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True Irish Ghost Stories: Haunted Houses, Banshees, Poltergeists, and Other Supernatural Phenomena (John D. Seymour) online
CHAPTER IX LEGENDARY AND ANCESTRAL GHOSTS
"Much mystery has involved the story at the present point, and in truth the matter was left in such silence and obscurity, that, but for the acts of her who was the chief sufferer in it through several generations, nothing would now be known. The fact, I believe, was--which was not unnatural under the circumstances--that this lonely girl formed a strong attachment to this gallant youth chance had brought to her door, which was warmly returned. The father, as was his stern nature, was obdurate, and the wife no solace to her as she was a step-mother. It is only an instance of the refrain of the old ballad, 'He loved, and he rode away'; he had youth and friends, and stirring scenes, and soon forgot his passing attachment. Poor Anne's reason gave way.
"The fact is but too true, she became a confirmed maniac, and had to be confined for the rest of her life in the tapestried chamber before mentioned, and in which she died. A strange legend was at once invented to account for this calamity: it tells how the horseman proved such an agreeable acquisition that he was invited to remain some days, and made himself quite at home, and as they were now four in number whist was proposed in the evenings. The stranger, however, with Anne as his partner, invariably won every point; the old couple never had the smallest success. One night, when poor Anne was in great delight at winning so constantly, she dropped a ring on the floor, and, suddenly diving under the table to recover it, was terrified to see that her agreeable partner had an unmistakably cloven foot. Her screams made him aware of her discovery, and he at once vanished in a thunder-clap leaving a brimstone smell behind him. The poor girl never recovered from the shock, lapsed from one fit into another, and was carried to the tapestry room from which she never came forth alive.
"This story of his Satanic majesty got abroad, and many tales are told of how he continued to visit and disturb the house. The noises, the apparitions, and disturbances were innumerable, and greatly distressed old Charles Tottenham, his wife, and servants. It is said that they finally determined to call in the services of their parish priest, a Father Broders, who, armed with all the exorcisms of the Church, succeeded in confining the operations of the evil spirit to one room--the tapestry room.
"Here, then, we have traced from the date of the unhappy girl's misfortune that the house was disturbed by something supernatural, and that the family sought the aid of the parish priest to abate it, and further that the tapestry room was the scene of this visitation.
"But the matter was kept dark, all reference to poor Anne was avoided, and the belief was allowed to go abroad that it was Satan himself who disturbed the peace of the family. Her parents were ready to turn aside the keen edge of observation from her fate, preferring rather that it should be believed that they were haunted by the Devil, so that the story of her wrongs should sink into oblivion, and be classed as an old wives' tale of horns and hoofs. The harsh father and stepmother have long gone to the place appointed for all living. The Loftus branch of the family are in possession of the Hall. Yet poor Anne has kept her tapestried chamber by nearly the same means which compelled her parents to call in the aid of the parish priest so long ago.
"But to my tale: About the end of the last century my father was invited by Mrs. Tottenham to meet a large party at the Hall. He rode, as was then the custom in Ireland, with his pistols in his holsters. On arriving he found the house full, and Mrs. Tottenham apologised to him for being obliged to assign to him the tapestry chamber for the night, which, however, he gladly accepted, never having heard any of the stories connected with it.