The Spectres of Barcelona by Edmund Leamy
(From the Memoirs of an Officer of the Irish
I was little over twenty when, as one of “The Wild
Geese,” I entered, in the year 1695, the infantry
regiment of the Honourable Charles Dillon, who
was serving under the Marquis de Sylvestre,
then conducting a campaign against the
Spaniards in Catalonia. I was travel-stained and
weary when towards the close of a May evening
I arrived in camp, and, having shown my
credentials, I was directed to the quarters of the
Irish regiment, and very glad I was to receive the
hospitality of the mess, I need not say that
they gave me Cead mile failte. Every recruit to
their ranks seemed to bring with him some of the
atmosphere of the home which so many of them
were destined to see nevermore—the home which
often rose before them in a vision on battle eves, and
to which they so often returned in their dreams.
After the first fervent welcome was over, and after
the many enquiries as to how affairs were in
Ireland, they began to recount the services of the
regiment, and to sing the praises of their gallant
colonel. They spoke of battles and sieges of which
I had never heard, but in which they had
participated, and in all of which Colonel Dillon had
taken a distinguished part. Many of them bore on
their persons evidences of fierce encounters, but
they said nothing in praise of themselves; ’twas all
of the colonel, who was, they said, as beloved by
every man serving under him as he was esteemed
by the great generals of the army of King Louis.
These enconiums naturally heightened my desire
to meet Colonel Dillon.
I informed my new comrades that I was the
younger son of a County Mayo family, who were
friends of the colonel’s, and that I brought with me
letters of recommendation from his kinsmen, the
Lallys of Tullenaghdaly.
“You come well credited, young gentleman,”
said the senior sergeant, whose name, I learned
later, was O’Kelly, a man of forty or thereabouts,
whose right cheek was marked by a sabre slash, and
whose left sleeve was empty (I heard afterwards
that he had lost his arm the previous year at the
capture of Palamos from the Spaniards), “and you
are sure of a hearty welcome from our colonel; but
let me tell you, without offence, that if you came
with nothing but your sword you would be equally
sure of a cordial welcome, for our colonel esteems
his men for their valour, and not for birth or connections,
and if I may say it, without boasting,
wherever he leads we follow, and will, boys, to the
end. Here’s to the colonel!”
Every man rose to his feet. There was a clinking
of glasses, and a cheer that nearly lifted the roof off
I joined heartily in the toast, and made an indifferent
attempt to take part in the chorus of a
song which followed, but my eyelids began to feel
very heavy, and, notwithstanding my efforts, were
closing on my eyes.
This was noticed by my comrades, and one of
them got up, and, putting his arm around me as
tenderly as if I were a child, said:—
“You’re tired out, my lad. Come with me, you
can’t see the colonel to-night; he is dining with
the Marquis; but, to-morrow when you are refreshed,
I’ll take you to his quarters.”
I bade my new friends a sleepy good-night, and
remembered nothing till I heard the reveille sound the
next morning. I started up to find myself lying in
a tent with a half-dozen others. For a moment I
was a little bewildered. I rubbed my eyes. The
bugle had ceased, and I heard the voices of the
birds saluting the bright May morning. The
curtain of the tent had been withdrawn, and the
bright light and the sweet air came in.
“You can lie there as long as you like,” said one of
my comrades. “There’s no need for you to get up
But I was eager to be up and about. It was a
glorious morning. The sun shone from a cloudless
sky, and the tents, stretching far, were flashing in
its light. Everywhere was stir and motion, and
many salutations of comrade to comrade resounded
on all sides.
I was delighted with the scene, the well-ordered
tents with wide streets between, the flags and
bannerets fluttering in the brisk morning air, the
bustling soldiers, the neighing horses, the fanfare
of the trumpets. It was just the scene to captivate
the heart of a youth. Here was all the glorious
pageantry of war untarnished, and that buoyant
sense of life that forbade all thoughts of disaster
or defeat, and their woeful consequences.
