Project Gutenberg's The Alleged Haunting of B---- House, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Alleged Haunting of B---- House Author: Various Editor: A. Goodrich-Freer and John, Marquess of Bute Release Date: August 17, 2005 [EBook #16538] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ALLEGED HAUNTING *** Produced by Clare Boothby, Jeannie Howse and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net
The Author uses lines of spaced periods to mark the passing of time, this has been preserved in this edition.
"I visited B—— representing that Society [S.P.R.], ... and decided that there was no such evidence as could justify us in giving the results of the inquiry a place in our Proceedings."—The Times, June 10, 1897.
FREDERIC W.H. MYERS,
Hon. Sec. of the Society for Psychical Research.
Compare pages 189 et seq.
It was in 1892 that Lord Bute first heard of the matter. It was not, as stated by The Times correspondent in that journal for June 8, 1897, in or from London, but at Falkland, in Fifeshire, and in the following manner:—
There is no public chapel at Falkland, and the private chapel in the house is attended by a variety of priests, who usually come only from Saturday to Monday. Lord Bute's diary for the second week in August 1892 contains the following entries:—
"Saturday, August 6th.—Father H——, S.J., came.
"Sunday, August 7th.—In afternoon with Father H—— and John [Lord Dumfries] to Palace, and then with him to the Gruoch's Den. He gives us a long account of the psychical disturbances at B——; noises between his bed and the ceiling, like continuous explosion of petards, so that he could not hear himself speak, &c. &c.
"[Mr. Huggins afterwards recommended the use of a phonograph for these noises, in order to ascertain absolutely whether they are objective or subjective, and I wrote so to S—— of B——.]
"Monday, August 8th.—Father H—— went away.
"Tuesday, August 9th.—Mr. Huggins [now Sir William Huggins], outgoing President of the British Association, and Mrs. Huggins came.
"Saturday, August 13th.—Father H—— came.
"Sunday, August 14th.—In afternoon with the children, &c., to the Palace, leaving Mr. Huggins as much as possible alone with Father H—— (both being with us), in order to interrogate him about the psychical noises he heard recently at B——, when there, to give a Retreat to some nuns.
"Monday, August 15th.—Father H—— went away after luncheon."
Lord Bute recalls that Father H—— told him that he had been at B—— for the purpose of giving a Retreat [a series of sermons and meditations] to some nuns, who were charitably allowed by Mr. S—— to take a sort of holiday, at a house called B—— Cottage, which had been originally built and occupied by the late Major S——, when he first took up his residence at B——, which at the time was let.
Father H—— told Lord Bute that in consequence of the disturbance his room had been several times changed, and he expressed surprise that the sounds did not appear to be heard by anybody except himself. He also said that he had spoken of the matter to Mr. S——, who expressed an idea that the disturbances might be caused by his uncle, the late Major S——, who was trying to attract attention in order that prayers might be offered for the repose of his soul. The sounds occurred during full daylight, and in a clear open space between his bed and the ceiling. He did not know to what to compare them, but as he said they were explosive in sound, Lord Bute suggested that they might be compared to the sounds made by petards, which are commonly used in Italy for firing feux de joie. Father H—— answered, "Yes perhaps, if they were continuous enough." He said that the sound which alarmed him more than any other was as of a large animal throwing itself violently against the bottom of his door, outside. A third noise which he had heard was of ordinary raps, of the kind called "spirit-raps." He mentioned a fourth sound, the nature of which Lord Bute does not remember with the same certainty as the others, but believes it was a shriek or scream. Such a sound is described by other witnesses during the subsequent occupation of the house by the H—— family. The fact that the sounds appear to have been inaudible to every one except Father H—— is a strong argument in favour of their subjective, or hallucinatory, character. It will be found that this was very often the case with the peculiar sounds recorded at B——, and even when they were heard by several persons at the same time, there does not appear to be any ground for refusing to recognise them as collective hallucinations.
Lord Bute's diary and recollections have been here quoted, not as differing from, but only as being antecedent to, the following account, which has been furnished by Father H—— himself:—
"I went to B—— on Thursday, July 14th, 1892, and I left it on Saturday, July 23rd. So I slept at B—— for nine nights, or rather one night, because I was disturbed by very queer and extraordinary noises every night except the last, which I spent in Mr. S——'s dressing-room. At first I occupied the room to the extreme right of the landing [No. 8],[A] then my things were removed to another room [No. 3] (it seems to me at this distance of time that this room faced the principal staircase, or was a little to the left of it). In both these rooms I heard the loud and inexplicable noises every night, but on two or three nights, in addition to these, another noise affrighted me—a sound of somebody or something falling against the door outside. It seemed, at the time, as if a calf or big dog would make such a noise. Why those particular animals came into my head I cannot tell. But in attempting to describe these indescribable phenomena, I notice now I always do say it was like a calf or big dog falling against the door. Why did I not hear the noises on the ninth night? Were there none where I was? These are questions the answers to which are not apparent. It may be there were noises, but I slept too soundly to hear them. One of the oddest things in my case, in connection with the house, is that it appeared to me somehow that (1) Somebody was relieved by my departure; (2) that nothing could induce me to pass another night there, at all events alone, and in other respects I do not think I am a coward."
For the benefit of those who are not aware of the fact, it may be as well to state that the class of people known as spiritualists, hold that when raps are heard, it is the best thing for the hearer to say aloud, "If you are intelligent, will you please to rap three times?" and if this is done, to ask the intelligence to rap three times for yes, once for no, and twice for doubtful. It is obvious that considerable conversation can be carried on by such a code, and where it is inadequate, as, for instance, in obtaining proper names, it is usual to propose to repeat the alphabet slowly, asking the intelligence to rap once when the proper letter is reached. This simple method was entirely unknown to Father H——. He had done nothing but throw holy water about his rooms, and repeat the prayer Visita quæsumus, which invokes the Divine protection of a house and its inhabitants against all the snares of the Enemy, and which, therefore, in no way concerned any person or thing which is not associated with the powers of darkness. It was natural that no result should be produced.
Sir W. Huggins told Lord Bute, as the result of his examination of Father H——, that he felt absolutely certain that what the latter had experienced was not the outcome of morbid hallucination, but that it was possible that the sounds themselves might be hallucinatory or subjective. To ascertain whether this were so, or whether they had any physical cause, he suggested the use of a phonograph, as this would at least show whether the sounds were accompanied by atmospheric waves. Lord Bute happened to know Mr. S—— slightly, having met him accidentally while travelling abroad. He accordingly wrote to him, and communicated Sir William Huggins's suggestion. Mr. S——, after a delay of some days, refused absolutely to allow any scientific investigation to be made, a refusal remarkably coincident with the recent refusal of his son, the present proprietor, to allow any similar investigation with seismographical instruments. It would seem a legitimate conclusion that neither father nor son doubted that the sounds are of a psychical character. As regards the present proprietor, such a conclusion renders it obvious that we must understand in some peculiar sense the letter published in The Times, dated June 10, 1897, in which he says, "As to the stories contained in the article [i.e. of the anonymous Times correspondent], they are without foundation." These words must, however, be, in any case, accepted in a special sense, considering the part taken by members of his own family, as well as by tenants and agents, in attesting the stories in question.
Lord Bute states that Father H—— did not, upon the occasion of his visit to Falkland, say anything as to having seen the brown wooden crucifix (see pp. 132, 142, 154), but after this apparition had been seen by two other persons separately, Lord Bute wrote to Father H—— to inquire whether he could remember anything of the sort. His reply was as follows:—
"When you mention the brown wooden crucifix, you awaken a new memory in me. I now seem to live some of those hours over again, and I recollect that between waking and sleeping there appeared before my eyes—somewhere on the wall—a crucifix, some eighteen inches, I should say, long, and, I think, of brown wood.
"My own crucifix is of black metal, and just the length of this page (seven inches); and though I usually have it with me in my bag, I cannot for certain say that it was in my bag at B——."
The following further communication from Father H—— carries the record further back:—
"In August 1893 it was that I met, quite by accident, a person who knew something about B—— House and its strange noises.
"Though, on my leaving his house, Mr. S—— begged me not 'to give the house a bad name,' I did not understand by this that, as a point of honour, I should refrain from ever mentioning the subject. I respected his request to the extent of not alluding indiscriminately to the noises that disturbed my nights there. But I did speak to several people about them, and they had so impatiently and incredulously heard my statements, that I at last refused to repeat them, even when pressingly requested to do so. It was, therefore, quite a surprise to find myself talking about B—— House, or rather, listening with rapt attention to another talking about the place.
"Miss Y——, I think her name was, kept house for a priest at——. One evening, while on a visit there, I found her knitting as I passed the kitchen door, and bidding her the time of day, I discovered from a remark she made that she had in former days filled more important posts. She soon settled down when she found me an attentive listener to a somewhat detailed account of by no means a short life.
"'Had she been in Scotland?' 'Yes, sir; and in a very beautiful part of Scotland, in P——shire.' 'Indeed!' In short she told me that she had been, twelve years ago, governess in the S—— family at B—— House. (I need not say that I was now intensely interested.) 'Why did she leave?' 'Well, sir, so many people complained of queer noises in the house, that I got alarmed and left.' I asked her had she seen anything? She said No, and the noises were only heard in certain rooms, and the servants inhabited quite a different part of the house. When I closely questioned her she located the queer noises precisely in the two rooms I had successively occupied. She did not learn from me that I had ever been there. Pressed for a concrete case of fright and abrupt leavetaking (I think), she told me two military officers had 'left next morning.'
"In conclusion, as against all the above, my own, and this good woman's account, I must set it down that, before I left the house, two young ladies, relatives of the family, occupied the rooms in question, and certainly, to my surprise, did not seem at breakfast as if they had spent an unquiet night."
Inquiry shows that Miss Y——'s residence at B—— must have been about the years 1878-80.
The earliest witnesses in chronological sequence would be the S—— family themselves; but though much information has been contributed by them to various persons interested in B—— House during the tenancy both of Mr. H—— and Colonel Taylor, the present Editors are unwilling to make use of it without permission.
A statement in The Times article, of the character of which the reader can here judge for himself, elicited the following letter from Mrs. S——, which is to be found in the issue of that journal for June 18, 1897:—
"May I ask of your courtesy to insert this in the next issue of your paper. Seeing myself dragged into publicity in The Times of June 8, as 'having made admissions under pressure of cross-examination,' I beg to state that I as well as the rest of my family had not the remotest idea that our home was let to other than ordinary tenants. In my intercourse with them I spoke as one lady to another, never imagining that my private conversations were going to be used for purposes carefully concealed from me—a deceit which I deeply resent."
It will be observed that Mrs. S—— here leaves no doubt as to the nature of the information with which she was so good as to favour Miss Freer, but, notwithstanding this fact, and the language which Mrs. S—— has considered it right to use—or, at least, to sign—with regard to Miss Freer, Miss Freer prefers to continue to treat Mrs. S——'s statements as confidential, and blanks will accordingly be found in the Journal under the dates on which such conversations occurred. Miss Freer extends the same regard for a privacy, which the S—— family have themselves violated, to communications made by other members. There have, however, been several witnesses unconnected with them, some of whom are referred to in the Journal. Not only the villagers and persons in the immediate neighbourhood, but many accidentally met with in visits to show-places and in excursions for twenty miles round B——, were ready to pour out traditions and experiences which are not here quoted, as, though often suggestive, not always evidential.
The Rev. P. H——, already referred to, quotes a witness who testifies to processions of monks or nuns having been seen by Mr. S—— from a window, and of a married couple who, "relating the events of the night, declared they could not hear each other's voices for the noise overhead between them and the ceiling," which was especially interesting to him, as corroborative of his own experience.
A former servant at B—— has voluntarily related, at great length, the story of the alleged hauntings, which shows that they have occurred at intervals during the past twenty years. He is of opinion that as the earlier hauntings were ascribed to the late Major S——, so their revival may be referred to the late proprietor; but his reasons, as well as his narrative, are of a nature which might cause annoyance to the S—— family, and are therefore withheld.
Dr. Menzies, a correspondent of The Times, June 10th, who speaks of himself as an old friend of Major S——, refers to a still earlier haunting—a tradition current at the time of the Major's succession in 1844.
In August 1896, B—— House, with the shooting attached, was let by Captain S——, the present proprietor, for a year to a wealthy family of Spanish origin. Their experience was of such a nature that they abandoned the house at the end of seven weeks, thus forfeiting the greater part of their rent, which had been paid in advance. The evidence of Mr. H—— himself, of his butler, and of several guests, will be found in due chronological sequence.
When Colonel Taylor, one of the fundamental members of the London Spiritualist Alliance, a distinguished member of the S.P.R., whose name is associated both in this country and in America with the investigation of haunted houses, offered to take a lease of B—— House, after the lease had been resigned by Mr. H——, the proprietor made no objection whatever. Indeed, the only allusion made to the haunting was the expression of a hope on the part of Captain S——'s agents in Edinburgh, that Colonel Taylor would not make it a subject of complaint, as had been done by Mr. H——, in reply to which they were informed that Colonel Taylor was thoroughly well aware of what had happened during Mr. H——'s tenancy, and would undertake to make no complaint on the subject. Captain S—— having thus thrown the house into the open market, and let it to the well-known expert, with no reference whatever to the subject of haunting, except that it should not be made a ground of complaint, it is obvious that he deprived himself of any right to complain as to observations upon the subject of local hallucination, any more than of observation upon the habits of squirrels or other local features. Nor had he any more right to complain upon this ground, as vendor of the lease, than any other vendor of articles exposed for public sale, such as a hatter, who after selling a hat to Lord Salisbury, might complain that he had been induced to provide headgear for a Conservative. At the same time, both Colonel Taylor and his friends were well aware, from a vexatious experience, that phenomena of the kind found at B—— are very often associated with private matters, which the members of a family concerned might object to see published, just as they might object to the publication of the results of an examination of some object—say, old medicine-bottles—found in the house let by them to a strange tenant.
Acting upon this knowledge, it has been the general rule of the Society for Psychical Research to publish the cases investigated by it under avowedly false names, as private cases are published in medical and other scientific journals. Out of a courteous anxiety that nothing should occur which could in any way annoy any member of the S—— family, no one was admitted to the house for the purpose of observing the phenomena, except on the definite understanding that they were to regard everything as confidential, and it was always intended that any publication on the subject was to be made with all names and geographical indications avowedly fictitious.
As certain points of Gaelic orthography were found to be involved, it was decided to mention the house as standing in a bi-lingual district upon the borders of Wales, and Lord Bute arranged with Sir William Lewis to have these linguistic points represented by Welsh instead of Gaelic.
The affairs of the inquiry, and of any phenomena which might occur, were thus protected, it was believed, by a confidence even more absolute than that usually observed in such affairs of a household as to which honour dictates that a guest should be silent.
The appreciation with which the S—— family responded to this courteous and careful consideration for their possible feelings, was made manifest to the world by the tone which they adopted when, immediately on the appearance of the anonymous article in The Times, they rushed into the newspapers, and published everything concerning themselves, their family property, predecessors, and tenants, with all the proper names at full length. After that outburst it has, of course, been rendered impossible to keep the identity of the place and people any longer secret.
Out of deference to other members of the family who did not take part in this, the matter in the present volume remains in as private a form as the newspaper correspondence now leaves possible.
The names given in full are those mostly very indirectly concerned; other names, including that of the house, are given under the real initials, with the exception of a few of the less prominent, when the real initials would create confusion; and in these latter cases they are taken from letters of the alphabet not already used, and are placed in inverted commas; e.g. the real initial of a Mr. S—— is changed, in order to avoid confusion with the name of the S—— family themselves, the proprietors of B——.
The contents of the book are, except in one respect, arranged upon the simple chronological system. They commence with a short sketch of the history of the S—— family, based in its earlier part upon Douglas's "Baronage of Scotland"; and all information which the writers possess as to the phenomena which have occurred since the death of Major S—— in 1876, except that supplied by the S—— family, is set forth in succession.
The family of S—— date from the earlier part of the middle of the fifteenth century, and were settled upon the river T—— within that century, while they have possessed B—— at least since the earlier half of the century following.
A stone, carved with their arms, belonging to the old mansion-house, is built into the wall, and dated 1579. The present house is modern, and does not even occupy the site of the older one.
The particular proprietor whose arms are so represented, Patrick S——, married Elizabeth B——, who survived him and married a second time. James S——, his son, in 1586, married Mary C——, and after her death, in 1597, Elizabeth R——.
Robert S——, his son by his first marriage, married Margaret C——. John S——, son of Robert, was killed by the Cromwellians, leaving no issue, and was succeeded by his brother, Patrick S——, who married Elizabeth L——.
It is not obvious when they adopted the principles of the Reformation, but it is to be remarked that this Patrick stood high in the favour of James II. (and VII.).
Charles S——, son of the foregoing, married Anne D——, and was succeeded by his third son, another Charles, who married Grizell M——, and died in 1764.
Robert S——, his son, married Isabel H——. Charles S——, his eldest son, died unmarried in 1783.
H—— S——, second son of R—— S——, married Louisa M——, died in 1834, and had issue—Robert, two other sons, and six daughters.
Robert S——, born January 1806, in 1825 entered the military service of the East India Company, from which he retired with the rank of Major in 1850, i.e. sixteen years after succeeding to the property. He died in April 1876. His two brothers both died unmarried, and of his six sisters, three married, and a fourth, Isabella, entered a nunnery. She there professed under the name of "Frances Helen" in 1850, the year of her brother's return from India, and died February 23, 1880, aged sixty-six.
Major S——, by his will dated June 8, 1853, bequeathed B—— to the representatives of his married sister Mary, and on his death was accordingly succeeded by her second (but eldest surviving) son, John, who on succeeding assumed the name of S——.
Major S—— was a Protestant, but this John was a Roman Catholic, like his aunt Isabella. His eldest brother died without issue in 1867, but he had a younger brother, married, with issue, and two sisters, Louisa and Mary, whom Major S——, by a codicil of December 14, 1868, carefully excluded from all benefit under his will.
The register of the parish of L——, in which B—— House is situated, mentions under the date July 14, 1873, the death of Sarah N——, housekeeper of B—— House (single), aged twenty-seven years, daughter of John N——, farmer, and Helen R——. (In Scottish legal documents married women are described by their maiden name.) It is said that her last illness was very short, lasting only three days. Mrs. S—— had the great charity to attend her on her deathbed. It is mentioned in the register, that the official intimation of Sarah N——'s death was given, not by her parents nor by Major S——, but by her uncle, Neil N——.
Major S—— seems to have been somewhat eccentric, and was very fond of dogs, of which he kept a considerable number. He had very strong views upon psychical subjects. He was a believer in spirit-return, and many witnesses have attested that he frequently spoke of his own return after death. Among these psychic beliefs were two relating to animals; and as they are of a kind not very commonly discussed even among spiritualists, and enter, to some extent, into the following narrative, it is convenient here to state them at length. It is very commonly held that the soul or living personality of man, which will survive the change called by us "death," is capable of entering living bodies and making use of their organs. The form in which this belief is most commonly met with, is that of the alleged inspiration of trance mediums by the souls of the dead. Such a case is that of Mrs. Piper, said to have been animated by the soul of Dr. Phinuit and other personalities now disincarnated. It has naturally been argued that if it is possible for the disembodied spirit to occupy and animate the body of a human being, it would, a fortiori, be easy for it to do the same with the body of a beast, where the resistance of will would presumably be less.
This idea, coupled with the belief that the soul can be separated from the body during life, so producing a kind of temporary death, while leaving the body in such a state that it is capable of being again inhabited and animated, lies at the bottom of the numerous statements as to sorcerers and sorceresses changing themselves into hares, wolves, or cats, which are to be found in the records of witch trials.
That this was possible, at least after death, was evidently a strong belief upon the part of Major S——. We are informed that he frequently intimated his intention of entering the body of a particular black spaniel which he possessed, and so strong a belief was attached to his words, that after his death all his dogs, including the spaniel in question, were shot, apparently in order to render impossible any such action upon his part. The policy of the measure adopted was short-sighted. If the Major had thoroughly succeeded in animating the body of the living spaniel, the physical resources at his disposal would have been too limited to have enabled him to give much trouble. As it is, a series of witnesses attest apparitions of this spaniel, and of at least one other dog, which may naturally be regarded as much more disturbing.
