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The Spectre Bridegroom

Scary Books: The Haunters & The Haunted

Long, long ago a farmer named Lenine lived in Boscean. He had but one

son, Frank Lenine, who was indulged into waywardness by both his

parents. In addition to the farm servants, there was one, a young girl,

Nancy Trenoweth, who especially assisted Mrs Lenine in all the various

duties of a small farmhouse.

Nancy Trenoweth was very pretty, and although perfectly uneducated, in

the sense in which we now empl
y the term education, she possessed many

native graces, and she had acquired much knowledge, really useful to one

whose aspirations would probably never rise higher than to be mistress

of a farm of a few acres. Educated by parents who had certainly never

seen the world beyond Penzance, her ideas of the world were limited to a

few miles around the Land's-End. But although her book of nature was a

small one, it had deeply impressed her mind with its influences. The

wild waste, the small but fertile valley, the rugged hills, with their

crowns of cairns, the moors rich in the golden furze and the purple

heath, the sea-beaten cliffs and the silver sands, were the pages she

had studied, under the guidance of a mother who conceived, in the

sublimity of her ignorance, that everything in nature was the home of

some spirit form. The soul of the girl was imbued with the deeply

religious dye of her mother's mind, whose religion was only a sense of

an unknown world immediately beyond our own. The elder Nancy Trenoweth

exerted over the villagers around her considerable power. They did not

exactly fear her. She was too free from evil for that; but they were

conscious of a mental superiority, and yielded without complaining to

her sway.

The result of this was, that the younger Nancy, although compelled to

service, always exhibited some pride, from a feeling that her mother was

a superior woman to any around her.

She never felt herself inferior to her master and mistress, yet she

complained not of being in subjection to them. There were so many

interesting features in the character of this young servant girl that

she became in many respects like a daughter to her mistress. There was

no broad line of division in those days, in even the manorial hall,

between the lord and his domestics, and still less defined was the

position of the employer and the employed in a small farmhouse.

Consequent on this condition of things, Frank Lenine and Nancy were

thrown as much together as if they had been brother and sister. Frank

was rarely checked in anything by his over-fond parents, who were

especially proud of their son, since he was regarded as the handsomest

young man in the parish. Frank conceived a very warm attachment for

Nancy, and she was not a little proud of her lover. Although it was

evident to all the parish that Frank and Nancy were seriously devoted to

each other, the young man's parents were blind to it, and were taken by

surprise when one day Frank asked his father and mother to consent to

his marrying Nancy.

The Lenines had allowed their son to have his own way from his youth up;

and now, in a matter which brought into play the strongest of human

feelings, they were angry because he refused to bend to their wills.

The old man felt it would be a degradation for a Lenine to marry a

Trenoweth, and, in the most unreasoning manner, he resolved it should

never be.

The first act was to send Nancy home to Alsia Mill, where her parents

resided; the next was an imperious command to his son never again to see

the girl.

The commands of the old are generally powerless upon the young where the

affairs of the heart are concerned. So were they upon Frank. He who was

rarely seen of an evening beyond the garden of his father's cottage, was

now as constantly absent from his home. The house, which was wont to be

a pleasant one, was strangely altered. A gloom had fallen over all

things; the father and son rarely met as friends--the mother and her boy

had now a feeling of reserve. Often there were angry altercations

between the father and son, and the mother felt she could not become the

defender of her boy, in his open acts of disobedience, his bold defiance

of his parents' commands.

Rarely an evening passed that did not find Nancy and Frank together in

some retired nook. The Holy Well was a favourite meeting-place, and here

the most solemn vows were made. Locks of hair were exchanged; a

wedding-ring, taken from the finger of a corpse, was broken, when they

vowed that they would be united either dead or alive; and they even

climbed at night the granite-pile at Treryn, and swore by the Logan Rock

the same strong vow.

Time passed onward unhappily, and as the result of the endeavours to

quench out the passion by force, it grew stronger under the repressing

power, and, like imprisoned steam, eventually burst through all


Nancy's parents discovered at length that moonlight meetings between two

untrained, impulsive youths, had a natural result, and they were now

doubly earnest in their endeavours to compel Frank to marry their


The elder Lenine could not be brought to consent to this, and he firmly

resolved to remove his son entirely from what he considered the hateful

influences of the Trenoweths. He resolved to go to Plymouth, to take

his son with him, and, if possible, to send him away to sea, hoping thus

to wean him from his folly, as he considered this love-madness. Frank,

poor fellow, with the best intentions, was not capable of any sustained

effort, and consequently he at length succumbed to his father; and, to

escape his persecution, he entered a ship bound for India, and bade

adieu to his native land.

Frank could not write, and this happened in days when letters could be

forwarded only with extreme difficulty, consequently Nancy never heard

from her lover.

A babe had been born into a troublesome world, and the infant became a

real solace to the young mother. As the child grew, it became an

especial favourite with its grandmother; the elder Nancy rejoiced over

the little prattler, and forgot her cause of sorrow. Young Nancy lived

for her child, and on the memory of its father. Subdued in spirit she

was, but her affliction had given force to her character, and she had

been heard to declare that wherever Frank might be, she was ever present

with him, whatever might be the temptations of the hour, that her

influence was all powerful over him for good. She felt that no distance

could separate their souls, that no time could be long enough to destroy

the bond between them.

A period of distress fell upon the Trenoweths, and it was necessary that

Nancy should leave her home once more, and go again into service. Her

mother took charge of the babe, and she found a situation in the village

of Kimyall, in the parish of Paul. Nancy, like her mother, contrived by

force of character to maintain an ascendancy amongst her companions. She

had formed an acquaintance, which certainly never grew into friendship,

with some of the daughters of the small farmers around. These girls were

all full of the superstitions of the time and place.

