, a glass of sherry?" cried Tom Ingoldsby, hastily.

"Not any, thank you, sir. This Baldwin, surnamed Le----"

"Mrs. Ogleton challenges you, sir; she insists upon it," said Tom still

more rapidly, at the same time filling a glass, and forcing it on the

scavant, who, thus arrested in the very crisis of his narrative,

received and swallowed the potation as if it had been physic.

"What on earth has Miss Simpkinson discovered there?" continued Tom;

"something of interest. See how fast she is writing."

The diversion was effectual; every one looked towards Miss Simpkinson,

who, far too ethereal for "creature comforts," was seated apart on the

dilapidated remains of an altar-tomb, committing eagerly to paper

something that had strongly impressed her; the air--the eye in a "fine

frenzy rolling"--all betokened that the divine afflarus was come. Her

father rose, and stole silently towards her.

"What an old boar!" muttered young Ingoldsby; alluding, perhaps, to a

slice of brawn which he had just begun to operate upon, but which, from

the celerity with which it disappeared, did not seem so very difficult

of mastication.

But what had become of Seaforth and his fair Caroline all this while?

Why, it so happened that they had been simultaneously stricken with the

picturesque appearance of one of those high and pointed arches, which

that eminent antiquary, Mr. Horseley Curties, has described in his

Ancient Records, as "a Gothic window of the Saxon order"; and then

the ivy clustered so thickly and so beautifully on the other side, that

they went round to look at that; and then their proximity deprived it of

half its effect, and so they walked across to a little knoll, a hundred

yards off, and in crossing a small ravine, they came to what in Ireland

they call "a bad step," and Charles had to carry his cousin over it; and

then when they had to come back, she would not give him the trouble

again for the world, so they followed a better but more circuitous

route, and there were hedges and ditches in the way, and stiles to get

over and gates to get through, so that an hour or more had elapsed

before they were able to rejoin the party.

"Lassy me!" said Miss Julia Simpkinson, "how long you have been gone!"

And so they had. The remark was a very just as well as a very natural

one. They were gone a long while, and a nice cosy chat they had; and

what do you think it was all about, my dear miss?

"O lassy me! love, no doubt, and the moon, and eyes, and nightingales,


Stay, stay, my sweet young lady; do not let the fervor of your feelings

run away with you! I do not pretend to say, indeed, that one or more of

these pretty subjects might not have been introduced; but the most

important and leading topic of the conference was--Lieutenant Seaforth's


"Caroline," said Charles, "I have had some very odd dreams since I have

been at Tappington."

"Dreams, have you?" smiled the young lady, arching her taper neck like a

swan in pluming. "Dreams, have you?"

"Ah, dreams--or dream, perhaps, I should say; for, though repeated, it

was still the same. And what do you imagine was its subject?"

"It is impossible for me to divine," said the tongue; "I have not the

least difficulty in guessing," said the eye, as plainly as ever eye


"I dreamt--of your great-grandfather!"

There was a change in the glance--"My great-grandfather?"

"Yes, the old Sir Giles, or Sir John, you told me about the other day:

he walked into my bedroom in his short cloak of murrey-colored velvet,

his long rapier, and his Raleigh-looking hat and feather, just as the

picture represents him; but with one exception."

"And what was that?"

"Why, his lower extremities, which were visible, were those of a



"Well, after taking a turn or two about the room, and looking round him

with a wistful air, he came to the bed's foot, stared at me in a manner

impossible to describe--and then he--he laid hold of my pantaloons;

whipped his long bony legs into them in a twinkling; and strutting up to

the glass, seemed to view himself in it with great complacency. I tried

to speak, but in vain. The effort, however, seemed to excite his

attention; for, wheeling about, he showed me the grimmest-looking

death's head you can well imagine, and with an indescribable grin

strutted out of the room."

"Absurd! Charles. How can you talk such nonsense?"

"But, Caroline--the breeches are really gone."

