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Ghost Stories

The Haunted Bed-room
A young gentleman, going down from London to the west...

The Philosopher Gassendi And The Haunted Bed-room
In one of the letters of this celebrated philosopher,...

Croglin Grange
"Fisher," said the Captain, "may sound a very pleb...

The Heroic Midshipman Or Church-yard Encounter
At a respectable inn, in a market-town, in the west o...

Mr Beecher Appeased
"When what seemed to be Mr. Beecher's embodied spirit a...

The Haunted House - The Mortals In The House
Under none of the accredited ghostly circumstances,...

The Hypochondriac Gentleman And The Jack-ass
A sober gentleman of very great respectability, who w...

A Professional Secret
Mr. Leveridge was in a solicitor's office at Swanton....

The Restraining Hand
"About twenty years ago," writes Mrs. Elliot, "I receiv...

Lord St Vincent's Ghost Story
Sir Walter Scott, writing about the disturbances in the...

The Hand Of Glory

One evening, between the years 1790 and 1800, a traveller, dressed in
woman's clothes, arrived at the Old Spital Inn, the place where the mail
coach changed horses, in High Spital, on Bowes Moor. The traveller
begged to stay all night, but had to go away so early in the morning
that if a mouthful of food were set ready for breakfast there was no
need the family should be disturbed by her departure. The people of the
house, however, arranged that a servant maid should sit up till the
stranger was out of the premises, and then went to bed themselves. The
girl lay down for a nap on the longsettle by the fire, but before she
shut her eyes she took a good look at the traveller, who was sitting on
the opposite side of the hearth, and espied a pair of man's trousers
peeping out from under the gown. All inclination for sleep was now gone;
however, with great self-command, she feigned it, closed her eyes, and
even began to snore. On this the traveller got up, pulled out of his
pocket a dead man's hand, fitted a candle to it, lighted the candle, and
passed hand and candle several times before the servant girl's face,
saying as he did so: "Let those who are asleep be asleep, and let those
who are awake be awake." This done, he placed the light on the table,
opened the outer door, went down two or three of the steps which led
from the house to the road, and began to whistle for his companions. The
girl (who had hitherto had presence of mind enough to remain perfectly
quiet) now jumped up, rushed behind the ruffian, and pushed him down
the steps. She then shut the door, locked it, and ran upstairs to try
and wake the family, but without success: calling, shouting, and shaking
were alike in vain. The poor girl was in despair, for she heard the
traveller and his comrades outside the house. So she ran down again,
seized a bowl of blue (_i.e._ skimmed milk), and threw it over the hand
and candle; after which she went upstairs again, and awoke the sleepers
without any difficulty. The landlord's son went to the window, and asked
the men outside what they wanted. They answered that if the dead man's
hand were but given them, they would go away quietly, and do no harm to
anyone. This he refused, and fired among them, and the shot must have
taken effect, for in the morning stains of blood were traced to a
considerable distance.

These circumstances were related to my informant, Mr Charles Wastell, in
the spring of 1861, by an old woman named Bella Parkin, who resided
close to High Spital, and was actually the daughter of the courageous

It is interesting to compare them with the following narrations,
communicated to me by the Rev. S. Baring Gould:--"Two magicians having
come to lodge in a public-house with a view to robbing it, asked
permission to pass the night by the fire, and obtained it. When the
house was quiet, the servant-girl, suspecting mischief, crept downstairs
and looked through the keyhole. She saw the men open a sack, and take
out a dry, withered hand. They anointed the fingers with some unguent,
and lighted them. Each finger flamed, but the thumb they could not
light; that was because one of the household was not asleep. The girl
hastened to her master, but found it impossible to arouse him. She tried
every other sleeper, but could not break the charmed sleep. At last,
stealing down into the kitchen, while the thieves were busy over her
master's strong box, she secured the hand, blew out the flames, and at
once the whole household was aroused."[14]

But the next story bears a closer resemblance to the Stainmore
narrative. One dark night, when all was shut up, there came a tap at the
door of a lone inn in the middle of a barren moor. The door was opened,
and there stood without, shivering and shaking, a poor beggar, his rags
soaked with rain, and his hands white with cold. He asked piteously for
a lodging, and it was cheerfully granted him; there was not a spare bed
in the house, but he could lie on the mat before the kitchen fire, and

So this was settled, and everyone in the house went to bed except the
cook, who from the back kitchen could see into the large room through a
pane of glass let into the door. She watched the beggar, and saw him, as
soon as he was left alone, draw himself up from the floor, seat himself
at the table, extract from his pocket a brown withered human hand, and
set it upright in the candlestick. He then anointed the fingers, and
applying a match to them, they began to flame. Filled with horror, the
cook rushed up the back stairs, and endeavoured to arouse her master and
the men of the house. But all was in vain--they slept a charmed sleep;
so in despair she hastened down again, and placed herself at her post of

She saw the fingers of the hand flaming, but the thumb remained
unlighted, because one inmate of the house was awake. The beggar was
busy collecting the valuables around him into a large sack, and having
taken all he cared for in the large room, he entered another. On this
the woman ran in, and, seizing the light, tried to extinguish the
flames. But this was not so easy. She blew at them, but they burnt on as
before. She poured the dregs of a beer-jug over them, but they blazed
up the brighter. As a last resource, she caught up a jug of milk, and
dashed it over the four lambent flames, and they died out at once.
Uttering a loud cry, she rushed to the door of the apartment the beggar
had entered, and locked it. The whole family was aroused, and the thief
easily secured and hanged. This tale is told in Northumberland.

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