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Cromwell returned to the army, impatient to give battle: and Lindsay, who had no affection, it seems, for a conflict thus auspicated, resolved to make his escape as soon as he could. After the first charge he put spurs to his horse, rode away, and travelled with all speed till he arrived at the house of one Mr. Thoroughgood, an intimate friend of his, and a minister, who lived in the county of Norfolk. When he saw him, Lindsay related all the particulars of what he had witnessed in the wood, concluding with this remarkable prediction, “ Cromwell will certainly die the day seven years that the battle was fought.” Which he did-on his favourite 3d of September. The battle of Worcester took place September 3d, 1651, and Cromwell's death, September 3d, 1658. Moreover, it is mentioned in history, there was a tremendous storm the day he died, which some of the versatile poets of the day, who had flattered him while living, accounted for in a way very much akin to this business, though I warrant they knew nothing of it at the time.'
' I perceive,' said Major Grooby, addressing Mr. Carliel, that you do not believe this story.'
Not quite,' answered Mr. Carliel, smiling. • Well, observed the Major, “all I can say is, that my friend, Colonel Henniker, believes it, for he assured me that there is still preserved in the family of the Thoroughgoods a Common Place Book, in which a son of Mr. Thoroughgood, then about twelve years of age, wrote down, at his father's desire, and from Lindsay's own mouth, every word of it.' Did
your friend ever see that Common Place Book ?” inquired Mr. Carliel.
• I don't know ; but his mother was a Thoroughgood, and a branch of this same Norfolk family, and it is very likely, therefore, that he has seen it; though for my part I never thought of asking him the question, because we have plenty of instances of similar compacts
, and still more numerous ones of divers dealings with the Prince of Darkness.'
' Dr. Faustus, to wit, and that terrible libertine, Don Juan,' said Mary Falconer.
• Nay,' replied the Major, we need not go so far back as the days of Dr. Faustus and Don Juan, for examples. There was a man in my native town, a schoolmaster of the name of Warbeck, who sold himself to the devil merely that he might have his revenge upon a fellow-townsman, who had carried off his sweetheart. My father was his doctor, and in the course of his attendance upon him, learned the full particulars which I have often heard him relate.'
• Let us hear them,' said Mr. Carliel. The Major, who was never so happy as when he had an opportunity of telling all the marvellous stories he had collected, drank off his cup of coffee, and began.
Richard Warbeck, when I knew him, was a tall, thin, pale-faced, hollow-eyed, and grey-headed old man, limping about upon crutches; but in his younger days he was accounted handsome, and a very devil among the women.
We may guess what sort of women,' remarked Miss Grooby, drawing herself up several inches.
The Major went on. ‘Among those with whom he fell in love, was one Grace Amos, a farmer's daughter, a beautiful creature, as I have heard. But I remember her too: Goody Amos she was then
called, and gained a scanty livelihood in summer, (in winter she used to go into the workhouse,) by gathering wild flowers, making them into nosegays, and selling them from door to door. Everybody bought of her, from charity and pity for her misfortunes. Poor thing! she went mad when Richard had his revenge ; and no wonder, as you'll say when you hear what it was. I have told you she was one of his sweethearts, and they were to have been married; but before the day came, there came another lover in the way, a dashing recruiting sergeant, named Wilkinson ; and Grace Amos became Mrs. Wilkinson, instead of Mrs. Warbeck.
· When Richard heard that Sergeant Wilkinson was about to marry Grace, and when he had wrung from the poor girl herself a confession of the truth, he laid his hand upon her arm, and said, “If there is a God in heaven, or a Devil in hell, you shall rue this !” And with these words he left her.
'It appeared he had in his possession an old book upon necromancy, where he found instructions how, by hellish charms and potent spells, to raise the Evil One. Though he refused to tell my father all the means he employed—declaring, indeed, that he dare not-he related very exactly the horrible scene which followed.