* * * * *

On the following morning, contrary to his usual custom, Seaforth was the

first person in the breakfast parlor. As no one else was present, he did

precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have done; he

walked up to the mantelpiece, established himself upon the rug, and

subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards the fire

that portion of the human frame which it is considered equally

indecorous to present to a friend or an enemy. A serious, not to say

anxious, expression was visible upon his good-humored countenance, and

his mouth was fast buttoning itself up for an incipient whistle, when

little Flo, a tiny spaniel of the Blenheim breed--the pet object of Miss

Julia Simpkinson's affections--bounced out from beneath a sofa, and

began to bark at--his pantaloons.

They were cleverly "built," of a light-grey mixture, a broad stripe of

the most vivid scarlet traversing each seam in a perpendicular direction

from hip to ankle--in short, the regimental costume of the Royal Bombay

Fencibles. The animal, educated in the country, had never seen such a

pair of breeches in her life--Omne ignotum pro magnifico! The scarlet

streak, inflamed as it was by the reflection of the fire, seemed to act

on Flora's nerves as the same color does on those of bulls and turkeys;

she advanced at the pas de charge, and her vociferation, like her

amazement, was unbounded. A sound kick from the disgusted officer

changed its character, and induced a retreat at the very moment when the

mistress of the pugnacious quadruped entered to the rescue.

"Lassy me! Flo, what is the matter?" cried the sympathizing lady, with

a scrutinizing glance leveled at the gentleman.

It might as well have lighted on a feather bed. His air of imperturbable

unconsciousness defied examination; and as he would not, and Flora could

not, expound, that injured individual was compelled to pocket up her

wrongs. Others of the household soon dropped in, and clustered round the

board dedicated to the most sociable of meals; the urn was paraded

"hissing hot," and the cups which "cheer, but not inebriate," steamed

redolent of hyson and pekoe; muffins and marmalade, newspapers, and

Finnan haddies, left little room for observation on the character of

Charles's warlike "turn-out." At length a look from Caroline, followed

by a smile that nearly ripened to a titter, caused him to turn abruptly

and address his neighbor. It was Miss Simpkinson, who, deeply engaged in

sipping her tea and turning over her album, seemed, like a female

Chrononotonthologos, "immersed in cogibundity of cogitation." An

interrogatory on the subject of her studies drew from her the confession

that she was at that moment employed in putting the finishing touches to

a poem inspired by the romantic shades of Bolsover. The entreaties of

the company were of course urgent. Mr. Peters, "who liked verses," was

especially persevering, and Sappho at length compliant. After a

preparatory hem! and a glance at the mirror to ascertain that her look

was sufficiently sentimental, the poetess began:--

"There is a calm, a holy feeling,

Vulgar minds, can never know,

O'er the bosom softly stealing,--

Chasten'd grief, delicious woe!

Oh! how sweet at eve regaining

Yon lone tower's sequester'd shade--

Sadly mute and uncomplaining----"

"--Yow!--yeough!--yeough!--yow!--yow!" yelled a hapless sufferer from

beneath the table. It was an unlucky hour for quadrupeds; and if "every

dog will have his day," he could not have selected a more unpropitious

one than this. Mrs. Ogleton, too, had a pet--a favorite pug--whose squab

figure, black muzzle, and tortuosity of tail, that curled like a head of

celery in a salad-bowl, bespoke his Dutch extraction. Yow! yow! yow!

continued the brute--a chorus in which Flo instantly joined. Sooth to

say, pug had more reason to express his dissatisfaction than was given

him by the muse of Simpkinson; the other only barked for company.

Scarcely had the poetess got through her first stanza, when Tom

Ingoldsby, in the enthusiasm of the moment, became so lost in the

material world, that, in his abstraction, he unwarily laid his hand on

the cock of the urn. Quivering with emotion, he gave it such an unlucky

twist, that the full stream of its scalding contents descended on the

gingerbread hide of the unlucky Cupid. The confusion was complete; the

whole economy of the table disarranged--the company broke up in most

admired disorder--and "vulgar minds will never know" anything more of

Miss Simpkinson's ode till they peruse it in some forthcoming Annual.

