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here ended; but breakfast was scarce over, when Lady Beresford eagerly inquired if the post had come in; she was told it had not. In a few minutes she rang again and repeated the inquiry. She was again answered as before "Do you expect letters ?" said Sir Martin, " that you are so anxious for the arrival of the post ?" "I do," she answered, "I expect to hear that Lord Tyrone is dead; he died last Tuesday at four o'clock." "I never in my life,” said Sir Martin, "believed you superstitious; some idle dream has surely thus alarmed you.' At that instant the servant entered and delivered to them a letter sealed with black. "It is as I expected," exclaimed Lady Beresford, "Lord Tyrone is dead." Sir Martin opened the letter; it came from Lord Tyrone's steward, and contained the melancholy intelligence of his master's death, and on the very day and hour Lady Beresford had before specified. Sir Martin begged Lady Beresford to compose herself, and she assured him she felt much easier than she had done for a long time; and added, "I can communicate intelligence to you which I know will prove welcome; I can assure you, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that I shall in some months present you with a son." Sir Martin received this news with the greatest joy. After some months, Lady Beresford was delivered of a son (she had before been the mother of two daughters). Sir Martin survived the birth of his son little more than four years. After his decease his widow seldom left home; she visited no family but that of a clergyman who resided in the same village; with them she frequently passed a few hours every day; the rest of her time was spent in solitude, and she appeared determined for ever to avoid all other society. The clergyman's family consisted of himself, his wife, and one son, who, at the time of Sir Martin's death, was quite a youth; to this son, however, she was after a few years married, notwithstanding the disparity of years and the manifest imprudence of a connexion so unequal in every point of view. Lady Beresford was treated by her young husband with contempt and cruelty, while at the same time his conduct evinced him to be the most abandoned libertine, utterly destitute of every principle of virtue and humanity. By this, her second husband, she had two daughters; after which, such
was the baseness of his conduct that she insisted on a separation. They parted for a few years, when so great was the contrition he expressed for his former conduct, that, won over by his supplications, promises, and entreaties, she was induced to pardon, and once more to reside with him, and was in time the mother of a son.
The day on which she had lain-in a month being the anniversary of her birthday, she sent for Lady Betty Cobb (of whose friendship she had long been possessed) and a few other friends to request them to spend the day with her. About seven, the clergyman by whom she had been christened, and with whom she had all her life been intimate, came into the room to inquire after her health. She told him she was perfectly well, and requested him to spend the day with them; for, said she, "This is my birthday. I am forty-eight to-day." "No, madam," answered the clergyman, "you are mistaken; your mother and myself have had many disputes concerning your age; and I have at last discovered that I was right. I happened to go last week into the parish where you were born; I was resolved to put an end to the dispute; I searched the register, and find that you are but forty-seven this day." "You have signed my death-warrant," she exclaimed; "I have then but a few hours to live. I must, therefore, entreat you to leave me immediately, as I have something of importance to settle before I die." When the clergyman left her, Lady Beresford sent to forbid the company coming, and at the same time to request Lady Betty Cobb and her son (of whom Sir Martin was the father, and was then about twenty-two years of age), to come to her apartment immediately.
Upon their arrival, having ordered the attendants to quit the room, "I have something," she said, "of the greatest importance to communicate to you both before I die; an event which is not far distant. You, Lady Betty, are no stranger to the friendship which subsisted between Lord Tyrone and myself; we were educated under the same roof, and in the same principles of deism. When the friends, into whose hands we afterwards fell, endeavoured to persuade us to embrace revealed religion, their arguments, though insufficient to convince, were powerful enough to
stagger our former feelings, and to leave us wavering between the two opinions: in this perplexing state of doubt and uncertainty, we made a solemn promise to each other, that whichever died first should (if permitted) appear to the other, and declare what religion was most acceptable to God: accordingly, one night, while Sir Martin and myself were in bed, I suddenly awoke and discovered] Lord Tyrone sitting by my bed-side. I screamed out and endeavoured to awake Sir Martin: "For Heaven's sake,' I exclaimed, "Lord Tyrone, by what means or for what reason came you hither at this time of night ?" "Have you then forgotten our promise ?" said he. "I died last Tuesday at four o'clock, and have been permitted by the Supreme Being to appear to you, to assure you that the revealed religion is true, and the only religion by which we can be saved. I am further suffered to inform you that you will soon produce a son, which it is decreed will marry my daughter; not many years after his birth Sir Martin will die, and you will marry again, and to a man by whose Fill-treatment you will be rendered