Category Archives: Supernatural

An Uncanny Thing in Nottingham: 1910s

cowering from ghost Ghosts' Gloom a Novel

AN AUTHENTIC GHOST STORY

INCIDENT WHICH COMPLETELY ALTERED THE WRITER’S OUTLOOK

Henry C. Hall

At a dinner party at a friend’s house recently, the conversation turned to a subject on which, to my surprise, I was the only one present able to give first-hand information. The subject was that of ghosts, or spirits, and a general discussion developed. Not ghosts, or ghost stories, talked of in the usual flippant manner, but spirits from the other world, and whether they are visible at times on this earth. During the conversation, a lady remarked she had never yet met anyone who had actually seen a ghost. I was immediately an object of interest, when I quietly announced the fact that I had definitely seen one. As the details of my experience caused considerable astonishment, I have decided to write them down for the benefit of readers of Light.

The incident happened when I was a boy of 15 years of age. We lived in a large house at Nottingham, a very old house with fairly extensive grounds. As the actual house is occupied at this moment, I do not propose to reveal the exact address, as it might upset the present occupier to know it is haunted. But the house stands in what is known as the Sherwood Rise district, and to those who know Nottingham, this will give them an idea of its whereabouts.

It was a summer evening in July, and the day had been oppressively hot. The time was round about six o’clock, so that it was broad daylight. I had been in the garage with one of my brothers, where we had been amusing ourselves with shooting darts form a toy revolver. Presently, I left to go into the house, and crossed the yard with the toy revolver in my hand, still loaded with one of the harmless rubber darts. I made to enter the house by the back way for a short-cut, passing through a glass porch to the back door, which opened into a small square lobby. On this hot evening, the back door stood wide open; and, passing into the lobby, the kitchen door was on my left, and this was also wide open. Facing me on the far side of the lobby was a swing door that led into the front part of the house, and this door was closed. At this particular moment the kitchen was unoccupied, the maids being elsewhere in the front portion of the house.

I should mention here that the kitchen quarters were entirely isolated and cut off from the rest of the house when the swing door referred to was closed, so that the lobby, kitchen, scullery, and larder (each leading out of the other) being deserted, there was no human being on this side of the swing door besides myself. There was no back staircase or other means of communication from this part of the house, to the front. It is important to remember this.

Hanging on the far side of the kitchen wall, directly facing the kitchen door, was the kitchen clock, one of the old-fashioned type, with a large dial. When the kitchen door was open, it was an easy matter to glance at the time as you walked across the small lobby, and I did so on this occasion. Suddenly a bright idea entered my head. What a perfectly delightful target the clock face made for me with the loaded revolver in my hand. Now for a bullseye with my last shot. I would stand and take direct aim at the clock, through the open kitchen door. I took up my position, pointed the revolver, and prepared to take sight before pulling the trigger. During these few seconds there was dead silence. A great stillness seemed to pervade the place, a hushed deep calm, which I could almost feel. That kind of stillness which is inseparable from a house on a hot summer evening, when there is no life or movement; and save for the regular ticking of the clock, the silence was profound. It was at this precise moment that the great event happened.

With my finger still on the trigger, taking deliberate aim, I saw a ghost—a ghost in human shape—appear before my eyes. This unearthly apparition was that of a man, tall, and of medium build, enveloped from head to foot in a hooded long grey cloak or shroud. The substance of this uncanny thing appeared to be some kind of vapour, or thick smoke, partly transparent, but with a well-defined, clear-cut outline. It emerged slowly and stealthily from the interior of the kitchen, presenting a most eerie sight, and drifted noiselessly and warily along the floor, directly across my line of fire.

I was so utterly bewildered and dumbfounded, that I could not move, and stood and gasped in amazement. I gazed before me as if in a trance, completely stupefied. Suddenly my hand released its grasp of the revolver, which fell to the tiled floor with a crash. This breaking of the silence appeared to startle the ghost, for it turned its head in my direction, as if caught unawares, not knowing till then that I was there. We stood face to face for one awful second. Then hesitating, as if uncertain as to its next move, the ghost mysteriously glided back again, and withdrew from sight to where it had come from. It had completely vanished; the kitchen was empty. Where was I? Had I been asleep? Was it all a dream? No, I had not moved. There was the clock, there was the revolver on the floor, there was the daylight, and there was I, fully conscious of everything, so that it was all real and true.

Uttering a cry, I dashed through the swing door leading into the front hall, rushed up the front staircase, and stirred the whole household with shouts that I had seen a ghost. My mother and other members of the family came to know what the noise was about. By this time, I was in a very agitated and excited state caused by the shock, for I had experienced something beyond all belief and passed through a somewhat terrifying ordeal. Between my sobs I told of what had happened, and, gradually coming round, I gave them a more graphic account. They saw I was genuinely upset; and, while wanting to discredit my story, were anxious not to increase my distress by doing so. After a time, they went down to inspect the exact spot and make investigations, and try to prove to me there was nothing there. Of course there was not, and the kitchen, scullery, larder, and cellars, were all searched in vain to prove I was mistaken. There were no curtains, no draperies about, no shadows, no dark places; nothing in fact could be found to help the family in their argument. It was still daylight with the evening sun streaming through the windows.

 NOT MISTAKEN

I was not mistaken; there was nothing to be mistaken about, and the search was futile so far as I was concerned. What I had seen was as clear and definite as my own reflection in a mirror. My experience, however, was the sole topic of conversation for the rest of that night, and finally I went to bed, but could not sleep. I had seen something that was not of this world, and was worried to think I should never be able to explain it, never be able to make it real or believable to others. It had to be seen to be realised.