The second point is possibly the same as the last, but it appears to be more probably based upon the belief held by Major S——, in common with a large number of those who have made a serious study of apparitions—and certainly a large number of the members of the S.P.R.—that such apparitions are really hallucinations or false impressions upon the senses, created, so far as originated by any external cause, by other minds either in the body or out of the body, which are themselves invisible in the ordinary and physical sense of the term, and really acting through some means at present very imperfectly known. Such an opinion of course reserves the question of the possible action of unseen forces upon what is commonly called matter involved in 'spirit'-photography, materialisation, levitation, the passage of matter through matter, and other forms of apport, although such a distinction, if logically carried out, becomes somewhat tenuous in face of the generally accepted fact that all mental processes are accompanied by physical processes in the brain. In the following pages will be found instances of the phenomenon of the apparent removal of bed-clothing, which raise a question as to the propriety of regarding as exhaustive an explanation based solely upon the hypothesis of subjective hallucination which otherwise would appear to be generally applicable. It would stand to reason that if such an intelligence can produce an hallucination of the appearance of the human figure, it would be at least equally easy for it to produce an hallucination of the appearance of a beast. A belief to this effect seems to be the explanation of the fact mentioned in a letter to The Times of June 10, 1897, by Dr. Menzies, who refers to Major S—— as "an old and dear friend." He writes, "I have no doubt that he created much scandal by saying to his gardener that he had better take care to keep up the garden properly, for when he was gone his soul would go into a mole and haunt the garden and him too."
This theory of the possibility of producing by mental force the hallucination audible or visual of a beast, may also be the explanation, not only of the apparition of the large dog which has been seen, as well as that of a spaniel, but also of the phenomenon, attested by several witnesses, of their having heard the sound as of a large dog throwing itself from the outside against the lower part of their doors.
Major S—— died, as already stated, in 1876, and was buried beside Sarah N—— and, it is said, an old Indian manservant. The grave is in the middle of the parish churchyard. No monument marks their resting-place, but a high enclosure, which surrounds it, is a prominent object. The whole of his dogs, fourteen in number, including the spaniel already mentioned, were killed after his death.
The S.P.R. some years ago published a census of hallucinations based upon the interrogation of seventeen thousand persons, who were not only taken casually, but from whom those were excluded whose replies were foreseen. From the analysis of these statistics, it appears that the great majority of these phantasms are figures of people who were living and continue to live, although research seems to point to the fact that their bodies are either always, or very often, in a state of apparent unconsciousness at the moment of the phenomenon. Among the minority, i.e. of apparitions of the dead, the frequency seems to be in inverse proportion to the time which has elapsed since death. Those which appear at the moment of death are very frequent, whereas, on the other hand, those of persons who have been very long dead are almost unknown; e.g. the apparition seen by Lady Galway a few years ago at Rufford Abbey, where the form represented a person who must have been dead for about three hundred years, belongs to a class of which examples are very few.
A haunted house (or any other locality) is merely a place where experience shows that hallucinations are more or less localised, and the only especially interesting question about it is, why the hallucinations should be localised at a particular place, and what causes them there.
Such Phantasms of the Living have been discussed in the monumental work of Mr. Myers and the late Mr. E. Gurney. They need be no further remarked upon here, than to observe that the following pages contain at least one example, viz. that of the apparition of the Rev. P. H——. (See p. 119.)
It is very difficult to judge of the forces which may act in the conditions of what we are accustomed to call "another world," but a plausible explanation might be found in the Divine Word, "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." The thoughts and affections appear to dwell for a time where they have been already fixed during life, but changes here, including the gradual reunion on the other side, of all those who are loved with those who love them, the advancing dissociation of the mind with things here, and, no doubt, the evolution of a different life under different conditions, seem gradually to efface the ties of earthly memory, connecting the feelings with particular spots on earth.
Such thoughts not infrequently include repentance, a desire for the remedy of acts of injustice, and an eagerness for the compassion and sympathetic prayers of those whom we call the living.
It is natural, therefore, to suppose that haunting, such as that met with at B——, would be connected with persons who had died within some such period as a century at the outside. Now the number of the members of the S—— family and others, whose thoughts, memories, feelings, and affections may presumably have dwelt largely at B——, and who have died within the last hundred years, is very considerable; but—saving the tradition referred to by Dr. Menzies (see p. 22), only to be dismissed—there seems to have been no idea of the place being haunted before the deaths of Sarah N—— and of Major S——, whereas since that time the peculiar phenomena have been constantly attested.
John S——, his successor, was, as stated, the second son of Major S——'s sister Mary, and assumed the name of S—— upon succeeding to the property. He was a Roman Catholic; he was married, and had several children, of whom the eldest son is the present proprietor. One of the younger sons is a Jesuit, but not yet a priest.
In January 1895 Mr. S—— went to London on family business, and was there killed by being run over by a cab in the street. It was stated on the authority of three persons, not counting members of his own family, that on the morning on which he left B—— for the last time, while he was talking to the agent in his business-room, there were raps so violent as to interfere with conversation. The earliest written notice of this circumstance, so far as can be discovered, is the following entry in Lord Bute's journal for January 17, 1896:—
"I hear that the morning the late S—— of B—— left home for the last time, spirits came and rapped to him in his room—doubtless to warn him—so that his death was really owing to the cruel superstition which had prevented him allowing them to be communicated with."
Lord Bute's informant appears to have been the Rev. Sir David Hunter Blair, as the journal mentions his arrival at Falkland on that day, and none of the other guests in the house were people who were likely to have heard anything about it.
Mr. S—— was succeeded by his eldest son, Captain S——, who showed no hesitation in throwing the house into the public market, with its 4400 acres of shooting. The alleged haunting was not mentioned beforehand to the first tenant, as it afterwards was to Colonel Taylor.
This tenant was Mr. J.R. H—— of K—— Court, C——, in G——shire, and the following is the account of experiences during his visit, as given by his butler:—
To the Editor of "The Times"
"Sir,—In your issue of the 8th, under the above heading, 'A Correspondent' tries at some length to describe what he calls a most impudent imposture. I having lived at B—— for three months in the autumn of last year as butler to the house, I thought perhaps my experience of the ghost of B—— might be of interest to many of your readers, and as the story has now become public property, I shall not be doing any one an injury by telling what I know of the mystery.
"On July 15, 1896, I was sent by Mr. H——, with two maidservants, to take charge of B—— from Mr. S——'s agents. I was there three days before the arrival of any one of the family, and during that time I heard nothing to disturb me in any way; but on the morning after the arrival of two of the family, Master and Miss H——, they came down with long faces, giving accounts of ghostly noises they had heard during the night, but I tried to dissuade them from such nonsense, as I then considered it to be; but on the following two or three nights the same kind of noises were heard by them, and also by the maidservants, who slept in the rooms above, and they all became positively frightened. I heard nothing whatever, though the noises, as they described them, would have been enough to wake any one much farther away than where I slept, for the noises they heard were made immediately over my room. I suggested the hot-water pipes or the twigs of ivy knocking against the windows, but no—nothing would persuade them but that the house was haunted; but as the noises continued to be heard nightly, I suggested that I should sit up alone, and without a light, outside their bedroom doors, where the footsteps and other rustling noises were heard. I think one other member of the family, or two young gentlemen, had arrived at this time, and they had also heard the noises. I told them of my intention to sit up alone, for as one of them had a revolver I did not want to run the risk of being shot for a ghost. However, I took my post on the landing at 11.30 and kept watch, I am certain, until half-past one; then I must have fallen asleep, for about two o'clock Master H——, hearing the knocking as usual, came out of his room to hear if I had seen or heard anything, but found me fast asleep on the floor, which gave him a greater fright than the knocking, for he supposed for the moment that I had been slain by the ghost.
"This kind of thing went on nightly, and for three weeks I heard nothing, although nearly every one in the house heard these noises except myself; but my turn had yet to come, although I firmly held the opinion during that time that it was the hot-water pipes, and I only laughed at the others for their absurd nonsense, as I then considered it to be; but my first experience was that of being awakened three successive nights, or rather mornings, at about 3.30. I heard nothing, but seemed to be wide awake in an instant, as though some one had touched me. I would stay awake for some little time and then go to sleep again; but on the fourth night, on being awakened as before, and lying awake for perhaps two minutes, I heard tremendous thumping just outside my door. I jumped out of bed quickly, and opened my door, and called out in a loud voice, 'Who is there?' but got no answer. I ascended the stairs and listened for a few minutes, but heard no further knocking. I then went back to my room, but did not sleep again that morning.
"I may mention that my room was the one described by 'A Correspondent' as the butler's room under No. 3, the room where most noises were heard, and the staircase was the service one, and as there is a door at the top, if any one had come there to make the noise I should certainly have heard them beating a retreat.
"The same thing happened with variations almost nightly for the succeeding two months that I was there, and every visitor that came to the house was disturbed in the same manner. One gentleman (a colonel) told me he was awakened on several occasions with the feeling that some one was pulling the bedclothes off him; sometimes heavy footsteps were heard, at others like the rustling of a lady's dress; and sometimes groans were heard, but nearly always accompanied with heavy knocking; sometimes the whole house would be aroused. One night I remember five gentlemen meeting at the top of the stairs in their night-suits, some with sticks or pokers, one had a revolver, vowing vengeance on the disturbers of their sleep. During the two months after I first heard the noises I kept watch altogether about twelve times in various parts of the house, mostly unknown to others (at the time), and have heard the noises in the wing as well as other parts.
"When watching I always experienced a peculiar sensation a few minutes before hearing any noise. I can only describe it as like suddenly entering an ice-house, and a feeling that some one was present and about to speak to me. On three different nights I was awakened by my bedclothes being pulled off my feet. But the worst night I had at B—— was one night about the second week in September, and I shall never forget it as long as I live. I had been keeping watch with two gentlemen—one a visitor, the other one of the house. We were sitting in room No. 2, and heard the noises that I have described about half-past two. Both gentlemen were very much alarmed; but we searched everywhere, but could not find any trace of the ghost or cause of the noises, although they came this time from an unoccupied room. (I may mention that the noises were never heard in the daytime, as stated by 'A Correspondent,' but always between twelve, midnight, and four in the morning, generally between two and four o'clock.) After a thorough search the two gentlemen went to bed sadder, but not wiser men, for we had discovered nothing. I then went to my room, but not to bed, for I was not satisfied, and decided to continue the watch alone. So I seated myself on the service stairs, close to where the water-pipes passed up the wall, so as to decide once and for all if the sounds came in any way from the water-pipes.
"I had not long to wait (about twenty minutes) when the knocking recommenced from the same direction as before, but much louder than before, followed, after a very short interval, by two distinct groans, which certainly made me feel very uncomfortable, for it sounded like some one being stabbed and then falling to the floor. That was enough for me. I went and asked the two gentlemen who had just gone to bed if they had heard anything. One said he had heard five knocks and two groans, the same as I had; while the other (whose room was much nearer to where the sounds came from) said he had heard nothing. I then retired to my bed, but not to sleep, for I had not been in bed three minutes before I experienced the sensation as before, but instead of being followed by knocking, my bedclothes were lifted up and let fall again—first at the foot of my bed, but gradually coming towards my head. I held the clothes around my neck with my hands, but they were gently lifted in spite of my efforts to hold them. I then reached around me with my hand, but could feel nothing. This was immediately followed by my being fanned as though some bird was flying around my head, and I could distinctly hear and feel something breathing on me. I then tried to reach some matches that were on a chair by my bedside, but my hand was held back as if by some invisible power. Then the thing seemed to retire to the foot of my bed. Then I suddenly found the foot of my bed lifted up and carried around towards the window for about three or four feet, then replaced to its former position. All this did not take, I should think, more than two or three minutes, although at the time it seemed hours to me. Just then the clock struck four, and, being tired out with my long night's watching, I fell asleep. This, Mr. Editor, is some of my experiences while at B——.
"As to 'A Correspondent's' interviews with local people:—
"As to the old caretaker, she is an old woman, very deaf, and she always occupied a room on the ground floor, where, during the three months that I was there, nothing whatever was heard, as my two footmen slept there, and they did not hear any noises. As to the intelligent gardener, if it is the same one that was there when I was there, he, surely, has not forgotten the night he spent with me in my room; he was nearly frightened out of his wits, and declared he would not spend another night in my room for any money—a fact that the factor or steward and others well know.
"There are many other incidents in my experience with the mystery of B——, but I hope this is sufficient for the purpose I intend it—namely, for the truth to be known, for I have no other motive in writing this letter; for I have left the service of the house some months now. But as to your correspondent's statement that some of the house were doing it, it is simply absurd; for in turn they were all away from B—— for a week or fortnight, and still these noises were heard. Another thing; is it possible for any one to keep up a joke like that for three months? or, if any one had been doing it, I should certainly have caught them; and I can assure you that the house were very much annoyed with it, not only for themselves, but for their visitors, for I have sat up all night with some of them, who were afraid to go to their beds: and I think that if 'A Correspondent' had stayed as long in B—— as I did, and had had some of my experiences, he would have a very different tale to tell, although up to my going to B—— I would laugh at any one who told me there were such things as ghosts; and even now I am not quite convinced; but of one thing I am certain—that is, that there is something supernatural in the noises and things that I heard and experienced at B——. Thanking you, dear sir, in anticipation of your inserting this letter, I remain your obedient servant,
"Chidcock, near Bridport, Dorset."
The passage in The Times article is as follows:—
"An intelligent gardener whom I questioned told me that he had kept watch in the house on two separate occasions, abstaining from sleep until daylight appeared at seven o'clock, but without hearing a sound. A caretaker, who had spent months in the house, and who had to keep a stove alight all night, never heard a sound, probably because there was no one to make any."
The gardener's evidence on this point will be found on p. 218.
Without admitting, for one moment, the theory that a servant's evidence may not be of equal value with that of the so-called educated classes, it was thought desirable, before admitting that of Sanders, to make some inquiries as to his character, intelligence, and capacity for observation. His employer spoke well of him, and Colonel Taylor had the advantage of a personal interview with him, which he thus describes:—
"July 18th, 1897.—I went to Coventry yesterday, and saw Sanders the butler. He is a slight, dark young man, and, as far as I could judge, quite honest and serious over the B—— affair. He assured me that he had written the letter to The Times without any advice or assistance, and that all he wrote was absolutely true. I gathered from him, indirectly, that before his B—— experience he knew nothing of ghosts, spiritualism, or any occult matter, and does not now. He was much astonished when I told him that the feeling which he describes as like walking into an ice-house was a common one under the circumstances. He said he omitted in his letter many small personal matters, such as the following:— During the manifestation in his room, when his bed was shifted, and when he felt as if some one was making 'passes' over him, and breathing in his face, he made the sign of the Cross, on which the 'influence' receded from him, but approached again almost at once. After repeating this a few times with the same result, he crossed his arms over his chest, and holding the bedclothes close up to his chin, went to sleep. He was at no time afraid. He said things were more active during the stay of Father 'I.' than at any other time, and that one of the young H——s had seen a veiled lady pass through his room."
The following paragraph in the letter of The Times correspondent called forth the subjoined letter from Mr. H—— himself, the tenant of B——:—
"The only mystery in the matter seems to be the mode in which a prosaic and ordinary dwelling was endowed with so evil a reputation. I was assured in London that it had had this reputation for twenty or thirty years. The family lawyer in P—— asserted most positively that there had never been a whisper of such a thing until the house was let for last year's shooting season to a family, whom I may call the H——s. I was told the same thing in equally positive terms by the minister of the parish, a level-headed man from B——shire, who has lived in the place for twenty years. He told me that some of the younger members of the H—— family had indulged in practical jokes, and boasted of them. One of their pranks was to drop or throw a weight upon the floor, and to draw it back by means of a string. Another seems to have been to thump on bedroom doors with a boot-heel, the unmistakable marks of which remain to this day, and were pointed out to me by our hostess. If there are really any noises not referable to ordinary domestic causes, it is not improbable that these practical jokers made a confidant of some one about the estate, who amuses himself by occasionally—it is only occasionally that the more remarkable noises are said to be heard—repeating their tricks. The steward or factor on the estate concurs with the lawyer and the minister in denying that the house had any reputation for being haunted before the advent of the H—— family. Yet he is a Highlander, and not without superstition; for he gave it as his opinion that if there was anything in these noises, they must be due to Black Art. Asked what Black Art might be, he said he could not tell, but he had often heard about it, and had been told that when once set going it would go on without the assistance of its authors. He was quite clear, however that if there is Black Art, it came in with the H—— family."
Mr. H——'s rejoinder, which appeared in The Times, was dated June 10th:—
"Sir,—I must ask you to be good enough to publish, on behalf of the tenant of B——, a few remarks on the article that appeared in your paper of the 8th inst. with the heading 'On the Trail of a Ghost.' The writer of that article finds a very easy solution to the mystery by attacking a private family who happened to be tenants of B—— for a short time, and making them a 'scapegoat' for his argument. I do not quite understand if your correspondent pretends to assert that the place had not the reputation of being haunted previous to my tenancy for three months last year; probably he does not charge me with originating such reports, as he mentions a story of the visit of a Catholic Archbishop to the house to exorcise the ghost. This must have happened some time ago, and proves that the house was then supposed to be haunted. What your correspondent does state as a fact is, that the younger members of my family played practical jokes, which have given rise to Lord Bute's investigations. My object in writing to you is to deny most emphatically this statement. The principal proof that is brought forward to corroborate this slander is, that the doors are marked by the blows struck to produce the noises heard. Surely no one could be frightened after the cause and reason of the noises were once ascertained by the boot-marks! But there were no such marks on the doors when we left B——. Some of our guests were with us until very shortly before my family left, and can testify to this, for the good reason that in the endeavour to localise the extraordinary noises, all doors and other parts of the house were constantly examined up to the very last. When I went to B—— at the beginning of August, my family had already been there a few days, and at once they told me they had found out the house was supposed to be haunted, and that they had heard most unaccountable noises. I had the greatest difficulty to persuade all my people to stay in the place, and after all, we left Scotland about the end of September, two months earlier than usual. I personally did not give any importance to the rumours that B—— House is haunted, and attributed the very remarkable noises heard to the hot-water pipes and the peculiar way in which the house is built. In fact, I have to confess I cannot believe in ghosts, and, consequently, I did my best to persuade everybody that B—— was not haunted, but I am afraid I was not always successful. I hope you will forgive me for taking up so much valuable space in your paper, but I had to do so in self-defence against a false accusation.—Yours faithfully, H——."
It is believed that, in consequence of this letter, Mr. H—— was threatened with legal proceedings, which, however, have not yet been initiated.
The following is the account given of the same period by Miss "B.," a lady of some position in the literary world:—
"... We arrived there on Wednesday the 25th August, the house being then tenanted by Mr. J.R. H—— of K—— Court, C——, G——shire. The household consisted of Mr. and Mrs. H——, three sons, Miss H——, my sister and I, and two other guests, Colonel A—— and Major B——.
"We had rooms in the wing on the ground floor of the house, opening off the main hall, divided from the rest of the house by a long passage, and shut off by a swing-door. Our rooms opened off each other, and the inner room opened off a little sitting-room, which had a door with glass panels leading into the passage. The only other person who slept in that wing of the house was Mr. Willie H——, whose room was exactly opposite the door of our room.
"We heard a great deal of discussion about the 'ghost' when we arrived, and so that night my sister made me sleep in the inner room with her. We heard nothing that night. The next night I slept in the outer room, and neither of us heard anything. The third night, my sister being still a little nervous, I slept in the inner room with her. The door of the outer room was locked, the door between the rooms was locked, and there was a wardrobe placed against the door leading into the sitting-room. We both, having taken these precautions, fell sound asleep.
"I wakened suddenly in the middle of the night, and noticed how quiet the house was. Then I heard the clock strike two, and a few minutes later there came a crashing, vibrating batter against the door of the outer room. My sister was sleeping very soundly, but she started up in a moment at the noise, wide awake.