miserable: you will have two daughters, and afterwards a son, in childbirth of whom you will die in the forty-seventh year of your age." "Just Heavens!" I exclaimed, "and cannot I prevent this ?" "Undoubtedly you may," returned the spectre; "you are a free agent, and may prevent it all by resisting every temptation to a second marriage: but your passions are strong, you know not their power; hitherto you have had no trials. More I am not permitted to reveal, but if after this warning you persist in your infidelity, your lot in another world will be miserable indeed!" May I not ask," said I, "if you are happy ?" "Had I been otherwise," he replied, "I should not have been permitted to "I appear to you.” may then infer that you are happy ?" He smiled. "But how," said I, "when morning comes, shall I know that your appearance to me has been real, and not the mere representation of my own imagination ?" "Will not the news of my death be sufficient to convince you ?" "No," I returned: "I might have had such aa dream, and that dream accidentally come to pass. I will have some stronger proofs of its reality." "You shall," said he, "and waving his hand, the bed curtains, which were crimson
velvet, were instantly drawn through a large iron hoop by which the tester of the bed was suspended.' "In that, said he, "you cannot be mistaken; no mortal arm could have performed this." "True," said I," but sleeping we are often possessed of far more strength than when awake; though waking I could not have done it, asleep I might; and I shall still doubt." "Here is a pocket-book; in this,' said he, "I will write my name: you know my handwriting." I replied, "Yes." He wrote with a pencil on one side of the leaves. Still," said I, "in the morning I may doubt; though waking I could not imitate your hand, asleep I might." "You are hard of belief," said he: "it would injure you irreparably; it is not for spirits to touch mortal flesh." "I do not," said I, “ regard a slight blemish." "You are a woman of courage," replied he, "hold out your hand." I did: he struck my wrist: his hand was cold as marble: in a moment the sinews shrunk up, every nerve withered. Now," said he, 66 while you live det no mortal eye behold that wrist: to see it is sacrilege." He stopped; I turned to him again; he was gone. During the time I had conversed with him my thoughts were perfectly calm and collected, but the moment he was gone I felt chilled with horror; the very bed moved under me; I endeavoured, but in vain, to awake Sir Martin: all my 5 attempts were ineffectual, and in this state of agitation and terror I lay for some time, when a shower of tears came to my relief, and I dropped asleep. In the morning, Sir Martin arose and dressed himself as usual without perceiving the state the curtains remained in.
When Lawoke I found Sir Martin gone down: I arose, and having put on my clothes, went to the gallery adjoining the apartment and took from thence a long broom (such as cornices are swept with): by the help of this I took down with some difficulty the curtains, as I imagined their extraordinary position might excite suspicion in the family. I then went to the bureau, took up my pocket-book, and bound a piece of black ribbon round my wrist. When I came down, the agitation of my mind had left an impression on my countenance too visible to pass unobserved by my husband. He instantly remarked it, and asked the cause; I informed him Lord Tyrone was no more, that he died
at the hour of four on the preceding Tuesday, and desired him never to question me more respecting the black ribbon; which he kindly desisted from doing. You, my son, as had been foretold, I afterwards brought into the world, and in little more than four years after your birth your lamented father expired in my arms.
"After this melancholy event, I determined, as the only probable chance to avoid the sequel of the prediction, for ever to abandon all society; to give up every pleasure resulting from it, and to pass the rest of my days in solitude and retirement. But few can long endure to exist in a state of perfect sequestration: I began an intimacy with a family, —with one alone; nor could I then foresee the fatal consequences which afterwards resulted from it. Little did I think their son, their only son, then a mere youth, would be the person destined by fate to prove my destruction. In a very few years I ceased to regard him with indifference; I endeavoured by every possible way to conquer a passion, the fatal effects of which I too well knew. I had fondly imagined I had overcome its influence, when the evening of one fatal day terminated my fortitude, and plunged me in a moment down that abyss I had so long been meditating how to shun. He had often solicited his parents for leave to go into the Army, and at last obtained permission, and came to bid me adieu before his departure. The instant he entered the room he fell upon his knees at my feet, told me he was miserable, and that I alone was the cause. that moment my fortitude forsook me, I gave myself up for lost, and regarding my fate as inevitable, without farther hesitation consented to a union; the immediate result of which I knew to be misery, and its end death. The conduct of my husband, after a few years, amply justified a separation, and I hoped by this means to avoid the fatal sequel of the prophecy; but won over by his reiterated entreaties, I was prevailed upon to pardon, and once more reside with him, though not till after I had, as I thought, passed my forty-seventh year.
But alas! I have this day heard from indisputable authority, that I have hitherto lain under a mistake with regard to my age, and that I am but forty-seven to-day.