The Lady in Black
It was several years previous to the great war. I and my son were redecorating part of the inside of a six-roomed villa, on the outskirts of the town of B__. It had been previously tenanted by a widowed lady and her daughter. The daughter died—the lady sold everything, and gave up possession, and went away to America, so I was told, about two or three weeks before we began work. One day we were just starting work after the dinner hour when a knock came to the front door. The door was opened by a tall lady dressed in very deep black; a thick crepe veil covered her face. In a distinct voice—with a sob in it—she said to me, “Excuse me, but may I go up into the room where my dear daughter died?”
“Yes, madam, certainly,” I said. Without another word she turned to the staircase and walked up as any ordinary person would, and, on the landing, turned to the right, entered a bedroom and shut the door. I furtively watched her by going half up the stairs, saw her enter the room, and heard the door shut. We went on with our work—I at the foot of the main staircase in the front part of the little hall, my son about ten or twelve feet away at the back of the hall. We talked of the strangeness of the affair as we thought she was in America. We could hear her walking about the room, and wondered what she could be doing. She had been there three-quarters of an hour when the moving about ceased, and there was perfect quiet. And so another quarter of an hour passed and we began to get uneasy. We were just contemplating whether we should go and see if all was well when, suddenly, there was a thud as if a heavy body had fallen on the floor. We looked at one another for a second or two; my son turned pale, and I said, “She’s fainted—or perhaps it’s a case for the coroner.” We both together hurried up to the room. We listened—no sound. I spoke—no answer. Then I rapped on the door panel—no answer. Cautiously I turned the door knob and peeped in, but saw nothing. Both of us entered—the room was quite empty.
There were two windows—but neither had been opened and both the sashes were fastened. We went into all the other rooms and hunted every corner, but found nothing. It made such an impression on us that we were very glad when the work was finished and we got away. The house became uncanny to us. We often have spoken about it since, but have never heard of the “Lady in Black,” as my son calls her. He can substantiate all I have said; it’s just a simple account of what happened and perfectly true in every detail, as God is my witness. But what I, or we, would like to know is—was it a real woman or a wraith—or what? Also, how did she leave that room? Certainly not by the windows—nor door—nor staircase.
Uncanny Stories Told by “Daily News” Readers, S. Louis Giraud, 1927: p. 55-6
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: A strange story. One wonders if, years later, when the villa was demolished, the skeleton of a woman, shrouded in the tatters of a black veil, was found beneath the floorboards.
Mrs Daffodil has also written about the Woman in Black (and her opposite number, the White Lady) as a Royal omen of 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 anecdote
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.