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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"About six or seven years ago I let the house to a Mr. Buckley, who is still the tenant. He was unmarried, and his family consisted of his mother and sisters. They preceded him to put the place in order, and before his arrival came to me in some irritation complaining that I had let them _a haunted house_! They insisted that there were strange noises, as if heavy weights were being dragged about, or heavy footsteps pacing in the rooms and on the stairs. I said that I knew nothing about the matter. The stairs are of stone, water is only carried up to the first floor, there is an unused system of hot air pipes. {177a} Something went wrong with the water-main in the area once, but the noises lasted after it was mended.

"I think Mr. Buckley when he arrived never heard anything unusual. But one evening as he walked upstairs carrying an ink-bottle, he found his hand full of some liquid. Thinking that he had spilt the ink, he went to a window where he found his hand full of water, to account for which there was no stain on the ceiling, or anything else that he could discover. On another occasion one of the young ladies was kneeling by a trunk in an attic, alone, when water was switched over her face, as if from a wet brush. {177b} There was a small pool of water on the floor, and the wall beyond her was sprinkled.

"Time went on, and the disturbances were very rare: in fact ceased for two years till the present week, when Mrs. Claughton, a widow accompanied by two of her children, came to stay with the Buckleys. {177c} She had heard of the disturbances and the theory of hauntings-- I don't know if these things interested her or not.

"Early on Monday, 9th October, Mrs. Claughton came to consult me. Her story was this: About a quarter past one on Sunday night, or Monday morning, she was in bed with one of her children, the other sleeping in the room. She was awakened by footsteps on the stair, and supposed that a servant was coming to call her to Miss Buckley, who was ill. The steps stopped at the door, then the noise was repeated. Mrs. Claughton lit her bedroom candle, opened the door and listened. There was no one there. The clock on the landing pointed to twenty minutes past one. Mrs. Claughton went back to bed, read a book, fell asleep, and woke to find the candle still lit, but low in the socket. She heard a sigh, and saw a lady, unknown to her, her head swathed in a soft white shawl, her expression gentle and refined, her features much emaciated.

"The Appearance said, 'Follow me,' and Mrs. Claughton, taking the bedroom candle, rose and followed out on to the landing, and so into the adjacent drawing-room. She cannot remember opening the door, which the housemaid had locked outside, and she owns that this passage is dreamlike in her memory. Seeing that her candle was flickering out, she substituted for it a pink one taken from a chiffonier. The figure walked nearly to the window, turned three-quarters round, said 'To-morrow!' and was no more seen. Mrs. Claughton went back to her room, where her eldest child asked:--

"'Who is the lady in white?'

"'Only me, mother, go to sleep,' she thinks she answered. After lying awake for two hours, with gas burning, she fell asleep. The pink candle from the drawing-room chiffonier was in her candlestick in the morning.