It was not long after all this happened that my father decided to sell the house, and we ultimately left it for another residence. And then it was that I was told something of which my own experience was a counterpart. It seemed that some two years previously, late one winter night, one of our maids had rushed from the kitchen, and through the same swing door, screaming she had seen a ghost, and went off into hysterics. Everyone had gone to bed except my father and mother, and they returned to the kitchen with the maid to prove the absurdity of her assertions. They declared such a suggestion was wholly preposterous, and so annoyed were they about it, that the maid was given notice to leave the following day and–leave the poor girl did, all for having seen a ghost! I had never been told of this incident, and it was not until after we had left the house that I heard of it. There is not the least doubt of course, it was the identical ghost that I saw two years later. And while my experience needs no support from outside sources–being beyond all doubt or dispute–the incident of the maid-servant doubly strengthens my story of the whole phenomenon.

And that is the end of my uncanny adventure, strictly true in every detail. I have seen a ghost just as definitely and assuredly as I write these lines. I can see it to-day as vividly as I did at the time; it is indelibly stamped upon my memory and consciousness. The experience became part of my conscious self or personality, and will remain part of it for all time.

And now for the sceptics, if any, and to answer possible queries of readers of this narrative. As a boy, I was perfectly normal in every way; I was mentally sound, I had no delusions, and had no foolish fads or fancies. I was certainly not imaginative, and had never even read a ghost story. To-day, as a man, I am a very normal sort of individual, plain and matter of fact, but a great and keen searcher after truth. Had it not been for the amazing occurrence just related, I am the type of person who would have laughed to scorn any idea of the possibility of seeing a ghost. But this incident completely altered my whole outlook from that day onwards, and at this juncture I am as certain and as matter-of-fact about this, as about anything that has been actually solid and substantial in my life.

In these days it is difficult to be certain about anything, but I am well convinced and satisfied beyond all doubt, about just three things. More than that, I am equally convinced about each. Those three things are:– (1) I have seen a ghost. (2) I am a living being. (3) I shall live again after death.

Light 14 July 1933: pp. 433-434

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil wishes she had a pound for every time she has heard of an hysterical servant being given notice after seeing a ghost. Still more does she wish that those servants sacked on such grounds could appeal their inequitable dismissals by bringing evidence to a labour tribunal that said premises were, in fact, haunted. Heavy damages would inevitably lie….

Mrs Daffodil has heard a story from that ghost-hunting person over at Haunted Ohio about a young woman who came home from school every day, only to be terrified by the heavy footsteps of a man walking upstairs and a “presence” looking into her room from the hall. She would flee the house in a panic, sometimes wedging herself between the screen door and the door, until her parents came home. When she grew up, she said something to her mother about the horror she had experienced. Her mother, who no longer lived in the house, said casually, “Oh, yes, we knew there was a ghost, but we didn’t want to tell you, so you wouldn’t be scared.”

After such a revelation, Mrs Daffodil would not have been surprised to hear of a matricide.

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.

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The Face in the Mirror: 1870s

bride at mirror single

THE FACE IN THE MIRROR.

“Oh, Aunt Cassie, do you really intend to give it to me? That lovely antique mirror, with the frame of twisted coral, and the delicious old Neptune sitting with his trident, all in tarnished gold, on the top? Oh!” cried the bride-elect; “I would rather have that than all my other wedding presents put together. It will be so beautiful in my new drawing-room.”

Aunt Cassie, a silver-haired little old lady in black silk, and antiquated gold ear-drops, shuddered. “You are welcome to it, child,” she said. “I never liked the thing since–since I saw your uncle’s reflection in it the night before the news came of his death in Canada. The house servants say it is a ‘haunted glass.’”

“But, Aunt Cassie,” reasoned Letty Latrobe, “that was all your imagination.”

“Do you think so?” said Aunt Cassie, quietly.

And so the old mirror was carried up to the blue saloon, and put up with the bride’s other presents in the place of honor, where its dim surface reflected sets of silver, jewel-boxes, ivory toilet sets, glove-holders, and piles of rare lace and delicate embroidery. Miss Latrobe’s new maid, a handsome woman, with long gold ear-drops, and a scarlet bandanna handkerchief twisted around her head, viewed it with rapture. “I declare, miss,” said she, “I never saw such a glass in my life. I came into the room not thinking, like, and when I looked up–laws, miss; there was me a-pickin’ up the laces, and you standin’ behind me, all in your wedding dress”

“I!” cried Letty. “In my wedding dress! There you are mistaken, Ruby. I never have put on my wedding dress yet. Don’t you know it isn’t lucky?” The maid looked around with a startled glance.

“Then it was she,” she said, as if to herself. “And I can’t get away from her, do what I will.”

“Ruby,” exclaimed Letty, “what are you talking about?”

“Nothing, miss,” said Ruby. “It’s a way I’ve got, living a good deal by myself, talkin’ out just what my thoughts is.”

But after that Ruby avoided the old mirror.

Down stairs in the servants hall that very evening she made herself very sociable, and asked various questions about Miss Latrobe’s new bridegroom.

“He’s a brave, handsome gentleman,” said Phillis, the cook, warming to the subject as she brandished a stew-pan over the fire. “A bit older than our young missy, but–”

“Oh!” said Ruby. “Older, eh? A military gentleman, now?”

“Bless me,” said Phillis, “however did you know?”

