The New Bloomfield, Pa. times. (New Bloomfield, Pa.) 1877-188?, March 15, 1881, Image 1

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NO. 11.
in Independent Family Newspaper,
F. MOllTIMElt & CO. '
TEltMH t
bo cts. t on a months.
TosiiborlbersreldlnfclnTms county, where
we have no postaRe to pay, a discount of 25 cents
from the above terms will be made If payment is
made In advance.
' Advertising rates furnished upon appllcn
" T ARQE and roomy ; well furnished;
lj good garden; bealtby neighbor
hood ; within easy reach of a railway
station ; good boys' school near ; not far
from London; cheap I" Thus, with
something more than a suspicion of
acorn in her voice, my sister Margaret
ran off on her fingers the list of my
requirements fur a house.
I had just returned from India with
my six children, and I was anxious to
settle them comfortably before their
father's return.
" You want every comfort," continued
my sister, "and you don't want to pay
for every comfort. I believe you Anglo
Indians think we live upon nothing in
Her husband came In as she spoke.
Turning to him, she run over with a
slight exaggeration and a deeper infusion
of contempt, the catalogue of what was
He took a seat, Difficult," he said,
oracularly; "but it might be dene. I
have it I" said he, turning to his wife.
"Whatr" The right house? Then
you are cleverer than I thought you."
'" Do you remember the story Williams
told us yesterday V" '
" Now, James," said my sister, rising
to her feet, and looking at her husband
severely, " If you advise Eleanor to take
that house, you do it at your own re
sponsibility, I wash my hands of it."
" Sit down again, Margaret," he said.
" Be reasonable my dear. Is there any
sufficient reason why Eleanor should
not take that house t" '
" There is one very good reason she
will have to do all the house work her
self. No servant will stay a week."
" She has an Indian servant at any
jate, who must stand by her."
" But think of herself, of her feelings.
You smile, James. Oh, yes; I know
you think me absurd. Very likely I am
Absurd ; but remember this there's no
moke without some fire. Besides, I
knew the last tenants. Mrs. Green Is
not an idiot. She told me"
" Stay a moment," said my brother-in-law,
and he addressed himself to me :
Eleanor, tell me truth; are you a
believer in ghosts V" .
" Does this mean that , the . eligible
house is haunted V" I exclaimed, much
stimulated by what I heard. " If so, I
will take it at once. Write to the agent
for me, James." ,
" I do believe you are all going mad,"
said my worthy shter, holding up her
hands in horror. James, you are a sen
sible man. . You know things ought not
to be done in a hurry. Eleanor, listen
to what I heard from the last tenant.
-She told me with her own lips; it is
none of your second-hand stories"
" No," I interrupted ; "ddVt tell me.
If there is a ghost it will show Itself.
If there is not, I might be set thinking
-of your story, and might imagine it; or
at least" correcting herself "I might
be betrayed into telling somebody else.
.Somebody else might imagine it."
My brother-in-law thereupon entered
into an elaborate description of the
house, which had everything I could
-desire, and he believed I could have it
for a rent which was so small, consider
ing its advantages, as to seem merely
nominal. " The fact is," he said, "their
principal object is to have the thing off
their bands. Tenants have been com.
Ing and tenants have been going, and
ome have paid and some have not paid.
The place has got a bad name in the
neighborhood. The owners, however,
think that If a respectable tenant comes
And stays for some time, U will have a
good effect on the public mind. But, as
Margaret says, you must count the cost.
Your servants will be sure to hear the
ghoBt story. They will see visions and
dream dreams. You may have to do a
good deal of the work yourself. By the
by, there Is an old housekeeper, a Mrs.
Weevil, who lives in the lower rooms."
" Could we not get rid of her V" I said.,
" She might tell the'servants."
" I am afraid that would be easier said
than done," he answered. "She has
some claim upon the family. But they
say she is a quiet old soul, who interferes
with nobody. You might warn her,
you know."
" Well," I said, "let us write to the
agent, and see what can be done."
The result of all this was that, a week
or two later, on a placid afternoon early
in the month of August, 1 drove up
with my children, servants, and luggage
before the deep porch of one of those
moderately sized country houses which
abound in the County of Surrey. It
was to be my home for the next twelve
months servants and ghosts permit
ting. For once, description and the expecta
tion that followed hard upon it "were, I
felt, abundantly justified. My earthly
paradise was a paradise Indeed; and
joyfully, on the evening of our arrival,
I sat and wrote to my husband of our
good fortune. The house was beautifully
situated, and was Itself picturesque,
with its deep porch in front and the
neat balcony that surmounted it. It
was an irregular building, and its red
brick walls were half smothered with
ivy and clematis. Beyond the garden
in front was a broad lawn, bounded by
the grand old beeches and elms which
form a belt round Lord B 's estate.