"'Some one must have done that,' she said; 'such a noise could never have been made by a ghost!'
"But neither of us had the courage to go out into the passage! The noise lasted, I should say, for only two or three seconds, and ceased as suddenly as it had begun. We lay awake till the light came in, but the house was quite quiet. I may mention, as against the 'supernatural' origin of the sound, that it came against the outer door, did not pass in to the inner one, and avoided the glass-panelled door of the sitting-room, which would certainly have been shivered by the application of force sufficient to produce such noise. Another very curious thing was, that on the nights when it came to our door (we only heard it once, but other visitors heard it often) Willie H—— heard nothing; whereas on the nights when he was disturbed, we heard nothing, yet the rooms were close together.
"The following night my sister and Miss H—— and two of her brothers sat up all night in the morning-room, which opened off the main hall. We sat with the door open and in the dark, but neither heard or saw anything; the house was absolutely still.
"The next night my sister and I stayed in Miss H——'s room, watching with her. It was on the third storey of the house, and on a line with the specially haunted room, then occupied by Colonel A——. Two of the men sat up downstairs.
"After 2.30 Mr. Eustace H—— came and told his sister we need not sit up later, as everything was so quiet, and the noises seldom came after that hour. He went to his room then, but his door was scarcely closed when we all heard a loud knocking at Colonel A——'s door. We ran out, without waiting a moment, into the passage, where the lamps were still burning brightly, but it was absolutely empty and quiet. We heard it several times that night in distant parts of the house, and once we heard a scream, which seemed to come from overhead. We stayed six days in the house after this, but heard nothing more ourselves, though every one else in the house was disturbed nightly."
The Major B—— mentioned in the above statement has been good enough to furnish the following note as to his personal impressions:—
"On 22nd August 1896 I arrived at B——, and remained there until the 2nd September. During this period I slept in the room on the first floor, which is at the end of a short corridor running from the top of the back stairs to my room [No. 1].
"Colonel A—— occupied the room next to me [No. 3]. It was a double room, connected by a door, and was situated just at the top of the back stair.
"August 24th, about 3.30 a.m., I heard very loud knocking, apparently on Colonel A——'s door, about nine raps in all—three raps quickly, one after the other, then three more the same, and three more the same. It was as if some one was hitting the door with his fist as hard as he could hit. I left my room at once, but could find nothing to account for the noise. It was broad daylight at the time. I heard the same noises on the 28th and 30th August at about the same hour, viz. between 3 and 4 a.m."
The following, which adds somewhat to the above, was contained in a private letter written in January 1897 from Major B—— to the Hon. E—— F——:—
"Between two and four in the morning there used to be noises on the door (of Colonel A——'s room), as if a very strong man were hitting the panels as hard as ever he could hit, three times in quick succession—a pause, and then three times again in quick succession, and perhaps another go. It was so loud that I thought it was on the door of his dressing-room, but he said he thought it was on his bedroom door. One theory is, that it was the hot water in the pipes getting cold, which, I am told, would make a loud throbbing noise. I tripped out pretty quick the first time I heard it, but could see nothing. Of course it is broad daylight in Scotland then.
"The same banging was, I believe, heard on one of the bedroom doors down the passage, in the wing on the ground floor, and on investigation I found there were hot-water pipes just outside that door as well. There were yarns innumerable while I was there about shrieks and footsteps heard, and bedclothes torn off. But I did not experience these.... I don't think the noises were done by a practical joker, as there were too many people on the alert...."
The Hon. E—— F—— wrote to Miss Freer on March 4th:—
"... [Major] B—— is now in London, and I have seen him twice. He says (1) the hot-water pipe theory is not his own, but was suggested by an engineer friend. He should not himself have thought that hot-water pipes could make so big a noise. Besides, Colonel A—— described the noise as a banging either against the door itself, or against the door of the wardrobe inside the room.... (2) He, B——, heard the noise himself several times and bolted out into the passage at once, but saw nothing. The noise sounded like a very loud banging at A——'s door.... (3) He confirms the story about A—— being unable to sleep, and says he used to go to sleep on the moor in consequence."
During Colonel Taylor's tenancy similar noises were heard, both when the water was totally cut off and when, from some defect in the apparatus, it never reached a high temperature.
The Colonel A—— referred to, corroborates this account, as follows, in a letter to Major B——:
"My dear B——, You write asking me about B—— House and its spook. Well, I never saw anything, and what I heard was what you heard, a terrific banging at one's bedroom door, generally about from 2 to 3 a.m., about two nights out of three. Of course there were other yarns of things heard, &c., but I personally never heard or experienced anything else than this banging at the door, which I never could account for...."
Before passing from the subject of Colonel A——, it is as well to mention that after leaving B—— he went to stay at another country house, and the butler there spoke to him of the haunting of B——, where he himself was a servant some years before. This butler was asked for further information, but sent only the following reply:—
"Your note to hand regarding B——. I am afraid what I saw or heard would be of little value to your book, therefore I would rather say nothing."
It will be observed that, so far from denying the facts, he admits that he saw and heard certain things, which he refuses to describe; but as this evidence is circumstantial rather than direct, it is inserted here rather than in the place to which, chronologically, it would, if fuller, properly have belonged.
Mr. and Mrs. "G." were also guests at B—— during the occupation of the H——s. Mrs. "G." published an account of her experiences in a magazine article, of course with fictitious names; but she affirms that she has in no sense "written up" the story, which, indeed, is entirely corroborated by other evidence:—
"October 9th, 1896.—Some friends of mine took the place this year for the shooting, and, relying on the glowing description they had received, took it on trust, and in July last took possession of it without having previously seen it. For a few days all went well; the family established themselves in the old part of the house, leaving a new wing for their guests. The haunted room (for so I may justly call it) was inhabited by two or three persons in succession, who were so alarmed and disturbed by the violent knockings, shrieks, and groans which they heard every night, and which were also heard by many others along the same corridor, that they refused to sleep there after the first few nights. Those who serve under her Majesty's colours are proverbially brave; they will gladly die for their country, with sword in hand and face to the foe. For this reason a distinguished officer [Colonel A——, above quoted] was the next occupant of the haunted chamber, and was told nothing of its antecedents. The morning after his arrival he came down refreshed, and keen for the day's sport. I may here mention, no one is ever disturbed the first night of their stay. During the succeeding nights, however, he was continually roused from his slumbers by the most terrific noises, and want of sleep would cause him to become drowsy when out shooting on the moor, and would tempt him to make a bed of the purple heather and fragrant myrtle.
"A friend of mine, a man of great nerve and courage, next inhabited the room, and went through the same experiences. He took every possible means to discover the cause of the sounds, and failed in accounting for them in any way. He said the blows on the door were so violent he often looked, expecting to see it shattered to atoms. Since he left no one has been put into this room, but the noises continue, and are heard throughout the house. Even the dogs cannot be coaxed into this room, and if forced into it, they crouch with marked signs of fear.
"The disturbances take place between 12 and 4.30, and never at any other time. A young lady, of by no means timid disposition, and possessed of great presence of mind, has often heard the swing-door pushed open and footsteps coming along the corridor, pausing at the door. She has frequently looked out and seen nothing. The footsteps she has also heard in her room, and going round her bed. Many persons have had the same experiences, and many have heard the wild unearthly shriek which has rung through the house in the stillness of the night.
"I will now give my own experience. I arrived with my husband and daughter on September 17, having been duly warned by my friends of the nocturnal disturbances. We were put in rooms adjoining, at the end of the new wing. I kept a light in my room, but the first night all was still. Next night, about 2 a.m., a succession of thundering knocks came from the end of our passage, re-echoing through the house, where it was heard by many others. About half-an-hour afterwards my husband heard a piercing shriek; then all was still, save for the hooting of the owls in the neighbouring trees. When the grey dawn stole in it was welcome; so was the cheery sound of the bagpipes, as the kilted piper took his daily round in the early morning. The next night and succeeding ones we heard loud single knocks at different doors along our passage. The last night but one before we left I was roused from sleep by hearing the clock strike one, and immediately it had ceased six violent blows shook our own door on its hinges, and came with frightful rapidity, followed by deep groans. After this sleep was impossible. The next night, our last in Scotland, my husband and others watched in our passage all night, and though the sounds were again heard in different directions, nothing was to be seen. As I write, at the commencement of October, the house on the lonely hillside is deserted; the tenants have gone southwards; an old caretaker (too deaf to hear the weird sounds which nightly awaken the echoes) is the sole occupant. Even she closes up all before dusk, and retires into her quarters below; though she hears not, her sight is unimpaired, and she perhaps dreads to meet the hunchback figure which is said to glide up the stairs, or the shadowy form of a grey lady who paces with noiseless footfall the lonely corridor, and has been seen to pass through the door of one of the rooms. Within the last two months a man with bronzed complexion and bent figure has been seen by two gentlemen, friends of mine. They both describe him as having come through the door and passed through the room in which they were about three in the morning. I have tried to give a faithful and accurate account of these strange events. I leave it to each and all to form their own opinion on the matter."
Some passages in private letters to Miss Freer and Lord Bute written by Mrs. "G.," should be quoted as bearing upon some points in the above:—
"February 9th.—I am going to ask you if you do go there [B—— House] if you would let me know if you see or hear anything. I am immensely interested in it, as we stayed there in the autumn with some friends who took it, and anything more horribly haunted could not be. I never should have believed it if I had not been there."
After the appearance of The Times correspondent's accusation against the H—— family, Mrs. "G." wrote as follows to Lord Bute:—
"June 10th.—If the noises complained of by nearly all who have stayed at B—— were the result of practical jokes perpetrated by the H——s, how is it that not only were they heard by guests who stayed there years ago, but are admitted by members of the S—— family to have been heard by themselves? Miss Freer also has told me, that the same noises were heard at all hours day and night by herself and her guests for months after the H—— family and their servants had left Scotland. This so completely exonerates them from the absurd charge, that I should hardly have mentioned it, had not Miss Freer seemed quite under the impression that practical jokes had been played during the tenancy of the H——s; and as a proof of this, she told me that the doors, especially of two of the rooms, were marked with nailed boots, and the panels even split through, and this damage was attributed by her to the younger members of the H—— family. I am happy to say I was able to disabuse her mind of this idea, as we were staying at B—— within a few days of their leaving Scotland, and I had most carefully examined the doors especially of the two rooms specified, one of which was our own room. There was not a scratch, nor the smallest mark or indentation; others can also vouch for this fact. The H——s had all left B—— for good at that time, except the eldest son, and Miss Freer agreed with me that whatever damage was done to the doors, must therefore have been done after the H——s left, and before her party came in.... The hot-water pipe theory revived by the writer of the article in The Times is disproved by Miss Freer, who told me that the hot-water apparatus was not used for some time, and that the disturbances continued just the same.... The stories told in connection with B—— were not circulated or started by the H—— family. They were told to them by persons living around B——."
In a letter to Miss Freer, dated June 12th, Mrs. "G." writes, in reference to the charge of practical joking:—
"They are the most unlikely family to do such a thing; and besides, if further proof were wanted, the young men of the family were away from B—— when we stayed there ten days, and there was only one night when we did not hear the noises."
Miss Freer of course entirely accepts Mrs. "G.'s" statement, and that of Mr. H—— as published in The Times. She had been led to her earlier conclusions as to the marks of a boot-heel on the upper panels of the doors by the statements of interested persons.
A suggestive point in this connection is the fact, to which Miss "G." has herself testified, that while Mr. and Mrs. "G." were disturbed to the utmost degree, their daughter, who slept in a room communicating with that of her mother, heard nothing whatever; from which it would appear that the noises heard by them were subjective, and that the alleged evidence of the boot-heel, even were it credible, would be, in fact, irrelevant.
The mention of the hallucinatory nature of such phenomena suggests attention to the intellectual acumen displayed by The Times correspondent in saying that "Lord Bute ought to have employed a couple of intelligent detectives" for the purpose of catching subjective hallucinations. On the same principle, he ought to offer to his learned friend, Sir James Crichton-Browne, well known as an alienist, some advice as to the best mode of securing morbid hallucinations in strait-waistcoats. Is he prepared to propose to take photographs of a dream, to put thoughts under lock and key, or to advocate the supply of hot and cold water on every floor of a castle in the air?
One of the guests at B—— during Colonel Taylor's tenancy wrote after his return to London to Miss Freer as follows:—
"March 24th.—I went to call the other day on the 'G.'s' who chanced to be still in town.... I begin chronologically, and give you what I was told in all seriousness.... The H——s knew nothing about any stories of haunting when they took the place, and Miss H—— and one of the sons went up, most innocently, to prepare for the arrival of the others. As soon as they entered it the son said to his sister that he couldn't explain why, but he had a conviction that the house was haunted. That night, however, nothing happened. But the second night the bangings began. An old Spanish nurse was in the haunted room, and was greatly disturbed by the noise upon her door, which seemed as if it were going to be burst open. She didn't seem to be alarmed in the least however, and later took steps to secure its remaining shut by stuffing a towel under the chink (why this should secure it I rather fail to see, still that was her view). Apparently the ghost resented this, and one night did actually burst the door open, with such violence that the towel was precipitated into the middle of the room. The longer they stayed in the house, the worse things got. The noises were all over the house more or less, and were by no means confined to bangings. Miss H—— slept in room No. 8, where the ghost limped round her bed. She was so alarmed that she fetched her brother in, and he slept on the sofa. The limping began again, and she asked him if he heard anything, and he at once agreed that somebody was walking round the bed. In his own room—I forget which—he twice saw the ghost, once in the shape of an indeterminate mist, once in the shape of a man, who came in by the door and vanished in the wall. Mrs. 'G.'[B] now appears on the scene, and slept in No. 1 (I think). She heard only the bangings, which she declares were indescribably loud. They were mostly at the door of the haunted room. Traps were laid to catch unwary jesters; the door, or the surrounding floor, I forget which, was covered with flour, and wires were stretched across the door; and if I had the proper mind of a ghost-story narrator, I should say that the bangings were as bad as ever, and the flour and the wires were found undisturbed.
"But as a matter of fact she didn't say that, though doubtless she intended to, but jumped on to something else. Mr. "G.," who was there some weeks after his wife, was put down in the wing—I don't know which room—and had visitations. He heard steps approach down the passage, followed by a heavy body flinging itself against his door. He also heard screams, which seemed to him to recede as though the screamer was passing through the walls. (I couldn't quite understand this effect, but that was how he described it.) Their chaplain, who was put into the haunted room, was also greatly worried, and both he and the Spanish nurse and Colonel A—— all had the sensation that their bedclothes were being pulled off, and they had to hold on to them to prevent their departure. The most interesting part of the story is that Mrs. S—— later admitted to Mrs. "G." that it was quite true the house was supposed to be haunted, that she had lived there for twenty years, and at various times there had been outbreaks of this kind of thing of greater or less duration, but that the outbreaks had not been often enough for them to think it worth while mentioning the fact to incoming tenants. It appears also that the story of the bangings on the table in the daylight on the occasion of the last interview between the late Mr. S—— and the land-steward, came from one of the young S——s. It was also said that one of the young S——s used to sleep in the dressing-room between No. 1 and the haunted room, and used to complain that somebody kept pulling his bedclothes off.
"I may add that it is quite clear that the people about the place—some of whom, on my leaving, I vainly tried to draw—have been threatened not to talk about the ghost. There was no mystery about it whatever last year, the station officials being exceedingly loquacious and full of information...."
The above are the circumstances which The Times correspondent thus describes:—
"Lord Bute's confidence has been grossly abused by some one. It was represented to him by some one that he was taking the 'most haunted house in Scotland,' a house with an old and established reputation for mysterious if not supernatural disturbances. What he has got is a house with no reputation whatever of that kind, with no history, with nothing germane to his purpose beyond a cloud of baseless rumours produced during the last twelve-month. Who is responsible for the imposture it is not my business to know or to inquire, but that it is an imposture of the most shallow and impudent kind there can be no manner of doubt. I interviewed in P—— a man who has the district at his finger-tips, and was ready to enumerate in order all the shooting properties in the valley. He had never heard until the moment I spoke to him of B—— possessing any reputation, ancient or modern, for being haunted, although he is familiar with the estate, and has slept in the house. It has no local reputation of the kind even now beyond the parish it stands in. The whole thing has been fudged up in London upon the basis of some distorted account of the practical jokes of the H——s."
As the writer in question obtained his admission to the house as a guest by Sir James Crichton-Browne's solicitation through Sir William Huggins and Lord Bute, it might naturally have been supposed that the real facts were known to him, at least so far as they were concerned. It appears, however, that he cherished a voluntary ignorance upon the subject, to judge from the phrase, "it is not my business to know or to inquire." Of such a writer, and of such statements, the reader will now form his own opinion; but that the correspondent in question should continue to cling to his journalistic anonymity, is little to be wondered at.
Colonel Taylor served in the Bedfordshire Regiment. He was afterwards Professor of Tactics at Sandhurst, and retired in 1894. Possessed of means, leisure, and intelligence, he chose to make the study of psychic subjects his particular occupation. He is one of the seven fundamental members who, in 1895, signed the Articles of Association of the London Spiritualist Alliance, holds office in the Society for Psychical Research, and has rendered very valuable services in investigation of various kinds. Having made the investigation of houses alleged to be haunted his special province, he may be fairly considered to be somewhat of an expert in this matter. It may, or may not, be regarded as a drawback to his usefulness in this direction, that he is so peculiarly insensitive to subjective impressions, that a man who is colour-blind would be almost as useful a witness as to shades of colour as Colonel Taylor upon hallucinations, local or otherwise; but, as will be seen, he is fertile in expedients, experienced in research, and careful and observant of the phenomena experienced by others.
Lord Bute, who takes some interest in scientific matters, has been accustomed not infrequently to defray the cost of scientific work which he is unable to undertake himself, and he offered to meet the expense of the lease of B—— if Colonel Taylor would take the house, a proposal which he accepted.
This is what The Times correspondent of June 8, 1897, thought proper to describe in the words, "for reasons which are differently stated in London and in Perth, where the agent for the proprietor is to be found, Lord Bute did not take the house in his own name, but in that of Colonel Taylor."
It would have been equally true to say of the Coptic texts, published at Lord Bute's expense by Mr. Budge of the British Museum, that Lord Bute wrote and published these books under the name of Budge.
Had Colonel Taylor been prevented by circumstances from becoming tenant of B—— House, Sir William Crookes, the present President of the British Association and of the Society for Psychical Research, or Mr. Arthur Smith, Treasurer of the S.P.R., was willing to take the lease.
Having thus agreed to Lord Bute's proposal, Colonel Taylor at once proceeded to make himself acquainted with the history of B—— House. He naturally placed himself in communication with the late tenant, assuming that that gentleman would be willing to assist in investigating the phenomena by which his family and guests had been annoyed. But the only information which Mr. H—— seemed disposed to give was an admission that some members of his family had heard noises, and that the house was locally reported to be haunted.
However, other sources of information as to the experiences of the H—— establishment were fortunately available.
Captain S——'s agents made no scruple about letting the house to the well-known expert. The Edinburgh agents, Messrs. Speedy, indeed mentioned the haunting, and expressed the hope that Colonel Taylor would not make it the subject of complaint, as had been done by the H—— family, and they received the assurance that this was not a score upon which he would give trouble. In regard to the letters of Messrs. R.H. Moncrieff & Co., dated June 12, 1897, which appeared in The Times, it can only be said that the impression which they were likely to convey was, that Colonel Taylor was an imaginary being like John Doe or Richard Roe. Their scepticism must have been of recent origin, since none was manifested on receiving his rent. Their position is in any case unfortunate, since, even if unclouded by doubt as to the Colonel's personality, they appear to wish the public to believe that they seriously thought that one well known as a Spiritualist in England and America, a retired Professor of Military Tactics, with a comfortable house at Cheltenham, a member of the Junior United Service Club in London, a man who neither shoots nor fishes, had been suddenly seized in his mature years with a desire to hire an isolated country house in Perthshire, in the depths of winter, for the purpose of trying his 'prentice hand upon rabbit-shooting on a small scale.