“I think I heard it mentioned upstairs,” said Ruby. “A captain in the army, with a scar over one temple, as you’d hardly notice if you didn’t know of it.”

“Well, I declare,” said Phillis.

“Speaks very soft and has eyes as bright as diamonds,” said Ruby. “Yes, it’s the sort of a gentleman that the young ladies like. So the wedding is to be next week, and I suppose they’ll travel abroad. Dear, dear; it’s fine to be a young lady like Miss Latrobe, now, isn’t it?”

The next day when Letty was dressing in her room, she took a fancy to try the effect of a sort of old-fashioned pearls, which had been the wedding gift of her mother.

“Ruby,” said she, “go and get my pearls out of the blue velvet case on the little mosaic table.”

Ruby came back presently with a scared look.

“I can’t find ’em, miss,” said she.

Letty jumped up with her golden hair floating all over her shoulders.

“You must be blind,” said she. “I’ll go myself.”

There they lay perfectly in sight, close to the old mirror. With girlish interest Letty fastened the drops into her ears and clasped the string around her neck; and as she looked smilingly into the glass she became vaguely conscious that another figure stood there a little behind her, mantled in a soft haze, as if of distance–a young girl in orange blossoms and bridal veil, with something in her hand, which Letty at first construed to be a sparkling hilted dagger, held up to strike.

Involuntarily she recoiled.

“Ruby,” she called out to her maid. “Ruby! who is there? How dare you let anyone into the room while I am dressing, Ruby?”

The girl hurried in with a startled face.

“Did you call. Miss Latrobe?” said she.

“Ruby, come here,” cried Letty. “Stand close beside me. Look into the glass.”

“Yes, miss,” said Ruby, with the still troubled face.

“Do you see nothing, Ruby?”

“No, miss,” said Ruby, shivering and clasping her hands together very tight.

“Nor I, either, now,” said Miss Latrobe. “But it was there just now.”

“What, miss?”

“Tell me truly, Ruby,” said Letty, putting both hands on the girl’s shoulder, and looking into her face with large, terrified eyes. “Look at that glass. Do you see nothing there? Have you ever seen anything there?”

Ruby shrank back and burst into tears.

“It’s a young girl, miss,” she sobbed, “in her wedding dress, and a stiletto in her hand. It’s my young mistress, miss, as I lived with five years ago, at Malta, as was married to Capt. Hayes.”

Letty’s face grew pale. “Captain Hayes,” she repeated. “Married to him! Married to my betrothed husband! Ruby, think what you are saying!”

“If I was to be murdered for it, miss,” cried the girl, sinking on the floor, and covering her eyes with her bands. “I couldn’t say no different! Ask him if he remembers Anita Valloti, the commander’s daughter at Malta! Ask him if he knows anything of the mad-house at Madapolo Heights! There I’ve told it all now!”

“But, Ruby, what do you mean?” gasped Miss Latrobe,

“Ask him,” the girl reiterated, shaking and quivering all over in what seemed like a perfect tempest of fear and horror.

Letty sank down among the wedding presents, with her golden hair floating all over her shoulders, and looked with a pale horror into the antique mirror. There was nothing there now but her own fair reflection. “Ruby is dreaming,” she said to her self. “All this is a waking nightmare, neither more nor less.”

Capt. Hayes came that afternoon, dark, brilliantly handsome, full of wit, and for the moment his presence dissipated the dark clouds of suspicion which were beginning to settle around Letty Latrobe’s warm young heart.

“Oh, Robert,” she cried brightly when dinner was over. “I have received ever so many exquisite presents since last you were here. Do come into the blue room and look at them.”

All unconsciously she led him into the long apartment with the antique mirror at its end.

“First of all,” she said, “Aunt Cassie Revere gave me this. It is over two hundred years old, and”- –

She paused with a cry of terror. Close behind their two reflections was that of the pallid girl in the bridal dress and veil, holding the glittering-hilted dagger above her head. And in the same second she saw how deadly white and haggard Capt. Hayes’s face had become.

“Robert,” she cried. “what does this mean?” Then suddenly, remembering the maid’s words, “it is Anita Valloti, the commandant’s daughter at Malta! Robert, what is this terrible secret that you have hidden away from me?”

**

There was no wedding at Magnolia Hill that golden June. Ruby, the maid, revealed it–how Captain Hayes had wooed and won the beautiful young Spanish girl at Malta: how he had afterward become wearied of her childish loveliness, and seizing eagerly upon the pretext of some slight incoherence of manner or conversation, had incarcerated the poor little human butterfly in a private asylum on Madapolo Heights, some leagues from the city. Nor, confronted with all this evidence, did the captain dare to deny the story of his guilt.

Therefore there was no wedding in the lonely homestead. And instead of going on her bridal trip with Captain Hayes, Letty Latrobe persuaded her father to take her to Malta, and visited the famous Maison de Sante at Madapolo.

“I should like to see it for myself,” she said, softly.

Fra Antonio, one of the gowned brotherhood in attendance, looked a little surprised when they asked for La Signora Hayes, or as her name was entered there, “La Signorina Anita Valloti.”

“Did you not know?” he asked. “The poor young signora is dead. She died on the nineteenth of last June.”

The nineteenth of June! Mr. Latrobe and his daughter looked at one another. It was on the nineteenth of June that they had seen the strange reflection in the antique mirror–it was on the nineteenth of June that the marriage at Magnolia Hill was broken off.