“That tent yonder,” said one of my comrades,
who was drying his hair after dipping his head in a
bucket of water, “with the French standard over
it is the tent of the Lieutenant-General, the Marquis
de Sylvestre, and that to the right of it at the end
of our lines is the colonel’s. The Marshal, the
Duke de Noailles ought to be in command, but he
is ill, and the marquis takes his place.”
Just then Sergeant O’Kelly came up to me.
“I am glad to see you looking so fresh, young
gentleman,” said he, “this morning. We shall
have breakfast soon, and after it you shall call on
the colonel. The marquis intends to inspect all the
troops to-day, and we must be early on parade.
Hard work is expected in a day or two, and as the
colonel is likely to be very busy you had better see
him as soon as possible.”
About nine o’clock I presented myself at the
colonel’s tent, and learned that he had just finished
I handed my letters to the guard, and requested
him to send them to the colonel. He called one of
the colonel’s servants and gave him the letters. In
a few seconds the servant returned, and ushered me
into the presence of his master.
Young as I was I was surprised at his youth. He
hardly looked his twenty-five years, and he was one
of the handsomest men I had ever seen. He looked
every inch a soldier—tall, well-knit and with an
indefinable suggestion of strength and activity in
his shapely figure. I bowed as I entered, and
before I had well lifted up my head his hands were
on my shoulders.
“You’re welcome, my lad,” said he in the
cheeriest voice, “and you are not a day older
than I was when I joined, and you are from the old
country, too. Well, I wish ’twas in my power to do
something for you for your people’s sake and for
your own; but, you see, since the new formation of
the Irish army of King James in the French service
many Irish gentlemen who had served as officers at
home in the Williamite wars, have been reduced;
some even to the rank of privates, and not a few
are in my regiment in that category, and it would
be invidious of me were I to put a youth like you
above them; but, courage mon camarade, there are
stirring times before us, and Dillon’s regiment is
sure to be found where the bullets fall thickest and
where ranks are thinned, and a gentleman is sure
of promotion if he be put beyond caring for it.”
Here the colonel paused for a second, and looking
full in my eyes, added, “if he win his spurs.”
I confess I was a little disappointed. I had hoped
that, backed up as I was by my family connections
and my letters of recommendation, I would have
obtained the post of ensign. The colonel doubtless
noticed my disappointment.
“You were in camp last night?” he said.
“With whom did you stay?”
“In Sergeant O’Kelly’s tent,” I replied.
“Sergeant O’Kelly!” he exclaimed. “By right
of service and of valour, since he came to France,
he should be captain. He was one in Ireland; he
has not grumbled at his reduction.”
I felt the rebuke.
“I shall be glad to serve under him, colonel,” I
“Good, my lad. You will serve under a gallant
Irish gentleman, and it will not be his fault if he
does not give yon a thousand chances of ‘a bed on
the field of honour.’ “Death or Victory” is the motto
of the regiment.”
An officer riding up to the tent announced that
the lieutenant-general was waiting for the colonel.
“Au revoir, mon camarade,” as he held out his
hand to me, adding, with a laugh, “perhaps you have
not yet caught up this foreign lingo, which would
hardly pass current in the County Mayo. So slan
The colonel vaulted lightly into his saddle, and
many an admiring eye followed him as he rode
with tossing plumes towards the tent of the
Lieutenant-General, the Marquis de Sylvestre.
I returned to that of Sergeant O’Kelly.
“Well, young gentleman, you saw the colonel,
and what did he say to you and what do you think
“I think he is worth fighting with,” I replied,
“and worth dying with, and he said—well he said
that in serving under you I should serve under a
gallant Irish gentleman who would give me every
chance of death or glory.”
The sergeant drew himself up.
“My faith, lad, the colonel himself will give it
you, but I am proud to have you with me.”
For the next week we were kept very busy. The
colonel was a strict disciplinarian, and his men were
exercised for several hours every day. I quickly
picked up a fair knowledge of my duties, and it
was with a certain self-confidence I heard the news
that we were ordered to revictual Ostalric which
had been captured from the Spaniards a year or two
previously. The task was easily accomplished, as
the enemy retired on our approach, but when returning
towards the evening, our regiment, which formed
the rearguard, was suddenly attacked by over three
thousand miquelets or guerillas. They seemed to
have sprung out of the ground, and charged us
with the utmost fury; but our men, facing round,
were as steady as a rock against which the wave
dashes impotently. Some of the guerillas impaled
themselves on our bayonets, and a well-directed
volley threw their front ranks into confusion.
