"To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities."Bruce Lee
Om du inte kan vara en poet, var dikten.
— David Carradine
"To hell with circumstances. I create opportunities."Bruce Lee
Om du inte kan vara en poet, var dikten.
Throughout history, there have been reports which we of the modern age would have to doubt. If we don’t doubt them, then we have to believe in a world of supernatural events, happenings beyond the explanation of science.
For example Since the Middle Ages, people have been reporting ghosts in several of England’s castles and manor houses. One report which was re-peated over and over again was the “return of the spirit of Catherine Howard in the haunted gallery of Hampton Court.” So many people claimed to have seen this apparition that in January of 1950, the British Broadcasting Com-pany sent a television crew to the so-called haunted gallery. They set up cameras and infra-red spotlights, but as long as they were there, no ghost appeared. Several nights after they left, however, two women again saw a ghostly image of the tragic Catherine. One said, “Of course the B.B.C. couldn’t televise her. With all those men and cameras and electric cables, the poor ghost was frightened half to death!”
The following case, said to be authentic, is quoted here because of the incident of the “shouts and laughter” which were heard, and which serve to throw an interesting sidelight on the case which follows it.
The Rev. F. G. Lee, in his book, Sights and Shadows, gives the following account, sent to him, of a haunted house in France:
“In the spring of the year 1891, great excitement was occasioned by a disembodied spirit in a haunted house in LePort, at Nice. This is situated in a terrace close to the quarries, where, after the reports concerning it, as many as two thousand persons were often gathered round it. The spirits haunting it—never visible, however—would beat the inmates so unmercifully that the blows would leave bruises. Hundreds of persons saw the result, and testified to the undoubted facts. The local police, on being appealed to, and having heard the evidence of numerous eye-witnesses, and of those persons who were inconvenienced, formed a body of organized inquirers, who, shrewd enough in mundane matters, utterly failed to discover anything or anybody.
“On one occasion, thirteen men sat up in three rooms which had been well lighted, and some of them played cards for several hours to while away the time. During the whole of this occurrence, the strangest noises were heard in various parts of the building. It seemed, at one time, as if a whole regiment of soldiers were tramping up the chief staircase. Pictures swung to and fro upon the walls, without any visible motive effect. Then heavy blows were heard on the walls, and it appeared that the closed doors and the shutters were being violently struck and thumped, as if with a large hammer wrapped in cloth.
“On two occasions, a room on the ground floor was found to be in the densest darkness, though outside the house the sun was shining. On another occasion, just before midnight, when certain persons were specially present to note any supernatural occurrences, all the lamps in the house were suddenly put out; while shouts and laughter were heard in every part of the place, more particularly from the empty rooms. At the same time, heavy blows were experienced by those present, who were very severely bruised, and a large bottle of ink was thrown by invisible hands from the top of the staircase.
“Every attempt was made to discover the source of these extraordinary disorders, but without avail. They were reported to have ceased for several months, but to have commenced again at a later period. A local communication says that they still ‘occur at intervals.’”
The following account is taken from the report of the San Francisco Examiner, and is certainly one of the most striking cases of the character on record. It is not put forward as strictly “evidential,” but its interesting nature certainly warrants its insertion in this volume.
“Soon after the Walsinghams took up their abode in their new home, they began to be disturbed by strange sounds and odd phenomena. These disturbances generally took the form of noises in the house after the family had retired and the lights had been extinguished—continual banging of the doors, things overturned, the doorbell rang, and the annoying of the house dog, a large and intelligent mastiff.
“One day Don Cæsar, the mastiff, was found in the hallway barking furiously and bristling with rage, while his eyes seemed directed to the wall just before him. At last he made a spring forward with a hoarse yelp of ungovernable fury, only to fall back as if flung down by some powerful and cruel hand. Upon examination it was found that his neck had been broken.
“The house cat, on the contrary, seemed rather to enjoy the favor of the ghost, and would often enter a door as if escorting some visitor, whose hand was stroking her back. She would also climb about a chair, rubbing herself and purring as if well pleased at the presence of some one in the seat. She and Don Cæsar invariably manifested this eccentric conduct at the same time, as though the mysterious being were visible to both of them.
“The annoying visitant finally took to arousing the family at all hours of the night by making such a row as to render any rest impossible.