So they laid fresh roses on the simple cross that rose above the poor young thing’s last resting-place, and came away with wet eyes and tender hearts.

The Saturday Evening Press [Menasha WI] 20 April 1882: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A narrow escape for Miss Latrobe and possibly a narrow escape from plagiarism charges for the author, who seems to have been heavily influenced by  Jane Eyre.

 

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.

Bridesmaid Superstitions: 1888

1889 wedding wreath

1889 wedding wreath: orange blossom and myrtle flowers of wax and fabric. https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/wedding-wreath/twEacgKuA0O25Q

PECULIAR NOTIONS.

Some of Those Relation to Bride-Maids and Their Duties.

Instead of being so many graceful ornaments at the marriage ceremony, as nowadays, the bride-maids in olden times had various duties assigned to them. Thus, one of the principal tasks was dressing the bride on her wedding morning, when any omission in her toilet was laid to their charge. At wedding, too. where it was arranged that the bride should be followed by a numerous train of her lady friends, it was the first bride-maid’s duty to play the part of drill mistress, “sizing” them so that “no pair in the procession were followed by a taller couple.” She was also expected to see that each bride-maid was not only provided with a sprig of rosemary, or a floral rose pinned to the breastfolds of her dress. but had a symbolical chaplet in her hand. In many parts of Germany it is still customary for the bride-maids to bring the myrtle wreath, which they have subscribed together to purchase on the nuptial eve, to the house of the bride, and to remove it from her head at the close of the wedding-day. After this has been done the bride is blindfolded, and the myrtle wreath being put into her hand, she tries to place it on the head of one of her bride-maids as they dance around her; for, in accordance with an old belief, whoever she crowns is sure to be married within a year from that date. As may be imagined, this ceremony is the source of no small excitement, each bride-maid being naturally anxious to follow the example of the bride. Referring once more to the bridal wreath and chaplet, it is still current notion in many parts of our own country that the bride, in removing these, must take special care that her bride-maids throw away every pin. Not only is it affirmed that misfortune will overtake the bride who retains even one pin used in her marriage toilet, but woe also to the bride-maids if they keep any of them, as their prospects of marriage will be thereby materially lessened.

La Cygne [KS] Journal 12 May 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  To-day, of course, the brides-maid has a massive list of expensive and onerous duties: Pedi-dates, spa week-ends, a “Hen Do” in Las Vegas or Bournemouth, and unspecified and on-demand “pampering.” The list above only scratches the surface of a long list of vintage “do’s and don’t’s” for the bridal attendant. Some others:

Slices of cake passed thru the bride’s wedding ring and eaten by the bridesmaids, will bring a husband within a year.

A piece of wedding cake should be put under the pillow of a maiden and if she dreams of a man, she will marry him within a year.

In some countries a plain gold ring is baked in the wedding cake and the maiden who gets the slice with the ring will have the privilege of proposing to a man of her choice.

Bridesmaids date from Anglo-Saxon times. It was the bridesmaid’s duty to escort the bride to church, and it was believed that the girl on whom this honor fell would be married within a year.

A bridesmaid who stumbles on the way to the altar will die an old maid.

Signs, Omens and Superstitions, Milton Goldsmith, 1918: p. 12-13

Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride, 1896

It is said when a bride retires to rest on her wedding night, that her bridesmaid should lay her stockings across, so as to assure her good luck.

If one of the bridesmaids stumbles, it carries evil luck to the bride.

When the bride goes from her seat to the altar, the bridesmaids must close up quickly, lest the seat grow cold, which is a sign the bride and groom’s love will quickly grow cold also.

If one of the bridegroom’s stockings, thrown by one of the bridesmaids, falls on the bridegroom’s head, it is a sign she will be married herself soon.

If a bridesmaid goes to bed backward, with her hand over her heart, and the first man she sees in the morning is an old man, she will marry before the year is out.

Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Cora Linn Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1903

Mrs Daffodil wonders that, with so much responsibility to bear, anyone would accept such a weighty honour.

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.

The Spectre Wedding: 1820s

the oracle 1919 ghosts

THE SPECTRE WEDDING.

Mr. Martin Dupont was a Justice of the Peace in the little town of Marlburg. He had been elected to the office at the close of the war of 1812, and had acted in his present capacity for nearly nine years. Men of Mr. Dupont’s type were very common in those days, and even now one does not have to search far to find one of these self-complacent, pompous gentlemen, who delight in winning admiration from their associates, who always have at their tongue’s end a great many stories in which they played the leading part, but who are, nevertheless, very superstitious, so much so, indeed, that a glimpse of the moon over the left shoulder, or a howling dog, has power to make them melancholy for a week.

Having failed to secure for himself as large a share of this world’s goods as he had wished, Mr. Dupont was fully resolved that his two children, Henry and Margaret, should not be lacking in wealth. As for his son, he very wisely concluded that a good education, added to his natural abilities, would secure for him a place in the world: and already Henry was showing the wisdom of the plan, and by his rapid advancement in business was more than fulfilling his father’s expectations. It had always been Mr. Dupont’s desire that his daughter should marry some rich man, but Margaret had fallen in love, very foolishly, according to her father’s idea, with the principal of the Marlburg High School.

Charles Foster had several times pleaded his suit in vain before Mr. Dupont. There was no fault in the young man, Mr. Dupont rather grudgingly admitted, except that all he had to depend upon was his salary, but still no man should presume to become his son-in-law who had not money enough to support his daughter in better style than that in which she was then living, He liked the school teacher very well as a friend, but as a son-in-law that was quite another matter.

