It originally came from a book called The Open Grave. It has everything, being weird by even 19th Century standards. I followed it back through a book by Hereward Carrington who took from More Real Ghost Stories by WT Stead and edited it.
I have found the original text and illustrations. Will a bit of research from clues in the text etc. I have found the location of Brook House which is in Margate.
Margate is also the site of Angle House known locally to be haunted at the time. As for Copley House, the details of the old Lady’s death were reported in The Antiquary Volume 3 1873.
The names of the people at Brook House are according to the census records Miss B. who is Fanny Mary Boswell aged 33. Mrs B. Sarah Jane Boswell aged 69. The Brother is William Boswell aged 45. The Late father was called John Tippin Boswell aged 56 when he died in 1844, whose military history I can not find any details, only that when young he was intended to be a clerk. Of Mr Ralph Hastings, other than this article, I can not find any trace what so ever.
The original article is:-
MR. RALPH HASTINGS, of Broadmeadow, Teignmouth, wrote me on October 1st, 1891, stating that some years ago he was a spectator of extraordinary occurrences in a so-called haunted house, and noted them in his diary. He adds :–
” I have often thought of making a fair copy of the same, but have been deterred by various reasons, notably the evil influences that even at this lapse of time seem to stretch towards me when I go back to them in imagination. However if they are ever to be committed to writing, here is apparently an opportunity. Should you desire my ‘relation,’ perhaps you will kindly state when you will require it.” Mr. Hastings wrote on October 23rd, enclosing his MSS. He said :—
” I herewith enclose the communication. I am sorry for the delay, but, as you can imagine, it has taken a considerable time to extract from my diary and present in a readable form. ”The relation I have here set down is taken from notes of occurrences that I recorded faithfully in my diary at the time, and which, if not sensational and highly coloured as similar narrations often are, possesses at all events the advantages of being a perfectly truthful one.
” I was spending some months of the summer of ’73 at a favourite watering-place on the S.E. coast. One afternoon (the 19th June) I went to visit some friends who had lived many years in an old-fashioned house which stood in a quadrangle, and was approached from the church by a narrow lane on a declivity. Brook House was a commodious red-bricked structure of three stories, faced by a court, and with its ground floor windows unseen from the outside by reason of the lofty wall that encircled them, and which was continued sloping downwards till the base of the hill was reached. Local tradition gave it the foremost place for antiquity in a town at that time abounding in old houses, but now, alas, mostly replaced or modernised. The ‘ tenants at will ‘ were an old lady, the widow of a captain in the 79th Highlanders, and her daughter.
FIRST SIGHT OF THE GHOST
” On the day in question, as I approached the Church Lane, I happened to glance at the window to the right on the second floor. There I saw to my astonishment the apparent figure of Miss B. standing partially dressed, arranging her hair, and looking intently at me. On entering the house I was at once shown into the drawing room, which was on the right-hand side of the door, the dining-room being on the left. I found Miss B. sitting reading ! Some days after (July 3rd) I called again. In the course of conversation I asked Miss B. whether she had been long in the room when the servant admitted me on my previous visit. ‘ More than an hour,’ she replied. Observing my astonishment, she inquired the cause. ‘ What did I mean ? I then told her what I had seen. In a tone of distress she replied,’
It is useless to conceal from you that strange things do take place here. I have been observed seemingly by others than yourself. I have not been in the room you refer to for weeks, nor has it been occupied for years.’ My curiosity was now aroused, but scouting the idea of anything supernatural , I proposed we should go up into the room in question.