“This noise, which consisted of shouts, groans, hideous laughter, and a peculiar, most distressing wail, would sometimes proceed, apparently, from under the house, sometimes from the ceiling and at other times in the very room in which the family was seated. One night Miss Amelia Walsingham, the young lady daughter, was engaged at her toilet, when she felt a hand softly laid on her shoulder. Thinking it her mother or sister, she glanced at the glass before her, only to be thunderstruck at seeing the mirror reflect no form but her own, though she could plainly see a man’s broad hand lying on her arm.
“She brought the family to her by her screams, but when they reached her all sign of the mysterious hand had gone. Mr. Walsingham himself saw footsteps form beside his own while walking through the garden after a light rain.
“The marks were those of a man’s naked feet, and fell beside his own, as if the person walked at his side.
“Matters grew so serious that the Walsinghams became frightened, and talked of leaving the house, when an event took place which confirmed them in this determination. The family was seated at the supper table with several guests who were spending the evening when a loud groan was heard in the room overhead.
“This was, however, nothing unusual, and very little notice was taken of it until one of the visitors pointed out a stain of what looked like blood on the white table cloth, and it was seen that some liquid was slowly dripping on the table from the ceiling overhead. This liquid was so much like freshly-shed blood that it horrified those who watched its slow dropping. Mr. Walsingham, with several of his guests, ran hastily upstairs and into the room directly over the one in which the blood was dripping.
“A carpet covered the floor, and nothing appeared to explain the source of the ghastly rain; but, anxious to satisfy themselves thoroughly, the carpet was immediately ripped up, and the boarding found to be perfectly dry, and even covered with a thin layer of dust, and all the while the floor was being examined the persons below could swear the blood never ceased to drop. A stain the size of a dinner-plate was formed before the drops ceased to fall. This stain was examined the next day under the microscope, and was pronounced by competent chemists to be human blood.
“The Walsinghams left the house next day, and since then the place has been apparently given over to spooks and evil spirits, which make the night hideous with the noise of revel, shouts and furious yells. Hundreds from all over this county and adjacent ones have visited the place, but few have had the courage to pass the night in the haunted house. One daring spirit, however, Horace Gunn, of Savannah, accepted a wager that he could not spend twenty-four hours in it, and did so, though he declares that there is not enough money in the country to make him pass another night there. He was found the morning after by his friends with whom he made the wager, in a swoon. He has never recovered from the shock of his horrible experience, and is still confined to his bed suffering from nervous prostration.
“His story is that shortly after nightfall he endeavored to kindle a fire in one of the rooms, and to light the lamp with which he had provided himself, but to his surprise and consternation, found it impossible to do either. An icy breath, which seemed to proceed from some invisible person at his side, extinguished each match as he lighted it. At this peculiarly terrifying turn of affairs Mr. Gunn would have left the house and forfeited the amount of his wager, a considerable one, but he was restrained by the fear of ridicule. He steadied himself in the dark with what calmness he could, and waited developments.
“For some time nothing occurred, and the young man was half-dozing, when, after an hour or two, he was brought to his feet by a sudden yell of pain or rage that seemed to come from under the house. This appeared to be the signal for an outbreak of hideous noises all over the house. The sound of running feet could be heard scurrying up and down the stairs, hastening from one room to another, as if one person fled from the pursuit of a second. This kept up for nearly an hour, but at last ceased altogether, and for some time Mr. Gunn sat in darkness and quiet, and had about concluded that the performance was over for the night. At last, however, his attention was attracted by a white spot that gradually appeared on the opposite wall.
“The spot continued to brighten, until it seemed a disc of white fire, when the horrified spectator saw that the light emanated from and surrounded a human head, which, without a body, or any visible means of support, was moving slowly along the wall, about the height of a man from the floor. This ghastly head appeared to be that of an aged person, though whether male or female it was difficult to determine. The hair was long and gray, and matted together with dark clots of blood, which also issued from a deep jagged wound in one temple. The cheeks were fallen in and the whole face indicated suffering and unspeakable misery. The eyes were wide open, and gleamed with an unearthly fire, while the glassy eyes seemed to follow the terror-stricken Gunn, who was too thoroughly paralyzed by what he saw to move or cry out. Finally, the head disappeared and the room was once more left in darkness, but the young man could hear what seemed to be half a dozen persons moving about him, while the whole house shook as if rocked by some violent earthquake.