Nevertheless Charles and Margaret did not despair of their cause, although Mr. Dupont was seemingly immovable. The thought of an elopement was banished by them both as being dishonorable, and as no other plan seemed practicable, they very wisely resolved to wait until some kind fate should come to their aid. This, then, was the condition of affairs when our story begins.

Mr. Dupont’s duties as Justice of the Peace did not confine his law practice to Marlburg, but very frequently he was called away to attend various lawsuits in neighboring towns and hamlets, and it so happened that at this particular time he was engaged in a case of some considerable importance in an adjoining town. On account of the nearness of the place, it was Mr. Dupont’s custom to drive his own horse back and forth and to spend his nights at home.

One night, on account of an unusual press of business, he was obliged to remain beyond his ordinary time of leaving, and after the work was completed he yielded to the urgent invitation of his client to chat for a few moments. As they puffed away at the choice Havanas, they began to tell each other of curious exciting adventures and wonderful experiences. Time slipped away so rapidly that it was after 10 o’clock before Mr. Dupont suddenly remembered that a seven-mile drive lay between him and his home. Hastily bidding his friend good-by, he started for the hotel stable to get his horse.

The weather had changed while the two gentlemen had been chatting, and now the ominous stillness and the cloudy sky admonished Mr. Dupont that, if he wished to get home before the rain began to fall, he must hasten. Hastily throwing a quarter to the sleepy hostler, he sprang into his buggy and set out on his homeward way.

The road home was a lonely one; houses were few and far between, and a few miles out of Marlburg some lonely woods lined the road on either side, and adjoining the woods was a graveyard. As Mr. Dupont drove on into the darkness he began to become nervous, the weird stories that he had just been hearing kept flashing through his mind, a great many wrong deeds of his life came before him, magnified by the darkness and solitude, and among other things he began to wonder if he was doing just right in refusing his consent to his daughter’s marriage. In this frame of mind he approached the woods; involuntarily he tried to quicken his horse’s pace, but the darkness and the low murmurings of thunder seemed to have affected the horse too, and the sagacious brute tried constantly to slacken his pace. How lonely it seemed there, no houses, no living being–nothing but the dead in the graveyard beyond. Suddenly the, horse stopped and snorted. Mr. Dupont saw two white figures suddenly dart into the road; one stood beside his horse, and the other beckoned him to descend from his wagon. His hair rose, and his tongue seemed glued to his mouth. The silence was terrible. If those white beings would only speak; but no sound came from them. At last in desperation he stammered out:

“Who are you, and what do you mean by stopping me here in this way” “We are spirits of the departed dead,” a sepulchral voice replied, “and we have need of your services; descend from your vehicle, do as we bid you, and on the word of a ghost you shall not be harmed.”

The terrified lawyer descended and stood by the speaker’s side, while the other ghost tied his horse to a tree and joined them.

“Yield yourself entirely to us and you shall be safe,” said the spokesman. “You must needs walk far and must allow us to blindfold your eyes, in order that you may not discover before your time the way to the land of the shades. No more words must be spoken. Obey.”

Mr. Dupont was so terrified that he could not speak, and in silence allowed a cloth to be bound over his eyes; then, escorted by his ghostly companions he began to walk. It seemed to him that he would never be allowed to stop; seconds seemed ages; every attempt of his to speak was checked by impatient groans of his guides. At last, after walking half around the earth, as it seemed to him, he realized that he was being piloted up some steps and by the feeling of warmth he knew that he had left the open air.

“The Justice of Peace may be seated,” said the ghost who had done all the talking. Mr. Dupont sat down and the cloth was quickly removed from his eyes, revealing to his astonished gaze the interior of a room dimly lighted by wax candles. Every side was hung with black curtains, and on four black-covered stools facing him sat four white-robed spectres, while beside him stood another dressed like his companions. Before he had time to more than wonder at his strange surroundings, the spokesman began:

“Mr. Dupont, we have a solemn duty for you to perform. You are a Justice of the Peace in the world of the living, and a man dear to us on account of your noble life; therefore are you here. We have in these abodes of the dead two young shades recently come from the other world. Each of those died of a broken heart because a stern parent forbade them to marry What do you think sir, of such a parent as that?” Mr. Dupont wiggled about uneasily in his chair, and at last said: “I think, good shade, it was very wrong of him.”

“We knew you would,” resumed the ghost, “because you are a kind man. and one who loves his children. Now do we understand you to say that if the poor girl had been your child it would never have happened?” “Surely it never would,” replied the frightened Mr. Dumont.

“We have not misjudged you, then,” replied the shade, while the other four ghosts nodded approvingly. “We have summoned you in order that you may unite them in wedlock, so that in this world at least they may be happy. Such a marriage as this is not common among us, so we brought you here, a good justice of the peace, rather than a minister, who might have been shocked at these proceedings. You can marry them just as well as a clergyman. Now, sir, will you oblige us by marrying these two shades? If you will consent, you may depart at once to your home. Will you?”

Marry the two shades? Of course he would: anything to get away from this terrible spot. And so, without the precaution of stipulating his fee, he stammered out:

“Oh, yes, surely, anything you wish.”

No sooner had he given his consent than one of the black curtains was drawn aside and two other beings in white entered and stood before him. The other shades rose, and Mr. Dupont, not wishing to be the only one to keep his seat, rose too. The good justice had never married shades; he did not know quite how to proceed. They looked exactly alike; he did not know which was the bride and which the groom. He wished he were well out of it, and the only way to gain his wish was to proceed quickly with the ceremony, and so he began at once. In some way he managed get through, although he could not have told afterward how it was done. He turned to the bride when he said: “Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife?” and to the groom when he should have addressed the bride; but at length, much to his relief, the “I do” was said by each, and the Justice finished with the “I pronounce you man and wife.”

