THE LORD OF PENGERSWICK AN ENCHANTER.
THE Lord of Pengerswick came from some Eastern clime, bringing with him a foreign lady of great beauty. She was considered by all an "outlandish" woman; and by many declared to be a "Saracen." [a] No one, beyond the selected servants, was ever allowed within the walls of Pengerswick Castle; and they, it was said, were bound by magic spells. No one dared tell of anything transacted within the walls; consequently all. was conjecture amongst the neighbouring peasantry, miners, and fishermen. Certain it was, they said, that Pengerswick would shut himself up for days together in his chamber, burning strange things, which sent their strong odours,--not only to every part of the castle,--
but for miles around the country. Often at night, and especially in stormy weather, Pengerswick was heard for hours together calling up the spirits, by reading from his books in some unknown tongue. On those occasions his voice would roll through the halls louder than the surging waves which beat against the neighbouring rocks, the spirits replying like the roar of thunder. Then would all the servants rush in fright from the building, and remain crowded together, even in the most tempestuous night, in one of the open courts. Fearful indeed would be the strife between the man and the demons ; and it sometimes happened that the spirits were too powerful for the enchanter. He was, however, constantly and carefully watched by his wife; and whenever the strife became too serious, her harp was heard making the softest, the sweetest music. At this the spirits fled; and they were heard passing through the air towards the Land's-End, moaning like the soughing of a departing storm. The lights would then be extinguished in the enchanter's tower, and all would be peace. The servants would return to their apartments with a feeling of perfect confidence. They feared their master, but their mistress inspired them with love. Lady Pengerswick was never seen beyond the grounds surrounding the castle. She sat all day in lonely state and pride in her tower, the lattice-window of her apartment being high on the seaward side. Her voice accompanying the music of her harp was rarely heard, hut when she warbled the soft love strains of her Eastern land. Often at early dawn the very fishes of the neighbouring bay would raise their heads above the surface of the waters, enchanted by the music and the voice; and it is said that the mermaids from the Lizard, and many of the strange spirits of the waters, would come near to Pengerswick cove, drawn by the same influence. On moonlight nights the air has often seemed to be full of sound, and yet the lady's voice was seldom louder than that of a warbling bird. On these occasions, men have seen thousands of spirits gliding up and down the moonbeams, and floating idly on the silvered waves, listening to, and sometimes softly echoing, the words which Lady Pengerswick sang. Long did this strange pair inhabit this lonely castle; and although the Lord of Pengerswick frequently rode abroad on a most magnificent horse--which had the reputation of being of Satanic origin, it was at once so docile to its master and so wild to any other person,--yet he made no acquaintance with any of the neighbouring gentry. He was feared by all, and yet they respected him for many of the good deeds performed by him. He completely enthralled the Giants of the Mount; and before he disappeared from Cornwall, they died, owing, it was said, to grief and want of food.
Where the Lord of Pengerswick came from, no one knew; he, with his lady, with two attendants, who never spoke in any but an Eastern tongue, which was understood by none around them, made their appearance one winter's day, mounted on beautiful horses, evidently from Arabia or some distant land.
They soon--having gold in abundance--got possession of a cottage; and in a marvellously short time the castle, which yet bears his name, was rebuilt by this lord. Many affirm that the lord by the force of his enchantments, and the lady by the spell of her voice, compelled the spirits of the earth and air to work for them; and that three nights were sufficient to rear an enormous pile, of which but one tower now remains.
Their coming was sudden and mysterious; their going was still more so. Years had rolled on, and the people around were familiarised with those strange neighbours, from whom also they derived large profits, since they paid whatsoever price was demanded for any article which they required. One day a stranger was seen in Market-Jew, whose face was bronzed by long exposure to an Eastern sun. No one knew him; and he eluded the anxious inquiries of the numerous gossips, who were especially anxious to learn something of this man, who, it was surmised by every one, must have some connection with Pengerswick or his lady; yet no one could assign any reason for such a supposition. Week after week passed away, and the stranger remained in the town, giving no sign. Wonder was on every old woman's lips, and expressed in every old man's eyes; but they had to wonder on. One thing, it was said, had been noticed; and this seemed to confirm the suspicions of the people. The stranger wandered out on dark nights--spent them, it was thought on the sea-shore; and some fishermen said they had seen him seated on the rock at the entrance of the valley of Pengerswic'k. It was thought that the lord kept more at home than usual, and of late no one had heard his incantation songs and sounds; neither had they heard the harp of the lady. A very tempestuous night, singular for its gloom-- when even the ordinary light, which, on the darkest night, is evident to the traveller in the open country, it did not exist--appears to have brought things to their climax. There was a sudden alarm in Market-Jew, a red glare in the eastern sky, and presently a burst of flames above the hill, and St Michael's Mount was illuminated in a remarkable manner. Pengerswick Castle was on fire; the servants fled in terror; but neither the lord nor his lady could be found. From that day to the present they were lost to all.
The interior of the castle was entirely destroyed; not a vestige of furniture, books, or anything belonging to the "Enchanter" could be found. He and everything belonging to him had vanished, and, strange to tell, from that night the bronzed stranger was never again seen. The inhabitants of Market-Jew naturally crowded to the fire; and when all was over they returned to their homes, speculating on the strange occurrences of the night. Two of the oldest people always declared that, when the flames were at the highest, they saw two men and a lady floating in the midst of the lire, and that they ascended from amidst the falling walls, passed through the air like lightning, and disappeared.
[a] See Appendix AA.