Our colonel, who had been riding in front,
dashed round and put himself at our head.
“Charge, boys!” and quick as the flash of his
sword in the sun, he was in the midst of the enemy.
We followed him with a ringing cheer. I was half
beside myself with excitement. The rattle of the
musketry and the smell of powder were intoxicating.
Suddenly I was blinded. A warm spurt that I
knew instinctively was the blood of a wounded
comrade hit me in the eyes. I put up my hand;
then I felt a sharp pang, and remember nothing
more of the combat.
I learned afterwards that it lasted only a few
minutes. The miquelets were driven off, leaving
many dead and wounded on the field, and they
vanished almost as quickly as they had appeared.
We had only two killed and three or four
wounded, of which I was one. I was hit in the
When I came to myself I was in hospital, and
learned that the colonel had been frequent in his
inquiries, as had also O’Kelly, who had distinguished
himself in the repulse of the enemy.
My wound was rather serious; however, I expected
to be up and about in a few months. But in this I
was disappointed, for when it was nearly healed,
owing to my headstrong ways, as I insisted on leaving
my bed too soon, it broke out afresh, so it came to pass
that I missed several engagements, notably the
raising of the siege of Palamos by the Duke of
Vendome, in which our regiment took part, defeating
the combined Spanish and English forces, and
the subsequent defeat of the Spanish cavalry
under the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, who had
fought at the Boyne. Like every other Irishman
I would have given one of my eyes for a blow at
the English enemy; but the day was to come.
Well, well; all this was a good many years ago.
I was a stripling then. I am an old man now; but
I am not writing a history of my life, and, indeed, I
began this story not intending to speak much of
myself, but only to relate a curious incident which
made a very deep impression on me that time has
not yet wholly effaced, but old men are apt to be
garrulous, and old soldiers like to talk of the
“Battles, fortunes and sieges through which they have passed.”
While I was lying ill of my wound outside Ostalric,
I was attended by one of the men of Dillon’s regiment
who also had been wounded, though slightly,
in the affair, and who I learned afterwards had
begged permission to attend me as a special favour.
He was as tender to me as a woman could have
been, but he was curiously reserved, seldom speaking
except when spoken to, and there was a sad
look in his eyes which scarcely left them even when
he smiled, which he rarely did, provoked by some
sally of mine. He was a brave man they told me
afterwards—they who themselves were brave—fought
like a devil, they said, and was never wounded
except in that affair of Ostalric, and that was
when trying to save me, who was nearly trampled to
death when I fell.
Well, in time I recovered my full health and
strength, and rejoined my regiment along with my
kind attendant, whose name, by the way, was Ryan,
from the borders of Limerick and Tipperary, and I
was in time to take part in the reduction of Barcelona
in the year 1697.
It was one of the most difficult tasks of the French
commander, the Duke of Vendome. The fortifications
were so strong as to be deemed almost impregnable,
and were defended by at least two hundred
and forty pieces of artillery. The garrison consisted
of eleven thousand regular troops and four thousand
militia, and there was also one thousand five
hundred cavalry, and it was well supplied with
munitions of war. A complete investment was impracticable
owing to the compass of the walls and
the outlying very strong fortress of Monjuich,
situated on a lofty hill, commanding the town and
port and a large extent of the plain. Moreover, the
Count de Velasco lay encamped about six miles
outside the town with a force mustering, all told,
about twenty thousand men, mostly composed, it is
true, of irregulars and guerillas. The French troops
did not amount to quite thirty thousand men, including
the marines landed from the fleet.
We approached the town on the 13th of July,
Vendome having the day before surprised and
routed the Count de Velasco, and on our approach
the Spaniards abandoned the Convent of the
Capuchins, which was some distance from the walls,
and the Duke of Vendome ordered our regiment to
occupy it, and that night I found myself for the
first time in my life in a convent cell, having Ryan
as my comrade.