“The groaning and the wailing that broke forth from every direction was something terrific, and an unearthly rattle and banging as of china or tin pans being flung to the ground floor from the upper story added to the deafening noise. Gunn at last roused himself sufficiently to try and leave the haunted house. Feeling his way along the wall, in order to avoid the beings, whatever they were, that filled the room, the young man had nearly succeeded in reaching the door when he found himself seized by the ankle and was violently thrown to the floor. He was grasped by icy hands, which sought to grip him about the throat. He struggled with his unseen foe, but was soon overpowered and choked into insensibility. When found by his friends, his throat was black with the marks of long, thin fingers, armed with cruel, curved nails.
“The only explanation which, can be found for these mysterious manifestations is that about three months before, a number of bones were discovered on the Walsingham place, which some declared even then to be those of a human being. Mr. Walsingham pronounced them, however, to be an animal’s, and they were hastily thrown into an adjacent limekiln. It is supposed to be the outraged spirit of a person to whom they belonged in life which is now creating such consternation.”
The following narrative is vouched for by Mrs. H. S. Iredell, of Tunbridge Wells, England, a relative of the Rev. Dr. Lee, who gives the case in his Sights and Shadows:
“The haunted house in question is near Wandsworth common. The late occupants of it were a man, his wife and their child. They had to leave it, for they could get no rest in it at night for the fearful noises which went on incessantly, like sounds as of a sledge-hammer wrapped in flannel struck against the walls. The sister-in-law of the late occupants, who told me of it, had spent some days at the house, so I heard all the story first-hand. One night she likewise felt as if someone had taken her by the shoulders and she was being roughly shaken from side to side. Her husband, who was with her, saw her at the time she was being shaken by an invisible power, stretched out his hand to take hold of her; but he felt right up his arm to his shoulder a shock, as it were of electricity, which made him instantly draw back and cry out. Nothing was ever seen, but in the special sleeping-room which seemed to be haunted, the clothes used to be pulled off the bed at night and thrown on the floor, and then they used toraise or rear themselves up again on the bed….
“Since the above was written, it is reported, that no less than five families have respectively occupied the house as tenants, who one and all have left it as soon as possible. It is now said to be permanently untenanted.”
The following incident comes from Australia, and is well-known in that part of the world. It is usually known as “Fisher’s Ghost,” and is to the following effect: “A number of years ago, a free settler, named John Fisher, who had long successfully cultivated a grant of land in a remote district, and who was known to be possessed of a considerable sum of money, had been missing for some time after having visited the nearest market town, whither he had been in the habit of repairing with cattle and produce for sale.
“An inquiry was instituted by his acquaintances; but his head servant, or rather his assistant on the farm—an ex-convict, who had lived many years with him in that situation—declared that his master had left the colony for some time on business, and that he expected him to return in a few months. As this man was generally known as Fisher’s confidential servant, his assertion was believed—though some expressed surprise at the settler’s abrupt and clandestine departure; for his character was good in every way. The ‘month’s wonder’ soon subsided, however, and Fisher was forgotten. His assistant, meanwhile, managed the farm, bought and sold, and spent money freely. If questioned, which was but rarely, he would express his surprise at his master’s delay, and pretend to expect him daily.
“A few months after he had been first missed, a neighbouring settler, who was returning late on Saturday night from the market town, had occasion to pass within half a mile of Fisher’s house. As he was riding by the fence which separated the farm from the high road, he distinctly saw the figure of a man seated on the railing, and at once recognized the form and features of his lost neighbor.
“He instantly stopped and called to him by name; but the figure descended from the railing, and pointing appealingly toward the house, walked slowly across the field in that direction. The settler, having lost sight of him in the gloom, proceeded on his journey, and informed his family and neighbors that he had seen Fisher and spoken to him. On inquiry, however, Fisher’s assistant said that he had not arrived, and affected to laugh at the settler’s story—insinuating that he had probably drunk too freely at the market.
“The neighbors were, however, not satisfied. The strange appearance of Fisher, sitting on the rail and pointing, with so much meaning, toward his own house aroused their suspicions, and they insisted upon a strict and immediate investigation by the police.
“The party of investigators took with them an old and clever native. They had not proceeded far in the underbrush when they discovered a log, on which was a dark brown stain. This the native examined, and at once declared it to be ‘white man’s blood.’ He then, without hesitation, set off at a full run, toward a pond not far from the house.
