site logo

The Floating Wonder Or Female Spectre

Scary Books: Apparitions; Or, The Mystery Of Ghosts, Hobgoblins, And Haunted Houses

The bridge over the river Usk, near Caerleon, in Wales, is formed of

wood, and very curiously constructed, the tide rising occasionally to

the almost incredible height of fifty or sixty feet. The boards which

compose the flooring of this bridge being designedly loose, in order to

float with the tide, when it exceeds a certain height, are prevented

from escaping only by little pegs at the end of them; which mode of

ning does not afford a very safe footing for the traveller, and

some awkward accidents have been known to arise from this cause. The

following singular adventure occurred about twenty years since to a

female of the neighbourhood, as she was passing it at night.

The heroine in question was a Mrs. Williams, who had been to spend a

cheerful evening at a neighbour's house on the eastern side of the

river, and was returning home at a decent hour. The night being

extremely dark, she had provided herself with a lanthorn and candle, by

the assistance of which she found her way to the bridge, and had already

passed part of the dangerous structure, when she unfortunately trod on a

plank that had by some accident lost the tenons originally fixed to the

ends of it, and had slipped from its proper situation; the faithless

board yielded to the weight of the good lady, who was rather corpulent,

and carried her through the flooring, with her candle and lanthorn, into

the river. Fortunately, at the moment of falling, she was standing in

such a position, as gave her a seat on the plank similar to that of a

horseman on his nag. It may be easily imagined, that Mrs. Williams must

have been dreadfully alarmed at this change of situation, as well as the

difference of element. Blessed, however, with great presence of mind,

and a patient endurance of evil, the good lady was not overwhelmed by

her fall, but steadily maintained her seat on the board; taking care, at

the same time, to preserve her candle lighted, rightly supposing it

would serve as a guide to any one who might be able or willing to assist

her. Thus bestriding the plank, our heroine was hurried down the river

towards Newport, the bridge of which, she trusted, would stop her

progress, or that she might alarm the inhabitants with her cries. In

both her hopes, however, she was disappointed: the rapidity of a spring

tide sent her through the arch with the velocity of an arrow discharged

from a bow, and the good people of the town had long been wrapped in

slumber. Thus situated, her prospect became each moment more desperate;

her candle was nearly extinguished! and every limb so benumbed with

cold, that she had the greatest difficulty in keeping her saddle.

Already she had reached the mouth of the Usk, and was on the point of

encountering the turbulent waves of the British Channel, when the master

of a fishing-boat, who was returning from his nightly toils, discovered

the gleaming of her taper, and bearing her calls for assistance, though

he at first thought her a witch, yet ventured to approach this floating

wonder, and happily succeeded in rescuing Mrs. Williams from a watery

grave, and bringing her in safety to the shore in his boat.

Thus was the life of a fellow-creature preserved by a poor fisherman's

courage, in not being daunted by what he at first conceived a mysterious

light proceeding from some sprite or hobgoblin; but, from duly examining

into causes, proved himself both a hero and friend.