During-the first few weeks, nothing
happened to tfhange my good opinion of
the house.
There was one circumstance I did not
like ; but I persuaded myself it was
trivial and to be affected by it, proved
ultra-sensitiveness ; besides, I had been
warned beforehand. Two of the lower
rooms were occupied by an old woman.
She was a pensioner, I was told, of our
landlord. Many years, ago she had been
housekeeper to some relatives of his,
who lived in the house, and she had
lived in it ever since. I wished to see
her and have some conversation with
her. I disliked, in the first place, that
any one of whom I knew nothing
should be In my house ; and in the
second place, I was anxious to warn her
to keep the ghost story (whatever that
might be) secret. My three English
servants were north-country girls. I
had taken good care that they should be
utter strangers to the neighborhood ; but
I knew, if the possibility of seeing a
ghost were suggested to them, they
would promptly make the possibility a
certainty, and then my troubles would
I sent a polite message to Mrs. Weevil
asking for an interview, and she came
to my room. She was not a preposses
sing woman. Her age might be some
where between sixty and seventy, and
as she dropped an awkward courtesy on
entering my presence, I felt she was
giving me a homage which she did not
pay willingly. I said I understood she
had permission from the owner of the
house to ocoupy certain rooms in it.
" Yes, ma'am," she said ; " but not
from the owner as is the owner of the
'ouse now, ma'am.',
She manifested, I thought, a certain
ill-concealed sulkiness as I went on to
ask her if she could .not be induced to
find accommodation for herself in some
of the cottages on the estate, so as to
give us the house to ourselves. She
stubbornly refused.
" No, ma'am," she went on to say.
" t am an old woman as has lived here
for nigh twenty years, and I never gives
trouble to no one. I only wished to be
let alone ; and I means to stay, ma'am
yes, I means to stay."
I saw that it would serve no purpose
at present to try to dissuade her, and as
I did not wish to quarrel with her I
changed the conversation. I said I
understood there were some foolish
stories current about the house being
haunted, and I hoped, whatever she
thought of it, that she would say noth
ing to my servants on the subject.
"If your servants '11 let me alone,
ma'am, I'll let them alone, I has no
wish to meddle with any lady's ser
vants." I then permitted her to go. She was
certainly no trouble about the house,
and she was very seldom seen either by
me or the servants. She only want out
occasionally, as if to make such pur
chases as her necessities might require
locking the door of her rooms both in
going in and returning.
A month passed by. People in the
neighborhood began to call. They all
praised the house, and grounds, but they
all looked mysterious and one and an
other hinted, " You won't stay here
over the winter."
My answer was a smile. But the win
ter came. Flowers faded; trees grew
red, golden, brown; and at last their
shivering leaves full to the ground. It
was an early winter. In November, the
cold was intense, and the days were
short and gloomy. Many years had
passed by since I bad spent a winter in
Englaud, and I felt the cold very much.
I made the best of things, however,
muflllng myself and the children in
flannel, keeping the doors and windows
Closed, and having large fires in the
rooms and hall. In spite of all I could
do, two of them fell ill. Their illness
was not serious, but nursing and look
ing after them gave me much to do, for
their ayah (Indian nurse) was suffering
at the moment from a severe cold, which
rendered her almost incapable of help
ing me.
Such was my position when, one
morning, my house maid asked to see
me. I knew what this meant ; and was
not surprised to hear that she intended
to leave us that very day. Her mother
wanted her, she said. I asked her moth
er's reason. She was impenetrable. I
offered her higher wages. She said trem
blingly, that she would not stay if I
were to offer her a hundred pounds. I
began to perceive that the news of the
ghost story had got abroad, and I asked
her if there was anything in the house
of which she was afraid ; but to - this
question she was dumb. I said I would
see her again, and sat down to think,
with my sick child in my lap. Even
while I was thinking, there came a
knock at the door of my room. I cried
out, " Come in," but my heart sank.
My cook was at the door. The girl
who helped in the kitchen and house
was behind her. Both looked scared,
and announced that they were going.
I did not know what to do. To gain
time I ordered them back to their work.
