When this rude rhyme had been repeated in chorus, there was a little silence, and the conversation took a somewhat deeper tone. It began through Grace asking Mr. Raby, with all the simplicity of youth, whether he had ever seen anything supernatural with his own eyes. "For instance," said she, "this deserted church of yours, that you say the shepherd said he saw on fire--did YOU see that?"
"Not I. Indeed, the church is not in sight from here. No, Grace, I never saw any thing supernatural: and I am sorry for it, for I laugh at people's notion that a dead man has any power to injure the living; how can a cold wind come from a disembodied spirit? I am all that a ghost is, and something more; and I only wish I COULD call the dead from their graves; I'd soon have a dozen gentlemen and ladies out of that old church-yard into this very room. And, if they would only come, you would see me converse with them as civilly and as calmly as I am doing with you. The fact is, I have some questions to put, which only the dead can answer--passages in the family correspondence, referring to things I can't make out for the life of me."
"Oh, Mr. Raby, pray don't talk in this dreadful way, for fear they should be angry and come." And Grace looked fearfully round over her shoulder.
Mr. Raby shook his head; and there was a dead silence.
Mr. Raby broke it rather unexpectedly. "But," said he, gravely, "if I have seen nothing, I've heard something. Whether it was supernatural, I can't say; but, at least, it was unaccountable and terrible. I have heard THE GABRIEL HOUNDS."
Mr. Coventry and Grace looked at one another, and then inquired, almost in a breath, what the Gabriel hounds were.
"A strange thing in the air that is said, in these parts, to foretell calamity."
"Oh dear!" said Grace, "this is thrilling again; pray tell us."