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As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there h...

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The Dead Shopman
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The Lady In Black

A ghost in a haunted house is seldom observed with anything like
scientific precision. The spectre in the following narrative could
not be photographed, attempts being usually made in a light which
required prolonged exposure. Efforts to touch it were failures, nor
did it speak. On the other hand, it did lend itself, perhaps
unconsciously, to one scientific experiment. The story is unromantic;
the names are fictitious. {198b}

Bognor House, an eligible family residence near a large town, was
built in 1860, and occupied, till his death in 1876, by Mr. S. He was
twice married, and was not of temperate ways. His second wife adopted
his habits, left him shortly before his death, and died at Clifton in
1878. The pair used to quarrel about some jewels which Mr. S.
concealed in the flooring of a room where the ghost was never seen.

A Mr L. now took the house, but died six months later. Bognor House
stood empty for four years, during which there was vague talk of
hauntings. In April, 1882, the house was taken by Captain Morton.
This was in April; in June Miss Rose Morton, a lady of nineteen
studying medicine (and wearing spectacles), saw the first appearance.
Miss Morton did not mention her experiences to her family, her mother
being an invalid, and her brothers and sisters very young, but she
transmitted accounts to a friend, a lady, in a kind of diary letters.
These are extant, and are quoted.

Phenomena of this kind usually begin with noises, and go on to
apparitions. Miss Morton one night, while preparing to go to bed,
heard a noise outside, thought it was her mother, opened the door, saw
a tall lady in black holding a handkerchief to her face, and followed
the figure till her candle burned out. A widow's white cuff was
visible on each wrist, the whole of the face was never seen. In 1882-
84, Miss Morton saw the figure about six times; it was thrice seen,
once through the window from outside, by other persons, who took it
for a living being. Two boys playing in the garden ran in to ask who
was the weeping lady in black.

On 29th January, 1884, Miss Morton spoke to her inmate, as the lady in
black stood beside a sofa. "She only gave a slight gasp and moved
towards the door. Just by the door I spoke to her again, but she
seemed as if she were quite unable to speak." {199} In May and June
Miss Morton fastened strings at different heights from the stair
railings to the wall, where she attached them with glue, but she twice
saw the lady pass through the cords, leaving them untouched. When
Miss Morton cornered the figure and tried to touch her, or pounce on
her, she dodged, or disappeared. But by a curious contradiction her
steps were often heard by several of the family, and when she heard
the steps, Miss Morton used to go out and follow the figure. There is
really no more to tell. Miss Morton's father never saw the lady, even
when she sat on a sofa for half an hour, Miss Morton watching her.
Other people saw her in the garden crying, and sent messages to ask
what was the matter, and who was the lady in distress. Many members
of the family, boys, girls, married ladies, servants and others often
saw the lady in black. In 1885 loud noises, bumps and turning of door
handles were common, and though the servants were told that the lady
was quite harmless, they did not always stay. The whole establishment
of servants was gradually changed, but the lady still walked. She
appeared more seldom in 1887-1889, and by 1892 even the light
footsteps ceased. Two dogs, a retriever and a Skye terrier, showed
much alarm. "Twice," says Miss Morton, "I saw the terrier suddenly
run up to the mat at the foot of the stairs in the hall, wagging its
tail, and moving its back in the way dogs do when they expect to be
caressed. It jumped up, fawning as it would do if a person had been
standing there, but suddenly slunk away with its tail between its
legs, and retreated, trembling, under a sofa." Miss Morton's own
emotion, at first, was "a feeling of awe at something unknown, mixed
with a strong desire to know more about it". {200}

This is a pretty tame case of haunting, as was conjectured, by an
unhappy revenant, the returned spirit of the second Mrs. S. Here it
may be remarked that apparitions in haunted houses are very seldom
recognised as those of dead persons, and, when recognised, the
recognition is usually dubious. Thus, in February, 1897, Lieutenant
Carr Glyn, of the Grenadiers, while reading in the outer room of the
Queen's Library in Windsor, saw a lady in black in a kind of mantilla
of black lace pass from the inner room into a corner where she was
lost to view. He supposed that she had gone out by a door there, and
asked an attendant later who she was. There was no door round the
corner, and, in the opinion of some, the lady was Queen Elizabeth!
She has a traditional habit, it seems, of haunting the Library. But
surely, of all people, in dress and aspect Queen Elizabeth is most
easily recognised. The seer did not recognise her, and she was
probably a mere casual hallucination. In old houses such traditions
are common, but vague. In this connection Glamis is usually
mentioned. Every one has heard of the Secret Chamber, with its
mystery, and the story was known to Scott, who introduces it in The
Betrothed. But we know when the Secret Chamber was built (under the
Restoration), who built it, what he paid the masons, and where it is:
under the Charter Room. {201} These cold facts rather take the
"weird" effect off the Glamis legend.

The usual process is, given an old house, first a noise, then a
hallucination, actual or pretended, then a myth to account for the
hallucination. There is a castle on the border which has at least
seven or eight distinct ghosts. One is the famous Radiant Boy. He
has been evicted by turning his tapestried chamber into the smoking-
room. For many years not one ghost has been seen except the lady with
the candle, viewed by myself, but, being ignorant of the story, I
thought she was one of the maids. Perhaps she was, but she went into
an empty set of rooms, and did not come out again. Footsteps are apt
to approach the doors of these rooms in mirk midnight, the door handle
turns, and that is all.

So much for supposed hauntings by spirits of the dead.

At the opposite pole are hauntings by agencies whom nobody supposes to
be ghosts of inmates of the house. The following is an extreme
example, as the haunter proceeded to arson. This is not so very
unusual, and, if managed by an impostor, shows insane malevolence.

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