THE HAUNTED ROOM
” On entering, I went to the window looking on to the gardens ; there were three, the third looking on to the hill at the side of the house. Throwing up the window, the afternoon being sultry, and sitting on the ledge, I began talking of other subjects than the matter in hand. After some ten minutes I remarked, ‘ Nothing happens when you are expecting it.’ The door was open, the words were hardly out of my mouth when a fearful sound as of a raging crash of bells filled the air around us ; it lasted about half a minute. There was formerly a bell in the servant’s room, which divided this from a corresponding one, but it had long been removed, as it used to ring of its own accord. Another singular circumstance was that about five minutes previously we had heard distinctly some one come upstairs and go into the room adjoining; then we heard the servant’s voice exclaiming from down-stairs (we had heard her, or her double, come up and go into her room, as above related, and Miss B. had called out, ‘ Are you there, L. ? ‘ and she had replied) Did you hear those bells, Miss ; they are none of ours ? The bells ! they had literally rang in our ears as if swung by invisible hands, and then, without a last tinkling vibration, stopped with curious suddenness. I had had enough for one day, and shortly afterwards left. Before leaving Miss B. related an extraordinary circumstance which took place the night before. Having retired to rest—she occupied a room on the first floor—on turning her face to the wall, not being able to sleep, she saw a gossamer veil, as it seemed, thrown over her head. Terrified, she turned, and after a little time, thinking she had been deceived, turned again to the wall ; it was repeated.
THE LEGEND OF BROOK HOUSE
” I should like to speak here of the former history of the house, so far as it could be learnt. In the year 1815, just before Waterloo, some officers were quartered in the town, and one here at Brook House; there was a lady, young and beautiful (so report said), with him, his wife or otherwise was not known ; she used to be seen pacing up and down the room with a child in her arms, apparently in great distress ; suddenly she disappeared, and was never again seen. Although anticipating the narrative in detail, I may here say that, one summer afternoon, whilst in the garden, I saw this lady distinctly walking backwards and forwards in the room above mentioned, and, no less distinctly, I saw the child in her arms. More than this, I then saw a figure apparently ascend some steps in the centre of the room and suspend something from the beam that stretched athwart it.
WHO SHUT THE WINDOW
My curiosity being now fully aroused, I went to the house the next day, July 4th, accompanied by a lady, a mutual friend. We went up into the room, threw the window open—it being very hot—looking on to the garden, and then went downstairs into the drawing-room, where we had some music. We went up again in about half an hour’s time. Miss F. would not come, but went into the garden. . We stayed a few minutes, when we had reached the first floor, and went into a room, a spare one, opposite to Miss B’s. She showed me some valuable Indian jewellery which her father had brought her the year of the suppression of the Mutiny. We then went upstairs, the window was shut, we sat there for some time, throwing it wide open. When we went down Miss F. said that whilst she was in the garden and we were in the room on the first flight looking at the jewellery she saw that the window was shut, and then a bulky form came up to it ; she then left. We went down the garden, and on looking up beheld the window shut and hasped. Again we went upstairs ; a suffocating hot dead air pervaded the room. On our way Miss B. had exclaimed, and, on my inquiring the cause, said she had felt the momentary grasp of a hand round her right ankle. Wild with a fevered curiosity, and in spite of her remonstrance’s, I unhasped the window, flinging it open once more ; we went down quickly into the garden, to the middle walk, leading to the gardener’s house, whence we could command a full view of the window ; it was still open.
THE GHOST IN DAYLIGHT
” Presently, to our horror, a figure appeared resembling Miss B., yet most unlike her; its fearful eyes were gazing at me without movement and totally expressionless. What, then, caused the arresting of the heart’s pulsation (as it felt) and blood, that the moment before had burnt as it coursed madly through the veins, to be chilled to ice ? This—one was face to face with a spirit, and withered by the contact. Those eyes—I can see them—I can feel them—after the lapse of nearly twenty years. Miss B had incontinently fainted when she saw the shoulders (as she afterwards described it) of the figure. I continued gazing spellbound ; like ‘ The Wedding Guest,’ I was held by the spirit’s eye, and I could not choose but look. The dreadful hands were lifted automatically ; they rested on the window sash. It came partly down, stayed a moment, then noiselessly closed, and I saw a hand rise and hasp it. I gazed steadfastly throughout. What impressed me strangely was this peculiarity, that as soon as the sash had passed the face, the latter vanished —the hands remained ; the unreality of the actual movement of the window as it descended also seemed to contradict me : it suggested the (for want of a better comparison) mechanical passage of stage scenery, and some sorts of toys that are pulled by wires : it made no noise whatever. Now I distinctly recognised the shape as that of Rhoda, Miss B.’s elder sister, who had been dead some twelve years. I had never seen her during life, but I at once knew her by the resemblance to a portrait in the drawing-room, even (let cavillers laugh !) to the red bow which she always wore. The following afternoon, being July 5th, I went to Brook House, and we — i.e., Miss B. and myself — went up into the room. I threw the window up. We then went into the garden, and sat in the summer-house. Presently we looked out and saw
two hands at the window. They drew it a little down, then vanished to the right, as if annoyed at our seeing them. After some time we looked again, and saw the backs of two hands on the outside of the window, but they did not move it.
