An Ectoplasmic Elopement: 1898

(c) Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Cavalier with a Mandoline, Bernard Louis Barione (c) Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

June being the bridal month, Mrs Daffodil thought that she would pair with the story of Mlle Bob Walter’s “Elopement Bureau,”  another runaway couple—this time of the spectral sort.


The Story of the Mysterious Disappearance of Two Ghosts.

The Penorwood girls picked up their ghost in Italy. It was certainly a little lonesome for any ghost to inhabit a ruined and decaying palace with no living soul to haunt from year’s end to year’s end, and when the three rosy-cheeked girls, healthy and independent, took a fancy to the old place and “camped out” there for a week, as they expressed it, the ghost was delighted and worked overtime with clanking chains and shrieks and dismal moans and all that.

The Penorwood girls not having an unruly nerve among them, were also delighted and lost no time in looking up the ghost’s history. It was a young lady ghost they found, and a beautiful story. Forbidden attachment, stern father, coat of arms, rapiers, and dungeons and everything there ought to be. Oh, it was simply perfect; so night after night they listened to the ghost and wished they might have it for their very own.

To say that the ghost was gratified is putting it mildly. And one could not help liking the Penorwood girls, so when their week was up and they made a beeline for Germany, the ghost went along. It brought, it is true, dismay to the hearts of hysterical ladies and otherwise phlegmatic men in many a hostelry, but as no one ever dreamed of connecting it with the robust Penorwood girls, those young ladies enjoyed the matter hugely. To be sure, there was the question as to how the ghost would carry herself in the old family house in Kentucky, but that was a long way off.

It was by the side of Lake Teuffelwasser that they settled next. There was an old Baronial castle there which they rented for a song, full of delightful passages and leaks and draughts, and with a real moat around it. Besides all that, there was a legend.

Out upon the little lake, it was said, a ghostly cavalier sometimes appeared on moonlight nights, floating in a ghostly bark and playing upon a ghostly guitar. That decided the matter, and they took the castle for the rest of their stay in Germany

The young lady ghost got to work beautifully the very first night, and seemed perfectly at home, clanking from the lowest dungeons to the top of the winding stairway that led to the little room at the top of the tower overlooking the water.

One night the moon shone brightly, a faint sweet tinkling was heard out over the water, then the Penorwood girls clapped their hands in ecstasy. The cavalier was on duty. At that moment their own ghost was happily climbing the winding stairway in the tower, but in a little while she had reached the top and was silent.

The tinkling music came nearer, until it seemed right under the castle walls, where it played until 12 o’clock. Looking out, the girls could see it standing erect in its filmy boat, its eyes upturned to the tower window, playing sweet songs of sentiment, until as their little ormolu clock chimed the hour it suddenly disappeared.

There was a little clank and a long-drawn sigh from the tower room, and all was silent.

Every night after that the Penorwood girl’s ghost clanked up the tower stairway and the cavalier came beneath their walls at 10 o’clock and gave a concert until 12.

“Funny, isn’t it?” suggested one of the girls, “that both ghosts won’t work at once?”

But they little suspected the truth—the truth that should have been foreseen by a young lady especially—until one night there was no clank nor any serenade.

They had almost given up in despair, when one clear night they chanced to be looking out on the lake and saw the dainty white boat gliding by, carrying their cavalier—and another—and their maidenly hearts were happy for the two ghosts had eloped. And what was the use of clanking chains and tinkling guitars now?

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 20 November 1898: p. 18

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil assumed that the Penorwood girls of Kentucky, so enchanted by the clanking maiden and the tinkling cavalier, were echoes of the fearless Otis family of “The Canterville Ghost.”  However, that amusing work by Mr Wilde was not published until 1906. Perhaps Mr Wilde took the Cincinnati papers and was inspired by this flight of fancy.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.




6 thoughts on “An Ectoplasmic Elopement: 1898

  1. janemorley2014

    Ah Mrs Daffodil, another delightful spectral find, I am clapping my hands together with glee at this most fortuitous outcome! Would that all restless spirits could find their otherworldly mates in such a manner! Yours most uplifted, Miss M


    1. chriswoodyard Post author

      Dear Miss M.,
      You are too kind! Yes, one wishes that all romances could have such a happy ending! Mrs Daffodil has been wondering how many of Mlle. Bob Walter’s clients ended in the divorce courts. Of course, ghostly couples wishing to end their union would merely have a dissolution.
      With best wishes,
      Mrs Daffodil

      Liked by 1 person

      1. janemorley2014

        Oh, yes how very droll of you Mrs daffodil! Let us hope that in the event of such a misfortune they would not find themselves too dispirited ! My very best wishes and kind thoughts for an amusing weekend, Miss M


  2. Ike Renfield & Sally Campbell

    Yes, shades (appropriately) of “The Canterville Ghost” here, and your mention of Mrs. Radcliffe affirms, for me, that there is a whiff of the “Northanger Abbey” heroine’s enthusiasm in this charming account.



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