The cell was small, and bore evidence not very
agreeable of its recent occupation by the Spanish
soldiery, but Ryan, who persisted in treating me as
if he were my servant, soon set to work, cleaned it
out, and brought in some hay and made comfortable
beds for himself and me in opposite
corners of the cell. It was quite bare of furniture
of any kind, but this we did not miss, as we were
to use it only for sleeping quarters.
We turned in about half-past ten, and I was soon
sound asleep. I was awakened by a shout from Ryan:
“Did you see it? Did you see it?”
“See what?” I answered bewildered.
The moon was shining in through the window
and the cell was half in light and half in shadow.
The moonlight fell on Ryan’s share of it. I saw
that he was sitting up and that his usually dark
face was very pale, and there was a wild gleam in
“What was it?” I repeated.
“Oh nothing! What a fool I am. I had a
horrible nightmare. I am sorry for disturbing
“Well, you did startle me, I confess,” said I. He
lay down again, and I did likewise, and slept
without interruption until morning. I thought no
more of the incident of the previous night, although
I could not help noticing that my companion’s face
looked rather haggard.
Our second night in the cell passed, for me, very
quietly, and Ryan said nothing to suggest that it
was otherwise with him. The third night the incident
of the first night was repeated. Ryan started
“Did you see it? Did you see it?”
I jumped from my bed and struck a light. The
cell was, of course, empty, the door fast closed.
“I am afraid you are ill, comrade,” said I, and as
I went towards him I could see the perspiration in
large beads on his forehead, and he was trembling
like a scared child.
“Yes, yes, I must be getting ill, I suppose—but
you saw nothing?” he added eagerly.
“Of course I saw nothing,” I replied. “What
was there to see?”
“And—and you saw nothing on the wall there?”
He pointed his hand towards one of the walls of
“Nothing. Wake up, man. You are still
He shuddered like one feeling a sudden chill, and
then he said:
“It’s very foolish of me, and I’m sorry to be such
a trouble to you.”
“Oh, that is nothing,” I said. “You had better
see the doctor in the morning.”
The next day there was no time to see the doctor.
We were early under arms, and marched several
miles in the direction of Llobregat on a reconnoitring
expedition. The day was very warm, and a
good part of the way was rough, and when we
returned to our quarters in the evening, I, for one,
was pretty well tired out, and Ryan confessed to me
that he was also; but I suspected that a hardened
soldier such as he, was not fatigued by the march,
and that want of rest and the disturbance of the
previous nights were what had done him up.
“I expect to sleep well to-night,” he said, as we
extinguished our lights.
“And I also,” said I.
But we were to be disappointed. Towards midnight
a terrific thunderstorm burst over the town
and our camp, and the rain came down in torrents.
Nevertheless our battalions in the trenches, which
had been opened the night before, were pushing on
their work. The enemy suspecting this turned on
them the fire of forty pieces of cannon, which, notwithstanding
the tempest, were very well served,
and gave the quietus to not a few of our men. The
booming of the guns and the peals of thunder made
sleep impossible. Suddenly a vivid flash of lightning
illumined the cell.
“My God! my God! Do you see him now?”
cried Ryan in a tone of agony.
I was spellbound. I couldn’t answer.
There, standing between Ryan and me, was the
figure of a Capuchin monk in his brown habit and
cowl, and holding up in his hand a plain unfigured
cross that in the lightning gleamed like fire. I saw
the figure only for a second or two. It retreated
towards the door and vanished.
“Look at the wall, look at the wall!” cried Ryan,
I looked, and on the wall appeared a cross, also
without a figure, but this too disappeared in a
The roar of the tempest still continued, and the
booming of the guns. Sleep now was out of the
question. I got up and dressed myself. Ryan,
who appeared unable to speak or move, lay back in
his bed, his eyes closed. I roused him up.
“Tell me, did you see him, did you see him?” he
whispered, clutching convulsively my arm.
“Let us get up and go down to the guard room,”
I said. “The day is breaking, and we are not
likely to sleep any more, and you are ill.”
