The Ideot's Funeral
The following extraordinary affair happened about ten years since, at a
village in the north of England.
About midnight, the minister of the parish was not a little alarmed at
hearing the church bell tolling. He immediately dispatched one of his
servants for the beadle, to inquire into the cause of this wonderful
event; who, when he came, appeared to be under more dreadful
apprehensions than the clergyman himself. However, the result of their
deliberations was, that, in order to be certainly informed of the truth
and ground of the matter, they should go forward to the church: but, on
their way, what served considerably to increase their fears, was their
seeing a light within the church. The great bell gave over tolling, and
was succeeded, in its turn, by the little, or handbell (commonly used in
that country at funerals), which, in a short time, also became silent.
On their near approach to the church, they discovered, by the help of
the light within, the mort-cloth moving up and down the area thereof.
Though this last part of the dreadful scene might have been sufficient
to intimidate persons possessed of no ordinary degree of courage; yet
such was the bravery and resolution of the Reverend Doctor, that he even
ventured to accost the nocturnal disturber of their repose: when, on
lifting up the mort-cloth, to his inexpressible surprise, he
discovered the terrible apparition to be only an unhappy young man
belonging to the parish, who had for some time past been disordered in
his senses, and who had got into the church by some secret means or
other, and, as the good Doctor readily conjectured, was amusing himself
in this manner, by the representation of a funeral: a case not at all
unlikely, as ideots in general are remarkably fond of any thing relative
to a funeral procession.
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