“He ran backwards and forwards about the pond, like a dog on the scent; and finally, borrowing a ram-rod from one of the settlers, ran it into the earth. He did this in one or two places; and finally said: ‘White man here.’
“The spot was immediately dug up, and a corpse, identified as that of Fisher, was discovered, its skull fractured, and evidently many weeks buried.
“The guilty assistant was immediately arrested, and tried at Sydney, on circumstantial evidence alone—strong enough, however, to convict him, in spite of his self-possession, and protestations of innocence. He was sentenced to death; and, previous to his execution, made an ample confession of his guilt.”
The Ghost of Ashdown House
By far the vainest dandy in all England in 1665 was Lord Jeffrey Craven, who dressed to the teeth in all the laces and plumed adorements of the period. Craven built an enormous house near Coxwell in Berkshire and there the dandy entertained hundreds of guests at huge banquets and drunken revels. But in four short years, Lord Craven’s extrvagant way of life dissipated his fortune and left him penniless. Lord Craven died on April 27th 1669. But apparently his spirit loved his dandified way of life too much to give it up for the ghost can still be seen on dark nights, walking the road near Ashdowne house, as if looking for company.
Many people have seen the ragged ghost standing at the window of his haunted house, raising his glass in a toast to someone only he can see. A few of the bolder watchers have even clumbed onto the roof of one of the wings and gazed into the large banquet hall where the ghostly ragged dandy was seen sitting at the head of his revelers’ tavle, lauging and drinking with his invisible guests.
The Amherst Activity
This is one of the most remarkable cases on record. It is the case of a haunted house, in which many physical manifestations of all sorts took place, and were observed by nearly a hundred persons, all of whom testified as to the reality of the facts. The house in question is situated in Amherst, N. S.—hence the name. Residing in this small house were (when the events occurred) Mr. and Mrs. Teed, their children, Willie, aged five years, and George, aged seventeen months. His wife’s two sisters, Jennie and Esther Cox, also lived with them—Esther being the person around whom nearly all the phenomena centered. John Teed and William Cox also boarded at the house—brothers of Mr. and Mrs. Teed, respectively.
The manifestations began in a very peculiar manner. The two girls, who had just gone to bed (they slept together) were on the point of falling asleep, when Esther suddenly jumped out of bed with a scream, exclaiming that there was a mouse in the mattress. A careful search failed, however, to reveal the presence of any mouse. The same thing happened the next night; and when the girls got up to search for the mouse, a paste-board box, which was under the bed, jumped up in the air and fell over on its side. They decided to say nothing about it; got into bed again, and were soon asleep.
The next night manifestations began in earnest. Esther began to swell; her body became puffed all over, and she thought she was going to burst. She screamed with pain. Just then, however, three terrific reports shook the room, and the swelling suddenly subsided. She was placed in bed; but no sooner had she been placed upon it than all the bed-clothes flew off her, and settled in the far corner of the room. “They could see them passing through the air by the light of the kerosene lamp which was lighted and standing on the table, and both screamed as only scared girls can, and then Jennie fainted.”
The bed-clothes were replaced. No sooner was this done than the pillow flew out from under her head, and landed in the center of the floor. It was replaced, but again flew out, hitting Mr. Teed in the face. Three deafening reports then shook the house; after which all manifestations ceased for the night.
The next night, these manifestations were repeated; the bed-clothes flew off, in view of all; and in the midst of this, the sound of scratching became audible, as of a metallic object scraping plaster. “All looked at the wall whence the sound of writing came, when, to their great astonishment, there could be plainly read these words: ‘Esther Cox, you are mine to kill.’ Every person in the room could see the writing plainly, and yet but a moment before nothing was to be seen but the plain kalsomined wall!…
These things continued day after day, and were seen by many persons. Articles would be thrown about the house; Dr. Carrittee, the family physician, saw “a bucket of cold water become agitated, and, to all appearances, boil while standing on the kitchen table.” A voice was heard, in the atmosphere of the house, talking to Esther; and telling her all manner of horrible things. Soon after this, to the consternation of all present, “all saw a lighted match fall from the ceiling to the bed, having come out of the air, which would certainly have set the bed-clothing on fire, had not Jennie put it out instantly. During the next two minutes, eight or ten lighted matches fell on the bed and about the room, out of the air, but were all extinguished before anything could be set fire by them….”