THE LADY HEADLESS
” We then went in, coming out again almost directly, and saw the window nearly closed ; then upstairs into the room ; and again I flung the window as wide open as it would go, and before leaving set the door open, with a heavy chair against it, but previous to this (I omitted to mention), as we were looking up at the window after the appearance of the hands, we saw a horrible object come from the right (the apparitions invariably did) : it resembled a large white bundle, called by Miss B., who had before seen it, ‘ The headless woman ‘ ; it came in front of the window, and then began walking backwards and forwards. After the lapse of half an hour we went upstairs again, and found the chair by the window, and the door closed ; thereupon I wrote ‘ It ‘ a letter to this effect : Miss B. . . .and Mr. H. present their compliments to the Lady Headless and request her acceptance of this fruit from their garden ; they hope it will please, as she has often been seen admiring it. A reply will oblige, but the bearer does not wait for the answer. We put the chair once more against the door, placing the fruit and note on it ; two or three times we went up, but nothing was changed.
WRITING TO A GHOST
“We then went and stood outside the summer house whence a clear view of the window could be obtained ; presently there came forward the headless figure, and distinctly bowed two or three times, then immediately afterwards a deafening slam of the door. The apex of this figure, which was rotund, i.e., that is neck less, once or twice dilated, and we feared seeing something, we knew not what ; it then vanished, and we saw a beautiful arm come from the curtain and wave to us. Upstairs again, the door was shut ; on entering we saw the chair overturned in the middle of the room, the fruit scattered in all directions, and to our horror the note, which I had folded crosswise, was charred at each corner. I took it up ; but lacked the courage to open, and perhaps find a possible reply. Placing it in a plate I burnt it. The process was a very slow one, and it distilled a dark mucus.
HOLY WATER AND THE BIBLE
“July 6th. —At this period of my life I was a Roman Catholic, having had, inter alia, the efficacy of holy water duly impressed on me. Having procured some from the priest of the Mission, and promising to acquaint him with the result, I went to Brook House. We went up into the room (we found the window shut and hasped, which I opened). I then exorcised it, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and then sprinkling it with ‘ L’eau Sante. Miss B. on her part placed more reliance on the Protestant Bible, which she placed on the table. July 10th.— To Brook House in the afternoon, prevailed on Miss B. to take the Bible out of the room. It was now habitually kept there, and assuredly acted as a talisman in contradistinction to the ‘ Aqua Sancta,’ which proved of no efficacy whatever ; then into garden, found the window closed, reopened it, had tea, then heard a deafening noise from upstairs. L. came down dreadfully frightened ; she had been sitting in her room working, when the other door slammed to, and she had heard the window rattling down ; into garden, and saw it was shut.
“July 12th.—To Brook House in afternoon, up into the room and removed the Bible ; whilst at tea three tremendous thuds as with a steam hammer resounded on the ceiling above our heads, followed by two slammings of a door in quick succession. N.B.—Door and window had both been closed. A few minutes after ensued some jangling sounds as if all the basement bells had been set dancing ; we found the three centre ones oscillating, those at each end were motionless, the three had communication with the rooms on the first floor. We went upstairs, and I then put the door of the room wide open, setting a chair against it, placing another on the top of it, and went down again. In the course of a minute or two a loud crash was heard. We ran up and found both chairs lying on their sides, the door was not closed. At the first manifestation, during which the door and windows were closed, the big flower-stand was thrown down, and the chair on which the Bible rested when it remained in the room, was lying on its side. July 18th.—To Brook House in afternoon, opened the window of the room, leaving the Bible, but nothing happened. July 19th.—I took a friend, a Mr. S., to see the manifestations. Having removed the Bible, I threw up the window and placed a chair face ways to the large flower-stand in the window. Nothing occurred, however, so we left. I returned in the evening. Miss B. had been into the room, and found the chair removed a little to the right of the stand She was frightened and replaced the Bible. I went up ; the chair was in the position she had stated.
