The following remarkable occurrence, an absolute fact, is related by a lady visiting friends in Hartford, as it was told her by her cousin in Meerut, North-Western India. It took place in the house of the narrator. Of its absolute accuracy there can be no question. The two sisters in India are connected with families of repute and with officers in the British Army in India. We give the story as the lady here related it. She is a devout member of the Episcopal Church, and is incapable of misrepresenting in the slightest particular.
Her cousin, in whose house the occurrence took place, was seated at a lighted table engaged in reading, when, thinking it about time to retire, and happening to lift her eyes from her book, she was astonished to see seated in a chair before her, and between herself and the door to the bathroom, a man, a stranger to her, who calmly regarded her. It was too great a surprise for her to speak and demand who was thus intruding upon her privacy, and what was wanted. She remained for a moment in silent astonishment.
Then it gradually dawned upon her that the figure was probably not that of a person of real flesh and blood, but a visitor from the unseen world of life. She remembered having once, as a child, seen a similar figure, under circumstances which seemed to preclude the idea that it was any person still in the body, and, in later years, in revolving those circumstances, she had remembered how the apparition had after a little while faded away into invisibility. Concluding that this new visitor also was not a person of flesh and blood, she sat silently gazing at the silent object, while the intruder, whoever or whatever he was, sat also in silence steadily regarding her. Just how long this state of things lasted, the lady did not accurately know, but it was probably not very long, when the mysterious stranger began to vanish into a thinner and thinner personal presence, until in a moment or two he had vanished quite away.
It was the lady’s hour for her evening bath, but she thought she would first let out her two pet dogs from their confinement in another room. They came, barking furiously, and running directly toward the bathroom. There through the open door the lady was horrified to see on the floor a monstrous cobra— the snake whose bite is certain and speedy death. Springing forward to save her dogs, she quickly shut the door, but not so instantaneously as to prevent her seeing the reptile turning and escaping down through a hole in the floor, where the drain pipes of bath-tub and wash-bowl went, a hole which had been carelessly left larger than was necessary.
If she had gone directly to the bathroom, as she would have done but for the intervention of her mysterious visitant, her life would undoubtedly have been sacrificed in the act.— From the ‘Hartford Times.’
Light 20 March 1897: p. 135
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A salutary lesson to all of us about the importance of finishing those little jobs of plumbing about the house. When this piece was read at tea in the servants’ hall, Mr Pinch, the Hall plumber, much moved, declared that he would give notice if any dashed reptile could make its way into the Hall through an unfilled gap in his plumbing. Of course cobras are scarce in Kent, but it is the thought that counts and we applauded his diligence.
One does wonder who the stranger was—perhaps a previous tenant of the house, found, swollen, and blackened in his bath one evening and come to save the lady from a similar terrible fate? Mrs Daffodil also marvels at the sang-froid of the lady, who sat gazing at the ghostly intruder as he began to vanish.
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.