This fire-raising continued for several days. The family would smell smoke, and, on running up into the bedroom, they would find a bundle of clothes placed in the center of the floor, blazing. Or they would descend to the cellar; and there find a pile of shavings alight and blazing merrily. They lived in constant danger of having the house burned over their heads.
Soon after this, things got so bad that Esther Cox had to leave home, and went to visit a friend by the name of White, in the hope that the manifestations would cease, when she was removed from her own home. For four weeks things went well; then they began again just as ever. Knocks and raps were heard all over the house, which answered questions asked them; and told the amount of money people had in their pockets, etc. Articles of furniture were thrown about; voices sounded; and, worst of all, Esther now began to see the ghost; and described it to those about her. Among other terrifying phenomena, which took place at Mr. Whites’ house, the following should be mentioned.
“… A clasp-knife belonging to little Frederic White was taken from his hand, while he was whittling something, by the devilish ghost, who instantly stabbed Esther in the back with it, leaving the knife sticking in the wound, which was bleeding profusely. Frederic pulled the bloody knife from the wound, wiped it, closed it and put it in his pocket, which he had no sooner done than the ghost obtained possession of it again and, quick as a flash of lightning, stuck it into the same wound….”
Some person tried the experiment of placing three or four large iron spikes on Esther’s lap while she was seated in the dining-saloon. To the unutterable astonishment of Mr. White, Frederic and other persons present, the spikes were not instantly removed, as it was expected they would be, but, instead, remained on her lap until they became too hot to be handled with comfort, when they were thrown by the ghost to the far end of the saloon—a distance of twenty feet. This fact was fully corroborated.
It was at this stage of the proceedings that the spot was visited by Walter Hubbell, an actor, who remained some time in Amherst, studying the case, and who has written a whole book about it—“The Great Amherst Mystery.” On the night of his arrival, they all sat round a table, in full light, to see what they could see, and knocks and raps resounded immediately. “We could all hear even the scratching sound of invisible human finger nails, and the dull sounds produced by the hands, as they rubbed the table, and struck it with invisible, clenched fists, in knocking in response to questions.”
The next day, Mr. Hubbell records the following facts, among others: “I had been seated about five minutes when, to my great astonishment, my umbrella was thrown a distance of sixteen feet, passing over my head in its strange flight, and almost at the same instant a large carving knife came whizzing through the air, passing over Esther’s head, who was just then coming out of the pantry with a large dish in both hands, and fell in front of her, near me—having come from behind her out of the pantry. I naturally went to the door and looked in, but no person was there.
“After dinner I lay down on the sofa in the parlor; Esther was in the room seated near the center in a rocking chair. I did not sleep, but lay with my eyes only partially closed so that I could see her. While lying there a large glass paper-weight, weighing fully a pound, came whizzing through the air from a corner of the room, where I had previously noticed it on an ornamental shelf, a distance of some twelve or fifteen feet from the sofa. Had it struck my head, I should surely have been killed, so great was the force with which it was thrown….
“On Monday, June 23, they commenced again with great violence. At breakfast, the lid of the sugar bowl was heard to fall on the floor. Mrs. Teed, Esther and myself searched for it for fully five minutes, and had abandoned our search as useless, when all three saw it fall from the ceiling. I saw it, just before it fell, and it was at the moment suspended in the air about one foot from the ceiling. No one was within five feet of it at the time. The table knives were then thrown upon the floor, the chairs pitched over, and after breakfast the dining-table fell over on its side, rugs upon the floor were slid about, and the whole room literally turned into a pandemonium, so filled with dust that I went into the parlor. Just as I got inside the parlor door a large flower pot, containing a plant in full bloom, was taken from among Jennie’s flowers on the stand near the window; and in a second, a tin pail, with a handle, was brought half-filled with water from the kitchen and placed beside the plant on the floor, both in the center of the parlor, and put there by a ghost. Just think of such a thing happening while the sun was shining, and only a few minutes before I had seen this same tin pail from the dining-room hanging on a nail in the kitchen, empty! And yet people say, and thousands believe, that there are no haunted houses! What a great mistake they make in so asserting; but then they never lived in a genuine one, where there was an invisible power that had full and complete sway. By all the demons! When I read the accounts now in my ‘Journal,’ from which my experience is copied, I am almost speechless with wonder that I ever lived to behold such sights….