The winter was coming on, and nearly three years had passed away since

Frank Lenine left his country. As yet there was no sign. Nor father,

nor mother, nor maiden had heard of him, and they all sorrowed over his

absence. The Lenines desired to have Nancy's child, but the Trenoweths

would not part with it. They went so far even as to endeavour to

persuade Nancy to live again with them, but Nancy was not at all

disposed to submit to their wishes.

It was All-Hallows' eve, and two of Nancy's companions persuaded

her,--no very difficult task,--to go with them and sow hemp-seed.

At midnight the three maidens stole out unperceived into Kimyall

town-place to perform their incantation. Nancy was the first to sow, the

others being less bold than she.

Boldly she advanced, saying, as she scattered the seed,--

"Hemp-seed I sow thee,

Hemp-seed grow thee;

And he who will my true love be,

Come after me

And shaw thee."

This was repeated three times, when, looking back over her left

shoulder, she saw Lenine; but he looked so angry that she shrieked with

fear, and broke the spell. One of the other girls, however, resolved now

to make trial of the spell, and the result of her labours was the vision

of a white coffin. Fear now fell on all, and they went home sorrowful,

to spend, each one, a sleepless night.

November came with its storms, and during one terrific night a large

vessel was thrown upon the rocks in Bernowhall Cliff, and, beaten by the

impetuous waves, she was soon in pieces. Amongst the bodies of the crew

washed ashore, nearly all of whom had perished, was Frank Lenine. He was

not dead when found, but the only words he lived to speak were begging

the people to send for Nancy Trenoweth, that he might make her his wife

before he died.

Rapidly sinking, Frank was borne by his friends on a litter to Boscean,

but he died as he reached the town-place. His parents, overwhelmed in

their own sorrows, thought nothing of Nancy, and without her knowing

that Lenine had returned, the poor fellow was laid in his last bed, in

Burian Churchyard.

On the night of the funeral, Nancy went, as was her custom, to lock the

door of the house, and as was her custom too, she looked out into the

night. At this instant a horseman rode up in hot haste, called her by

name, and hailed her in a voice that chilled her blood.

The voice was the voice of Lenine. She could never forget that; and the

horse she now saw was her sweetheart's favourite colt, on which he had

often ridden at night to Alsia.

The rider was imperfectly seen; but he looked very sorrowful, and

deathly pale, still Nancy knew him to be Frank Lenine.

He told her that he had just arrived home, and that the first moment he

was at liberty he had taken horse to fetch his loved one, and to make

her his bride.

Nancy's excitement was so great, that she was easily persuaded to spring

on the horse behind him, that they might reach his home before the


When she took Lenine's hand a cold shiver passed through her, and as she

grasped his waist to secure herself in her seat, her arm became as stiff

as ice. She lost all power of speech, and suffered deep fear, yet she

knew not why. The moon had arisen, and now burst out in a full flood of

light, through the heavy clouds which had obscured it. The horse pursued

its journey with great rapidity, and whenever in weariness it slackened

its speed, the peculiar voice of the rider aroused its drooping

energies. Beyond this no word was spoken since Nancy had mounted behind

her lover. They now came to Trove Bottom, where there was no bridge at

that time; they dashed into the river. The moon shone full in their

faces. Nancy looked into the stream, and saw that the rider was in a

shroud and other grave-clothes. She now knew that she was being carried

away by a spirit, yet she had no power to save herself; indeed, the

inclination to do so did not exist.

On went the horse at a furious pace, until they came to the blacksmith's

shop, near Burian Church-town, when she knew by the light from the forge

fire thrown across the road that the smith was still at his labours. She

now recovered speech. "Save me! save me! save me!" she cried with all

her might. The smith sprang from the door of the smithy, with a red-hot

iron in his hand, and as the horse rushed by, caught the woman's dress,

and pulled her to the ground. The spirit, however, also seized Nancy's

dress in one hand, and his grasp was like that of a vice. The horse

passed like the wind, and Nancy and the smith were pulled down as far as

the old Alms-houses, near the churchyard. Here the horse for a moment

stopped. The smith seized that moment, and with his hot iron burned off

the dress from the rider's hand, thus saving Nancy, more dead than

alive; while the rider passed over the wall of the churchyard, and

vanished on the grave in which Lenine had been laid but a few hours


The smith took Nancy into his shop, and he soon aroused some of his

neighbours, who took the poor girl back to Alsia. Her parents laid her

on her bed. She spoke no word, but to ask for her child, to request her

mother to give up her child to Lenine's parents, and her desire to be

buried in his grave. Before the morning light fell on the world Nancy

had breathed her last breath.

A horse was seen that night to pass through the Church-town like a ball

from a musket, and in the morning Lenine's colt was found dead in

Bernowhall Cliff, covered with foam, its eyes forced from its head, and

its swollen tongue hanging out of its mouth. On Lenine's grave was found

the piece of Nancy's dress which was left in the spirit's hand when the

smith burnt her from his grasp.

It is said that one or two of the sailors who survived the wreck related

after the funeral, how, on the 30th of October, at night, Lenine was

like one mad; they could scarcely keep him in the ship. He seemed more

asleep than awake, and, after great excitement, he fell as if dead upon

the deck, and lay so for hours. When he came to himself, he told them

that he had been taken to the village of Kimyall, and that if he ever

married the woman who had cast the spell, he would make her suffer the

longest day she had to live for drawing his soul out of his body.

Poor Nancy was buried in Lenine's grave, and her companion in sowing

hemp-seed, who saw the white coffin, slept beside her within the year.