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Isfodel Castle

Isfodel Castle image
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Many years have vanished from the face of theeartb since the eastleof Isfodel was first erected. The ravages of war have filled many a land with sorrow, and the angel of peaoe has often visited the world, bringing balrn to tiio weary. Empircs have arisen, and, like the paling of a star, have disappeared from the firmament of time since that remote period. It iswritten on the pages of tradition that thiscastle was built by Lord Hildebrand, a retiring gentleman, who cared little for martial display, but preferred the unobtrusive quietude of a solitary life. He rarely engaged in any of the numerous tournaruents that were so prevalent in those days - uot that he lacked the courage to rningle in the combats, nor for a lack of confidence to cope successfully with the different partioipants. Lord Hildebrand possessed a mind whose functions tended more to a literary or au artistic life than to the study of warfare or any of its relations. His soul was deeply sestbetical in its perceptive qualities. He beheld beauty in nature that seemed cold and rude to others. In the construction of the castle of Isfodel there had been displayed so much grandeur and beauty that it seemed as if it had been erected as a mansion of retirement instead of a meaus of defense. The forruer intentions were at first proposed by Lord Hildebrand, but it was uot long af ter the completion of the castle that the Danes invaded that portion of the country, and then Isfodel was altered from a quiet retreat to a place of defense, its elevation and surroundings greatly adapting it as a stronghold, and so, after many weeks of exertiou in attempting to take it, the Danes finally withdrew, leaving the castle still in the possession of Lord Hildebrand and a few companions. At the time of ottr narrative Isfodel had undergone many changes since the days of its former possessors. It stiJl, however, presented the same granitic appearance. The wild, wrathful ocean beat against the base of the cliff on which the castlo stood, and dark and lonely appeared the great forest a few rods away. Lord Hildebrand and many of his followera liad passcd away to the land of the soul. Finally Isfodel feil into the possesison of Lord Hurdron, an exceedingly unpopular mau, of crabbed disposition and darkened rcputation. He was domineering in his conduct toward those beneath hini in social standing, and,added to tuis, he bore such a selfish spirit that he won the respect of only a few persons. Very different in her nature was Lady Ella, the only daughter of Lord Hurdrou. She possessed al) those qualities and accomplïshments that tend toward the development of true womanhood. She was greatly liked by all who knew her, and well did she taerit the love that her friends bore her. If there was one thing to which Lord Hurdron was violently cpposed, it was that Lady Ella should many a man who possessed not wealth and bore not the title of nobJeman. She well knew her father's antipathy to her fonning an intimaey with any of the lower class. Still, this did not deter her from seeking the compauy of Roland Hilter, and with whom ,she had fallen deeply in love. He possessed nothing in his nature that even Lord Hurdron conld find aught against had not the latter such au austere and jealous disposition. The knowledge of love meetings is sometimes difflcult to keep from suspicious parents, and so it was in the case of Lady Ella and her lover. It was not long before Lord Hurdrou became cognizant of the interviews existing between his daughter and Roland Hilter, and he immediately proposed to break the intimaey. Early one morning, as he was passing through the dark forest of Athol, Lord Hurdron's attention was arrested by the sound of voices f alling on his ear. Presently Lady Ella, accompanied by Kolaud Hilter, appeared in view. Not wishing to be observed by them, Lord Hurdron stepped behind a large tree to wait until they passed by. "Dear Roland; let us eit down for a few moments," said Lady Ella in a sweet voice. Lord Hurdron managed to restrain his temper and wait for further developments. He saw the young couple sit down under the umbrageous foliage of a Jarge oak tree. He beheld the young man pass his arm tenderly around the waist of the fair girl, and he noticed that she did not attempt to resist this act of familiarity. "Dear Ella, "said Roland, "let us leave this country and fly to some foreign land, where our marriage can take place unhindered by yourpeople, for you know that were your father to learn of ourbetrothal b; would spurn me froru these premises as he would a reptile. " "Dear Roland," replied Lady Ella, "wheresoever you go there I will bear you company. What is the love I entertain for my people compared with the deep affection that has chaiued our hearts together?" "Then this evening at the red room await my coming. " And as Roland tered these words lio aróse frooi his seat i and togetber they walked away. As Lord Hordrou heard these words ; he iuwardly cursed the soul of Roland Ililter. He waited until tbc young lovers had gone some distance, when he emerged from his place of concealment and quietly wended his way toward the castle. Ou his way he met oue of his servants, to whorn he spoke a few words. The mau's faceslightly changed color as his master's voice feil on his sar. "A thousand pouuds, Rnpert, if you perform the deed!" said Lord Hurdrou I as he departed. "I uuderstand, my lord." And the man walked away. Roland Hilter lived a mile from the castle of Isfodel, and it was bis favorito pastime to wander along the high bank that bordered the ooean and listen to the beating of the waters below. RareJy a day passed but that he spent a portiou of his time there. On the afternoon following the events just narrated Rolaud was walking leisurely along the bank, gazing on the blue waters, when a voice feil on his ear. "A bad place for aman to f all from!" "Ah, is it you, Rupert?" said Roland as he turned aronnd. "Yes, it is, as you say, a bad place. The best swimmer, I warrant, could not live in such a sea. " "Yet his cries would probably reach the castle." "I f ear not. The sound of the waves would drown tbem. " The eyea of Rupert glittered with a dangerous light ;is lic heard these words. "Do you tbiuk the edge of this bank is flrm?" he asked. "Would there not be danges of it crumbling if one should stund close to the brink?" "None in the least. I have stood many limes withiu an inch of the edge and feit no danger whatever. See!" As Kolaud spoke he stepped forward, and presently only a small space intervened betwoeu him and the side of the precipioe. Ere he had time to return he feit liimself beiug pnsbed over the cliff. Impulsively he stretched forth his hand and grasped Rupert, his assailant, by the arm. The latter struggled to free himself, but in vain, and a moment afterward the pitiless ocean received thein in its depths. That evening Lady Ella waited long for the appearance of Roland, but he did not come. She knew not that, tossed here and there by the angry waves, his lifeless form was in the ocean. The nest day, as she was walking along the edge of the cliff, her mind full of strange forebodings, the upturlied face of her dead lover met her visión. Her head swam, and she toppled oyer the cliff. As she feil the oceau clasped her in its embrace, and the gates of death were thrown open to receive another soul. That night Lord Hurdron retired to the red room. The nonappearance of Lady Ella did not seem to affect him. As he sat down bis thoughts reverted to the past. "Ha!:' he mnttered. "That young scamp Hilter will no longer trouble these regions! It" - "Think so, father?" interrupted a sepulchral voice at his side. Lord Hurdron turned his eyes to whence proceeded the voice. As he did so he beheld the dripping apparition of Lady Ella leaning on her lover's arm. "By my troth!" cried the astonished lord. "So you've returned, you base scoundrel? Death be upon you!" As he spoke he drew a pistol and flred at the spectral form. When the smoke cleared away, no one save Lord Hurdron remained in the room. For a moment he hardly stirred. Then his head dropped on his breast, and his eyes put on a glazed appearance. When the servants entered, only the dead body of Lord Hurdrou remained in the room. The physicians pronounced bis death as the result of heart disease, but they knew not what was its rightful cause. The bodies of Rupert, Roland Hilter and Lady Ella were never recovered. The sea refused them to mortal man. For years the red room of IsfodeFs castle was haunted. It is said that the pale form of Lady Ella often appeared at thewindow, as if iuwaitingfor some one. The castle bas long since been destroyed, but the strange story connected with it is still fresh in the minds of maiiy persons in England.


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