The whimsical idea now possessed me to arrange the room like a theatre ; the armchair and others I placed facing the stand ; on them I laid antimacassars and books for programmes. We then went down to the end of the garden which commanded a view of the room, and looked : blank space, nothing more—stay ! a curious filmy vapour begins to float in the air, which slowly coheres, evolves vague phantasms ; they unite, and gradually assume a definable shape. The headless woman fronts us at the window, she vanishes, and an immense sheet is waved twice or thrice from the right side of the window, something is flung out, we walk quickly up the garden, and there under the window lies one of the books. What had hastened our steps was the frantic gesticulating of the servant ; she was frightened out of her senses by the peculiar sounds proceeding from the room, but could not
describe them, but that there seemed to be a terrible hurrying to and fro, accompanied by strange noises. Even Mrs. B., recovering slowly from a second paralytic attack, had looked inquiringly upwards. We took the Bible and entered the room, which was in disorder : the flower-stand was thrown down, the two chairs widely part, one of the antimacassars was tightly folded up under the recumbent towel-horse, the other with the towel were airing themselves on a gigantic tree some seven feet from the window.
TEA AND SHRIMPS FOR THE GHOST
” July 2ist-—To Brook House in the afternoon, up to the room, took ‘ it ‘ or ‘ them ‘ some tea in a. handless cup (which, I remarked, was the fashion of that period), and two small slices of bread and butter, into which L. stuck a pretty rose, half-opened ; I added some shrimps ; these were put in an old saucer, and the whole set on a small tray : it was placed in a recess of the window. I then put the stand at a right angle with the centre of the window, flanking it with a chair on either side; I placed a book on one and a small box on the other ; in the stand I deposited the Daily Telegraph, and a bunch of keys. We then left, removing the Bible, and shutting the door. Suddenly we heard a tremendous smash on the gravel walk, close to our heads by the way. We were standing in the portico. What had been the saucer was now disintegration ; the tray lay adjacent, whilst the cup was half imbedded in some loose earth, but unbroken; the rest of the articles lay strewn around. We went up into the room : the armless chair was slightly moved, and my keys were on the floor, but that was all. Stay ! our eyes strayed to the bed, and we saw what certainly had not been there before—a great impression—as of some huge ‘ thing ‘ having sat or lain upon it,
A GHOST BREATHING IN THE BED
“On closer inspection, we distinctly saw the coverlet gently moving, resembling the very feeble respiration of a body beneath. We, i.e. L. and myself, then returned to the garden, having thrown open the window. After waiting a long time we saw what looked like a hand appear to sit on the centre of the window-sill, then from the curtain came the white figure. It disappeared, then after a moment or two the hand also ; but there must have been a ‘something ‘ besides crouching under the window, for it heaved upwards, and seemed to fill the window for an instant. It then sank, the hand vanished, and we saw no more. We waited a long time till I spoke of going. I had noticed as a curious thing that almost always, when I had wearied of looking, seeing nothing and about to leave, something was sure to appear.
THE SPECTRAL MOTHER AND CHILD
” 0n this occasion there suddenly presented to our view the figure of a fine tall woman, walking majestically backwards and forwards, attired in crepe de chine. I saw the arms through their semi-transparent covering. I also noticed something white, as it seemed, hovering around her ; a child lay across her shoulder, and she gently caressed it with her hand ; they passed away. Then the white figure returned and distended its arms beneath its fearful drapery. Then, as ‘ it ‘ also went, we saw the right hand curtain wrenched away ; I saw a hand in the act of drawing it away. Thinking we had seen enough for one day, we walked towards the house, and were about halfway when Miss B. came rushing to meet us (her eyes dilated with terror) and implored us to come in, as she was frightened out of her life by sounds overhead (the first floor), as of ponderous furniture being dragged about, and her mother had asked what it all meant.