• He was in his bed-room towards midnight, it being the seventh night of his incantations, when, just as the church clock struck twelve, a rushing noise, like a violent gust of wind, passed through the chamber, extinguishing the lights, and leaving him in total darkness. Nothing dismayed, he performed the remaining part of his fearful task, which was to open a vein in his left arm, and catch as much blood as would fill a wine-glass. This he was to fling, or rather sprinkle, towards the four corners of the room, saying, as he did so, “I call you east-I call you west-I call you north–I call you south-come, and speak to me! He had no sooner uttered these words than he felt himself grasped round the waist as if a belt of hot iron encircled him, and a voice, that resembled the hissing of a serpent, whispered in his ear
"I am come to thee,
Richard lost his senses, and remembered nothing more till he found himself standing in the church porch, by the side of a little old man leaning on a crutch-stick. He was not more than four feet in height, wore a sort of Spanish dress, with a black velvet mantle, and a hat of the same material, turned up in front, which disclosed a countenance remarkable for its intense malignity of expression, rather than for anything either hideous or diabolical. Richard, who was bewildered, forgot that the demon had no power to speak till spoken to; so there they stood for several minutes, he looking at the fiend he had evoked, trembling from head to foot, and the fiend glaring upon him with eyes
that every moment grew more and more lustrous with rage, till at last they appeared like two globes of fire.
«« The Lord protect me!” 'exclaimed Richard, at length, as he perceived the increasing fury of his companion.
• Then the demon said, “Thou fool! thou couldst have no power to summon me till thy soul had renounced heaven. I am thy lord now—thy lord and slave-thy lord to command, thy slave to obey thee. What wouldst thou have ? Wealth? 'Tis thine! The power to gratify every earth-born wish? 'Tis thine. Fifty years thou shalt revel in worldly bliss,
in whatever region or clime thy fancy may desire ; but at the end of that
"“Revenge!” replied Richard.
He struck upon the church doors with his crutch-stick : t ey few open. Richard saw, as in a vision, Grace Amos kneeling at the altar with his rival, and receiving the nuptial benediction.
““ There is to-morrow,” said the fiend. «« There is hell!” exclaimed Richard.
"" And here is heaven-thy heaven!” continued the fiend, pointing in the direction of the entrance to the church-yard, where Richard beheld a funeral train approaching, and Grace Amos in her bridal dress following a coffin. The next moment the whole vanished.
"“Come this way,” said the demon. They walked into the middle of the church-yard. “Here,” he continued, striking his crutch-stick into the ground, “is his grave! He will not lie in it, but he shall be ready for it by to-morrow night.”
"“In what manner ?” asked Richard.
““ In this manner. To-morrow he weds her who was thine. He is quarrelsome and choleric. As he leaves the church, with his bride upon his arm, do thou cross his path. Leave the rest to me."
"“Will you be there ?"
««Question me no farther-I must be gone. Is it a bargain? I tell you he shall wed but never bed your mistress. Is not that revenge enough?”
""Ay-glorious revenge!” said Richard, clenching his teeth.
As he spoke, Richard felt the sinews of his right hand contract and knit together; at the same time he heard a chuckling laugh in the air. He looked up, but could see nothing. He turned towards the demonhe was gone!
" The next morning,' said the Major, ‘Richard was awakened from a disturbed sleep by the merry chimes of the church bells. He arrived at the church just as the wedding party were leaving it. The bride trembled violently at the sight of him.
"Grace," said Richard, addressing her, taking no notice of Sergeant Wilkinson,“ did I not declare you should rue this day, if there was a God in heaven or a Devil in hell ?
““Oh! Richard, Richard !” exclaimed the faithless girl, “I did not think to see you here. Why have you come ?”
"" To keep my word, Grace."
'A blow followed, which Richard struck with his right hand. It seemed to fall upon his rival's breast like a blow from a sledge
hammer, and he staggered beneath it. Richard, when relating the circumstance to my father, declared that it appeared to himself as if he had struck with some heavy instrument instead of his hand. The
sergeant drew his sword and was about to rush upon his unarmed assailant. Grace hung upon his neck, and besought him not to move. His and her friends gathered round to prevent the effusion of blood. He fung his bride from him-he disengaged himself from the others—his eyes flashed fire-his pale lips quivered-he advanced towards Richard, who stood calm and unmoved; for now he saw the demon by his side, pointing with his crutch-stick in mockery and scorn at the uplifted sabre. He made a thrust at him-it was parried by the demon. Richard receded a few paces, followed by his infuriated antagonist, round whom his friends had again gathered, and to whom Grace again clung in an agony of terror, imploring him to be calm. She held him by one arm as he dragged her along, following Richard, who still retreated, and aiming furious blows at him, which were still turned aside by the demon. The screams and cries of the bridal party were terrific.
““Come on," said Richard, tauntingly. “Why don't you strike home ?"
