網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

been bought latterly by a Miss Thompson, though she never lived here. In her younger days she had adopted the orphan baby of a very dear friend. When the child grew up she married, in spite of much opposition, a struggling country doctor of uncertain health, whose name was Bruce. On account of this Miss Thompson would have no more to do with her, and apparently cast her off for ever. But she kept herself sufficiently in touch with them, through the medium of a mutual friend, to know how large a family they had, and was well aware how difficult it must often be to make ends meet. When she died, Josephine, the youngest daughter, whose pretty name was generally abbreviated to Jo, suddenly found herself offered £2,000 a year, together with this beautiful place on condition that she would consent to live

in the house. If after one month's trial she

refused to live there, the house was to be pulled down, the land sold, and the money all given to various charitable institutions. Mr. Murray, the lawyer, told her that he would not live there for six times the money as it was horribly haunted. But Jo was young and strong and afraid of nothing; she told him it would indeed be a persistent ghost that could prevent her taking advantage of this legacy, not for her

sake only, but for her father and mother, whose lives for years had been one long dreary struggle.

own

“Did you not say," interrupted Mrs. Fortescue, “that this lucky lady's name was Bruce ? If so how is it that she is still called by that name ?"

"She married a distant cousin, Donald Bruce," answered Marjory, "some years after she came to live here. But to go on with my story, she arrived on a bitterly cold day in the beginning of December, to start her trial month."

Marjory paused, her eye caught by the glow of the setting sun, which was intensifying the beauty of the autumn tints. In silence she watched it sink out of sight, leaving that damp chill feeling so peculiar to an autumn evening. She turned again towards Mrs. Fortescue, and seeing lier shiver slightly, she got up exclaiming : “ How selfish I am ! I am so fond of hearing my own voice that I forget to take care of you." So the history of that eventful month was postponed to another day, and Marjory hurried Mrs. Fortescue home to Rosebud cottage.

CHAPTER VIII.

The Month of Probation.

That day in the Manor Woods did Mrs. Fortescue no good. When Marjory called in to see her next day, she found her in bed, and for quite a week she was too ill to go out. Marjory nursed her most carefully, reading to her and cheering her up as much as possible. Bit by bit she told her all the story of Mrs. Bruce's eventful month of probation at Brambleton Manor sixty years ago. In telling the story she always spoke of her as “ Jo," not from any disrespect, as she told her friend, but because it made her realise it all better. “I can sympathise better with ‘Jo' who was only a girl like myself than I ever could with an old lady like Mrs. Bruce, much as I love and respect her.”

as

The substance of the story ran follows, continuing from where Marjory left off in the Manor Woods. When Jo arrived very cold and hungry after a long, dreary journey, she was received at the Manor House by old Bridget, her only living companion for the whole month. The flickering light of an oil lamp dimly showed her a large oak-panelled hall with grim figures of old armour standing about, and Jo was glad when Bridget led the way into a cosy room, where a bright fire was burning, and the table was spread for tea. She was glad to go to bed soon after tea, feeling very lonely but too tired to think of ghosts, and she was soon fast asleep.

« 上一頁繼續 »