WHO LOCKED THE DOOR
” I must here mention an incident or two I had forgotten. When we left the room the last time I had proposed turning the key, but was dissuaded. On our way upstairs we encountered an unexpected obstacle, to wit, the armchair : it was lying on the first floor landing, having been unceremoniously dropped over. On reaching the room I turned the handle of the door. It was locked ! and the key gone ! We fetched the one from the room opposite, which fitted, and entered ; the book lay open on its face, and the bottom drawer of a large wardrobe was wide open, the windows apparently as we had left them. The search for the missing key was a fruitless one ; it was not on the ledge over the door, where, when last lost, it was found. I forgot also to mention that the first time we went down we shut the door, and on remounting found it open.
THE GHOST AND THE DOLLS
July 23rd.—To Brook House in afternoon. L- fetched two big dolls that had belonged to Miss B. and her sister Rhoda. I placed them upright in the flower-stand, with the armchair behind, then left the room, not omitting the precaution of taking the key, thence to the garden L. and T. All at once we saw the dolls fall backwards, as if struck by lightning. On approaching the house, Miss B. came running to meet us, and in a voice of terror told us that whilst with her mother she had heard Fanny from outside the door. Before she had recovered her composure it was repeated; it bore no resemblance to a natural voice, instead of an articulation. It seemed an uttered breath. It came a third time; then Mrs. B. said slowly, ‘ It is beginning again.’ We went upstairs (the Bible being on the balustrade) ; the door was locked ! I wondered vaguely whether with the missing key L. produced the duplicate one, and we entered. The dolls lay in the overthrown stand, and the armchair was also on its side. We put things straight and then left. As Miss B. and myself were sitting in the room later on, the Bible being outside, I saw the curtain detach itself, falling and enfolding her. That was sufficient for that day.
OH FANNY, FANNY!
“August 13th.—Miss B. told me that whilst sitting alone this afternoon reading, she heard ‘ Oh, Fanny, Fanny ! ‘ Thinking it might have been her mother, she went upstairs, but found her asleep. She related how that about an hour after midnight, a tremendous knock at the front door resounded through the house ; of course there was no one there, the outside gate of the court being locked as usual. August 15th.—To Brook House in afternoon: up to room, Miss B., Miss A., a friend staying in the house, and myself. I sat with my back to the window, looking on to Frog Hill ; Miss A. in the armchair fronting window overlooking garden ; Miss B. sat on the bed. I took the Bible outside.
MISS. B HAIR SINGED
All at once we were startled by the sharp rap, as if the knob of a stick, against the wooden panel at the foot of the bed. Then Miss B. lost her scissors, and after a time we saw them lying distended near the door—no one had left their seats—then she missed her cotton reel, this was not recovered; suddenly we smelt the unmistakable fumes of fire, and we saw distinctly that some of Miss B’s hair had been singed away. We had not recovered from this fright, when a tremendous knock at the door of the room, as with a heavy stick, startled us, followed by a sound as if it were falling down the stairs. I rushed out on to the landing, to the stairs, some fifty feet distant. I saw nothing, then the phantom voice again called ‘ Fanny ! ‘ I now fetched some apples, putting them in a box, and placing it in the stand with a note to the effect that I was sorry they were not ripe, but it was too early in the season, ending with kindest regards. We then went down and stood in the porch. Suddenly a rushing sound, as of something falling through the branches of the huge tree past our heads. We found the apples lying on the ground, and, on re-entering the room, were assailed again with a faint smell of burning. Near the bed I discovered the ashes of my note ; the box was on the window sill open.
THE GHOST DANCES
“August 18th.— To Brook House, and up into the room. Almost directly a sound as of heavy lumber rolling about in the attic overhead warned us that activity ‘ had commenced, and the door of the room opposite closed with a terrific bang. After an interval, L. and I volunteered to go up and explore. We closed the door, and I had nearly gained the top step (L. was there already) when the clanging as of a heavy railway bell filled the air ; the others came rushing out ; we descended the stairs, went into the garden and stood against the railings at the end. The white figure appeared, bowed low, extending its arms still shrouded, then seizing a chair, tossed it out of the window. ‘ It ‘ next commenced dancing madly about the room, then slowly seated ‘itself’ in the armchair.’