Seaforth profited by the confusion to take the delinquent who had caused

this "stramash" by the arm, and to lead him to the lawn, where he had a

word or two for his private ear. The conference between the young

gentlemen was neither brief in its duration nor unimportant in its

result. The subject was what the lawyers call tripartite, embracing the

information that Charles Seaforth was over head and ears in love with

Tom Ingoldsby's sister; secondly, that the lady had referred him to

"papa" for his sanction; thirdly, and lastly, his nightly visitations

and consequent bereavement. At the two first times Tom smiled

suspiciously--at the last he burst out into an absolute "guffaw."

"Steal your breeches! Miss Bailey over again, by Jove," shouted

Ingoldsby. "But a gentleman, you say--and Sir Giles, too. I am not sure,

Charles, whether I ought not to call you out for aspersing the honor of

the family."

"Laugh as you will, Tom--be as incredulous as you please. One fact is

incontestable--the breeches are gone! Look here--I am reduced to my

regimentals; and if these go, to-morrow I must borrow of you!"

Rochefoucault says, there is something in the misfortunes of our very

best friends that does not displease us; assuredly we can, most of us,

laugh at their petty inconveniences, till called upon to supply them.

Tom composed his features on the instant, and replied with more gravity,

as well as with an expletive, which, if my Lord Mayor had been within

hearing might have cost him five shillings.

"There is something very queer in this, after all. The clothes, you say,

have positively disappeared. Somebody is playing you a trick; and, ten

to one, your servant had a hand in it. By the way, I heard something

yesterday of his kicking up a bobbery in the kitchen, and seeing a

ghost, or something of that kind, himself. Depend upon it, Barney is in

the plot."

It now struck the lieutenant at once, that the usually buoyant spirits

of his attendant had of late been materially sobered down, his loquacity

obviously circumscribed, and that he, the said lieutenant, had actually

rung his bell three several times that very morning before he could

procure his attendance. Mr. Maguire was forthwith summoned, and

underwent a close examination. The "bobbery" was easily explained. Mr.

Oliver Dobbs had hinted his disapprobation of a flirtation carrying on

between the gentleman from Munster and the lady from the Rue St. Honore.

Mademoiselle had boxed Mr. Maguire's ears, and Mr. Maguire had pulled

Mademoiselle upon his knee, and the lady had not cried Mon Dieu! And

Mr. Oliver Dobbs said it was very wrong; and Mrs. Botherby said it was

"scandalous," and what ought not to be done in any moral kitchen; and

Mr. Maguire had got hold of the Honorable Augustus Sucklethumbkin's

powder-flask, and had put large pinches of the best Double Dartford into

Mr. Dobbs's tobacco-box; and Mr. Dobbs's pipe had exploded, and set fire

to Mrs. Botherby's Sunday cap; and Mr. Maguire had put it out with the

slop-basin, "barring the wig"; and then they were all so "cantankerous,"

that Barney had gone to take a walk in the garden; and then--then Mr.

Barney had seen a ghost.

"A what? you blockhead!" asked Tom Ingoldsby.

"Sure then, and it's meself will tell your honor the rights of it," said

the ghost-seer. "Meself and Miss Pauline, sir--or Miss Pauline and

meself, for the ladies comes first anyhow--we got tired of the

hobstroppylous scrimmaging among the ould servants, that didn't know a

joke when they seen one: and we went out to look at the comet--that's

the rorybory-alehouse, they calls him in this country--and we walked

upon the lawn--and divil of any alehouse there was there at all; and

Miss Pauline said it was bekase of the shrubbery maybe, and why wouldn't

we see it better beyonst the tree? and so we went to the trees, but

sorrow a comet did meself see there, barring a big ghost instead of it."

"A ghost? And what sort of a ghost, Barney?"

"Och, then, divil a lie I'll tell your honor. A tall ould gentleman he

was, all in white, with a shovel on the shoulder of him, and a big torch

in his fist--though what he wanted with that it's meself can't tell, for

his eyes were like gig-lamps, let alone the moon and the comet, which

wasn't there at all--and 'Barney,' says he to me--'cause why he knew

me--'Barney,' says he, 'what is it you're doing with the colleen

there, Barney?'--Divil a word did I say. Miss Pauline screeched, and

cried murther in French, and ran off with herself; and of course meself

was in a mighty hurry after the lady, and had no time to stop palavering

with him any way: so I dispersed at once, and the ghost vanished in a

flame of fire!"