But all was not yet over. No sooner had the words left his lips, than one of the beings before him threw aside its ghostly robe, and there, in a beautiful wedding gown, stood his daughter, Margaret. Mr. Dupont started to speak, but he only gasped, for around him stood the other ghosts; they too had thrown aside their robes and stood revealed. Could he believe his eyes? Yes, there was no mistake, he had married his daughter to Charles Foster, in the presence of his wife, his son, and three family friends; and the Justice knew enough of law to realize that the ceremony was binding. The black curtains, too, were torn down, and there they all stood in his own parlor.

There was no help for it, consequently Mr. Dupont submitted, and someway all his friends thought that he was very glad that the joke was played upon him; at any rate, in later days, as he trotted his grandchildren on his knees he never tired of telling over and over again into their wondering ears the tale of the spectre wedding. Amherst Literary Monthly.

The Garden City [KS] Telegram 15 October 1892: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mr Dupont must have been heavily under the influence of those weird stories not to have noticed the earthly actions of the “ghosts” such as taking care to tie up his horse and the nonsensical explanation for the blindfold. Did he not recall that in Heaven there is no marriage nor giving in marriage? Were there no earthly boots visible beneath those robes? And, even draped in black and lit by candles, why did the quaking gentleman not recognise his own parlour?

Such is the power of imagination. Mrs Daffodil and that ghastly person over at Haunted Ohio have written about persons who were convinced that they were marrying an actual spirit. See A Wealthy Widow Weds a Ghost, Girl Weds a Ghost, and Too Much Prudence–Spirit Weddings.

Justices of the Peace seemed to be ready targets for ghostly clients. Mrs Daffodil has written before about a haunted JP, who married a genuine ghostly couple.

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.

A Spectral Shadow–The Nurse’s Story: 1880s

 

ghost in bedchamber british library 1895 cut

A Spectral Shadow.

Sir,—The following incident was related to me by a nurse whose veracity I have no reason to doubt; on the contrary, I am justified in believing anything she might tell me, knowing what I do of her character and truthfulness. The statement was as follows:—

Some years ago, I was sent for to nurse a woman, who had been engaged to attend on a lady who was slightly mentally deranged, and lived with a sister. The ladies were elderly and well off. The attendant, a powerful and rather coarse- featured woman, was very ill when I was called to her, and not expected to live, and her illness had been brought about in the following way:—

The attendant had been some three months in the house and had managed to give every satisfaction to the sister and to the doctor, but was greatly feared and disliked by the patient, who complained bitterly of the harsh and cruel treatment to which this woman had subjected her; but the sister and doctor merely put this complaint down to the patient’s state of mind, and pooh-poohed it as a delusion—the attendant strenuously denying the accusation, in which the poor lady persisted. My informant, however, gave it as her opinion that the poor lady’s complaints were justified and ought to have received the attention which, as after events proved, they did not receive and which would have averted the terrible consequences that followed.

One morning, early in June, there had been a scene in the bedroom; the lady had cried out for help and complained of her attendant’s harshness and cruelty, but the attendant said that her patient had been very violent, and must be left to her, as she was responsible, and she forbade everyone to enter the room, saying that she would soon quiet the patient if allowed to manage her in her own way. As the lady ceased her cries the attendant descended to the kitchen for her patient’s breakfast, and, taking advantage of her absence, the poor lady threw herself from her bedroom window and was picked up dead. The fright of the death simply paralysed the attendant, and as she was unable to do anything she was put to bed. She became worse, could not attend the inquest or be removed, and I was sent for to nurse her at night, another nurse remaining with her by day, we being paid by the lady’s sister.

On the sixth night, as the weather was close, I opened the windows and fastened back the door, which opened into a narrow passage about twenty feet long. My patient had been very restless and was lying in an uneasy sleep, muttering as she lay. I placed myself at a small table, where I could see down the passage I have named, then lowered the gas on account of the heat, and was reading by the dim light of a candle, when I became conscious of a sudden fall in the temperature of the room. It seemed to me that an icy, deathlike cold, such as I had never before imagined could exist, a tangible cold, had suddenly surrounded me. I rose from my chair to account, if I could, for this strange occurrence, when, as I looked down the passage, I saw a moving shadow. Unable to stir, I watched, and soon defined something in human shape, but a shadow only, approaching me. Slowly it moved, bringing with it a still colder atmosphere, and before I could utter a sound the shadow, with its unseeing eyes, walked to the bed and stood there, leaning over the foot. I then saw that it was an elderly woman, with streaming hair and features drawn with pain. She was solemnly gazing at the other woman in the bed, who, however, did not see the ghostly shadow, but continued her mutterings and restless movements.

It seemed to me that the shadow stood thus for an hour, looking intently at the sick woman, and then slowly, with a backward glance at the bed, it left the room and was lost in the shadows of the passage. As it departed the atmosphere of the room recovered its normal temperature as quickly as it had lost it.