I had no money in the house, I said.
The bank, as they knew, was some
miles distant. They had no right to
leave me without due notice ; In fact, I
would not let them go. So I said, and
hoped they were quieted for a time.
But late that evening the ayah came to
me with consternation in her face. All
the three English servants had left me.
By that time the children were in bed,
and everything was still. I bade the
ayah go to her room with the younger
children, and after locking my bedroom
door, sat alone, thinking. I had passed
through an exoitlng day. The night
was chilly; I was tired, and not very
well. That the warmth of the fire and
the comfort of my favorite lounging,
chair should presently cause a delightful
sense of indifference to all and every
annoyance, need not be considered won
derful. As I sat there, I gave way to
the pleasant compulsion, and was soon,
I imagine, fast asleep. I say I imagine,
because there was no witness present ;
and of what we do, or what we don't
do, in that strange indefinite border-land
of sensation which separates waking
time from sleeping-time, we can never
be perfectly certain.
So far as I know, I slept for some con
siderable time. It was the sensation, I
believe, of my feet waxing cold that first
loosened the bonds of slumber. While
I was in that semi-unconscious state,
which has a peculiar discomfort, I be
came dimly alive to the fact that there
was in the room some presenoe other
than my own. There was movement
a stirring air, as if some creature had
come in. The events of the day return
ed to my memory, which was still only
half alive, I started up, rubbed my
eyes, for I could not be at all sure that I
was awake and In my right mind.
When I went to sleep I was alone.
Yes, certainly. But even if it were not
so, what strange pale face was this now
I gazing at me across the dimly-lighted
space bf the shadowy room f I was hut
half awake. My nerves were in an
excited Btate. The ghost in the house
had been my last conscious idea. And
now this strange face, which seemed to
be advancing on me out of the gloom,
was it a creation of my own fancy V Or
was it some one playing a trick upon
me V In my case, now was my time to
fathom the mystery. . Trying to be
courageous and gather my wits together,
I advanced. The face receded, and
passed into the deeper shadow, till it
appeared to be suddenly swallowed up
in the draperies of the heavily curtained
window. I rushed forward, but was
not swift enough. Before I had touched
the curtains, the face had disappeared.
I was certain, however, perfectly cer
tain, that as I drew the curtains open I
felt resistance to my hand, and at the
same time a gust of colder air rushed
against my face, as if from an opened
window. At first, I felt as if about to
fulnt; but my will, fortunately, was
strong, and I threw the curtain aside,
and put my hand on the window. It
was closed. I tried the bar, which could
only be fixed from the inside, and it
was as I had left it early in the evening.
At this discovery my agitation over
powered me, my head swam, and I
fainted. When I recovered conscious
ness, I was lying in the broad recess of
the curtained window, and I felt a
trickling sensation on my forehead, and
suspected, what I afterward found to be
the case, that I had struck my head on
softie article of furniture, and was bleed
ing. This involuntary blood-letting
helped to revive me, and I sat up.
For a few minutes I remained parti
ally stunned and bewildered. I felt a
creeping sensation, as if I had been
struck by a frost-wind. After a while,
my heart began to beat less audibly, and
I rose to my feet. At that moment the
embers of the fire suddenly sank to the
bottom of the grate, sending up a faint
flickering light, which was absolute
cheerfulness as contrasted with the
horrible semi-darkness that had hitherto
prevailed. I felt my courage returning,
and managed to ring the bell. The
ayah came, alarmed that I should have
summoned her at an hour when she
supposed I retired to rest. I did not tell
her what I had witnessed, only asked
her to light a candle. She did so, and
as the light fell upon my face, she gave
a slight scream. I bad forgot at the
moment that blood was trickling from
the wound I had received, or I should
not have asked her to light the candle.
As it was, I had to make the best excuse
I could in answer to her inquiries. I
said I must have slept long by the fire,
and in moving about the darkened room
had fallen and hurt myself. The wound,
however, was found to be a mere scratch;
and in a few minutes the ayah had suc
ceeded in removing from my face all
marks of the disaster.
I asked her to leave the candle with
me and allow me to retire to rest. She
did so; and after the door was closed
upon her I proceeded with the candle to
examine the window more minutely.