Colonel Taylor, who is a widower without a daughter, was at this time much occupied by the illness and death of a near relative, and was unable for the moment to take up residence at B—— House. Lord Bute accordingly expressed a hope that Miss Freer would undertake to conduct the investigation. Mr. Myers also wrote urgently to her, saying, "If you don't get phenomena, probably no one will." She was abroad at the time, but at considerable personal inconvenience consented to return, and on December 26th she wrote to Lord Bute, stating that she could reach Ballechin on February 2nd, and adding—
"I have been reflecting further on the question of the personality of investigators. I think the names you suggest, and some others which occur to me, divide naturally into three classes (assuming, and I think you agree with me, that it does not follow that every one can discover a ghost because it is there, nor that their failure to discover it is any proof that it is not there). (1) Those who have personal experience of phenomena, and may be expected to be susceptible to psychic influences; (2) those who have no personal powers in that line, but are open-minded and sympathetic; and (3) those who are passively open to conviction. A fourth class, those who come to look for evidence against the phenomena, but will accept none for it, should, I think, be left until we have some demonstrable evidence to show.... Mr. Myers proposes himself for April 14-21.... I should suggest the keeping of a diary, in which every one willing to do so should make entries, negative or affirmative."
The Times Correspondent further criticised the method of inquiry employed at B——.
"Lord Bute's original idea was a good one, but it was never properly carried out. Observing that the S.P.R. had made many investigations in a perfunctory and absurd manner by sending somebody to a haunted house for a couple of nights and then writing an utterly worthless report, he desired in this case a continuous investigation extending over a considerable period. He ought, therefore, to have employed a couple of intelligent detectives for the whole term, and thus secured real continuity. As things are, the only continuity is to be found in the presence—itself not entirely continuous—of the lady just mentioned. But simply because she is a lady, and because she had her duties as hostess to attend to, she is unfit to carry out the actual work of investigating the phenomena in question. Some of her assistants sat up all night, with loaded guns, in a condition of abject fright; others, there is reason to suspect, manufactured phenomena for themselves; and nearly all seem to have begun by assuming supernatural interference, instead of leaving it for the final explanation of whatever might be clearly proved to be otherwise inexplicable."
It is hardly necessary to repudiate such a condition of mind on the part of the guests at B——, but it may be well to remark that the writer of this sapient paragraph seems to be under the impression that every result of certain forces at present imperfectly understood is supernatural. The assertion that any one who was in the house during Colonel Taylor's tenancy believed in the possibility of the existence of anything supernatural is, so far as the present editors are aware, a pure fabrication, having no foundation whatever. In their own belief all things which exist, or can exist, are, ipso facto, natural, although their nature may not belong to the plane of being in which we are normally accustomed to move.
In this connection may be usefully quoted the following passages from Miss Freer's article in The Nineteenth Century, August 1897:—
"Some of my friends asked me how I proposed to organise a haunted house research, to which I could only reply that I didn't propose to do anything of the sort. It seemed to me that among several things to be avoided was self-consciousness of any kind, that the natural thing to do was to settle down to a country-house life, make it as pleasant as possible, and await events.... The subject of the 'haunting' was never accentuated, and we always tried to prevent talking it over with new-comers.... As to the guests, for the most part they came on no special principle of selection.... Several of our visitors had more or less special interest in the inquiry, but others merely came for a country-house visit or for sport, and some knew nothing whatever till after their arrival of any special interest alleged to attach to the house.... Analysing our list of guests, I find that there were eleven ladies, twenty-one gentlemen, and The Times Correspondent. Of the gentlemen, three were soldiers, three lawyers, two were men of letters, one an artist, two were in business, four were clergy, one a physician, ... and five, men of leisure."
It would be unnecessary to quote all the preliminary correspondence; but the following passages from Lord Bute's letters to Miss Freer help to explain the situation, and the relation of those concerned:—
"December 20th.— ... I am afraid I shall encroach even further upon your kindness. Myers has all the papers, but I fancy you would rather know as little as possible, so as not to be influenced by expectation. It is no case of roughing it. B—— House is, I believe, a luxurious country house, ample, though not too large, in a beautiful neighbourhood...."
A letter of December 22nd refers to a suggestion that the phenomena were produced by trickery, a fact which is mentioned to show that the possibility was kept in view from the first.
On January 23rd, "Not a day should be lost in beginning the observation, which ought to be continuous. Such a chance has never occurred before, and may never occur again. Orders have been given to get the house ready for immediate occupation."
Miss Freer, accompanied by her friend Miss Constance Moore (a daughter of the late Rev. Daniel Moore, Prebendary of St. Paul's and Chaplain, to the Queen), arrived at B—— House on February 3, 1897.
February 3rd, Wednesday.—Constance Moore and I arrived from Edinburgh, with Mac., the maid, a little after 10 p.m., having sent on beforehand the following servants:—Robinson and Mrs. Robinson, butler and cook; Carter and Hannah, two housemaids.
I had engaged them on behalf of Colonel Taylor in Edinburgh last evening. They had all good characters, and were well recommended. We told them nothing, of course, of the reputation of the house, and were careful to choose persons of mature age, and not excitable girls.
I had seen no plans nor photographs of the house, and merely desired that any rooms should be prepared for us that were near together—i.e. bedroom, dressing-room, and maid's room. Mr. C—— [who met us in Edinburgh, and is a lawyer, mentioned hereafter], who had seen plans, asked what orders we had given, and remarked that, as far as he knew, we should secure one quiet night, as the "haunted" part contained, apparently, no dressing-rooms.
The house looked very gloomy. It was not cold out of doors, though thick snow lay on the ground. Inside it felt like a vault, having been empty for months. None of the stores ordered had arrived. We had no linen, knives, plate, wine, food, and very little fuel or oil. Candles and bread and milk and a tin of meat had been got for us in the village. We ate and went to bed. The room was so cold that we had to cover our faces, and we had no bed-linen. We had been very busy all day in Edinburgh, and soon fell asleep.
February 4th, Thursday.—I awoke suddenly, just before 3 a.m. Miss Moore, who had been lying awake over two hours, said, "I want you to stay awake and listen." Almost immediately I was startled by a loud clanging sound, which seemed to resound through the house. The mental image it brought to my mind was as of a long metal bar, such as I have seen near iron-foundries, being struck at intervals with a wooden mallet. The noise was distinctly as of metal struck with wood; it seemed to come diagonally across the house. It sounded so loud, though distant, that the idea that any inmate of the house should not hear it seems ludicrous. It was repeated with varying degrees of intensity at frequent intervals during the next two hours, sometimes in single blows, sometimes double, sometimes treble, latterly continuous. We did not get up, though not alarmed. We had been very seriously cautioned as to the possibilities of practical joking; and as we were alone on that floor in a large house, of which we did not even know the geography, we thought it wiser to await developments. We knew the servants' staircase was distant, though not exactly where.
About 4.30 we heard voices, apparently in the maid's room, undoubtedly on the same floor. We had for some time heard the housemaids overhead coughing, occasionally speaking, and we thought they had got up and had come down to her room.
After five o'clock the noises seemed to have ceased, and Miss Moore fell asleep. About 5.30 I heard them again, apparently more distant. I continued awake, but heard no more.
About 8 a.m. the maid brought us some tea. She said she had slept very badly, had worried over our apparent restlessness, as she had heard voices and footsteps and the sound of things dragged about, but that the maids had not been downstairs. We had never risen, and had spoken seldom, and in low tones, and an empty room (the dressing-room) intervened between Mac.'s room and ours.
In order, as we supposed, to follow up the noises we, later, in the day moved our rooms to the other side of the house, especially choosing those from which the sounds seemed to proceed—Nos. 6 and 7—leaving Mac., the maid, in No. 3.
The whole day has been occupied with exploring the house, sending for food and supplies, trying to thaw the rooms, moving furniture to make things homelike, and trying to arrive at a little comfort.
The house will soon be very pleasant, and only needs living in, but it feels like a vault. It is very roomy and very light. Nothing less like the conventional "haunted" house could be conceived. The main body of the house was built in 1806, the wing about 1883, with the apparent object of providing the children of the family with rooms outside the "haunted" area. It is cheerful, sunny, convenient, healthy, and built on a very simple plan, which admits of no dark corners or mysteries of any kind. A pleasanter house to live in I would not desire, but it is constructed for summer rather than for winter use. It has been added to at least twice, and there is much waste space. The original mansion, which was, I understand, upon a different site, was dated 1579; the new wing was built about fourteen years ago, and consists of four rooms and offices, adapted for schoolroom or nursery use. But the older walls are of great thickness.
After dusk we sat down to rest, and for the first time read the papers relating to the house,[C] breaking open the envelope in which Mr. Myers had given them to me. I had done this for my own satisfaction, as I wanted, if only for a few hours, to have as unprejudiced a presentation of the place as was possible under the circumstances. Miss Moore had heard some of the rumours about the house in Edinburgh from Mr. MacP—— and Mr. C——, but I had avoided all information as far as I could.
We now learnt, to our chagrin, that we had done the wrong thing, and had left rooms alleged to be haunted, and taken two apparently innocent. We, however, consoled ourselves by the reflection that we can offer the others to our guests, and that we are at all events next to No. 8, which has an evil reputation.
It is the room in which Sarah N—— died, and in which Miss H—— heard the limping footsteps walking round her bed.
As we had been told that the avenue is shunned by the whole neighbourhood after dark, we went out for a stroll up and down about six o'clock. We saw nothing, but our dog Scamp growled at the fir plantation beside the road.
Mr. L. F—— [eminent as an electrical engineer], arrived about 10 p.m. We thought it polite to give him a quiet night after so long a journey, and he is sleeping in No. 5.
February 5th, Friday.—Miss Moore and I slept well. We were both desperately tired.
Mr. L. F—— awoke suddenly at 2.30. No phenomena. He has an excellent little apparatus, an electric flashlight, which he is able to keep under his pillow and turn on at a second's notice, very convenient for "ghost" hunting—no delay, and no possibility of blowing it out.
The maids tell mine that they heard the sounds below them of continuous speaking or reading, and "supposed the young ladies were reading to one another."
This is the first occasion on which there has been mention of the sound of continuous reading aloud, which afterwards became extremely familiar. The sound was always that well known to Roman Catholics as that of a priest "saying his office." It may be as well to remind the reader that Clerks in Holy Orders of that Church are, like those of the Anglican, strictly bound to read through the whole of the Daily Service every day, and it is not permitted to do this merely by the eye, the lips must utter the words. In practice some are accustomed to move the lips with hardly any sound, and such, we have ascertained, is the custom of the Rev. P—— H——; others read it absolutely aloud, and will retire to their own rooms or other places, where they may be alone for the purpose. This, we heard, was the invariable practice of the Rev. Mr. "I.," the chaplain of Mr. and Mrs. "G."
As a matter of fact, we were sleeping on the other side of the house, and the rooms under the maids' rooms were empty.... In the evening, about six o'clock, we strolled down the avenue again, and Scamp, who never does bark except under strong excitement, again barked and growled at the copse.
The Hon. E. F——, a fellow-member of an S.P.R. committee, arrives to-night. Hospitality constrains us to put him in No. 4, which is "not haunted."
I asked after the success of the new kitchenmaid, a local importation, who arrived yesterday. I was told she had already gone. The cook told me "she talked all sorts of nonsense about the house, and the things that had happened in it, and had been seen in it, all day; and then at night refused to sleep here, and the butler had to walk home with her at eleven o'clock."
The Factor [anglicé: bailiff] came this morning, and I fancied a special intention in his manner. He was much annoyed about the kitchenmaid, said such talk was "all havers" [anglicé: "drivel"], begged me not to employ her again, and undertook to get another, lending me a girl in his own service meanwhile.
I went with him into the wing to get him to see to things there. We have been too busy in getting the rest of the house into order to look after it yet; but I find the pipes are out of order, the cisterns frozen, and the "set-basins" in the three bedrooms and bath-room out of working order. He promised attention, but discouraged the use of the wing. "Had we not room enough without?" and so on. I suggested that, any way, for the sake of the rest of the house it must be aired and thawed, and he insisted that the kitchen fire below did that sufficiently.
I cannot help remembering that this is the scene of the phenomena recorded by Miss "B——," as Duncan R——, the factor, is well aware. Also, he was persistent about "keeping out the natives," and their chatter, if I wanted to keep the servants, but did not specify the nature of the chatter, and I asked no questions.
February 6th, Saturday.—No phenomena last night. The house perfectly still.
During Colonel Taylor's tenancy a good many experiments of different kinds were made in hypnotism, crystal gazing, and automatic writing. These, however, belong to a class of matter quite different from that of spontaneous phenomena, and are therefore not referred to, with the exception of a single instance of crystal gazing, which, though relating to B——, was made elsewhere, and one or two occasions of automatic writing. This latter method of inquiry displayed all the weakness to which it is usually, and apparently, inherently liable, and is only mentioned here as explaining other matters. Its chief interest was that it supplied a name marked by a certain peculiarity which afterwards became familiar, and that it led to a hypothesis as to at least one of the personalities by whom certain phenomena were professedly caused.
In the afternoon an experiment was made with the apparatus known as a Ouija board, and this, as is very often the case, resolved itself, after a time, into automatic writing. There is in the library a portrait of a very handsome woman, to which no name is attached, but which shows the costume of the last century. Her name was asked, and the word Ishbel was given several times. It is not certain whether this word was meant as an answer to the question, or whether, as often happens in such cases, it was intended merely as an announcement of the name of the informant supposed to communicate.
The word, as given, possesses the following peculiarity. In the Gaelic language the vowels e and i have the effect of aspirating an s immediately preceding them, in the same way in which they effect the c in Italian, or the g in Spanish, so that, as in Italian ce and ci are pronounced chay and chee, so in Gaelic se and si are pronounced shay and shee. The name Isabel is written in Gaelic Iseabal, but the e is absorbed in its effect upon the s (like the i in the Italian cìo) and the first a is so slurred as to be almost inaudible, so that the word is pronounced "Ish-bel."
It was obvious, therefore, that the intelligence from which the writing proceeded (if such existed) could write in English, and was familiar with the colloquial Gaelic pronunciation of the name, but was unacquainted with the Gaelic orthography. On this occasion also the name "Margaret" was given in its Gaelic form of Marghearad (somewhat similarly misspelt as Marget), without any special connection either with the questions asked, or, so far as could be discovered, with anything in the mind of any present, none of whom had interested themselves at that time in the S—— ancestry.
In reply to questions as to what could be done that was of use or interest, the writers were told to go at dusk, and in silence, to the glen in the avenue, and this, rightly or wrongly, some of those present identified with what had been called Scamp's Copse. They were, however, perplexed by being told to go "up by the burn," for though Miss Freer and Miss Moore had twice explored the spot, they had not observed the presence of water. The journal continues—
We decided to walk in the avenue, and to explore "Scamp's Copse" before dinner, in spite of the fact that we were expecting Mr. MacP—— [a barrister], Mr. C—— [a solicitor], and Mr. W—— [an accountant] just about the time that we should be absent. Miss Moore took the dog off in the opposite direction, and we walked in silence to the plantation, Mr. L. F——, Mr. F——, and I. It was quite dark, but the snow gleamed so white, that we could see our way to the plantation. We went up among the trees, young firs; the snow was deep and untrodden; and when we got well off the road, we found that a burn comes down the brae side. It is frozen hard, and we found it out only by the shining of the ice.
We walked on in silence to the left of the burn, up the little valley, along a small opening between the trees and the railing which encloses them, Mr. L. F—— first, then I, then Mr. F——.
In a few minutes I saw what made me stop. The men stopped too, and we all stood leaning over the railings, and looking in silence across the burn to the steep bank opposite. This was white with snow, except to the left, where the boughs of a large oak-tree had protected the ground.
Against the snow I saw a slight black figure, a woman, moving slowly up the glen. She stopped, and turned and looked at me. She was dressed as a nun. Her face looked pale. I saw her hand in the folds of her habit. Then she moved on, as it seemed, on a slope too steep for walking. When she came under the tree she disappeared—perhaps because there was no snow to show her outline. Beyond the tree she reappeared for a moment, where there was again a white background, close by the burn. Then I saw no more. I waited, and then, still in silence, we returned to the avenue.
I described what I had seen. The others saw nothing. (This did not surprise me, for though both have been for many years concerned in psychical investigation, and have had unusual opportunities, neither has ever had any "experience," so that one may conclude that they are not by temperament likely to experience either subjective phenomena or even thought-transference.) It was proposed that we should ascend the glen in her track on the other side of the burn. It was very difficult walking, the snow very deep, and after two or three efforts to descend the side of the bank we gave it up, and followed to nearly her point of disappearance, keeping above the tree, not below as she had done. We saw no more, and returned to the house, agreeing not to describe what had occurred, merely to say that as the factor (who looks about eighteen stone) is said not to like the avenue at dark, we had been setting him and others a good example.
In a letter to Lord Bute under date February 25th, Miss Freer describes this figure with some detail:—
"As you know, these figures do not appear before 6.30 at earliest, therefore there is little light upon their surface. Like other phantasms seen at dark, they show 'by their own light,' i.e. they appear to be outlined by a thread of light. It is therefore only when the face appears in profile that one can describe the features, and this is somewhat prevented by the nun's veil. 'Ishbel' appears to me to be slight, and of fair height. I am unable, of course, to see the colour of her hair, but I should describe her as dark. There is an intensity in her gaze which is rare in light-coloured eyes. The face, as I see it, is in mental pain, so that it is perhaps hardly fair to say that it seems lacking in that repose and gentleness that one looks for in the religious life. Her dress presents no peculiarities. The habit is black, with the usual white about the face, and I have thought that when walking she showed a lighter under-dress. She speaks upon rather a high note, with a quality of youth in her voice. Her weeping seemed to me passionate and unrestrained."
The appearance of a nun was entirely unexpected, as the name "Ishbel" had been associated rather with the portrait of the beautiful woman in an eighteenth-century dress in the library, and it was she whom the witnesses, had they expected anything at all, would have expected to see. Miss Freer, moreover, the first witness, had regarded the statements of "Ouija" with her habitual scepticism as to induced phenomena, more particularly those of automatic writing, in which, as in dreams, it is almost always difficult to disentangle the operations of the normal from those of the subconscious personality.
If the name "Ishbel" were really intended to apply to the nun, it becomes a very curious question who is the person meant. A Robert S—— of B—— married, as has been already mentioned, Isabella H——, who died in 1784, but we know of no reason for supposing that she ever became a nun.
The portrait may possibly have represented her, but it shows a much older woman than the phantom so often seen; on the other hand, the dates are not inconsistent, and a considerable distance of time is suggested by certain phrases which occurred in the automatic writing.
The person to whom the mind more naturally reverts is Miss Isabella S——, the sister, and apparently the favourite sister, of Major S——. As already mentioned, she professed as a nun under the name of Frances Helen in 1850, and died in 1880, aged sixty-six. She did not, therefore, enter her convent till the age of thirty-five, an age much greater than that shown by the phantom.
It is, moreover, interesting to note that this lady's name was Isabella Margaret, so that both names, as given automatically, may have really referred to her. In the seventh edition of "Burke's Landed Gentry," 1886, there appears for the first time this entry—
"IV. Isabella Margaret, a nun, regular Canoness of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, d. 23 Feb. 1880."
The editors have obtained from the Nunnery, where she lived and died, a photograph, representing the dress of the Community, and a description of herself, which is as follows:—
"She died 23rd February 1880, quickly, of an attack of pneumonia or acute bronchitis. She died a most edifying death, in perfect consciousness, assisted by the Confessor ... and the Community around her, and having received the last Sacraments only a few hours before she expired. As to her appearance, she was short, rather fair, not at all stout, but not extraordinarily thin.
"She entered the Community in April 1848, was clothed in May 1849, and professed May 1850. We do not know whether she could speak Gaelic. She was very fond of Scotland, and very particular about the pronunciation of Scotch names. She was a most entertaining companion, being full of natural wit."
The dress, which is dignified, is very peculiar and striking, and not the least like the very ordinary nun's attire in which the phantom appeared, while it would be difficult to imagine a greater contrast than that between the merry old lady of the description and the weeping girl so often seen.