“On this same day, Esther’s face was slapped by the ghosts, so that the marks of fingers could be plainly seen—just exactly as if a human hand had slapped her face; these slaps could be plainly heard by all present. I heard them distinctly, time and again….
“On Thursday, June 26, Jennie and Esther told me that the night before Bob, the demon, had been in their room again. They stated he had stuck them with pins and marked them from head to foot with crosses. I saw some of the crosses, which were bloody marks, scratched upon their hands, necks and arms. It was a sad sight. During the entire day, I was busy pulling pins out of Esther; they came out of the air from all quarters, and were stuck into all the exposed portions of her person, even the head, and inside of her ears. Maggie, the ghost, took quite an interest in me, and came to my room at night, while the lamp was burning, and knocked on the headboard of my bed and on the wall near the bed, which was not next to the room occupied by the girls, but on an outside wall facing the stable. I carried on a most interesting conversation with her, asking a great many questions which were answered by knocks….
“A trumpet was heard in the house all day. The sound came from within the atmosphere—I can give no other description of its effect on our sense of hearing…. I wish to state, most emphatically, that I could tell the difference in the knocks made by each ghost just as well as if they had spoken. The knocks made by Maggie were delicate and soft, as if made by a woman’s hand, while those made by Bob Nickle were loud and strong, denoting great strength and evidently large hands. When he knocked with those terrible sledge-hammer blows, he certainly must have used a large rock or some other heavy object, for such loud knocks were not produced with hard knuckles….”
In July the phenomena became so bad that the landlord came and told the Teed family that either Esther would have to go, or they would all have to leave the house. It was decided that Esther should go, which she did, visiting some friends by the name of Van Amburgh. From the time she left her home the second time, she was never afterwards troubled with the ghosts. Some years later, she married and went to live in another town—where she was interviewed by the present writer in 1907.
This account was sworn to by Mr. Hubbell before a notary public, and he asserts under oath that every word of the account is true. He has also produced the written confirmatory testimony of a score of still-living witnesses of the phenomena in Amherst.
The Beresford Ghost
The account, as herein given, is that supplied by the granddaughter of Lady Beresford, to whom the experience came; and hence may be considered as accurate as it can be made. It furnishes us with a definite example of a “ghost that touches,” and leaves a permanent mark of its visit, ever afterwards. Here is the account:
“In the month of October, 1693, Sir Tristram and Lady Beresford went on a visit to her sister, Lady Macgill, at Gill Hall, now the seat of Lord Clanwilliam…. One morning Sir Tristram arose early, leaving Lady Beresford asleep, and went out for a walk before breakfast. When his wife joined the table very late, her appearance and the embarrassment of her manner attracted general attention, especially that of her husband. He made anxious inquiries as to her health, and asked her apart what had happened to her wrist, which was tied up with black ribbon tightly bound round it. She earnestly entreated him not to inquire more then, or thereafter, as to the cause of her wearing or continuing afterwards to wear that ribbon; ‘for,’ she added, ‘you will never see me without it.’ He replied: ‘Since you urge it so vehemently, I promise you not to inquire more about it.’
“After completing her hurried breakfast, she made inquiries as to whether the post had yet arrived. It had not yet come in, and Sir Tristram asked: ‘Why are you so particularly eager about letters to-day?’ ‘Because I expect to hear of Lord Tyrone’s death, which took place on Tuesday.’ ‘Well,’ remarked Sir Tristram, ‘I never put you down for a superstitious person, but I suppose that some idle dream has disturbed you.’ Shortly after, the servant brought in the letters; one was sealed with black wax. ‘It is as I expected,’ she cried, ‘he is dead.’ The letter was from Lord Tyrone’s steward to inform them that his master had died in Dublin, on Tuesday, 14 October, at 4 p.m. Sir Tristram endeavored to console her, and begged her to restrain her grief, when she assured him that she felt relieved and easier, now that she knew the actual fact. She added, ‘I can now give you a most satisfactory piece of intelligence, viz., that I am with child, and that it will be a boy.’ A son was born the following July.