FROM THE REALMS OF SULPHUR
We retraced our steps to the house, passing the chair which lay on the lawn, up into the room. The armchair and stand were lying on their sides. Miss A. and myself then arranged to stay in the room, whilst the others went into the garden. They were to wave their handkerchiefs if they saw anything. I have omitted to mention that although I never saw anything intangible when in the room, yet I was always conscious when it was disturbed, by a sense of suffocation, caused by a peculiar denseness which suffused the chamber and seemed to pervade everything. On this occasion I became aware, from the usual symptoms, that ! something ‘ was breathing the same air with ourselves. Almost directly we saw Miss B.’s handkerchief waving, and she rushed on to the lawn, imploring me to come down, if I wished to escape serious injury. When we had descended, she told us she had seen a vivid flame poised or hovering over my head, and between us she distinguished, though indistinctly, as it was more in the background, the headless lady. We essayed a farther instance, but this time L. remained with me ; the same phenomena were presented.” This ends my personal experiences. My health became impaired, and for upwards of two years I was invalided, but as time wore on and the impressions waned, I gradually recovered. I often wander back in imagination to the many mysteries that in the ‘ long ago’ held sway at Brook House.
” I will relate one curious episode (as it was told to me) in this account of the ’Haunters and the Haunted.’ Some years before (in Captain B’s time), he being at home on furlough, a child was staying in the house, about eight years of age. One morning the captain was in his room, when a tap was heard at the door, and on opening, it admitted the scared figure of the boy ; seeing something was wrong, he asked what it was. It appeared the child had wandered down into the breakfast room on the basement, when from behind the door, a boy, seemingly of the same age, had suddenly emerged, and apparently wanted to play with him. Disguising with discretion his surprise, the captain inquired, ‘ Well, why would you not play with him ? ‘ to which the child answered, ‘I was frightened, he was so very white!'”
” ALL TRUE VERY WORD!”
The extraordinary nature of this narrative led me to write to Mr. Hastings and ask him whether he could produce any confirmatory evidence of the statements which he made. He wrote in reply October 28th :—
“I have not drawn on my imaginative faculty in the slightest degree. There was no necessity for doing so. I vouch for the truthful reality of each and every occurrence as set down in my MS., wherever it professes to be my personal experience, but even the instance or two which I received at first hand I have no hesitation in accepting, having known (names in confidence) the B.’s for many years. Mrs. B. is dead ; her daughter married one of the N’s of Jersey. Verification ! Facts are stubborn things, and my narrative bristles with them. Alas ! there are more St. Thomases than believers in the world, I am afraid. ‘ Unless I shall see. … I will not believe.’ Faith is not credulity. I send you an extract from the diary of the year in question, as far as it relates to the subject in hand. The late Mr. Gurney, as I think I told you, asked me to draw out this relation (presumably for the Society), but I have always ‘shirked ‘it, and I ejaculated a prayer of thankfulness as the last line was penned prior to the day of my forwarding it to you.