There was, however, at least one very peculiar reason, which will be noticed presently, for supposing that this phantom was really intended to represent the late Rev. Mother Frances Helen, and that its inaccuracy was owing to the stupid, and rather melodramatic misconception in the mind which originally imagined it and transferred it to the witnesses at B——.
This is our arrangement for to-night:—
|Room||1 (where we heard noises). Mr. F——.|
|"||2. Dressing-room communicating with Nos. 1 and 3; doors opened between.|
|"||3. Mr. L. F—— (specially "haunted").|
|"||4. Mr. MacP——.|
|"||5. Mr. W——.|
|"||6. Dressing-room, Miss Moore.|
|"||8. Mr. C——. (Sounds alleged, see evidence.)|
|N.B.—Nothing is alleged against 4 and 5.|
February 7th, Sunday.—Miss Moore was awakened this morning soon after one o'clock by a loud reverberating bang, which seemed close to her bed. She lay awake for a long time afterwards, but the sound was not repeated. The men heard nothing. They report that they went to bed soon after eleven, and very quietly.
My maid, who has had to give up her room, slept downstairs last night. She was kept awake nearly all night by noises and footsteps. The wing is not yet fit for use, as all the pipes are frozen, and the only downstairs bedroom was insufficiently aired; so I told her to use that for dressing, and make herself up a bed on one of the sitting-room sofas, and she slept (or rather, lay awake) in the drawing-room. She was not frightened, as she thought all the noises were made by the gentlemen; but they declare they made no noise.
I asked her as to the other servants. She says the maids are still very nervous. I spoke to them for the first time about the noises to-day. The butler's wife has heard sounds, but her husband only scoffs. The upper housemaid thinks ghosts the proper thing, and tolerates them along with the high families to which she is accustomed. The under housemaid is very shy, is Highland, and knows little English, and won't talk, but owns to discomfort, and is scoffed at by the other servants, who think it all part of her having been only a "general" till she came here. The kitchenmaid goes home to sleep, but I believe some one fetches her.
I have had a girl out of the village to make up the linen, and she, we notice, is careful to go home before dark.
This morning we all went to churches of various sorts. When the men came in to tea they reported that they had had a conversation with an outdoor servant, who proved to have been in the service of [Mr. F——'s father] Lord D——, and was consequently the more communicative. I know him, and have found him extremely intelligent.
He says that having heard from the H——s' butler (who slept on the dining-room floor, in the room my maid is to occupy to-night) that it was impossible to sleep in a room so noisy, he induced him to allow him to share his room, that they heard much, but they dared not show a light for fear of his admission being discovered (the H——s being much on the alert), and they saw nothing [cf. p. 40 for evidence of the H——s' butler].
We did not like to send for him on a Sunday, but decided to have him in on Monday, and test him as to the intensity of the noise.
In the evening, while we were all chatting in the drawing-room, Miss Moore came out into the hall, where she had been looking after the dog. In spite of the noise we were all making, she distinctly heard the clang noise upstairs. She had said the same thing, though with less certainty, once before, and we agreed that one night some one must sit up in the hall. (This was afterwards done without result.)
February 8th, Monday.—Last night my maid heard footsteps and the sound of hands fumbling on her door; this she told us when she came in with our early tea.
Miss Moore in the early morning, between one and two, heard again the sharp, reverberating bang as before. We speculated at breakfast as to whether the sound could have been made by the men after we had gone upstairs, though they were all sure of having been quite still before midnight. We made them rehearse every sound they had in fact made, but nothing was in the least like it, either in quality or quantity.
I had been disturbed about 5.30 a.m. by the sound (which we had not heard hitherto) described by former witnesses as "explosive." I know of nothing quite like it. I have heard the Portsmouth guns when at a place eight miles away; the sound was like that, but did not convey the same impression of distance. I heard it, at intervals, during half-an-hour. Miss Moore is a very light sleeper, but she did not awake. At six I got up and went through my room to the dressing-room door (No. 6), after a sound that seemed especially near. It was so near, that though I thought it quite unlikely under the circumstances, I wanted to satisfy myself that no one was playing jokes on Mr. C——, whose room was close by. The house was deadly still. I could hear the clocks ticking on the stairs. As I stood, the sound came again. It might have been caused by a very heavy fall of snow from a high roof—not sliding, but percussive. Miss Moore had wakened up and heard it too.
(N.B.—We afterwards found that, as the roof is flat, the snow is cleared away daily.)
Mr. W——, an utter sceptic, he declares, left early; then we all went for a walk. We spent the whole afternoon making experiments. Miss Moore or my maid or I, as having heard the noises, shut ourselves up in the room whence they were heard, or stood in the right places on hall or staircase.
The experimental noises made were as follows:—
1. Banging with poker or shovel as hard as possible on every part of the big iron stove in the hall; kicking it, hitting it with sticks (as Miss Moore and I persisted that the first noise was as of metal on wood, or vice versâ).
2. Trampling and banging in every part of the house, obvious and obscure, in cupboards and cistern holes.
3. (On the hypothesis of tricks from outside.) Beating on outside doors with shovels and pokers and wooden things, on the walls and windows accessible; banging and clattering in outside coal-cellars and in the sunk area round the house. (N.B.—Beating on the front door handle with a wooden racket, was right in kind, but not nearly enough in degree.)
Miss Moore, who was familiar with the noise, did it rather well by going into a coal-cellar (always locked at night, however) outside and throwing big lumps of coal, from a distance, into a big pail, but it wasn't nearly loud enough.
4. Finally the men climbed on to the roof, outside, while Miss Moore and I shut ourselves into the proper places. They clattered and walked and stamped and kicked and struck the slates, but they couldn't make noise enough.
Then we had in the gardener they saw yesterday, and put him in the butler's room, and the four men made hideous rows as before. He was grateful and respectful, but contemptuous. They couldn't make noise enough.
We went out at dusk, having sent Mr. MacP—— and Mr. C—— to pay a visit (as they had not been told of the brook scene), intending that the same trio as before should go to the copse. Mr. L—— F—— couldn't come, and as Mr. F—— and I went on alone, we met Mr. MacP—— and Mr. C—— returning before they were expected. On the spur of the moment I asked Mr. C—— to come with me, leaving Mr. F—— and Mr. MacP—— in the avenue. The snow had gone, and I saw less distinctly; but I saw the nun again, and an older woman in grey, who talked earnestly with her, she answering at intervals. I could hear no words; the ice was giving, and the burn had begun to murmur. (I tried to persuade myself that the murmur accounted for the voices, but the sounds were entirely distinct, and different in quality and amount.)
This older woman in grey afterwards became familiar. The name "Marget" was given to her at first half in fun and simply because this was one of the two names given by Ouija (cf. p. 98). She is apparently the grey woman referred to in the paper published by Mrs. G—— (cf. p. 64).
The fact of voices being heard by two persons, while one alone saw the figures, seems a clear proof that the figures were hallucinatory. It seems probable that the sounds also were hallucinatory, but were what is called in the vocabulary of the S.P.R. the "collective" hallucination of two persons. This seems to render it highly probable that in the case of each the hallucination had a cause external to both, although common to both; moreover, hallucinations are often contagious. The Times correspondent states, that "the lady admitted that the apparition was purely subjective, but in regard to other matters was not willing to suppose that she might be the victim of hallucinations of hearing as well as of sight." On the contrary, as all readers of Miss Freer's published works are aware, she is entirely of opinion that such sights and sounds are pure sense-hallucinations, whatever may be their ultimate origin.
We rejoined the others in silence. Then Mr. MacP—— said to Mr. C——, "Did you see anything?" "Nothing; I only heard voices." "What sort of voices?" "Two women. The older voice talked most, almost continuously. I heard a younger voice, a higher one, now and then."
Note by Mr. MacP——.
"I knew previously, though Mr. C—— did not, that Miss Freer had seen something up the burn; and when waiting for her and Mr. C——, Mr. F—— told me the whole story."
February 9th, Tuesday.—Last night we—Miss Moore and I—heard the "explosive" noises about 11.30 p.m., and speculated as to the possibility of their being caused by the wind in the chimney. There was a little wind last night—very little. It is worth mentioning, that ever since we have been here the air has been phenomenally still. One can go outside, as we do frequently, to feed the birds and squirrels without hats and not feel a hair stirred. Even when the snow was on the ground we never felt the cold, owing to the absence of wind, and the thaw has been imperceptible. Snow is still on the hills. I have several times thrown open my bedroom window about dawn for an hour to familiarise myself with the outside noises. There is nothing human within a quarter of a mile. (N.B.—The others, who are much more likely to be accurate as to distance than I, say the lodges are farther off.) The servants' houses are in a group of buildings on the hill above the house, but are, I believe, all empty. We found, and adopted, a deserted cat, whose condition certainly testified to the nakedness of the land. There are two inhabited lodges far out of hearing. A gardener comes round to the houses about 10 or 10.30 p.m., but we have watched him, and know exactly what sounds he creates.
February 10th, Wednesday.—Mrs. W—— arrived this morning from London; also Miss Langton, who is "sensitive," but wholly inexperienced. In the evening, at 6 p.m., Colonel Taylor arrived. He is in No. 8.
Miss Moore and I moved back into No. 1, and moved Mr. F—— into No. 3, the room reported (by the H——s) as specially haunted, where Colonel A—— and Major B—— had slept, and in our time Mr. L—— F——, who left last night.
The wing is now ready for habitation, except that the pipes are out of order, and the "set-basins" useless, also the bath. (N.B.—The fact that the pipes are all out of working order, and not a drop of hot water is to be had except in the kitchen, does away with a theory, which has been rather emphatically put forward, that "it is all the hot-water pipes.")
We are anxious to test the wing. Only one story, Miss "B——'s," is connected with it, and if there has been any practical joking anywhere, I personally incline to think that was the occasion. The wing is new, built, they say, in 1883, and the "ghost" showed human intelligence in selection of doors and victims. (After my return to London I had a conversation with Mrs. G——, which convinced me that I was mistaken in supposing that tricks had been played upon Miss "B——." See p. 71.)
An old woman in the village asked Miss Moore to-day with interest, "Hoo'll ye be liking B——?" She spoke of the hauntings, and her husband insisted (the Highlander always begins that way) that there were not any, and so on, and the old woman explained that it was just the young gentlemen last year that was having a lark. Later she admitted, "There's nae ghaists at B——, but the old Major" (who died about twenty years ago); "he'd just be saying to Gracie if she didn't do as she was told, that he'd be coming back and belay the decks" (cf. p. 136).
P.S.—Monday 15th.—In the kirkyard to-day at L—— we were shown the Major's grave. It is one of three, inclosed by a rough stone wall. They have no headstones, and seem quite uncared for. One is, we are informed, that of his housekeeper, Sarah N——. The other is said to be that of a black man-servant.
Last night we slept as follows:—
|Room||1 and 2. Myself and Miss Moore.|
|"||3. Mr. F——.|
|"||4. Miss Langton.|
|"||5. Mrs. W——.|
|"||6 and 7. Empty.|
|"||8. Colonel Taylor.|
Miss Moore lay awake nearly the whole night. She heard, though in less degree, the old noises; and in the early morning (compare our first night) heard the sound of women's voices talking. When I awoke, about 6 a.m., she told me she had been disturbed, and said she feared that the others had also, as she had heard Mrs. W—— talking in Miss Langton's room.
At breakfast Mrs. W—— reported that she had been awakened by knockings, but had never moved. Miss Langton had heard nothing.
The Colonel reported that about, or just before, six he had heard footsteps over his head. There is no room over No. 8, which is mostly a built-out bow, and the servants had not moved before 6.30. (If they moved then, it was contrary to their habits!) We heard later that Hannah had gone, about 6.30, "in her stocking-feet, only without her stockings," to ask the time at the cook's door.
The Colonel (before our inquiries) had imitated the noise by stamping heavily with striding steps across the library.
February 11th, Thursday.—The Colonel moved down into "Miss B——'s room" in the wing, and Mr. F—— into the room next to him.
February 12th, Friday.—No phenomena. The great business to-day, which we had specially reserved for the Colonel's arrival, was the making of sketches and measurements for the plan of the house. We found no mysteries. The walls are immensely thick, but all the space is accounted for.
February 13th, Saturday.—Miss Moore slept very badly again last night. She heard the noises at intervals between three and five; she was awake before and after. They were loudest and most frequent after four. At 5.30 I was awakened by a loud crash as of something falling very heavily on the floor above. The maids sleep there, but can give no account of any fall. Miss Moore, of course, heard it as, and when, I did.
Mrs. W—— reports having heard loud raps. She thinks the noise may have wakened her, but after she was awake enough to get a light and look at her watch (3.40) she heard what she describes as "a double knock."
February 14th, Sunday.—Our first wet day. The weather so far has been perfect. We all got very wet coming from church.
In the evening we did various experiments—thought-transference, crystal gazing, &c.—but nothing came of it in regard to the house.
February 15th, Monday.—Mr. F—— left early.
We all walked to the Parish Church, and had some talk with the sexton, and I had to listen to long yarns about the Major (see under date February 9th). I was tired, and could not go to the copse.
In the evening we played games, and were very lively. Miss Langton came into my room for a few minutes, and was certainly not in any nervous condition, nor did we speak of the hauntings. But this morning (Tuesday) at breakfast she reported having heard a loud crash almost directly after getting to her room. We considered possible causes, but could not discover that any one was moving in the house. The servants had gone to bed some time earlier, and we had put out the lights ourselves in the hall and on the stairs.
February 16th, Tuesday.—I had an experience this morning which may have been purely subjective, but which should be recorded. About 10 a.m. I was writing in the library, face to light, back to fire. Mrs. W—— was in the room, and addressed me once or twice; but I was aware of not being responsive, as I was much occupied. I wrote on, and presently felt a distinct, but gentle, push against my chair. I thought it was the dog and looked down, but he was not there. I went on writing, and in a few minutes felt a push, firm and decided, against myself which moved me on my chair. I thought it was Mrs. W——, who, having spoken and obtained no answer, was reminding me of her presence. I looked backward with an exclamation—the room was empty. She came in directly, and called my attention to the dog, who was gazing intently from the hearthrug at the place where I had expected (before) to see him.
As the day began with the above, and I had had a quiet rest, I went to the copse at dusk. The moon was bright, and the twilight lingered. We waited about in the avenue to let it get darker, but it was still far from dark when we made our way up the glen—Miss Moore, Miss Langton, and myself.
I saw "Ishbel" and "Marget" in the old spot across the burn. "Ishbel" was on her knees in the attitude of weeping, "Marget" apparently reasoning with her in a low voice, to which "Ishbel" replied very occasionally. I could not hear what was said for the noise of the burn. We waited for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes. They had appeared when I had been there perhaps three or four.
When we regained the avenue (in silence) Miss Moore asked Miss Langton, "What did you see?" (She had been told nothing, except that the Colonel, who did not know details then, had said in her presence something about "a couple of nuns".) She said, "I saw nothing, but I heard a low talking." Questioned further, she said it seemed close behind. The glen is so narrow, that this might be quite consistent with what I saw and heard. Miss Moore heard a murmuring voice, and is quite certain it was not the burn. She is less suggestible than almost any one I know.
The dog ran up while we were there, pointed, and ran straight for the two women. He afterwards left us, and we found him barking in the glen. He is a dog who hardly ever barks. We went up among the trees where he was, and could find no cause.
Miss Moore and I moved into No. 8 (dressing-room No. 6). It is a "suspect" room, which I had not tried, and Miss Moore had scarcely slept all the week in No. 1, and was looking so worn out, that I decided to move.
February 17th, Wednesday.—A most glorious day, still, bright, and sunny.
Nothing happened till evening. The Colonel, Mrs. W——, Miss Langton, Miss Moore, and I were in the drawing-room after dinner. Some of us, certainly the last four, heard footsteps overhead in No. 1, which is just now disused. I was lying on the sofa, and could not get up quickly: but Mrs. W—— and Miss Langton ran up at once, and found it empty and dark, and no one about.
Later, about 10.30, we all five heard the clang noise with which some of us are so familiar. The servants had gone to bed—or so we presumed, as all lights were out, except on the upper floor. It occurred four times. It is of course conceivable they may have made it, but we do not hear it when we know them to be about, and we do hear it when we know them not to be about.
The following quotation is from Miss Langton's private diary:—
"On the night of Wednesday, February 17th, I had a curious dream or vision. I seemed to be standing outside the door of No. 4, looking up the corridor to No. 2, when suddenly I saw a figure with his back to the door of No. 2, and quite close to the door which leads to No. 3. His face was quite distinct, and what struck me most was the curious way in which his hair grew on his temples. His eyes were very dark, keen, and deep-set; his face was pale, and with a drawn, haggard expression. He looked about thirty-nine years of age. His hair was dark and thick, and waved back from his forehead, where it was slightly grey. It was a most interesting and clever face, and one that would always, I should think, attract attention. He was dressed in a long black gown like a cassock, only with a short cape, barely reaching to the elbows."
A further reference to this vision, which at the time seemed irrelevant, will be found on page 225.
February 18th, Thursday.—This morning's phenomenon is the most incomprehensible I have yet known. I heard the banging sounds after we were in bed last night. Early this morning, about 5.30, I was awakened by them. They continued for nearly an hour. Then another sound began in the room. It might have been made by a very lively kitten jumping and pouncing, or even by a very large bird; there was a fluttering noise too. It was close, exactly opposite the bed. Miss Moore woke up, and we heard it going on till nearly eight o'clock. I drew up the blinds and opened the window wide. I sought all over the room, looking into cupboards and under furniture. We cannot guess at any possible explanation.
Further experience of these curious hallucinatory sounds, combined with visual hallucination in the same room, taking also into consideration the interest which our own dogs always displayed in these phenomena, led us to the conclusion that our first deductions had been wrong, and that the sounds were those of a dog gambolling.
(The Rev.) Mr. "Q." (an English vicar), arrived. In the evening, at 6.30, Miss Langton and I took him down to the glen. It was a very light evening. I saw the figure of Ishbel, not very distinctly, in conversation with the second figure, which was barely defined. We remained in perfect silence as usual. On regaining the avenue Miss L—— said she had heard voices, and thought she had seen what might be the white parts of the nun's dress. Mr. "Q." said he had seen a light under the big tree. The figures were nearer the tree than usual. Miss Langton went up a second time with the Colonel, and again heard voices.
It is worth remarking that Mr. "Q." has, doubtless from some idiosyncrasy, since developed a faculty of seeing lights where other people see phantasms.
February 19th, Friday.—No phenomena last night. We have spent the day in A——, the neighbouring town, where I had a fall and hurt my foot, so that I was obliged to drive home, and could not go to the glen. Miss Langton and Mr. "Q." went down about seven o'clock. Mr. "Q." saw the outline of a figure of which he has written the description. Miss Langton heard the usual voices on the other side of the burn; they seemed to her to be interrupted by a third voice, in deeper tones; and she also heard the footsteps of a man passing behind her, a heavy tread, "not like a gentleman."
The following, the account referred to, was contained in a private letter from Mr. "Q." to Lord Bute. The description of Ishbel in the Journal of February 26th, was, it will be observed, of later date, although before Miss Freer had seen the following:—
"February 19th and 20th, 1897.—I had heard only that Miss Freer had seen two figures by the burn, one of which was that of a nun, the other a woman, before whom, on one occasion, the nun appeared to be kneeling. I had always pictured the nun as standing or kneeling with her back to the spectator.
"On February 19th, at about 6.45 p.m., I visited the burn with Miss Langton (and not Miss Freer). After looking a little I saw (a); the white was very plain, and the head clearly outlined, but the vision was for the fraction of a second. I was conscious of it indistinctly for a few minutes, and there seemed a good deal of movement. Suddenly I was again conscious of the figure as shown in (b), full-face, as though gazing at me; again the white part was very distinct, but I could distinguish no features."
February 20th, Saturday.—This morning we went down to —— and had a little talk with the old servant who told us stories the other day about the Major, and she repeated the story of his threatened return. The same story was repeated independently this afternoon by [a local tradesman], who opened conversation by inquiring whether we had "seen the Major yet."
Miss Moore and I again this morning heard noises in No. 8, more especially those of the pattering footsteps, just after daylight, and a violent jump and scramble, which we thought was our dog, until we found that he was sleeping peacefully as usual on his rug at our feet.