Mr. Maguire's account was received with avowed incredulity by both

gentlemen; but Barney stuck to his text with unflinching pertinacity. A

reference to Mademoiselle was suggested, but abandoned, as neither party

had a taste for delicate investigations.

"I'll tell you what, Seaforth," said Ingoldsby, after Barney had

received his dismissal, "that there is a trick here, is evident; and

Barney's vision may possibly be a part of it. Whether he is most knave

or fool, you best know. At all events, I will sit up with you to-night,

and see if I can convert my ancestor into a visiting acquaintance.

Meanwhile your finger on your lip!"

* * * * *

'Twas now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards yawn, and graves give up their dead.

Gladly would I grace my tale with decent horror, and therefore I do

beseech the "gentle reader" to believe, that if all the succedanea to

this mysterious narrative are not in strict keeping, he will ascribe it

only to the disgraceful innovations of modern degeneracy upon the sober

and dignified habits of our ancestors. I can introduce him, it is true,

into an old and high-roofed chamber, its walls covered in three sides

with black oak wainscoting, adorned with carvings of fruit and flowers

long anterior to those of Grinling Gibbons; the fourth side is clothed

with a curious remnant of dingy tapestry, once elucidatory of some

Scriptural history, but of which not even Mrs. Botherby could

determine. Mr. Simpkinson, who had examined it carefully, inclined to

believe the principal figure to be either Bathsheba, or Daniel in the

lions' den; while Tom Ingoldsby decided in favor of the king of Bashan.

All, however, was conjecture, tradition being silent on the subject. A

lofty arched portal led into, and a little arched portal led out of,

this apartment; they were opposite each other, and each possessed the

security of massy bolts on its interior. The bedstead, too, was not one

of yesterday, but manifestly coeval with days ere Seddons was, and when

a good four-post "article" was deemed worthy of being a royal bequest.

The bed itself, with all the appurtenances of palliasse, mattresses,

etc., was of far later date, and looked most incongruously comfortable;

the casements, too, with their little diamond-shaped panes and iron

binding, had given way to the modern heterodoxy of the sash-window. Nor

was this all that conspired to ruin the costume, and render the room a

meet haunt for such "mixed spirits" only as could condescend to don at

the same time an Elizabethan doublet and Bond Street inexpressibles.

With their green morocco slippers on a modern fender, in front of a

disgracefully modern grate, sat two young gentlemen, clad in "shawl

pattern" dressing-gowns and black silk stocks, much at variance with

the high cane-backed chairs which supported them. A bunch of

abomination, called a cigar, reeked in the left-hand corner of the mouth

of one, and in the right-hand corner of the mouth of the other--an

arrangement happily adapted for the escape of the noxious fumes up the

chimney, without that unmerciful "funking" each other, which a less

scientific disposition of the weed would have induced. A small pembroke

table filled up the intervening space between them, sustaining, at each

extremity, an elbow and a glass of toddy--thus in "lonely pensive

contemplation" were the two worthies occupied, when the "iron tongue of

midnight had tolled twelve."

"Ghost-time's come!" said Ingoldsby, taking from his waistcoat pocket a

watch like a gold half-crown, and consulting it as though he suspected

the turret-clock over the stables of mendacity.

"Hush!" said Charles; "did I not hear a footstep?"

There was a pause--there was a footstep--it sounded distinctly--it

reached the door it hesitated, stopped, and--passed on.

Tom darted across the room, threw open the door, and became aware of

Mrs. Botherby toddling to her chamber, at the other end of the gallery,

after dosing one of the housemaids with an approved julep from the

Countess of Kent's "Choice Manual."

"Good-night, sir!" said Mrs. Botherby.

"Go to the d----l!" said the disappointed ghost-hunter.