EXPLOSIONS AND RAMBLINGS
” There was a curious episode one evening at Brook House, which I omitted to chronicle at the time and consequently forgot to embrace in my description. One evening at supper, the day had been overcast and lowering, and the gloomy clouds which had long been hanging threateningly over our heads, at last had given way, emitting jagged and blinding flashes, followed in quick succession by deafening thunderclaps, resembling the discharges from heavy artillery ; an avalanche of rain had then succeeded. Such days were always pregnant with mischief at Brook House. The tenants ‘ seem to revel in the disorganisation of nature, and some mad freak was sure to happen to express their approval. On the evening in question the storm had lulled, and we had supped. I rose from my seat, took one step forward, and the sound as of a match exploding was heard. We had hardly recovered from our bewilderment, when another report took place, and then another, and yet another, came in quick succession. We were by this time considerably disturbed, and lost no time in considerately leaving the room to its ‘ would-be possessors.’ One Sunday I met Mr. B., the uncle of Miss B., at dinner; he had come over from Sandwich, where he resided. Between the courses and some desultory conversation, a sound as of heavy shot falling and rolling was heard overhead. It was simply appalling in its vibratory action, and it gradually ceased with a slow sullen murmur. Now, had it been natural, we must have been impacted then and there, and flattened out amidst the ruins of our surroundings. Mr. B. was the first to regain the power of speech. ‘ Good God, Fanny, what was that ! An explanation was forthcoming, but it was a lame one, and I assisted Miss B. in diverting the conversation into a safer channel. But Mr. B. was not altogether to be thwarted. Some time after, ‘That noise at dinner, Fanny, reminds me of some inexplicable sounds that disturbed me during the night, when I stayed here last summer. I slept, if you remember (for one night only), in such a room (naming the one in question) ; but that I knew it was nothing of the sort, I could have sworn it was ‘ haunted.’ ” Seeing we were in for it, I begged him to go on.
THE SPECTRAL SONG OF THE HISTORY OF THE HOUSE
“It appeared that he could not sleep, yet he was naturally a sound sleeper ; some vague, indefinable the story of feeling kept him awake; the sensation gradually became stronger ; it was fear, it intensified, a horror sprang to life within him, it fought for the mastery and subdued him, quenching probability and reason together. He was not alone ! There was a ‘ Presence,’ of what nature he knew not, but it was surely there ; it seemed to enter and fill his very being, pervading his senses and permeating the nerve tissues of the body. He was voiceless, he was powerless, an agonised mind in a paralysed frame. How long this lasted he knew not ; then the strain seemed somewhat lifted, and a fresh impression awaited him. The sound as of a woman’s voice, wailing quietly, but with unutterable sorrow, came sighing to his ear. He listened acutely, and words unspoken, borne on the drowsy air, seemed to whisper their reflected meaning to his senses. They died away, and faint sounds as of ‘ far away ‘ music, most mournful and soul-saddening, appealed to him. They sang, or seemed to sing, the ‘ Story of the House.’ The AEolian strains rose higher, as if the long-drawn-out and pent-up agony of years would burst its bonds. Then, as if constrained by the Master Hand, they faltered, sobbed, then ceased. Nature thereupon reasserted her sway, and when he awoke it was bright morning. Do not call this a whimsical rhapsody. I have simply endeavoured to delineate the impressions as they were conveyed to me. Yet one or two last instances. One afternoon I went into the room, and was surprised to see the number of bees on the window looking over Frog Hill. An hour or two later I re-entered—they were all dead. A flower-stand figures in this history : formerly it held flowers in pots. One day a ‘baleful breath’ swept over them, poisoning their life’s source ; it blighted and destroyed them ; it had gone, leaving a tainted odour, which clung to their disfigured petals.” When Miss B. was asked by some friends how they liked their new house, she had replied, ‘ Oh, very much, but we do seem to hear the footsteps on the hill so plainly.’
” Some years after they (the B’s) had gone, I, curious to hear the subsequent history (if any) of the house, called on the new people and made guarded inquiries. They were not imaginative people, and the house suited them, but there was one peculiarity not quite agreeable that puzzled them, the sound of a footfall that seemed to ‘drop’ beside them. Crefitu modo pedis audito,”
I find on examination of my diary, that these experiences and my private concerns are so interwoven that I must ask you to be contented with a specimen page of the year in question.
SOME ADDITIONAL DETAILS
” One afternoon Miss B. turned the handle of the drawing-room door and essayed to enter. No ! Was it iocked? Certainly not. Did it give at all ? No ! Another push, and yet another, with the same result. Aid was invoked ; but it was insufficient. Additional help was forthcoming, swelling the attacking party to three in number. Suddenly, yet quickly, the door yielded, or rather collapsed, precipitating them into the room, and a laugh yawned in the air ; but they had already fled in confusion.
“For this next instant, I hardly expect credence—still it is true ! While sitting and conversing one afternoon, a ‘peculiar’ sound was heard outside. Opening the door, a ‘ phenomenon ‘ (or what shall I term it ?) was revealed. A ‘ pounce box ‘ leisurely descending the stairs.