Ryan dressed himself, and we went down, he
more dead than alive, to the guard room. His
illness was manifest to all, and he was quickly
restored by portion of the contents of a brandy flask
which seemed to work wonders with him.
We did not sleep in the cell again, and the
weather being very warm we were not sorry when
sometime after we were ordered to the outlying
posts of the left wing of our army.
Before we quitted the convent I paid a visit, in
the daytime, to the cell. There was nothing about
it to suggest a ghostly visitant; but, on looking at
one of the end walls, I noticed the faint sign of a
cross. I was considerably startled by it, but on
closer examination, I discovered it was such a mark
as anything placed against a wall for a long time
generally leaves, less through its own action as to
that of the atmosphere, on the uncovered portion of
the walls. But it did seem a little strange that it
should be on the very part of the wall on which I
had seen the vision of a cross. Perhaps, I said to
myself, Ryan had noticed this mark, and it worked
in some way on his disordered imagination. But
this could not explain the vision as seen by myself,
either of the cross or of the Capuchin, and it was
with a feeling akin to awe that I left the cell for
the last time, wondering whether anything would
ever occur which might throw a light on the
Ryan, who shared the bivouac with me, had
begged me not to mention to anyone what he
fancied (as he put it) he had seen, for I had not
told him that I had seen anything, and, after my
promise to this effect, he never alluded to the
matter; but I noticed that, henceforth, he became,
even for him, unusually reserved, and that
there was a deep seated trouble in his eyes; but he
continued to be attentive, more attentive, if
possible, to me than before.
For some weeks we lay close to the outposts,
chafing under the inactivity to which we were
condemned. Meanwhile, the trenches were being
pushed forward, and, at intervals, we saw the flash
and heard the roar of the cannon from the ramparts;
but this after a time ceased to have much interest
for us. Occasionally there were rumours of an
attempt about to be made by the enemy to revictual
Barcelona, where provisions had run low; but they
came to nothing, and they no longer served to
rouse any hope of a brush with the Spaniards.
At last, however, the scouts brought us the news
that nearly the whole of the enemy’s cavalry were
moving from the side of Llobregat, covering a large
convoy, which they hoped to be able under the protection
of the guns of Fort Monjuich, to take safely
into the town. The Duke at once despatched a
large body of troops to intercept the convoy, but,
unfortunately, as we thought, we were not of
the number, and expected another idle day at
our posts. But our troops had hardly moved out
against the enemy when from a mountain in the
rear of the posts a large body of Spanish infantry
swept down like a torrent, while from around its
base appeared several hundred cavalry. Their object,
of course, was to effect a diversion. They could not
have hoped for a surprise; still, I confess, they came
on so suddenly and so swiftly, that we had but just
time to be ready to receive them.
We repelled their first fierce onset. They came
on again and again, but under the steady fire of our
men, aided by the fire from the French regiment
under Colonel Solre, they at last gave way and
broke, the cavalry galloping off down the valley
and the infantry climbing the hill like goats, but
with our colonel at our head we climbed up after
them, pausing only to fire and bring them down in
dozens. Foremost in the ascent was Ryan. With
difficulty I kept within view of him, and when at
length I reached the top of the mountain with
several others, I found him lying thoroughly
exhausted, and in his eyes was the wild look
which I had noticed on the occasion of the apparitions.
His musket was some paces from him.
Fortunately close to where he was lying was a
mountain spring of perfectly cool, clear water. I
filled my shako with it, and put it to his lips.
The draught revived him and I sat down beside
him, glad enough of the rest. Ryan continued silent
and so did I, gazing down on the magnificent
panorama that lay stretched before me—the wide,
far-reaching plains, the camp and the beleaguered
town all framed in the blue gleaming waters of
the Mediterranean. Away in the distance to the
far right a cloud of dust and smoke and an incessant
rattle of musketry betrayed the whereabouts of
the conflict between our troops and the Spanish
cavalry. On the mountain the firing had ceased,
except for a stray shot. The escaped Spaniards
had fled precipitately down its opposite side. Our
colonel ordered the recall to be sounded, and with
the light hearts of victors we stepped down the
mountain to our posts, counting on our way some
hundreds of killed of the enemy.
