Chapter 38

His master’s gone, and no one now
    Dwells in the halls of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead,
    He is the sole survivor.


There are few more melancholy sensations than those with which we regard scenes of past pleasure, when altered and deserted. In my ride to Osbaldistone Hall, I passed the same objects which I had seen in company with Miss Vernon on the day of our memorable ride from Inglewood Place. Her spirit seemed to keep me company on the way; and, when I approached the spot where I had first seen her, I almost listened for the cry of the hounds and the notes of the horn, and strained my eye on vacant space, as if to descry the fair huntress again descend like an apparition from the hill. But all was silent, and all was solitary. When I reached the Hall, the closed doors and windows, the grass-grown pavement, the courts, which were now so silent, presented a strong contrast to the gay and bustling scene I had so often seen them exhibit, when the merry hunters were going forth to their morning sport, or returning to the daily festival. The joyous bark of the fox-hounds as they were uncoupled, the cries of the huntsman, the clang of the horses’ hoofs, the loud laugh of the old knight at the head of his strong and numerous descendants, were all silenced now and for ever.

While I gazed round the scene of solitude and emptiness, I was inexpressibly affected, even by recollecting those whom, when alive, I had no reason to regard with affection. But the thought that so many youths of goodly presence, warm with life, health, and confidence, were within so short a time cold in the grave, by various yet all violent and unexpected modes of death, afforded a picture of mortality at which the mind trembled. It was little consolation to me that I returned a proprietor to the halls, which I had left almost like a fugitive. My mind was not habituated to regard the scenes around as my property, and I felt myself an usurper, at least an intruding stranger, and could hardly divest myself of the idea, that some of the bulky forms of my deceased kinsmen were, like the gigantic spectres of a romance, to appear in the gateway, and dispute my entrance.

While I was engaged in these sad thoughts, my follower, Andrew, whose feelings were of a very different nature, exerted himself in thundering alternately on every door in the building, calling, at the same time, for admittance, in a tone so loud as to intimate, that he, at least, was fully sensible of his newly acquired importance, as squire of the body to the new lord of the manor. At length, timidly and reluctantly, Anthony Syddall, my uncle’s aged butler and major-domo, presented himself at a lower window, well fenced with iron bars, and inquired our business.

“We are come to tak your charge aff your hand, my auld friend,” said Andrew Fairservice; “ye may gie up your keys as sune as ye like—ilka dog has his day. I’ll tak the plate and napery aff your hand. Ye hae had your ain time o’t, Mr. Syddall; but ilka bean has its black, and ilka path has its puddle; and it will just set you henceforth to sit at the board-end, as weel as it did Andrew lang syne.”

Checking with some difficulty the forwardness of my follower, I explained to Syddall the nature of my right, and the title I had to demand admittance into the Hall, as into my own property. The old man seemed much agitated and distressed, and testified manifest reluctance to give me entrance, although it was couched in a humble and submissive tone. I allowed for the agitation of natural feelings, which really did the old man honour; but continued peremptory in my demand of admittance, explaining to him that his refusal would oblige me to apply for Mr. Inglewood’s warrant, and constable.

“We are come from Mr. Justice Inglewood’s this morning,” said Andrew, to enforce the menace, “and I saw Archie Rutledge, the constable, as I came up by—the country’s no to be lawless as it has been, Mr. Syddall, letting rebels and papists gang on as they best listed.”

The threat of the law sounded dreadful in the old man’s ears, conscious as he was of the suspicion under which he himself lay, from his religion and his devotion to Sir Hildebrand and his sons. He undid, with fear and trembling, one of the postern entrances, which was secured with many a bolt and bar, and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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