“On her forty-seventh birthday, Lady Beresford summoned her children to her side, and said to them: ‘I have something of deep importance to communicate to you, my dear children, before I die. You are no strangers to the intimacy and affection which subsisted in early life between Lord Tyrone and myself…. We had made a solemn promise to one another, that whichever died first should, if permitted, appear to the other…. One night, years after this interchange of promises, I was sleeping with your father at Gill Hall, when I suddenly awoke and discovered Lord Tyrone sitting visibly by the side of the bed. I screamed out and vainly tried to arouse Sir Tristram. “Tell me,” I said, “Lord Tyrone, why and wherefore are you here at this time of the night?” “Have you then forgotten our promises to each other, pledged in early life? I died on Tuesday, at 4 o’clock. I have been permitted thus to appear…. I am also suffered to inform you that you are with child, and will produce a son, who will marry an heiress; that Sir Tristram will not live long, that you will marry again, and you will die in your forty-seventh year.” I begged from him some convincing sign or proof so that when the morning came I might rely upon it, and that it was not the phantom of my imagination. He caused the hangings of the bed to be drawn in an unusual way and impossible manner through an iron hook. I still was not satisfied, when he wrote his signature in my pocketbook. I wanted, however, more substantial proof of his visit, when he laid his hand, which was cold as marble, on my wrist; the sinews shrunk up, the nerves withered at the touch. “Now,” he said, “let no mortal eye while you live ever see that wrist,” and vanished. While I was conversing with him my thoughts were calm, but as soon as he disappeared I felt chilled with horror and dismay, a cold sweat came over me, and I again endeavored, but vainly, to awaken Sir Tristram; a flood of tears came to my relief, and I fell asleep….’
“That year Lady Beresford died. On her deathbed, Lady Riverson unbound the black ribbon and found the wrist exactly as Lady Beresford had described it—every nerve withered, every sinew shrunk….”
This is one of the most famous Haunted Houses on record. The case has been described in various books on ghosts, the most complete account being that contained in the Journal of the Psychical Research Society…. Mr. Proctor lived for several years in the haunted mill, and got quite used to the apparitions, which stalked about the place at all hours. Visitors, however, did not like them as much as he did. The following extracts will suffice to explain the general character of the haunting in this case—
“When two of Mrs. Proctor’s sisters were staying at the Mill on a visit, their bed was suddenly violently shaken, the curtains hoisted up all round to their tester and then as rapidly let down again, and this again in rapid succession. The curtains were taken off the next night, with the result that they both saw a female figure, of mysterious substance and of a greyish-blue hue come out of the wall at the head of the bed and lean over them. They both saw it distinctly. They saw it come out of and go back again into the wall…. Mrs. Davidson’s sister-in-law had a curious experience on one occasion. One evening she was putting one of the bedrooms right, and, looking toward the dressing table, saw what she supposed was a white towel lying on the ground. She went to pick it up, but imagine her surprise when she found that it rose up, and went up behind the dressing-table over the top, down on the floor across the room, disappeared under the door, and was heard to descend the stairs with a heavy step! The noise which it made in doing so was distinctly heard by Mr. Proctor and others in the house.
“On one occasion, Mr. Mann, the old mill foreman, with his wife and daughter, and Mrs. Proctor’s sister, all four saw the figure of a bald headed old man in a flowing robe like a surplice gliding backwards and forwards about three feet from the floor, level with the bottom of the second story window; he then stood still in the middle of the window and part of the body which appeared quite luminous showed through the blind. While in that position, the framework of the window was visible, while the body was as brilliant as a star, and diffused a radiance all round; then it turned a bluish tinge, and gradually faded away from the head downwards.
“The children, however, were the chief ghost-seers. On one occasion one of the little girls came to Mrs. Davidson and said: ‘There is a lady sitting on the bed in mamma’s bedroom. She has eyeholes but no eyes; and she looked so hard at me.’ On another occasion a boy of two years old was charmed with the ghost, and laughed and kicked, crying out: ‘Ah dares somebody—pee, pee!’ On one occasion the mother saw through the bed curtain a figure cross the room to the table on which the light was burning, take up the snuffers and snuff the candle….
“Several experiments were made with a clairvoyant by the name of Jane, to ascertain the cause of the mystery. In the mesmeric trance she described the house accurately; described the nature of the disturbances which were going on within it; and stated that the chief cause of the trouble was to be found ‘in the cellar.’ This was not verified. The full story, as narrated, is certainly one of the most curious to be found anywhere.”
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