The attack on the convoy was successful. The
Spanish cavalry were put to flight, though not
until after a sturdy resistance, and the convoy fell
into our hands. This decided the fate of the siege,
for the next day negotiations for the surrender of
Barcelona were opened up, and on that very day
the Marshal the Duke de Vendome rode down to
our posts and publicly thanked Colonel Dillon and
the Irish regiment for their services and complimented
them on their matchless valour, and, indeed,
to the last day of his life the gallant Duke never
missed saying a good word for the soldiers of the
Irish Brigade, and he insisted that no one had
better opportunities of knowing what they could do
in the face of an enemy.
For several days Ryan continued very silent and
was almost morose, but on the day before that on
which the enemy were to march out from Barcelona
he found me as I was lying by a small stream at
the base of the mountain up which we had chased
the Spaniards, and enjoying what to me then was
a novel luxury—a pipe.
“Would you mind coming up a bit of the mountain,”
said he to me gravely, “I want to speak to
The request seemed strange as the nearest soldiers
were several yards away from where we were, but I
rose and followed him. When we had ascended
about thirty or forty yards he sat down under a
bush and I beside him. I waited for him to speak.
“I saw him again,” he said, “when I came up
here the other day. I had just reached the spot
where you found me. I aimed, as I thought, at
the back of a flying Spanish trooper. He whom I
took for the trooper turned round. It was
“Who?” I asked, although I anticipated the
“The Capuchin!” and Ryan trembled as he said
“I cannot bear it any longer. I must confess at
last. God grant I have not done you irreparable
“You! You are one of the Browns of the
County Mayo; the youngest son of that Captain
Brown, who, when he was not much older than
you, fought against Cromwell and lost his patrimony,
but who afterwards, having been an exile
with Charles II. regained it, though not till several
years after the Restoration.”
“And what do you know of him or his family?”
I asked curiously.
“Not much more than I have told you,” he replied,
to my surprise, “except that your father
went abroad again, and died not long after you
“That is so,” I said.
“Your mother had not received a communication
from him for some time prior to his death.”
“But how do you know that?”
“Let me go on,” he replied, “I shall be the
sooner finished. He died in Madrid, and he sent
home papers and valuables through a Spanish
Capuchin monk, who was visiting Ireland on a
mission, which, I understood, was part political
and part religious.”
“From whom did you learn this?”
“Yes. He was riding by where I lived on a
lonely, bare spot, that you may chance to have
heard of, Knockcreggan. The night was bad,
dark, and wild; the road couldn’t be worse. It
was like the bed of a torrent, huge stones
and boulders everywhere. Just opposite the
door of my cabin the horse stumbled and fell.
I heard a cry, and went out and found the
prostrate monk bleeding badly from a wound
over his temple. I brought him in, put him down
on a truss of straw, and bandaged him as well as I
“After a while, for he was at first unconscious,
he spoke faintly, and asked for ‘more light.’ I
made a blazing fire of turf, and lit a couple of
candles—all I had.
“‘I know I am dying,’ he said, ‘are you a
Catholic?’ I told him I was.
“‘I am a monk,’ he said ‘a Spanish Capuchin
monk. I want you to swear on this cross that you
will do what I ask you; it being only an act of
charity,’ and he held up the cross which had been
hidden in the breast of his riding coat.
“It blazed, my God! as I saw it blaze in the
cell the night of the storm,” and Ryan shuddered,
although we were then in the full light of the
evening, and the bustling camp below us. “I took
the oath on the cross,” Ryan went on to say, “to
carry to the captain’s widow—your mother—two
parcels, one of papers, which the monk told me,
while of the greatest importance to your family
were of no use to strangers; and another containing
some gold and valuable jewels.
“‘You will be well paid for your trouble, I know,’
the monk said to me; ‘but promise me again on
the cross that you will deliver both these parcels
safe and sound, and will not touch coin or jewel.