In a letter to Lord Bute, dated February 21, 1897, Mr "Q." gives the following account:—
"On February 20th, at about 6.45 p.m., I visited the burn with Miss Freer and Miss Langton. I was very briefly conscious of the figure (a) on the bank of the burn, but saw no more till Miss Freer pointed to the hollow of a large tree, when I again saw (b). On each occasion of seeing (b) a curious sensation was noticeable, and I felt I was being looked at. On speaking afterwards to Miss Freer, I found her vision of the nun under the tree to be the same as mine at (b), i.e. full face, as indeed Miss Freer had seen it on previous occasions. This is the second sketch I have drawn of the full face (b). The first I showed to Miss Freer, remarking to her, 'I have made the figure too broad' (being unaccustomed to drawing). 'Yes,' said Miss Freer, 'for the nun is very slight.'"
It was seen at the same moment also by Miss Freer and Miss Langton.
February 21st, Sunday.—Again this morning we heard noises of pattering in No. 8, and Scamp got up and sat apparently watching something invisible to us, turning his head slowly as if following the movements of some person or thing across the room from west to east. During the night Miss Moore had heard footsteps crossing the room, as of an old or invalid man shuffling in slippers. We both heard a bang at the side of the room about 6.20, some time before any sounds of moving were heard from the servants above. The noise was muffled in quality, and had no resonance, and seemed to come from behind a small wardrobe on the east wall. The room (No. 7) on that side was unoccupied. [This bang was heard at other times in the same spot. Experiment showed that no noise made in No. 7 was audible in No. 8, not even hammering with a poker on the wall, which is curved at this point.]
This morning, on coming out of church, I received a letter from Mr. F——, in which was the following passage:—
"... Miss H——, who slept, I believe, in the room occupied by you when I left, heard sounds of footsteps going round her room, footsteps with the most unmistakable limp in them. Shortly after she heard stories connected with the former owner, who used to go by the name of B——, an aged man [the Major]. She asked if he could be described. 'No,' said her informant; 'the only thing he could remember about him was that he had a most peculiar limp,' and he forthwith gave an exhibition, which tallied exactly with the limp around the bed."
In discussing this, Miss Moore and I agreed that, had Miss H—— slept in No. 8 instead of in No. 1, as Mr. F—— supposed, we should have considered these limping sounds as probably identical with those we ourselves had heard. After I had closed my reply to Mr. F——, Miss Moore discovered Miss "B——'s" plan of the house (in the packet of evidence of the H——s' tenancy, see p. 96), which showed that in fact No. 8 was the room referred to. Hence it appears that the room in which Miss H—— heard the footsteps was the same as that in which we heard them. We had been misled by Mr. F—— speaking of "the room you occupied when I left," a mistake on his part, as, though the change had been spoken of, we had not left No. 1.
This afternoon Miss Langton experimented with Ouija at Mr. "Q.'s" request.
Lord Bute had suggested various test-questions in relation to the phantasm of the nun, to be asked the next time the Ouija board was in operation, and answers to these were attempted at various times, with the usual result of showing the influence, conscious or sub-conscious, of the sitters, almost all statements as to matters not actually known to them being worthless. On this occasion, however, in reply to the question, "How old was Ishbel when she died?" answers were spelt out to the effect that she was still living, and that her age was fifty-nine.
This may perhaps be taken as throwing light upon the intended personality of Ishbel, and supplying a possible clue to the identity of the mind of which she seems to be an imaginary creation.
Fifty-nine was the age of the late Rev. Mother Frances Helen in the year 1873, when Sarah N—— died. They are not people who are at all likely to have met each other upon "the other side" any more than upon this.
It is a generally recognised fact that the conditions which we call "time and space" exist on in the world beyond in a form so very different from those in which they are conceived of by us, that from our point of view they can hardly be said to exist at all. It is natural, therefore, to seek the utterer of this remarkable statement in some person connected with B—— who did not know the late Mother Frances Helen (supposing her to be the person for whom Ishbel was intended), but had heard of her.
February 22nd, Monday.—Mr. "Z——" came.
The whole matter of the inquiry had been made known to Mr. "Z——," the proprietor of a prominent Scottish newspaper, of course in the strictest confidence, which was carefully made a condition of the admission of any one to the house, a confidence which he most honourably observed. It was arranged that if anything occurred within the observation of himself or his son, the scientific value of which rendered it, in their judgment, desirable to publish a notice of it in The ——, the notice should be published under avowedly false names and geographical indications. Mr. "Z——" was unable to come himself, but his son arrived this day.
Mr. "Endell" (a Member of the S.P.R.) arrived while we were out, and made a tour of inspection alone of the outside of the house and the ground-floor rooms. He intuitively fixed on the window of No. 3 as that of a "haunted" room, and has since, equally by intuition, diagnosed the drawing-room and library as "creepy," and the dining-room as definitely cheerful. (This coincides with our experience.)
My own experiences to-day were confined to ejection from a high waggonette, while waiting at the station for Mr. "Z——," the horse having bolted at the appearance of the train.
No phenomena. We are putting Mr. "Z——", at his own request, in No. 3, the "ghost-room."
February 23rd, Tuesday.—Pouring wet. No phenomena. Visit to glen impossible.
Mr. and Mrs. R—— (local residents) came to lunch. Though in great pain I was able to see them for a few minutes, and both inquired whether we had had any experience of the reported hauntings, of which, however, they could give us no details.
February 24th, Wednesday.—Mr. "Z——" left early. (N.B.—No phenomena reported by any one during his visit; he himself slept soundly in the "haunted" room, but does it the justice to acknowledge that he "could sleep through an earthquake.")
Miss "N." (the daughter of a landowner of the district) arrived.
Mr. Garford (an old friend and excellent observer) came from London. We sleep to-night as follows:—
In the wing, in the two rooms alleged by guests of the H——s to be haunted, the Colonel and Mr. "Endell."
|No.||1. Mr. Garford.|
|"||3. Mr. "Q." ("ghost-room"; he has just asked to be removed from his former room in the wing).|
|"||4. Miss Langton.|
|"||5. Mrs. W——.|
|"||7. Miss "N."|
|"||8. Miss Moore, myself, and dog.|
February 25th, Thursday.—Mr. "Endell" reported this morning having heard a sound he could in no way account for, which seems to us to correspond with the "clanging" noise. We asked how he would imitate it as to volume and quality, and he said that a large iron kettle, about the size of the dinner-table (we are dining eight), boiling violently, so that the lid was constantly "wobbling," might produce it.
(N.B.—Mr. "Endell's" opinion later is that a pavior's crowbar heavily dropped, so as to produce a prolonged reverberation, is a better illustration.)
Mr. Garford, who was not told that any sounds might be expected in No. 1, says he was awakened by a violent banging at the door of communication between Nos. 1 and 2 (No. 2 is empty). Mr. "Endell," Mr. "Q.," and Miss Moore went up later in the day to experiment on the door, and found that it would open with the slightest push. Mr. Garford had closed it on going to bed, and found it closed in the morning. He had not been alarmed, and had almost called out to his supposed visitors, before he remembered supernormal possibilities. He described the sound as a muffled bang, and in order to reproduce it to his satisfaction one of the party held a thick rug on the inner side while another hammered on the panels without.
Mr. "Q.'s" experiences in No. 3 will be reported by himself. The groans which he heard coming from No. 2 some of our party suggested might have been made in sleep by the occupant of No. 1, but on trying experiments it was found that no sounds of the kind which he could make in his room were audible in No. 3.
Mr. "Q." left.
Miss Langton went up the glen with Mr. Garford, and was perplexed by seeing the grey figure when looking for the nun; she saw it but dimly, but later in the evening recovered it in the crystal, more clearly and in greater detail.
The following is Mr. "Q.'s" account of his experience, written on February 24th and March 4th, in private letters to Lord Bute, but, in order to avoid the possibility of suggestion to others, not contributed at the time to this journal. The Editors have been permitted also to read another account written by Mr. "Q." of this and of his subsequent experience, written immediately after the occasion, which agrees with his letters to Lord Bute in every particular.
"February 24th, 1897.—I slept in room No. 3. I knew it had a 'bad' reputation, also I had heard through Ouija of probable appearances and noises at 3 a.m. and 4.30 a.m. I noted the time of retiring in passing the clock on the staircase, i.e. 12.10.
"Before going to bed I sat in a chair with my back to a small mahogany cupboard, placed against the wall of the dressing-room, into which my room (No. 3) opens. About 1 a.m. I was much startled at hearing behind me very distinctly a loud groan, coming, apparently, from the dressing-room, in the direction of the mahogany cupboard. The sound was very distinct, and but for the fact of there being no one visible, I should have estimated its origin as in the room, its distinctness being such that, coming from the next room, with the door closed, it would have sounded slightly muffled. So distinct was it that I heard what I can only describe as the throat vibration in the tone.
"I tried to ascribe it to the bubbling of the hot-water pipe of a washing basin fixed in the dressing-room, as I supposed, against the wall of the bedroom, but saw next day that the basin in question was fixed against the opposite wall of the dressing-room.
"The sound was a greatly magnified and humanised edition of what I have several times heard in the drawing-room below the dressing-room, and which has been heard by several of the party together."
And in a letter dated March 4.—"I went upstairs at 12.10. On shutting the door of my room I experienced a curiously cold sensation. I stood by the fire, which was burning brightly, and shivered to an extent that was quite phenomenal; the fire did not in the least remove the cold shudderings which ran from head to feet.
"I threw the feeling off as best I could, but not entirely. I read a little and then prayed. I read the office of compline and my private prayers, and praying according to my custom for all faithful departed, and especially for those who had previously lived in the house or been connected with it. After this I looked at my watch; it was just upon one o'clock, and I sat for a few minutes in the chair by the fire, when I heard the noise described, behind me.
"I changed my position and placed the chair with its back to a table and facing the door, the candle on the table, and took a book and read; my shuddering sensations had been worse than ever. Suddenly I looked up, and above the bed, apparently on the wall, I got just a glimpse (like a flash) of a brown wood crucifix: the wall was quite bare, not a picture, nothing to make it explainable by imperfect light or reflection. From that time the sensation of cold and shuddering went away: I don't say immediately, but I was quite conscious of being reassured.
"About half-an-hour afterwards all feeling of distress of any sort had gone. I went to bed and to sleep. My own idea now is, that the sound I heard was an inarticulate cry for help, probably by means of prayer. The influence I feel was bad, but something overcame it."
It is desirable to add, as a question of evidence, for comparison of the dates of this and Miss Freer's subsequent account of the same phenomenon, that a letter from Mr. "Q." in Lord Bute's possession, dated March 16th, begins, "I have no objection to Miss Freer seeing my letter on the subject of the crucifix...."
Mr. "Q." also states that his delay in writing to Lord Bute about the crucifix was, that he thought it might be a mental reproduction of one which he sometimes sees in his own home, but that he found on examining the latter that it has a white figure, whereas that of the apparition has the figure of the same brown wood as the cross. In the private account above referred to Mr. "Q" writes, "I found that the crucifix at home in no way resembles what I saw at B——". It will be remarked that this peculiar apparition was seen in the same room by the Rev. P. H—— in August 1892 (see p. 17), and it was again seen on March 6th by Miss Freer, who had not heard at all of his experiences, and only a bare mention, without detail or description, of that of Mr. "Q." A fourth vision in this connection—that of Miss Langton, who had heard of none of the other three, is described under date March 19.
February 26th, Friday.—Nothing happened till I was in the drawing-room in the evening, when I was, as usual since my accident, taking my meal alone. A screen stood between my sofa and the door, so that it was impossible to see who entered. I saw the shadow of a woman on the wall, and supposed it to be a maid come to see after the fire. Next, the figure of an old woman emerged from behind the screen; she was of average height, and stout; she wore a woollen cap, and her dress was that of a superior servant indoors. Supposing her to be some servant's visitor come to have a look at the drawing-room while the party were at dinner, I moved to attract her attention, with no result. She walked a few steps towards the middle of the room, then disappeared. Her countenance was not pleasing, but expressed no personal malevolence; her face may have been coarsely handsome. Her dress was dark, and made in the fashion which was worn in my childhood. When the dog came in later he seemed to sight something from behind the screen and followed it across the room, when he lay down under my couch, instead of on the hearth as usual. He had done the same thing yesterday morning, looking much frightened, and had then taken refuge under Miss Langton's chair.
In connection with this it will be seen elsewhere that footsteps were constantly heard in the drawing-room, both at night and in daylight.
Mr. Garford, in No. 1, heard last night what seemed like the detonating noise, which he describes as like a wheelbarrow on a hard road, "a sharp, rapidly repeated knocking," at a distance.
February 27th, Saturday.—Colonel C—— and Mr. MacP—— arrived.
To-night we sleep as follows:—
|No.||1. Mr. Garford.|
|"||2. Miss Langton.|
|"||3. Colonel C—— (I had planned for him to go in the wing, but the butler, an old soldier with two medals, seemed to think it due to such a distinguished officer to put him in the haunted room).|
|"||4. Mr. MacP——.|
|"||5, 7, and 8 as before.|
|The Colonel and Mr. "Endell" unchanged.|
The glen was visited by Colonel C—— and Mr. MacP——, escorted by Miss Langton.
March 1st, Monday.—Mr. MacP—— reported at breakfast that he had awakened at 5.45, and almost immediately heard a loud clanging sound in the north-west corner of his room; he was fully awake, struck a light, saw nothing, and looked at his watch. We tried later to reproduce this noise, which he described as resembling a loud blow upon a washhand basin. I shut myself into No. 1, and found this a fair, but too faint, imitation of the sounds Miss Moore and I had heard there.
Colonel C—— and Mr. MacP—— left.
Miss M—— and the Colonel have to-day had some talk with —— [who had an intimate knowledge of the S—— family. See under dates Feb. 9th and 20th]. She repeated her former story of the Major's promised "return," especially a statement made to an old woman who worked in the garden, who had told him that at least "he'd no get in there, she'd keep the gate locked," that he "would come in below the deck" (cf. p. 114). He was described as a short, broad man, with white hair and beard, "a'ful fond o' dogs (of which he had many), and so noisy with them in the morning, that when he and his housekeeper-body let them out, his voice could be heard on the hill." She also said that on Major S——'s return from India to assume the property he found a tenant in possession, and had built himself a small house beyond the grounds, which he afterwards let with the shooting. In the late Mr. S——'s time this house was used as a retreat during the summer for nuns (a statement which interests us greatly, as affording a possible clue to the apparition).
The Major was greatly attached to the place, and had a great dislike to the presence of strangers in it, or to its going out of the old name. The estate, we hear, was much encumbered when he succeeded to it, but he cleared off all debts in a few years, and appears to have lived a somewhat eccentric and recluse life, in the society of his dogs and dependants.
This is the first mention of the fact that nuns had ever lived at B——. Miss Freer had not been aware that the object of the Rev. P. H——'s visit in 1892 had been to give what is called a Spiritual Retreat to those who had been occupying the cottage. It is only fair to suggest that the phantasmal nun, to whom the name Ishbel had been given, may really have been the phantasm of one of these visitors, and that the dress of at least some of them was identical with or closely resembled hers, while it was totally unlike that worn by the community to which the late Mother Frances Helen belonged. At the same time, Ishbel's dress was of a kind so very common among nuns, that it would have been that with which she would, most naturally, have been clothed by the imagination of any one unacquainted with the very rare Order to which Mother Frances Helen belonged. To make further investigation into the history of all the Sisters who ever stayed at B—— through the kindness of the late Mr. S—— would have been a task impossible for its vastness, and almost certainly futile through the natural reticence of their communities with regard to any matters likely to occasion haunting.
March 1st (continued), Monday.—I went up the burn for the first time since my accident on Saturday, February 20th. We had had a promise from Ouija on Sunday that if Mr. "Endell" were to visit the copse with me after 6.30 he would be touched on the left shoulder. He was told to go to the farther side of the burn, and to stand under the sapling, which is at some little distance from the spot where the phantasm usually appears. This we accordingly did. I was barely able in the dusk to distinguish the figure from my post on the west bank, but the phantasm appeared very near him, as I could distinguish the white pocket-handkerchief in his breast pocket. I saw her hand approach this, but could not positively say that it touched him. Mr. "Endell" saw nothing, and could not positively say that he felt a touch, though conscious of a sense of sudden chill, and agreed with me that had he certainly felt one, he would probably have considered it the effect of expectation. We stood there for perhaps ten minutes, and he was for a short time conscious of the subjective sensations which he commonly feels in the presence of phenomena. We returned simultaneously to the avenue, where we discussed the occurrence and the possibilities of making it evidential. The only thing we could think of was to send for Miss Langton, and without telling her anything of what we had seen or expected, ascertain whether she saw the phantasm in its usual position (high up on the bank), or a good deal farther to the left, and nearer the burn, as I had done. By the time she arrived it was much darker, but she saw the figure under the tree by the brook, and described it as "kneeling." She has better sight than I, and believed it to be behind Mr. "Endell." I should have judged her to be crouching or stooping in front of him, but judging from comparison of our normal sight, she is much more likely to be accurate than I.
Mr. "Endell's" separately recorded account, dated March 5, exactly agrees with this, but adds some additional touches to the latter part.
"At Miss Freer's suggestion, I fetched Miss Langton, telling her nothing of what had occurred, but merely that we were trying an experiment, and she was to report what she saw.
"I stood again under the sapling. This time I began to shudder almost immediately. It was so dark they told me that they could only see my collar though I was only ten yards from them.
"Miss Langton said that thirty seconds after I had taken up my position, the figure appeared behind me a little to my left, and seemed to raise its arm. Miss Freer said it was waiting for me, and touched me as before.
"I felt no touch throughout, only shiverings that seemed to coincide with appearances."
To-night Miss "N." wishes to sleep in No. 3, and Miss Langton will remain in No. 2; the door of communication can be opened between them.
March 2nd, Tuesday.—This morning I was reading in bed by candlelight from 5.30 to 6 o'clock, and again heard the pattering sound which has become familiar to us in No. 8. Miss Moore was asleep, but happened to awake while the sound was specially distinct, and without speaking signified that she was giving it her attention. Shortly after six we heard the sound of a violent fall about the middle of the west wall, between the fireplace and window. Our first thought was that one of the maids upstairs must have fallen, till we remembered that there was no room above us. We have since inquired, and find that none of them moved till nearly seven o'clock, nor was anything heard either by them or by Mr. Garford, whose room (No. 1) joins our west wall.[D]
Miss "N." passed a very disturbed night. She went to bed about twelve o'clock; she is habitually an exceptionally good sleeper, and, moreover, has slept in many rooms alleged to be haunted without the slightest inconvenience, and has never had an "experience" of any sort. She lay awake in discomfort till 3 a.m., and then sought refuge with Miss Langton.
Miss "N." left. The following is the record of her impressions:—
"March 4th.—You ask me to write exactly what I felt in No. 3 when I slept there on March 1st. Well, it is rather difficult to describe! I never felt frightened out of my wits at nothing before, if it was nothing. I certainly saw no shadows or figures, and the only noise I heard was the thud twice, which sounded as if it came from the storey below. If I shut my eyes for a minute I felt as if I was struggling with something invisible (not indigestion, as I never have it!). I was so paralysed that I dare not call out to Miss Langton, and lay awake from twelve to three without moving! In the morning, of course, I felt I had been a fool to be so silly, and I would go and sleep there again to-night if I had the chance."
Mrs. B. C—— came. She is an Associate S.P.R., is a Highlander, has been all her life interested in psychical matters, but has had no "experience."
Mr. "Endell," Miss Moore, and I sat up in No. 3 till about 2.30 in the dark, except for the firelight, and in silence, except when any one wished to draw the attention of the rest to sounds or sensations. There were no sounds for which, on reflection, we found it impossible to account. Mr. "Endell" suffered, as on previous occasions, from the sensation known as "cold-air," and very visibly shivered, though clearly not in the least nervous. He is keenly interested in psychical inquiry, but has never had any "experience" other than subjective sympathy with the psychic impressions of others, or a consciousness, such as he described on his arrival here, of an atmosphere other than normal. (This last has been of frequent occurrence, and seems to have been always veridical.)