The mystery was as much a mystery as
as ever. The window had certainly not
been opened by any one, and no trace
was visible on the walls of any possible
means of ingress and egress. I felt
more nervous than ever, and was about
to turn and leave the room altogether,
so much did my fears oppress me, when
something lying on the floor attracted
my attention. I stooped and picked it
up. It was a small piece of white cloth
a few inches square very frail in the
texture, as If half-rotten with damp or
age, and adorned with a peculiar kind
of embroidery such as I thought I had
seen before, but could not recall where.
On one edge there was a hem, the other
three edges being Irregular and Jagged.
It looked like a piece of cloth wrenched
out of a garment by the foot being sud
denly placed upon it. I felt I had made
a discovery.
Returning to the fire-place, I sat down
to think. It Beemed clear to me now
that my visitant, however he or she had
effected an entrance, was no spirit. This
piece of linen was certainly not lying
there when I had elosed and barred the
window for the night; nor could it
belong to the apparel of any member of
my household. It was not unlikely
that it was part of the loose garment of
dingy white which I now remembered
my strange visitant wore.
I am naturally strong-minded, and
gradually began to recover my com
posure. I said to myself, "I shall find
out the secret. The first link of the
chain is between my fingers. I never
before heard of ghosts tramping bits out
of their drapery, and no doubt the ghost
I saw had been nearly as much afraid as
myself when I so suddenly approached
it, and had not got away without a little
flurry. This accounts, too," I thought,
" for the resistance which I felt to my
hand when I first laid hold of the window-curtains."
I was more than ever persuaded that
a trick was being played upon me. I
did not feel, however, as if I could sleep
in the room that night. If my visitor
was, as I suspected, a mortal like myself
there was no telllpg what he or she
might be induced to attempt should the
desire of revenge prompt a second visit.
My life was not safe in such clrcum-
'stances, when a barred window and
locked door were not sufficient to protect
me from intrusion. I resolved for that
night to occupy the bedroom where my
two eldest children slept, which I could
reach without disturbing the rest of the
I was about to take up my candle and
go, when I imagined I heard a sound
behind me. In my state of nervousness,
I started, and had almost dropped the
candle. I looked toward the window ;
but the curtains hung motionless, and
were parted as I had left them.
A thought struck me. If my visitor
were to return after I had retired, how
should I know 'i I pondered the matter
a little, and then proceeded to action.
Trickery must in this case be met by
trickery. I went up to my work-box,
took out a reel of thread, and drew off a
few yards. There were curtain-fasteners
on each side of the window, about two
feet from the floor ; and between these I
stretched and made fast the length of
thread, so that no one could enter the
room from the window-recess dur-i
ing the night without unconsciously'
breaking the barrier I had erected. This
would afford me sufficient proof as to
whether the privacy of my sleeping
room had again been invaded. Taking
up my candle and the bit of cloth, I
then passed quietly out, locking the
door of the room, and carrying the key
with me. I felt myself stronger in the
presence of my children, and soon man
aged to fall asleep.
My first quest next morning on leav
ing the apartment where I bad slept
was for the purpose of ascertaining
whether my bedroom had been again
entered after I had left it on the previous
evening. I unlocked the door, and
cautiously looked in. Enough light
came through between the drawn cur
tains to show me that the room was
apparently as I left it. I advanced to
the window and found the thread there,
unbroken, and evidently untouched. I
must confess I felt somewhat disappoint
ed. My fears had probably exaggerated
my conceptions of the danger, and I had
anticipated a second visit as more than
probable. After thinking, however, I
came to the conclusion that it was bet
ter as it was. Had my strange visitor
for. any purpose entered my room a
second time, and found that I had
quitted it, the effect might have been
the reverse of favorable to a discovery of
the trickery, which discovery could best
be forwarded by my making as little
change in my usual habits as possible.
It was not improbable, seeing that no
suspicion had been aroused by the
knowledge that I had changed my
sleeping apartment, that the "ghost"
might be emboldened to pay me a visit
on the following night ; and by that
I hoped to be able to arrange for the
interception of my strange visitor, and
the detection of the trick.
In the course of the morning I had
made up my mind how I should pro
ceed. Mrs. Weevil generally left after
breakfast on her errands to the neigh
boring village or elsewhere, not gener
ally returning for a few hours ; and I
thought this a good time to obtain an
Interview with Andrew, the old garden,
er, who, I saw, was engaged trimming
the walks in front of the door. I had
no doubt now that whatI had seen had
been also appearing to the servants who
had so suddenly departed on the pre
vlous evening; a,nd I had no doubt
also that Andrew knew the whole story
about the ghost having been again seen