An hour--two--rolled on, and still no spectral visitation; nor did aught

intervene to make night hideous; and when the turret-clock sounded at

length the hour of three, Ingoldsby, whose patience and grog were alike

exhausted, sprang from his chair, saying:

"This is all infernal nonsense, my good fellow. Deuce of any ghost shall

we see to-night; it's long past the canonical hour. I'm off to bed; and

as to your breeches, I'll insure them for the next twenty-four hours at

least, at the price of the buckram."

"Certainly.--Oh! thank'ee--to be sure!" stammered Charles, rousing

himself from a reverie, which had degenerated into an absolute snooze.

"Good-night, my boy! Bolt the door behind me; and defy the Pope, the

Devil, and the Pretender!"

Seaforth followed his friend's advice, and the next morning came down to

breakfast dressed in the habiliments of the preceding day. The charm was

broken, the demon defeated; the light greys with the red stripe down the

seams were yet in rerum natura, and adorned the person of their lawful


Tom felicitated himself and his partner of the watch on the result of

their vigilance; but there is a rustic adage, which warns us against

self-gratulation before we are quite "out of the wood."--Seaforth was

yet within its verge.

* * * * *

A rap at Tom Ingoldsby's door the following morning startled him as he

was shaving--he cut his chin.

"Come in, and be d----d to you!" said the martyr, pressing his thumb on

the scarified epidermis. The door opened, and exhibited Mr. Barney


"Well, Barney, what is it?" quoth the sufferer, adopting the vernacular

of his visitant.

"The master, sir----"

"Well, what does he want?"

"The loanst of a breeches, plase your honor."

"Why, you don't mean to tell me--By Heaven, this is too good!" shouted

Tom, bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. "Why, Barney, you

don't mean to say the ghost has got them again?"

Mr. Maguire did not respond to the young squire's risibility; the cast

of his countenance was decidedly serious.

"Faith, then, it's gone they are sure enough! Hasn't meself been looking

over the bed, and under the bed, and in the bed, for the matter of

that, and divil a ha'p'orth of breeches is there to the fore at

all:--I'm bothered entirely!"

"Hark'ee! Mr. Barney," said Tom, incautiously removing his thumb, and

letting a crimson stream "incarnadine the multitudinous" lather that

plastered his throat--"this may be all very well with your master, but

you don't humbug me, sir:--Tell me instantly what have you done with

the clothes?"

This abrupt transition from "lively to severe" certainly took Maguire by

surprise, and he seemed for an instant as much disconcerted as it is

possible to disconcert an Irish gentleman's gentleman.

"Me? is it meself, then, that's the ghost to your honor's thinking?"

said he after a moment's pause, and with a slight shade of indignation

in his tones; "is it I would stale the master's things--and what would I

do with them?"

"That you best know: what your purpose is I can't guess, for I don't

think you mean to 'stale' them, as you call it; but that you are

concerned in their disappearance, I am satisfied. Confound this

blood!--give me a towel, Barney."

Maguire acquitted himself of the commission. "As I've a sowl, your

honor," said he, solemnly, "little it is meself knows of the matter: and

after what I seen----"

"What you've seen! Why, what have you seen?--Barney, I don't want to

inquire into your flirtations; but don't suppose you can palm off your

saucer eyes and gig-lamps upon me!"

"Then, as sure as your honor's standing there, I saw him: and why

wouldn't I, when Miss Pauline was to the fore as well as meself,


"Get along with your nonsense--leave the room, sir!"

"But the master?" said Barney, imploringly; "and without a

breeches?--sure he'll be catching cowld----!"

"Take that, rascal!" replied Ingoldsby, throwing a pair of pantaloons

at, rather than to, him: "but don't suppose, sir, you shall carry on

your tricks here with impunity; recollect there is such a thing as a

treadmill, and that my father is a county magistrate."

Barney's eye flashed fire--he stood erect, and was about to speak; but,

mastering himself, not without an effort, he took up the garment, and

left the room as perpendicular as a Quaker.

