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The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang online

The Book of Dreams and Ghosts by Andrew Lang


"After hearing the lady's narrative I told her to try change of air, which she declined as cowardly. So, as she would stay on at Mr. Buckley's, I suggested that an electric alarm communicating with Miss Buckley's room should be rigged up, and this was done."

Here the doctor paused, and as the events had happened within the week, we felt that we were at last on the track of a recent ghost.

"Next morning, about one, the Buckleys were aroused by a tremendous peal of the alarm; Mrs. Claughton they found in a faint. Next morning {179} she consulted me as to the whereabouts of a certain place, let me call it 'Meresby'. I suggested the use of a postal directory; we found Meresby, a place extremely unknown to fame, in an agricultural district about five hours from London in the opposite direction from Rapingham. To this place Mrs. Claughton said she must go, in the interest and by the order of certain ghosts, whom she saw on Monday night, and whose injunctions she had taken down in a note-book. She has left Rapingham for London, and there," said the doctor, "my story ends for the present."

We expected it to end for good and all, but in the course of the week came a communication to the doctor in writing from Mrs. Claughton's governess. This lady, on Mrs. Claughton's arrival at her London house (Friday, 13th October), passed a night perturbed by sounds of weeping, "loud moans," and "a very odd noise overhead, like some electric battery gone wrong," in fact, much like the "warning" of a jack running down, which Old Jeffrey used to give at the Wesley's house in Epworth. There were also heavy footsteps and thuds, as of moving weighty bodies. So far the governess.

This curious communication I read at Rapingham on Saturday, 14th October, or Sunday, 15th October. On Monday I went to town. In the course of the week I received a letter from my kinsman in Rapingham, saying that Mrs. Claughton had written to Dr. Ferrier, telling him that she had gone to Meresby on Saturday; had accomplished the bidding of the ghosts, and had lodged with one Joseph Wright, the parish clerk. Her duty had been to examine the Meresby parish registers, and to compare certain entries with information given by the ghosts and written by her in her note-book. If the entries in the parish register tallied with her notes, she was to pass the time between one o'clock and half-past one, alone, in Meresby Church, and receive a communication from the spectres. All this she said that she had done, and in evidence of her journey enclosed her half ticket to Meresby, which a dream had warned her would not be taken on her arrival. She also sent a white rose from a grave to Dr. Ferrier, a gentleman in no sympathy with the Jacobite cause, which, indeed, has no connection whatever with the matter in hand.

On hearing of this letter from Mrs. Claughton, I confess that, not knowing the lady, I remained purely sceptical. The railway company, however, vouched for the ticket. The rector of Meresby, being appealed to, knew nothing of the matter. He therefore sent for his curate and parish clerk.

"Did a lady pass part of Sunday night in the church?"

The clerk and the curate admitted that this unusual event _had_ occurred. A lady had arrived from London on Saturday evening; had lodged with Wright, the parish clerk; had asked for the parish registers; had compared them with her note-book after morning service on Sunday, and had begged leave to pass part of the night in the church. The curate in vain tried to dissuade her, and finally, washing his hands of it, had left her to Wright the clerk. To him she described a Mr. George Howard, deceased (one of the ghosts). He recognised the description, and he accompanied her to the church on a dark night, starting at one o'clock. She stayed alone, without a light, in the locked-up church from 1.20 to 1.45, when he let her out.