The sole experience of any kind on this occasion was my own. Mr. "Endell," by way of reproducing the conditions of former occupants of the room, threw himself on the bed about twenty minutes to 2 a.m. Soon after he was seized by audible and visible shivers. We did not speak till he uttered some forcible ejaculation of complaint, when, looking towards him, I saw a hand holding a brown (probably wooden) crucifix, as by a person standing at the foot of the bed. He immediately said, "Now I'm better," or words to that effect.
We persisted in silence till perhaps 2.30, when we agreed to separate, and while we were having some refreshment over the fire, I told Miss Moore and Mr. "Endell" what I had seen. (Cf. under date February 25, p. 132.)
March 3rd, Wednesday.—Mrs. W—— left.
This afternoon we had a call from Mrs. S—— and her daughter. The Colonel, Miss Moore, and I were in the room.
March 4th, Thursday.—Mr. "Endell" left.
March 5th, Friday.—Last night I was in bed and asleep before Miss Moore came in from her dressing-room. She did not light the candle for fear of waking me, but, while sitting by the fire reading, she heard the pattering noise just behind her, in the same place where we have heard it and the fall before, though never till then at night. It only lasted a few minutes, but there was apparently nothing to account for it, though of course she took every possible means to discover its cause.
Mrs. B. C—— left to-day. Miss Moore happened to mention at breakfast that the upper housemaid had told her that the maids had twice again on the last two nights heard the sound of monotonous reading, once as late as 2 a.m.
The theoretical hour for Mattins is midnight, which, however, is only observed in practice in certain very rigid monasteries; in others it begins at two. But it is easily conceivable that a priest, if wakeful at that time, would select it in preference to another.
Mrs. B. C—— at once said that she also had heard precisely that sound each night, and had spoken of it to her maid, and, like the servants, had concluded that Miss Moore was reading to me, although it was as late as twelve o'clock. She had also heard a bang on a door close to her own, but had supposed it was a late comer, possibly one of the gentlemen from the smoking-room, and had not been disturbed. She had been sleeping in No. 1, her maid in No. 2, and none of the gentlemen are on the same floor. Mr. Garford, who is now in the wing, remarked that he too had heard voices as of speaking or reading several times when sleeping in No. 1, but had assumed that they were normal. As a matter of fact, Miss Moore goes straight to her dressing-room on going upstairs, and I am always too tired to read or speak. No two persons sleep in any other room.
We tested this by getting Colonel Taylor to shut himself into No. 1 while I, in No. 8, read aloud at the top of my voice, Miss Langton remaining in the room with me. The Colonel could hear no sound less than direct banging on the wall with a poker.
The cook has been talking to-day of the various noises heard at night; she is not nervous, nor are the maids, but all speak of voices and bangs for which they cannot account; except the butler, who has heard nothing, but is obviously impressed with his wife's experience last night. Her story is that, not feeling well, she went up to bed early, before the servants' supper, the rest of the household being as usual in the drawing-room. While in bed, before ten o'clock, she distinctly heard the sound of voices talking, apparently below, but not far distant (her room is over No. 7, at present empty). She "wondered if it could be the servants in the servants' hall at supper"—an obvious impossibility, as their room is not underneath, is two storeys away, and has no connection with the upper part of the house. She also heard bangs on the wall, behind her bed and to the side; there was no furniture there to crack, and it was mostly on the outside wall, so she finally became uncomfortable, and buried her head in the clothes to deaden the sound. She "doesn't believe in ghosts," but thinks the house "very queer," and says that far and wide in the country round it is spoken of as "haunted," though no one seems to know of any story, as to the cause, except that, very improbable, about the murder of a priest by the wife of a former proprietor. It appears that a maid engaged in the village refused to sleep in the house, because when in service here once before she had been frightened by bangs at the door of her bedroom (in a room over No. 1); she had also heard the sounds of a rustling silk dress on the back-stairs, and had seen the bedroom door pushed open and a lady come in.... A maid, who came after this one had left, told the cook that she believed there was a story of a "priest murdered somewhere at the Reformation"; she had once been told it by Mrs. S—— in explanation of the noises, but had not heard whether the said murder was in the house or the grounds, and thought Mrs. S—— particularly did not wish the spot known. This maid has only been an occasional help in the house, but has lived for years in the district, and knows the place well by reputation.
To-day as we passed through the churchyard, [a resident in the neighbourhood] pointed out the desolate grave of the Major, with the remark that one could hardly be surprised at a man being said to "walk" who was expected to rest in such a place as that. He said that there had been a great deal of talk all over the neighbourhood as to the excitement during the H——s' stay at B——, and seemed to believe that practical joking might account in part for what had occurred. He did not, however, deny that stories had been told long before their coming to the place.
This resident is the one as to whom the Times correspondent dogmatically stated, that having lived in the place for twenty years he asserted that there had never been a whisper of the haunting of B—— until the tenancy of the H——s.
March 6th, Saturday.—Mr. Garford left.
The Colonel is to sleep to-night in No. 3, which has not been occupied since Miss "N." left.
Mr. C—— arrived. He sleeps, by his own choice, in No. 2. He has had a conversation with the butler, whom he had been instrumental in engaging for us, which began by his asking how he liked his situation? He expressed himself satisfied with everything, but added, "But there's something very queer about the house," and then proceeded to tell his wife's experience.
March 7th, Sunday.—Mr. C—— has written an account of his experiences last night.
Robinson has this morning told him of his first experience! He was awakened by the noise of a heavy body falling in the middle of the room; he awoke his wife, struck a match, and looked at his watch—it was 3.30; no one else had been disturbed. Mr. C——'s account follows:—
"March 7th, 1897.—It was arranged that Colonel Taylor should occupy No. 3, and that I should sleep in No. 2. I went to bed about twelve, but did not go to sleep at once.
"I awoke suddenly with the distinct impression that there was some one in the room. I lay still, and tried to realise what was in the room, but could not do so. There was no idea of movement in my mind, but still I felt convinced that some one was there. The impression seemed gradually to fade out of my mind after about seven or ten minutes, and then I got up and looked at my watch—the time was 4.40 a.m.
"I then went back to bed, but did not go to sleep. I heard the clock in the hall strike five.
"Shortly after I thought I heard some one moving about in No. 1, which I knew to be unoccupied. I listened, and it seemed to me that some one was moving round three sides of the room and then coming back. The movement went on for about three or four minutes and then stopped, but after a pause of some minutes it began again. I tried to make out footsteps, but could not do so. The movement was that of a heavy body going round the room, and the floor seemed to shake slightly, after the way of old flooring when a heavy man moves about. After going on for some time the movement stopped, and again, after a pause, began again. The movement, whatever it was, occurred four times, with three pauses in between. The durations of the movement and pauses were irregular. After the noise ceased I got up and lit the candle. The time was 5.25, and I read for twenty-five minutes, when I felt sleepy and blew out the candle. I did not, however, go to sleep, and I heard six strike. The day was dawning. The rooks I first heard about 5.35, when I was reading.
"About ten minutes after the clock struck six I heard a noise like a light-footed person running downstairs, which seemed to adjoin No. 3, where the Colonel was sleeping, and almost immediately after I heard a loud rapping at the door of No. 1. After a short pause this occurred again, and I jumped out of bed. As I opened the door of my room leading into the passage the rapping sounds occurred again, but less loudly. There was no one in the passage, and I went back to bed, not having quite shut my door. No sooner had I done so than there was a knock at my door, which I thought must be the Colonel coming to speak to me about the rapping at No. 1. I called out 'Come in,' but there was no answer, and I accordingly again went to the door, only to find no one.
"I heard the servants begin to move about at 6.30 above me, and as seven struck I heard them going through the house.
"The Colonel did not hear anything.
"There are no stairs coming down to the bedroom storey where I thought I heard footsteps.
"The rapping was not in any way an alarming noise.
"On Saturday night 'Ouija' had said that I was not to be disturbed that night, so I was 'not expecting.' It also stated that Nos. 3 and 8 were the rooms that 'the Major' occupied."
March 8th, Monday.—Mr. C—— left early. He has promised to write of any experience last night, as he was gone before we were up. Colonel Taylor is still in No. 3; he has heard nothing, but this is perhaps the less evidential, that, although a frequent visitor to haunted houses, he has never had any experience.
We are still in No. 8, in which we have had a sufficient number of experiences to make us anxious to distribute responsibility by handing it over to another sensitive at the earliest possibility. Miss Langton has hitherto slept in No. 4, in which she was put on her first arrival, except for the three nights she was in No. 2, with companionship in the adjacent rooms. There seems to be no object in the Colonel remaining in No. 3, as he is unlikely to see or hear anything, and as soon as that side of the house is quite emptied she proposes to go into No. 1, as we are anxious to discover whether her experience will corroborate that of Miss Moore, myself, Mrs. B. C——, Mr. Garford, and the maids, as to the sound of voices.
March 9th, Tuesday.—Mr. C—— writes this morning in regard to Sunday night: "March 8th.—... Last night I was not so much disturbed, but I awoke at 3.10, and did not sleep after that. I had exactly the same sensation as on the previous night, that whenever I was going to sleep something woke me. At 5.20 I heard three noises very close together, but they were very distant, and sounded from the direction of your room" (No. 8).
March 10th, Wednesday.—I awoke about 5.30, and lay awake reading. I had drawn the blinds up, but kept the candle in as long as it was required. At intervals between twenty minutes to six o'clock and ten minutes past I heard the sounds characteristic of No. 8., viz., footsteps of a man, and pattering of a dog. Miss Moore awoke, and heard the later sounds. About 6.10 we both heard the thud, which seems to occur generally beyond the wardrobe nearer the door.
In the afternoon Miss Moore and I called on Mrs. S——.
March 11th, Thursday.—Very wet day, no phenomena.
March 12th, Friday.—Another wet day. I had had a headache all day, and was unable to join the others in a walk when the rain cleared off, but I went out, alone, about 6.30 to the copse. Standing in my usual place, I saw the nun coming over the hill towards the burn; she stood nearly opposite to me, looking down to the water for a few minutes, and then moved away towards the avenue. I followed as quickly as possible, but when I got to the drive she was still a few yards ahead of me, and I failed to catch her up, though I pursued her down to the lodge, about two hundred yards; she then, passing through the gates, turned to the left, and I lost her in the obscurity of the road, which is there darkened by heavy trees. When I returned to the house I was still in so much pain that I took a sedative draught and went to bed, and to sleep at once.
With regard to the above it may be remarked that the way she came led from B—— Cottage, where by the kindness of Mr. S—— some nuns had formerly spent their annual holiday, and the road on which she disappeared was a way which would have led back to it.
March 13th, Saturday.—At ten o'clock last night Miss Moore woke me to take some food. I was still under the influence of the opiate, and did not really rouse, even when she came to bed half-an-hour later. We did not speak till I was aroused by a loud banging noise, when, in answer to my startled exclamation, Miss Moore suggested that it was probably the servants shutting up downstairs, as we were early, and they had very likely not yet gone to bed. I was much annoyed, as I knew they had been cautioned to keep quiet, and even the maid had not been allowed to enter my room. This morning, when Miss Moore went to see the housekeeper, the butler came in and asked if we had heard any noises last night, about a quarter to eleven o'clock, he thought, after every one had gone up to bed; adding, "It was two bangs like a fist on a door, and I said, 'If that isn't Miss Moore or Miss Langton, I'll believe in the noises they all talk about,'—it's just like what the gentlemen told me."
His wife had also heard the bangs, but had waited for him to speak to her of them, and the maids on the other side of the house had been roused to come to their door and listen.
The footman, who sleeps in the basement, and the Colonel, who was in the smoking-room in the wing till 11.30, heard nothing; but Miss Langton, in No. 4, to whom Miss Moore mentioned the servants' story, had heard noises "between 10.30 and 10.45," but had not been disturbed, thinking, as we had done, that they were probably made by the servants.
On inquiry we found that the cook had gone to bed directly after the servants' supper, the two under maids were up by ten o'clock (Miss Moore heard their voices when she came to my room at ten o'clock), and the upper housemaid had gone up a few minutes after the hall clock struck, following Miss Moore up the stairs. The butler had come up directly after, only waiting to put out the hall lamp, and all were in bed before 10.30. We ourselves noticed the striking of the hall clock after we heard the noise—it had gone wrong, and only struck nine instead of eleven o'clock—so there seems little doubt that we all heard the same sound, and all describe it as coming from below.
In discussing the occurrence with the butler and his wife, Miss Moore learned that they had lately heard a story [from a local resident] which was new to us. A maid of Mrs. S——, who, though married to the butler, still lived in the house, and performed her duties as usual, was one night coming up the back-stairs with a tray for Mrs. S——, when, on reaching the top, by the door of No. 3, she met the figure of a nun, which so frightened her that she dropped the tray and broke all the plates on it. Mrs. S—— explained it away by saying it was "only ——" (they could not remember her name) "come to pray with her." It was Sunday night, but they knew there was no one there who could in the least account for the appearance. The only explanation offered by the narrator of the story was that "there had been a Miss S——, a nun, who had died."
March 14th, Sunday.—I called on Mrs. S——, and had a long talk with her.
March 15th, Monday.—Miss Moore and I, both awake at the time, heard a loud, vibrating noise about a quarter to six. Miss Langton in No. 4 heard it also. The Colonel, who sleeps downstairs, heard it as from the hall, and said he also felt the vibration. Except for about three nights he has always slept in the wing, where, during our tenancy, there have been no phenomena.
March 16th, Tuesday.—Miss Moore, Miss Langton, the Colonel, and I, left B——. Miss Moore, Miss Langton, and I returning on March 20th.
March 19th, 1897.—"I arrived in London yesterday, after having spent five weeks at B—— very pleasantly. I feel sure that there is a ghostly influence pervading the house, but I am a little disappointed at the way in which it manifests itself, for, up to the time I left, the nature of the manifestations was such that, though it is satisfactory to me, it would not be so, I think, to those who do not look at such things from so favourable a position as I do.
"I hope a change may yet come, and things take place which one might think would justify people in evacuating and forfeiting their money as the H——s did; certainly nothing of this sort happened while I was there.
"It is very interesting to note Miss Freer's experiences, but in regard to those of others who have something to relate, it is perhaps difficult to determine how much these statements should be discounted for error of observation and self-suggestion. I heard many noises in the night during my stay at B——, but they were of much the same sort I have been accustomed to hear at a similar time in other houses. I think that some of our witnesses may have given them undue prominence, under the influence of their own expectancy. The clairvoyant visions of 'Ishbel' in the grounds are not of great evidential value for the scientific world in general, and I think that any amount of 'voices' could be read into the noises of the running stream, near where she is seen, by those who 'wished to hear.' Still, there are some objective noises which cannot be easily accounted for in an ordinary way, and the three almost independent visions of the brown cross are important.
It is difficult perhaps to see why Colonel Taylor should regard the independent visions of the crucifix as of more value than the equally independent and far more numerous hallucinations, audible and visual, of "Ishbel." We have the statements of the failure of several persons who "wished to hear" voices in the sounds of the burn, which was, moreover, frozen and silent when the voices were heard by the first two non-expectant and quite independent witnesses.
March 19th.—A passage in Miss Langton's private journal under this date is as follows:—
"St. Andrews, March 19th.—I looked into a water-bottle to-night to see if I could see anything of what was happening at B——. I distinctly saw room No. 3, and gradually a figure came into view between the two doors (i.e. near the foot of the bed), the figure of a tall woman, dressed in a long clinging robe of grey, and who seemed to be holding something in her hand, against the wall at the foot of the bed. This became more distinct, and I saw that it was a cross of dark brown wood, some 12 inches long (I should say). The figure did not appear to move. I seemed to be standing at the door of No. 3, which opens on to the landing" (cf. pp. 17, 132, 142).
For the information of those not accustomed to the phenomena of crystal-gazing, it may be as well to remark that it is quite possible that the image had been subconsciously seen by Miss Langton when sleeping in No. 3, as deferred impressions are often externalised for the first time in the crystal. She may equally have received the impression by thought-transference from others. Certainly she had not been informed of earlier experiences.
March 20th, Saturday.—Miss Langton, Miss Moore, and I returned to B—— house. Four guests arrived in time for dinner.
Rooms for to-night:—
|1.||Miss Moore and I.|
|3.||Miss "Duff," a lady whose name is familiar to readers of recent records of crystal-gazing and other students of the literature of the Psychical Research Society.|
March 21st, Sunday.—Last night, about 11.15, after Miss Moore and I were in bed in No. 1, we heard a loud sound from the left-hand side of the fireplace (south-west corner). It might be imitated by the "giving" of a large tin box (cf. pp. 173, 179). There was nothing but a footstool and a draped dressing-table there. We called out to Miss Langton, whom we could hear still moving about. She said she had heard the noise, but had made none herself.
Her account is as follows:—
"Last night (Sunday, March 21st) we retired to bed early, as Miss Moore was leaving by an early train next morning, and I was going to get up in order to see her off. It was certainly not later than 10.45, when I went to my room, having gone to No. 1 to say good-night to Miss Freer and Miss Moore, who were sleeping that night in that room. Miss 'Duff' was in No. 3, and I was occupying No. 2. I am not at all nervous, and certainly I was not expecting to see anything, as No. 2 is always supposed to be a 'quiet' room. I was some time getting to bed, but I put out my candle at twelve o'clock, and, after noticing that the moon was shining brightly, I got into bed. Contrary to my usual custom I did not fall asleep for some time, and I felt that the room was, in some inexplicable way, not as usual. At last I fell asleep, but not comfortably. I kept waking, and for some time after each awakening I could not get to sleep again. I put this down, however, to the fact that I wanted to waken early the next morning, and was restless in consequence. At last I really fell asleep, but at 4.30 I suddenly awakened with the feeling that I was not alone in the room. I looked round; the room was quite dark; the moon was not shining, but between the bed and the wardrobe there was a figure standing. At first it was very indistinct and misty, but gradually it formed itself into the figure of a woman—a slight, tall woman, with a pale face. She was dressed in long robes, but the upper part was the only part I could see clearly. Round her face and head was a white band, like that worn by a nun, and over her head was what might have been a black hood or small shawl, but in the darkness it was very difficult to distinguish. I could not see what her features were like, but she looked as if she were in trouble, and entreating some one to help her. She stood for some few moments at the foot of my bed looking towards me, and then she made a movement towards the door, but before she reached it she had vanished. I was not at all frightened, as there was nothing at all alarming in her appearance. I cannot write a better description of her, as the vision was so short. The figure was the same as that I had seen at the burn, only very much clearer."
Miss "Duff" writes under this date March 21st:—"On my arrival yesterday I was shown to my room (No. 3), which I had selected, with Miss Freer's permission, as one said to have an evil reputation. Perhaps it was natural that a feeling 'as if I were not alone' should come over me, and needless to say there was no apparent cause for this!
"As a rule I am a very sound sleeper, nothing ever disturbs me; but last night I was suddenly wide awake, as if roused by something unusual. I sat up quickly in bed, but suddenly remembering where I was, I waited expectantly. Nothing occurred, although I did not get to sleep again for about two hours."
March 22nd, Monday.—Mr. MacP—— was awakened between four and five by heavy footsteps overhead. We made many experiments to account for it, and of course made inquiries among the servants, but could find no cause. We are the more interested that hitherto nothing has been heard by our party in his room, No. 4, though there is a tradition of earlier disturbances there.
Mr. MacP—— has furnished the following account of his experience:—
"As usual I went to bed about 12 p.m. I had no desire to be disturbed, and so my room was still No. 4, which I had originally selected as being reputed innocuous, and which, save in one slight instance, I had hitherto found to deserve its reputation. My repeated visits had eliminated any expectancy which may at first have, perhaps, existed.
"My bed was alongside the south wall of my room, and parallel to the corridor or passage, my head towards No. 5, and my feet towards No. 3.