* * * * *

"Ingoldsby," said Charles Seaforth, after breakfast, "this is now past a

joke; to-day is the last of my stay; for, notwithstanding the ties which

detain me, common decency obliges me to visit home after so long an

absence. I shall come to an immediate explanation with your father on

the subject nearest my heart, and depart while I have a change of dress

left. On his answer will my return depend! In the meantime tell me

candidly--I ask it in all seriousness, and as a friend--am I not a dupe

to your well-known propensity to hoaxing? have you not a hand in----"

"No, by heaven, Seaforth; I see what you mean: on my honor, I am as much

mystified as yourself; and if your servant----"

"Not he:--If there be a trick, he at least is not privy to it."

"If there be a trick? why, Charles, do you, think----"

"I know not what to think, Tom. As surely as you are a living man, so

surely did that spectral anatomy visit my room again last night, grin in

my face, and walk away with my trousers; nor was I able to spring from

my bed, or break the chain which seemed to bind me to my pillow."

"Seaforth!" said Ingoldsby, after a short pause, "I will--But hush! here

are the girls and my father. I will carry off the females, and leave you

a clear field with the governor: carry your point with him, and we will

talk about your breeches afterwards."

Tom's diversion was successful; he carried off the ladies en masse to

look at a remarkable specimen of the class Dodecandria

Monogynia--which they could not find--while Seaforth marched boldly up

to the encounter, and carried "the governor's" outworks by a coup de

main. I shall not stop to describe the progress of the attack; suffice

it that it was as successful as could have been wished, and that

Seaforth was referred back again to the lady. The happy lover was off at

a tangent; the botanical party was soon overtaken; and the arm of

Caroline, whom a vain endeavor to spell out the Linnaean name of a

daffy-down-dilly had detained a little in the rear of the others, was

soon firmly locked in his own.

What was the world to them,

Its noise, its nonsense and its "breeches" all?

Seaforth was in the seventh heaven; he retired to his room that night as

happy as if no such thing as a goblin had ever been heard of, and

personal chattels were as well fenced in by law as real property. Not so

Tom Ingoldsby: the mystery--for mystery there evidently was--had not

only piqued his curiosity, but ruffled his temper. The watch of the

previous night had been unsuccessful, probably because it was

undisguised. To-night he would "ensconce himself"--not indeed "behind

the arras"--for the little that remained was, as we have seen, nailed to

the wall--but in a small closet which opened from one corner of the

room, and by leaving the door ajar, would give to its occupant a view of

all that might pass in the apartment. Here did the young ghost-hunter

take up a position, with a good stout sapling under his arm, a full

half-hour before Seaforth retired for the night. Not even his friend did

he let into his confidence, fully determined that if his plan did not

succeed, the failure should be attributed to himself alone.

At the usual hour of separation for the night, Tom saw, from his

concealment, the lieutenant enter his room, and after taking a few turns

in it, with an expression so joyous as to betoken that his thoughts were

mainly occupied by his approaching happiness, proceed slowly to disrobe

himself. The coat, the waistcoat, the black silk stock, were gradually

discarded; the green morocco slippers were kicked off, and then--ay, and

then--his countenance grew grave; it seemed to occur to him all at once

that this was his last stake--nay, that the very breeches he had on were

not his own--that to-morrow morning was his last, and that if he lost

them--A glance showed that his mind was made up; he replaced the

single button he had just subducted, and threw himself upon the bed in a

state of transition--half chrysalis, half grub.

Wearily did Tom Ingoldsby watch the sleeper by the flickering light of

the night-lamp, till the clock striking one, induced him to increase the

narrow opening which he had left for the purpose of observation. The

motion, slight as it was, seemed to attract Charles's attention; for he

raised himself suddenly to a sitting posture, listened for a moment, and

then stood upright upon the floor. Ingoldsby was on the point of

discovering himself, when, the light flashing full upon his friend's

countenance, he perceived that, though his eyes were open, "their sense

was shut"--that he was yet under the influence of sleep. Seaforth

advanced slowly to the toilet, lit his candle at the lamp that stood on

it, then, going back to the bed's foot, appeared to search eagerly for

something which he could not find. For a few moments he seemed restless

and uneasy, walking round the apartment and examining the chairs, till,

coming fully in front of a large swing-glass that flanked the

dressing-table, he paused as if contemplating his figure in it. He now

returned towards the bed; put on his slippers, and, with cautious and

stealthy steps, proceeded towards the little arched doorway that opened

on the private staircase.