On looking at my watch, I found the incident had lasted about eight or nine minutes. I was so terrified I went at once to the servants’ room, and one returned with me, who assured me that she had often seen the shadow, which she believed to be that of her late mistress, but she was not afraid. I found, on inquiry, that two nurses had left on account of the shadow’s visit, and as I had no wish to see it again I was relieved of night duty, at my request, and the servant took my place. The woman eventually recovered, and then the remaining sister gave up the house and left the town, and whether the present occupants of the house have ever seen the ghostly shadow that so completely upset my nerves I do not know_

Yours, &c.,

Dora de Bike.

Light 7 August 1909: p. 382

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The ghost who returns to take revenge on its murderer is a well-known figure in supernatural literature. This case raises questions about the efficacy of such revenge-bound revenants—were this a fictional story, the paralysed nurse would have fallen back dead, a look of stark, staring horror on her face, when confronted with the spectre of the elderly lady at the foot of the bed. Alternately she would have contracted a fatal chill from the icy, deathlike cold permeating the room.  A sadly ineffectual spectre, one fears—possibly so enfeebled by her own illness she could not successfully frighten her tormentor to death.

 

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.

A Street of Shadows: 1867

A PSYCHIC EXPERIENCE

By MRS. RANDLE FEILDEN

The following experience took place two and a half miles from Oxford, in either November or December, 1867. I was seventeen at the time, and had been at an Advent evening (week-day) service in the church, together with my sister Maud, aged twelve, and a maid.

The night was “moony” and light, but so misty that the moon itself, which was full, was not visible, on account of the density of fog.

As we were returning home about 7.45 we met a man (the only ordinary individual whom we saw on the way); he passed us, and his footsteps sounded naturally as he walked. A few seconds later I was surprised to see my sister not move to make way for another passer-by who had appeared quite suddenly and noiselessly at her elbow. I took her sleeve, and whispered, “Maud, make way,”— when— all at once— our eyes were opened! We were in a crowded street, in which men and women were moving, and also dogs. All was silence, all was stir.

The forms kept appearing from the broad belt of grass on our right hand, and from the narrow belt on our left; they passed right through us— from the front— from the back. They seemed full of energy.

Being all shadows we could not say accurately what the dresses were like, but they appeared to be of a fashion such as I could remember my mother wearing when I was a small child— viz. a high, pointed sort of bonnet, with shawl and flounced skirts— a “wedge-shaped figure”— so to speak.

My companions both began to cry, and were terrified. For myself, I felt I was, as it were, responsible for all of us, and that I must hold myself together. Each of them seized one of my arms; I did not cry— in the ordinary acceptation, but from my two eyes I found two regular streams flowing, though I was able to keep my voice— and my head.

My two companions kept pulling us all three (tightly clasped as we were) first to one side, then to the other, in order to “make way,” as it were, for the “spirits” to pass; the feeling was utterly bewildering, and especially so as we saw one or another disappear into ourselves— to come out behind, or in front, as the case might be.

If one saw a man— all saw a man; if a woman, or a dog, all saw the same; several times we found this to be the case, for when “making way” we remarked “let this man—or this woman—pass” never once was there the slightest doubt as to what we saw.

I dare say the “vision” continued about a hundred or a hundred and fifty yards. At one spot, on our right, a figure stood motionless (unlike the rest), and he had, if I may so express it, the attitude of a mendicant; he had stars round his face, marking the contour, perhaps seven or nine. A few yards further on a second appeared exactly resembling him. I think he was about the last of the “shadows” on the footpath. The high road is a broad and beautiful one; it was clear of the “shadows” the whole time except for one—a tall man, bigger altogether than any of the others. He had a sort of cape thrown over the shoulder, and he took great strides, keeping just about even with ourselves— he on the road, we on the footpath.

When all the others had vanished this one still strode beside us. We reached our own gate, and I thought: “If he goes through the gate and up the drive, I can’t stand it any longer.” I have no doubt I was ” played out.”

However, to my intense relief he strode past our gate, and still on—up the road. As we turned into our own premises he was still to be seen, marching on.

I remember, all the time the vision lasted, how we kept casting sidelong glances towards this gaunt and particularly uncanny “shade.” There was a difference between him and the rest. They appeared bustling busily (though so noiselessly) about. I think all were independent of each other, but this tall creature strode as if he had an end in view, with big strides, and never turning right or left.

It would be perhaps thirty years later that I was staying in a small town in Westmorland and made acquaintance with a lady about my own age, who in her young days used to pay visits to mutual friends near Oxford, and we naturally talked of these departed friends.

My new acquaintance told me that once when she was visiting them and her host had not yet returned home in the evening, she and her hostess were sitting in the drawing-room, when at last he entered and told his wife, “I have seen a wonderful sight to-night!” And to his wife and visitor he related the vision exactly as I have written above.

He had been driving home in his dog-cart, the night foggy and moonlight, when all at once he found himself in the midst of a crowded street of “shadows.” My informant had not been half so inquisitive as I should have been, and she could not tell me whether Mr ___   drove on through the “shadows” or whether he waited; anyway they disappeared, leaving the road unoccupied as usual.

That road is the same one as the one on which we saw our vision, the spot perhaps a quarter of a mile further from Oxford. My friend knew it was an autumn night and with a dense fog, and I think— though I am not absolutely certain— that she could say it was in 1867. At any rate she was quite certain it was as nearly as possible that time.

The Occult Review April 1914: pp.  219-221

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  A strange and bewildering tale and how very unpleasant to  have to dodge hurrying shades when all one wants is to be home by the fireside with a nice cup of tea and some muffins.