“Lastly, one night, William B——. went up to his room at 11.30 p.m., when he recollected having left his watch on the mantel downstairs. “He returned; but as he went by the half-opened door, to his amazement, there, in the armchair drawn to the fire (he had replaced it before leaving against the wall), and gazing intently or vacantly—which ?—at the smouldering embers, sat his dead sister Rhoda, or rather her ‘appearance.’ Pulling himself together he passed the door, and entered. It ‘ had gone, but the chair witnessed to what he had seen. He then remembered that it was the anniversary of her death.”
TWO OTHER HAUNTED HOUSES
Mr. Hastings sends us the following notes concerning two other haunted houses known to him :—
” Copley House, erected probably about the same Period as Brook House, resembled it to some extent in outward appearance, the court and walled gardens excepted. As long as I could remember anything, it had a fascination for me on account of a tradition respecting it. This (affecting me nearly as a descendant) related how that in a certain year, when the reign of George III. had slipped a decade, an ancestress, while sitting in a room overlooking the street, suddenly saw a ‘something.’ The moment after, leaping from the window, she was outside. I now take up the thread in our own times. In 1871 I was staying in the town and occasionally met the ancient lady that lived alone in this large house, with her servant ; she was always attired the same—a dress of amber satin and a ‘ poke bonnet. I never passed the house but I looked up to one of the topmost windows, where, on the sill, always in the same position, and apparently never touched from year to year, stood some childish toys—a wooden horse and a yellow canary. I used to wonder what sort of a child he was that had once played with them, and my mind pictured strange fancies, tinged with a sadness. I was with the solitary boy, and I tried to interest myself in his lonely play, which never varied in its sad monotony ; a childish quarrel, or less, a difference, would have been welcomed, suggesting, as it would have done, a companion, but the dreary days came and went and he was still alone. At length a day came when they were untouched. He was dead ! the toys—they remained. Rumour, ‘ painted full of tongues,’ affirmed that the tenant of Copley House held it in seizin’ by a curious wording in the deed ; as long as the child was above ground, so it ran—therefore report had it that he was l kept ‘ in that room. This by the way : one afternoon in this year 1871 I called on some friends who were full of news respecting Copley House. Dr. had been called in. It appeared that on the afternoon of Sunday, her mistress being at church, the servant was reading in a room on the ground floor, when, suddenly, without a warning note, there rose an uproar, which increased to such a pitch that ‘pandemonium’ itself appeared to have risen and established itself here. This Babel of sounds was all in a moment tinctured with hellish laughter, then a rush as for dear life raced up the stairs, followed immediately by a headlong descent. The door of the room fell or was flung open, showing two heads, the one topping the other, contorted with an horrific expression, and each appealing in its malignity. The girl fell from one fit into another, in which condition she was found, and the doctor feared for both life and reason.”
“This, unlike Copley House (altered almost beyond recognition), still retains, I believe, its old-time look ; but even when I knew it early in the seventies, it had already lost its high estate, and showed ‘ apartments to let.’ This surely in all conscience was matter of fact enough, but yet there were ‘ whispers ! ‘ I do not think they became much more ; it would have injured the letting of the house, and this the tenants and owners in one could not afford, but they seemed to have a coherence which claimed a hearing, and I heard ‘ one of them,’ a lodger, coming down to breakfast, complain of an unwarrantable intrusion into his room early that morning. When he awoke he was staggered at beholding ‘ an old woman ‘ apparently bending over a drawer in a chest which she had opened. One of my relatives having a lot of young people came down to ———– at this time, and took rooms at Angle House. Late one evening after supper I rose to go; I had my back to the fireplace fronting the door, the table being between. We were cramped for space, the room being a small one of awkward shape, and many of us. However, some one opened it (the door), when I was chilled, or, vulgarly speaking, ‘ struck all of a heap,’ at seeing an ‘ old woman ‘ in a great shovel-bonnet which shrouded her features, bending across, as it appeared, in the act of listening. As I looked—it was but an instant—she had vanished. I then called to mind the ‘ whisperings’ “