As he drew the bolt, Tom Ingoldsby emerged from his hiding-place; but

the sleep-walker heard him not; he proceeded softly downstairs, followed

at a due distance by his friend; opened the door which led out upon the

gardens; and stood at once among the thickest of the shrubs, which there

clustered round the base of a corner turret, and screened the postern

from common observation. At this moment Ingoldsby had nearly spoiled all

by making a false step: the sound attracted Seaforth's attention--he

paused and turned; and, as the full moon shed her light directly upon

his pale and troubled features, Tom marked, almost with dismay, the

fixed and rayless appearance of his eyes:

There was no speculation in those orbs

That he did glare withal.

The perfect stillness preserved by his follower seemed to reassure him;

he turned aside, and from the midst of a thickest laurustinus drew forth

a gardener's spade, shouldering which he proceeded with great rapidity

into the midst of the shrubbery. Arrived at a certain point where the

earth seemed to have been recently disturbed, he set himself heartily

to the task of digging, till, having thrown up several shovelfuls of

mould, he stopped, flung down his tool, and very composedly began to

disencumber himself of his pantaloons.

Up to this moment Tom had watched him with a wary eye; he now advanced

cautiously, and, as his friend was busily engaged in disentangling

himself from his garment, made himself master of the spade. Seaforth,

meanwhile, had accomplished his purpose: he stood for a moment with

His streamers waving in the wind,

occupied in carefully rolling up the small-clothes into as compact a

form as possible, and all heedless of the breath of heaven, which might

certainly be supposed at such a moment, and in such a plight, to "visit

his frame too roughly."

He was in the act of stooping low to deposit the pantaloons in the grave

which he had been digging for them, when Tom Ingoldsby came close behind

him, and with the flat side of the spade----

* * * * *

The shock was effectual; never again was Lieutenant Seaforth known to

act the part of a somnambulist. One by one, his breeches--his

trousers--his pantaloons--his silk-net tights--his patent cords--his

showy greys with the broad red stripe of the Bombay Fencibles were

brought to light--rescued from the grave in which they had been buried,

like the strata of a Christmas pie; and after having been well aired by

Mrs. Botherby, became once again effective.

The family, the ladies especially, laughed; the Peterses laughed; the

Simpkinsons laughed;--Barney Maguire cried "Botheration!" and Ma'mselle

Pauline, "Mon Dieu!"

Charles Seaforth, unable to face the quizzing which awaited him on all

sides, started off two hours earlier than he had proposed:--he soon

returned, however; and having, at his father-in-law's request, given up

the occupation of Rajah-hunting and shooting Nabobs, led his blushing

bride to the altar.

Mr. Simpkinson from Bath did not attend the ceremony, being engaged at

the Grand Junction meeting of Scavans, then, congregating from all

parts of the known world in the city of Dublin. His essay, demonstrating

that the globe is a great custard, whipped into coagulation by

whirlwinds and cooked by electricity--a little too much baked in the

Isle of Portland, and a thought underdone about the Bog of Allen--was

highly spoken of, and narrowly escaped obtaining a Bridgewater prize.

Miss Simpkinson and her sister acted as brides-maids on the occasion;

the former wrote an epithalamium, and the latter cried "Lassy me!" at

the clergyman's wig. Some years have since rolled on; the union has been

crowned with two or three tidy little off-shoots from the family tree,

of whom Master Neddy is "grandpapa's darling," and Mary Anne mamma's

particular "Sock." I shall only add, that Mr. and Mrs. Seaforth are

living together quite as happily as two good-hearted, good-tempered

bodies, very fond of each other, can possibly do; and that, since the

day of his marriage, Charles has shown no disposition to jump out of

bed, or ramble out of doors o' nights--though from his entire devotion

to every wish and whim of his young wife, Tom insinuates that the fair

Caroline does still occasionally take advantage of it so far as to "slip

on the breeches."