But what do we make of a bustling crowd of spirits fashionably dressed for 1847, simply going about their business and walking through the witnesses? That supernaturally au courant person over at Haunted Ohio has told Mrs Daffodil of similar incidents that appeared to be what she called “time slips”—the controversial Adventure of two respectable English ladies at Versailles, for example, or occurrences on Liverpool’s Bold Street, which seems particularly prone to ghosts in the road.  The sceptics would, of course, say that the street of shadows was merely a trick of the light or folie  à trois.

For her part, Mrs Daffodil, shuddering, considers that the young persons did well to get home at all.  Although the tall, caped creature seems merely to have escorted them to their gate and strode on, there is an unpleasant whiff of brimstone about him—the Devil in the road…

 

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.

A Mother’s Ghost Visits Her Child: 1870s

1870s mother and child

A PLEASANT GHOST STORY

Supposed Visit of a Dead Mother to Her Child

A rather a queer story is told and can be vouched for by over a dozen persons in Springfield. It appears about three years ago a young man living in Summit got married, and in due time his wife gave birth to a child, which was a girl. When the child was about one year old the mother died. About five months later the young widower became lonely and took unto himself another wife. But before doing so he took all his first wife’s clothing, packed it in a trunk, locked it up, and allowed no one to have charge of the key but himself. Among the clothing put away was her wedding shawl and a pillow his wife had made for her first-born, and also some toys she had bought just before she died. Then he brought home wife No. 2, who, it is said, made as good a mother as the average step-mothers do. Things went on lively till one night last week, when there was a party at the next neighbor’s house. So, after putting the babe in its little bed, the father and mother No. 2 went over to spend the evening at the party. Shortly after they left, two men came along on their way to the party also. They saw a wonderful light in the house as though it might be on fire. They also heard the cries of the babe, as though in great pain. They went to the house, and as soon as they reached the door the light went out, and all was silent as the grave within. They hastened on to the house where the party was and told the man what they had seen and heard in his house as they came by. Five or six men, including the owner of the house, started to investigate the report. When they arrived they found every room and door fast as they were when the owner left. On going inside everything was found to be in its place except the child, which, after a long search, was found upstairs under the bed on which its mother died, covered up with its mother’s wedding shawl and its little head resting on the pillow its mother made for it, sound asleep. Alongside of it lay its playthings. On examining the trunk it was found to be locked and nothing missing except the above mentioned articles. Now, how the things got out of the trunk and the key in the owner’s pocket, and he half a mile from it, and how the child got upstairs, is a mystery. The above may sound a little dime-novelish, but, as, we said before, the facts of the case can be and are vouched for by over a dozen respectable citizens of Springfield.

The Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 16 September 1878: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil is shuddering at the notion of “as good a mother as the average step-mother.” Although there are certainly many splendid step-mamas, it is often the “average” ones–or at least the classic “Wicked Stepmothers”–who end up in the papers and the dock for cruelty.  

That collector of ghostly horrors over at Haunted Ohio previously shared the story above and added an additional fillip:

A Dead Mother Visits Her Living Child—She Sits at Its Cradle and Caresses It.

Correspondence Cincinnati Commercial.

Richmond, VA., Jan. 23.

A strange story is current in certain circles here. About two years ago Mr. A. married. In due time he became a father, but the wife died when the child was a few months old. On her deathbed she exhibited intense anxiety as to the fate of the little one she was to leave behind her, and earnestly besought her husband to confide it, after her death, to the care of one of her relatives. He promised, and, I believe, did for a while let the child stay in charge of the person whom the mother had designated. Some weeks ago, however, Mr. A. again married, and at once reclaimed the child, who as yet had never learned to speak a word, and was unable to crawl. One day this child was left alone for a few moments in its stepmother’s bedroom, lying in a crib or cradle some distance from the bed. When Mrs. A. returned she was amazed to see the child smiling and crowing upon the middle of the bed—In her astonishment she involuntarily asked:

“Who put you here, baby?”

“Mamma!” responded quite distinctly the child that had never before spoken a word.

On a strict inquiry throughout the household it was found that none of the family had been in the room during Mrs. A’s brief absence from it. This, it is solemnly averred, was but the beginning of a series of spiritual visitations from the dead mother. Whenever the child was left alone it could be heard to laugh and crow as if delighted by the fondlings and endearments of someone, and on these occasions it was frequently found to have changed its dress, position, &c., in a manner quite beyond its own unaided capacity.

Finally, as the account is, the first Mrs. A. appeared one night at the bedside of Mr. A. and his second wife, and earnestly entreated that her darling should be restored to the relative whom she had indicated as the guardian of the child on her death bed. The apparition, which, it is declared, was distinctly seen and heard by both Mr. A. and his wife, promised to haunt them no more if her wish was complied with. Both Mr. A. and his wife were too much awe-stricken to reply; but the next day the child was carried back as directed by the ghostly visitant. Such is the story as seriously avouched by the principal parties concerned, who are most respectable and intelligent people, and no spiritualists.

New Philadelphia [OH] Democrat 10 February 1871: p. 2

It’s practically obligatory for the ghostly mother in this genre of story to assert her dominance over her successor or make sure that her children are being properly treated. Even with some advances in obstetrics, women knew that death was a possibility with every pregnancy and anxiety over what would become of their motherless children is a constant theme in death-bed narratives. But perhaps mother-love never really dies.

For a previous story of a ghostly mother who threatened a new stepmother, see this post. That story also appears in The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past

Mrs Daffodil has told the heart-warming story of a ghost-mother who comes to assist her dying boy to the Other Side. And a shiversome tale of a phantom mother’s revenge.

 

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.