“At that moment the sergeant stumbled on the very spot where, the night before, the demon had struck his crutch-stick into the ground, and said, “Here is his grave.” He fell, dragging Grace with him ; his sword slipped from his grasp, and Richard saw the demon turn its point so, that, as he fell, it pierced his heart. Scarcely uttering a groan, he rolled upon his face, (Grace lying partly beneath him, drenched with his blood,) and expired. A loud laugh, which none but Richard heard, rang through the air. The demon was no longer to be
· Horror was upon every countenance save Richard's, who surveyed the scene with a calm brow. Bitter upbraidings were heaped upon him by those who stood around.
Why, what have I done ?” said he. “I came to tell that perfidious woman, (pointing to Grace, who was lying insensible in the arms of her bridesmaids)," of what she had done-withered a heart which was hers or nothing. I forewarned her I would do so; and if that choleric fool could have been content to let a wronged man complain, this had not happened. He fell by his own hand not mine."
** You struck him, villain !” exclaimed old Giles Amos, the father of Grace. “ It was that blow that was the cause of all.”
"“He might have returned it,” replied Richard, “and would have done so had he not been a coward, drawing his sword upon a defenceless man."
“God forgive you, Richard !” rejoined Giles. “You have had your revenge ; and may God forgive you."
Laughter was heard, and a voice exclaimed, “He has had his revenge, and bought with it God's CURSE !”
66 Who is that?” cried several voices at once.
«Hearken to thy doom, Richard," said Grace, starting wildly up. “ Hearken to thy doom! I heard it pronounced and I shall see it fulfilled-there-there !" pointing to the sky. “Oh! Richard, Richard, you have indeed kept your word; but why were you not merciful ? Have I deserved this at your hands ?" she continued, bursting into tears as her
“ Could you not
eyes glanced upon the bleeding corpse of her husband.
my heart will surely break!"
"She fell upon her knees by her husband's body, took his hand, and covered it with tears and kisses.
““When I loved you most,” said Richard, gazing at her with a stern unpitying eye, “I never looked upon you with half the pleasure I do now. I bore hell's torments for thee, thou false one!--and I could have continued to bear them, or anything, except seeing you another's. That maddened and—”
““What ?" demanded Grace, springing to her feet, as if the thought had suddenly flashed across her mind of what Richard had done.
* “ And,” he continued, smiling contemptuously, “I resolved to welcome the new-made bride at the earliest moment, even as she came from the altar. I have done so; and now I leave you with the husband of your choice !” So saying, he turned upon bis heel, and quitted the churchyard.'
· And what became of poor Grace ? inquired Mary.
"Ah!' said the Major, shaking his head, there was a bad beginning, but a worse ending, to my mind. Who can explain a woman? Who can account for what she will do when she will ? Who can understand the movements of that moral machinery which makes them such beautiful contradictions.
Beautiful fiddlesticks !' exclaimed Miss Grooby, violently agitated. 'I have no patience, brother, to hear you talk such nonsense. The creature was nothing better than a vile harlot,—a lewd minx, who did not care what she did so as she got a husband; and rightly was she served when she married that vile wretch, Richard Warbeck.'
“What!' said Mr. Carliel, did she afterwards marry Richard ?
'I can't deny it,' replied the Major, shaking his head again, as if he really felt for the honour of the sex ; 'I can't deny it. She certainly did marry him ; but I shall always think she was the victim of unboly practices. At first,' said the Major, she was like Calypso, inconsolable for the loss of her Ulysses, ---but in time she took the Ephesian dame for her model. Seven years had elapsed, during which she never once laid aside her widow's weeds, and no one ever saw her smile. Many were the offers she had during this period, all of which she peremptorily and even sternly repulsed. What had become of Richard nobody knew; for immediately after the death of his rival he left the place without saying whither he was going ; but it was generally thought he had gone to sea. At the expiration of seven years, however, he came back, and set up a school. His frame seemed shattered, and his deportment was that of a man ill at ease. If a stranger appeared in the town, he was the first to inquire whence he came, and whether any one knew his errand. Sometimes he would ceive letters with a foreign post-mark, and these he examined intently, the seal, the folding, the writing, before he opened them. Then he always slept with two lighted candles in his room, and would never go to bed till after midnight, and in summer time not until the day had dawned. All these things were noted by his friends and acquaintance, the more charitably disposed of whom ascribed them to remorse for the fate of poor Wilkinson.