If you do, I warn you, you will be struck dead
when you least expect it, and by an invisible
and supernatural hand. But tell no one of your
“The monk died that night. I sent for the neighbours,
and we waked him and buried him, and I
thought of setting out for your mother’s house, but
the weather grew worse and worse, and the roads
were impassable. ’Twas unlucky for me. I meant
well, and intended to do what I promised, but the
temptation came to me to look at the purse, and
when I saw the gold and the jewels shining, the
temptation came to me to keep ’em—who would
be the wiser, and I was poor? I was living alone
there on the side of the Knock, and here was a
fortune in my hands. Well, the temptation grew
stronger, and I yielded. I kept the money, and
went to Dublin and spent it, and I sold the jewels,
and when the money got for them was nearly all
gone, the troubles broke out and the Viscount
raised the regiment for the young colonel, and I
joined it. And ’tis many and many’s the time
I’ve looked death in the face since, and he passed
me by. And when I saw you I thought I’d try
and make up for my crime some little bit, and that
I’d guard and give my life for you.”
I was so amazed at the story that I did not
speak for a moment or two after he had concluded.
“Will you forgive me, for God’s sake?”
“The papers,” I said. “What about the papers?”
“I have them here,” he said, “here!” And
with his bayonet point he ripped open the lining
of his coat and produced a bundle of papers in a
leathern wrapper. “I never opened them. I
could not read. I don’t know what is in them. I
thought they might be of use some day, and that
I could give them up to the rightful owner, as I
am doing now.”
I took the papers like one in a dream. I rose
without another word, and went down the mountain.
I sought out a sequestered spot where I was
sure to be uninterrupted, opened the package and
read. Well, it boots nothing to anyone now to
know what was in them. There were family
secrets which, if revealed at the time, would have
changed the current of many lives, including my
own; but it could serve nothing but a selfish
purpose of my own were I to reveal them now; so
having read the papers, and dropped a tear over
the handwriting of him who was my father, I tore
the papers into bits, set them alight, and waited
until every vestige was consumed.
Ryan avoided me for the next few days, but if I
had any resentment against him it died out. I
might still have taken advantage of the information
given by the papers, but deliberately decided not
to do so. As for the money and the trinkets—well,
they were gone, and Ryan had suffered terribly,
was still suffering, had risked his life and
shed his blood at Ostalric to save mine.
We did not meet again until we entered Barcelona,
the enemy having marched out. That night it
chanced that both he and I were ordered for duty
on the ramparts as sentries. Before our time came
I went to him, and holding out my hand, said,
“Ryan, I forgive you with all my heart, and forget.”
“But he won’t,” he replied with a slight tremor.
“Nonsense,” I said, “you have confessed your
wrong-doing, and all is over. You shall never see
The clock of the cathedral had sounded midnight.
The officers went their rounds, and I from
my station was looking down on the port and out
over the Mediterranean, scarcely stirring beneath
the stars. The clock sounded one. All was quiet.
Two o’clock struck. Suddenly I heard fierce voices
of challenge given in Spanish. I was on the alert,
but could see nothing. The voices appeared to be
in the air, and to come close to the ramparts. I
shook myself to see if I were wide awake, but the
voices continued. Then I heard the sentries challenging
“Qui vive?” one after another. I too
challenged. A musket shot rang through the night.
The cry to arms was raised, and the ramparts were
quickly crowded with officers and men. In the east
the day was breaking. Its full light was soon on
the ramparts. Men looked curiously at each other.
The sentries questioned, all repeated the same
story. They heard the voices, as they thought, of
Spanish soldiers, and had replied by challenging.
Who fired the shot?
There was not much need to ask. Ryan was
lying dead close to one of the batteries. His musket,
which had been exploded, lay beside him. Even
in death his face wore the scared look of a man
who had seen a dreadful vision. I shuddered as I
looked at him, and thought of the threat of the
Capuchin of the “invisible and supernatural hand.”
I kept my own counsel. I myself never heard anything
after that night, but others did, or thought
so, and this fact is attested by Captain Drake, of
Drakerath, in the county of Meath, who was of our
regiment, and one of the coolest and bravest officers
of the brigade, and who has set forth in his memoirs
that he, while on night duty on the ramparts,
thought he saw and heard the Spectre of Barcelona.