"As often happened at B——, I awoke from a sound slumber, not by degrees, but in a moment. There was no transition—no half-awakening, but full and complete consciousness all at once. I struck a light, looked at my watch, found it was 4.30, and went to sleep again immediately. I then wakened slowly and gradually, hearing more and more clearly a noise which appeared to me to be the cause of my awakening. The noise was the kind of sound which is produced by a person walking rapidly with one foot longer than the other—i.e., it was a succession of beats in rapid sequence, each alternate beat being louder than the one immediately before it.
"It appeared to me (1) to be produced outside my room; (2) to be on a higher level; and (3) to be moving in the direction of my bed—i.e., going as from No. 5 past No. 4, in which I was, towards No. 3. I at once jumped out of bed, opened my door and looked out. I saw nothing, and the noise stopped. I then struck a light, and found that it was only 4.45. I lay awake till I heard the servants obviously moving about, and then went to sleep again. At breakfast I asked, 'Has anybody ever heard this kind of noise?' reproducing it as well as I could by a series of thumps on the table. 'Oh yes,' was the answer, 'that is what we call the 'limping' or 'scuttering' noise. Of course I had heard the phrases used, but thought they referred to two separate noises. I had also formed quite distinct ideas as to the kind of noises these epithets were intended to describe—both entirely different from the kind of noise I had heard—and I showed what I meant. 'Oh no,' said Miss Freer, 'what you heard is what we have been calling indiscriminately the limping or scuttering noise, and we have not heard the kinds of noise these words suggested to you.' I emphasise this as showing clearly that I cannot have been expecting to hear the particular noise in question.
"The next thing was to account for the noise, if possible, and we spent some time experimenting. First of all the servants were interrogated as to whether any of them had been moving about at 4.45. Answer, 'No.' Next we asked who got up first. This was a maid who slept in x, and went into y to call the kitchenmaid, who slept there. To do so she had, of course, to go through the narrow room which was over part of my bedroom.
"This, she said, was a good bit later than 4.45. But we thought it well to make her go from x to y while I lay down on my bed and listened. We made her walk backwards and forwards, both with her slippers on and also in her stocking soles. I and some of the others who came into my room heard her quite distinctly. But (1) the noise of her steps was in a different place—near my window, and exactly in the line of her progress; (2) it was an entirely different kind of noise. She walked now fast, and now slowly, but both footsteps seemed always of the same weight; and (3), and this, to my mind, was most important, we heard her quite distinctly going from x to y, and back again from y to x and could tell in which direction she was moving. Now, the noise which I had heard only went in the one direction, i.e., parallel to the maid's outward progress. I did not hear anything going in the other direction. I was entirely wakened by the noise which I had heard, and, as I have said, I continued to listen intently for some considerable time, and yet I heard nothing.
"In short, alike from its apparent locus, from its quality, and from the direction of its movements, I am convinced that the noise which I heard was not caused by any of the servants moving about upstairs.
"Anybody who knows the house will understand that where the noise seemed to me to be was in the neighbourhood of the dome. For all I know, the dome, as somebody suggested, may be a regular sounding-board; but even so, that does not help much towards an explanation. Wherever the noise may have been produced, the question still remains, 'What produced it?' and that we have entirely failed to answer."
The gist of this account was communicated by Mr. MacP—— to the Hon. E—— F——, who replied as follows on April 19, 1897: "Do you appreciate the fact that your ghost, with the footsteps of alternate lowness and softness, is absolutely correct, and corresponds with Miss H——'s ghost, as I heard it from Mrs. G—— lately in town. Miss H—— slept, I think, in No. 4 [this is wrong; cf. p. 124], and was wakened by the sound of walking round her bed with a peculiar limp. Much alarmed, she went and called her brother, who came and slept on the sofa (is there a sofa in No. 4?), and shortly afterwards they both heard the same noise again."
Mr. MacP——, as already mentioned, did not know that this noise had been heard by any one.
Miss "Duff" thus describes her next night: "Having heard nothing unusual all day, I went to bed quite disappointed. However, I was to be again awakened, and this time by a loud crash at my door, which resounded for some time. I lit a candle, but nothing had fallen in my room to account for the sound.
"I began to think I might be mistaken as to the direction of the noise, and that it might have been caused by a large piece of coal falling in the fender. I went to look, but there was no coal at all, only the dying embers in the fire. I soon fell asleep again, only to be again awakened by a similar crash (although not so loud), and this time between the washstand and the window. I kept awake till morning, and heard nothing more." [We had carefully concealed from Miss "Duff" the nature of the usual phenomena of this room.]
March 23rd, Tuesday.—Mr. L—— and his friend Captain B—— arrived.
The proof of this portion of the Journal was submitted to Mr. L——, who returned it with, inter alia, the following note:—
"I do not wish to suppress the fact of my visit to B——, but object to the publication of any details about me or any of my writings." In deference to Mr. L——'s wish, therefore, his contributions to the Journal have been withdrawn, and all further references to him deleted.
Captain B—— had no experiences, and by his desire some interesting suggestions made by him as to possible normal causes have been omitted.
We are now sleeping as follows:—
Miss "Duff" writes under this date:—
"Last night I sat late by my fire expecting, but as nothing seemed to be going to happen I went to bed, and soon to sleep. However, I was to have my most startling experience! I was awakened as if by some one violently shaking my bed (I must mention there was a great wind blowing outside), and at the same time I felt something press heavily upon me. I struck out! rather frightened, but remembering again where I was, refrained from striking a light, in order to see the next development of this weird experience. To my disappointment nothing happened, although sleep was successfully banished till daylight."
[On March 28th Miss "Duff" wrote to me: "Mr. —— suggested that I should describe to you more accurately the shaking of my bed, as it was not at all such a vibration as might be caused by a high wind or any ordinary movement occurring in other parts of the House.
"The bed seemed to heave in the centre, as if there were some force under it, which raised it in the centre and rocked it violently for a moment and then let it sink again. I should also have added, that on other nights quite as windy this phenomenon did not occur; in fact, no movement I have ever felt has given me quite the same sensation. The highest point on the 'Switchback' is the nearest to it in my experience. I was wide awake at the time, so it was no nightmare."]
Miss "Duff" thus continues her account of Tuesday, March 23rd:—
"This morning, as I sat in the drawing-room, I heard the low, monotonous voice of some one reading aloud. Knowing that Miss Freer and Miss Langton were writing in the next room, I concluded that Miss Freer must be dictating while Miss Langton wrote for her, although I must say I did not recognise Miss Freer's voice. This went on for about an hour. Soon after Miss Langton came into the drawing-room, and I said, 'Well, you have been busy; I suppose Miss Freer has been dictating to you?' She looked surprised and said, 'No, indeed she hasn't; we have both been writing, and if Miss Freer spoke at all, it was only a few words now and again.'" This low monotonous sound of a human voice I afterwards heard once or twice in Room 3.
March 24th, Wednesday.—Last night I heard a crash as of something falling from the dome into the hall, about twenty minutes to twelve.
At breakfast Colonel C—— said he had heard a loud thump on his door at an early hour—before six, when wide awake.
Mr. W—— also had had an experience. He heard sounds outside his room, and went to investigate. On returning he found the kitten in his room, but, sceptic as he is, he acknowledged freely that the kitten, a wee thing, could not have produced the sounds he heard.
"March 24th, 1897.— ... In case it may interest Miss Freer to know what I thought of the noises I heard in No. 1 prior to the kitten incident, the following states my recollections shortly: The first noise was about half-past four, and resembled two small explosions, such as a fire sometimes makes. They followed one another closely, and came from the direction of the fireplace or the south-west corner of the room. I got up and looked at the fire, and it was all but out; but I would not like to swear that the noises did not come from it.
"As to the other noise, it occurred about a quarter to six, and was quite loud. It sounded as if one of the large, deer heads on the staircase wall had fallen down and rolled a step or two. I cannot understand how some of the others did not hear the noise, but I heard and saw nothing when I went out of my room to see what it was.
"I should add, that in this case, as well as in the former one, I was awake when the noise occurred. If I had heard these noises in any other house I would not have thought of noticing them, but it might be curious to see if they are the same that have been heard in that room already."
After breakfast I heard of a great excitement among the servants, and taking Miss Langton with me, to serve as witness and to take notes, I interviewed separately the three concerned, as well as the cook, to whom they had told the story also. It is worth while to mention that I have several times heard the kitchenmaid complained of as lacking in respect for her betters—in scoffing at their reports of phenomena. Only yesterday Mrs. Robinson told me she had not mentioned several things (bell-ringing, a knock at her door, &c.) because it upset her authority in the kitchen to exhibit interest in such things.
All the stories were consistent, and no cross-questioning upset the evidence. They were distinctly in earnest.
The three maids and a temporary servant, M——, belonging to the district, went up to their rooms about 10.30. The two housemaids sleep together [in z], Lizzie, the kitchenmaid, separately, in a room adjoining [in y]. Directly after getting into bed all heard knockings, and they called out between the rooms to each other. Lizzie stayed awake, and looking up towards the ceiling had what sounds like a hypna-gogic hallucination, of a cloud which changed rapidly in colour, shape, and size, and alarmed her greatly. Then she felt her clothes pulled off, but thought this might be accidental, and tucked them in. Then she was sure they were pulled off again, and screamed to the other maids. Neither dared go to her, her screams were so terrifying; but they finally opened the door of communication between the rooms, and Carter went to fetch the temporary assistant from the other end of the corridor, "because she was such a good-living girl" (particular about fasting in Lent, I gather). The three then returned for the kitchenmaid, and all spent the night in the housemaid's room.
The upper housemaid went to Miss Langton's room this morning, I hear, much upset and crying, and there can be no doubt of the conviction of all the maids.
For the future they wish to occupy one room.
The cook, sleeping on the ground floor below No. 3, heard footsteps and knockings, and awoke her husband, but he heard nothing. She diagnosed it as being "about the door of Miss 'Duff's' room (No. 3 above). She thought it was outside of her door, but was not sure. It was just after midnight.
Miss "Duff" writes on the same day:—
"Last night I had just got into bed, when I heard footsteps, so, always on the alert for phenomena, I listened and was relieved (? disappointed would be better!) to hear Mr. —— cough, so I settled down to sleep. A quarter of an hour or twenty minutes later (about twelve o'clock) I again heard steps, but this time they came from the back-stair and shuffled past my room, and then I heard a loud fall against what seemed to me the door of room No. 1, which is practically next door to mine.[E]
"I went to listen, but not a sound was to be heard, and I saw no one. It could not have been the gentleman who was occupying that room [Mr. W——], as I heard him (with others) come up a quarter of an hour later and go into his room. Although the fall seemed against the door of No. 1, I must add that the depth and quality of the noise was as if a large body had fallen far away, of which we only, as it were, heard the echo, but that quite distinctly on the door of No. 1."
[Miss Langton testifies to being disturbed by the same sounds in No. 2, the dressing-room between Miss "Duff's" room and Mr. W——'s.]
Miss "Duff" continues:—
"March 25th.—Last night I felt my bed shake, as if some one had taken it in both hands, but as there was a high wind, I did not take much notice of this. I have had my bed shaken violently in that room once before, however, when there was no wind at all."
Mr. MacP—— and Captain B—— left. The only phenomenon to be noted under this date is the following record by Miss Langton:—
"I heard a loud thump at the door of communication between Nos. 1 and 2 when dressing for dinner, but on going into No. 1 found it quite empty. A curious point about these noises is that the knocks on the door between Nos. 1 and 2 have been audible in this room, No. 2 (in my experience) only when No. 1 is empty, and in No. 1 only when No. 2 is empty."
March 26th, Friday.
Miss "Duff" writes on the same day:—
"As I was talking to Miss Langton at the door of her room (No. 2) on my way to dress for dinner, a double bang on the door came from the inside of room No. 1, which was the one Captain B—— had occupied, and where he had heard nothing. At the same moment Miss Langton called out that there had been a bang on the door between her room and No. 1. For a moment I hesitated to go in, but a housemaid came down the corridor at that moment to see what the noise was she had heard, and we investigated together, but to no purpose."
Miss Langton writes further under this date:—
"I heard three distinct bangs at the lower part of the door of my room leading into the corridor. I described it to myself as a person coming along the corridor towards No. 2, walking in an unsteady way, and as if he could not see where he was going, and then walking straight against the door of my room and banging his foot against it. Miss 'Duff' this morning acted at our request as I have just described, and the noise she made was an exact reproduction of what I heard last night. The bang occurred at three intervals—at 11.35, 11.45, and 11.50."
March 27th, Saturday.—Mr. —— and Miss "Duff" left. Miss Langton and I are now alone.
Miss "Duff" was undisturbed last night.
There was very little wind last night, as I happen to know in the following connection. Carter twice over, about 11.30 and again after midnight, heard the sounds of reading, which she imitated to me this morning—like the monotoning of a psalm. She called out to two other maids to listen, and all three heard it. She felt sure it was not the wind or the pipes. Both the gardener and the gamekeeper say it was a very quiet night.
March 28th, Sunday.—As it had been suggested that practical joking or malicious mischief were in question, we were a good deal on the qui vive to-night, being alone. I watched from behind the curtain at an open window from 10.30 p.m. till after midnight, and again from 4.30 a.m. to 6 a.m. The night was windy and there was a good deal of noise, but very different in kind from any of our usual phenomena. We found that there were people moving about till after midnight, but we did not attach much importance to this, as the gardeners may have been to the stoves (the night was frosty), and there is a right-of-way through the grounds.
The servants, we find, are alive to the fact that some one prowls about at night. The footman, who sleeps downstairs, says they have tried to frighten him, and things have been thrown at the kitchen windows. I found it out by the fact that I was seized by the butler and footman when I went out "prowling" on Sunday night, fancying I had heard footsteps. They were on the same errand, and caught me in the dark!
March 29th, Monday.—To-day Miss Langton and I have been very busy writing in the library, both silent and occupied. Again and again have we heard footsteps overhead in No. 8, at intervals between ten a.m. and one, and again in the evening between six and seven. No rooms are in use on that side of the house—6, 7, and 8 are all empty. The rooms below are locked up and shuttered. At 11.30 we both heard some one moving about outside on the gravel, but it was too dark a night to see any one.
[Friday, April 2nd—An unpleasant light has (possibly) been thrown on these movements. We find to-day that some one has killed a sheep in the garden, in a retired spot, taking away the skin and the meat.]
March 30th, Tuesday.—No phenomena, except the sound of steps overhead above the library. For this reason, Miss Langton is going to sleep in No. 8, where the steps occur.
Mr. and Mrs. M—— came.
[We were particularly glad to welcome Mrs. M—— for other reasons than the pleasure of her society. She is of Spanish origin, and a Roman Catholic, and according to previous evidence, so were other persons upon whom specially interesting phenomena had been bestowed.]
March 31st, Wednesday.—Mr. and Mrs M—— were put into No. 1. Both complain of a very sleepless night.
Miss Langton in No. 8 heard sounds after daylight—footsteps shuffling round the bed, and a knock near the wardrobe. No one is overhead nor in No. 7, the next room.
Mrs. M—— spent two hours alone in the drawing-room. She asked me just before lunch what guns those were she had heard. I suggested "The keeper?" and she said, "No, it is like the gun you hear at Edinburgh at one o'clock a long way off," which is a good description of the familiar detonating sound (cf. under date, February 8).
Her own account of the day is as follows:—
"I arrived here last evening, Tuesday, 30th of March, about six o'clock. It was a nice bright evening, but cold. I was received by Miss Freer, who gave me some tea, and then I was taken to my bedroom by Miss Langton, of whom I asked if my room was haunted. She said it had 'a reputation', but somehow or another it did not seem to impress me much. That night Miss S—— and her brother dined here; they were very pleasant, and talked away hard, and we played card games, such as 'Old Maid' and 'Muggins.' We went to bed feeling quite happy, saying we had never been in such an unghostly house before. The bed was quite comfortable, and we lay talking quite happily, but could not sleep, and were not in the least bit restless. About two o'clock we dozed off, and a few minutes to four a.m. we were both suddenly awoke by a terrific noise, which sounded to me like the lid of the coal-scuttle having caught in a woman's gown. We then lay awake until about 6.30, and in that interval we heard a few noises, what I cannot exactly describe, as they were very ordinary sounds one might hear in any not very solidly built house. We came down to breakfast feeling we had passed a sleepless night, but otherwise quite happy. After breakfast I went into the smoking-room in the new wing, where my husband was writing letters. I sat there a good time, and he was in and out of the room. All the time I heard tramping up above as if the housemaid was doing the room. Not knowing the geography of the house I took it for No. 8. and thought what very noisy servants these were. I then went into the drawing-room to write my own letters, and Miss Freer came and spoke to me there. While she was with me there, I heard a distant cannon, exactly like the one o'clock gun in Edinburgh, and the whole morning a ceaseless chatter, which I put down to Miss Freer and Miss Langton in the room next door (cf. under date, March 23rd).
April 1st, Thursday.—This is Mrs. M——'s account of last night. "Last evening we were late for dinner, as Mr. M—— and I had been out to see the nun by the burn, but had seen nothing. The whole evening I had a sort of half consciously disagreeable feeling, and when I went to my room it was some time before I could make up my mind to get into bed. The servants very much annoyed me; they were making such a needless amount of noise in running about the room overhead. [The room overhead was empty. Since their adventure of March 23rd, the servants had slept on the other side of the house.] At last I got into bed, and I may say I hardly slept a wink the whole night. I simply lay in terror, of what I cannot say, but I had the feeling of some very disagreeable sensation in the air, but we did not hear a sound all night from the time we got into bed until we got up next morning at 8.30.
"I spent the whole of the morning in the drawing-room writing letters and reading, and from time to time I went up to No. 1 to get books and different things, and each time was a little surprised to find the room empty, as there had been a ceaseless noise of housemaids, and very noisy ones too. I also heard what I had described before as the cannon. After luncheon Miss Freer and Miss Langton and I went out walking, and just as we were coming in to tea we all three heard the cannon, and then I said that is the noise I heard every morning, and sometimes in the evening, in the drawing-room."
This afternoon we were having tea in the drawing-room at 4.30, Mrs. M——, Miss Langton, and myself. We heard some one walking overhead in No. 1, a sound we have heard often before, when we knew the room to be empty above. Mrs. M—— remarked that it was just the sound she had heard, again and again, when sitting alone in the drawing-room.
It was so exactly the heavy, heelless steps we had heard before, that Miss L—— ran upstairs softly to see if any one was there, but found no one about. Next we heard a loud bang—not of a door—in the hall, and she went out again to ascertain the cause, and met the butler on the same errand. We could find nothing to account for it. It was like the noise before described, of something dropped heavily into the hall from the gallery above.
There had been so much trouble of ascertaining whether the noises were caused by doors banging, that since the warmer weather set in, ever since our return on March 20th, in fact, we have had every passage-door opening into the hall and into the gallery upstairs fixed open with wedges.
We had scarcely settled to our tea again before we again heard the footsteps overhead, and again Miss Langton went up and found the room empty. She walked across the room, and we heard her do so, but the sound was quite different. She did it noisily on purpose, but though she is very big and tall, she didn't sound heavy enough.
Mrs. M—— remarks, on hearing this read over, that the sound was different in character as well as in volume—that the footsteps she (and we) heard were "between a run and a walk." My phrase was, and has always been, "as of the quick, heavy steps of a person whose foot-gear didn't match." We called it, when we first heard it in No. 8, a "shuffling step."
After she came down the servants' tea-bell rang, and we at once said, "Now we shall know where they all are." The hall is under the wing, at the other end of the house, and we knew that the room underneath us was empty, and the shutters up, and that all who were in the house were either in the drawing-room or the servants' hall.
In a few minutes we again heard the pacing footsteps, up and down, up and down; we heard them at intervals during half-an-hour. We also heard voices as of a man and woman talking. I went to the foot of the stairs, just below the door of No. 1, and heard them plain. Mrs. M—— is not quick of hearing, but she heard them distinctly several times. At 5.20 we heard the maids go up the stone staircase, coming away from their tea, and though we listened till after six, the other sounds did not occur again.
April 2nd, Friday.
[Mr. M—— left early, Mrs. M—— remaining till a later train.]
At 11.15 Miss Langton and I were in the library at two different tables writing. The room was silent. Suddenly we heard a heavy blow struck on a third table, ten feet at least away from either of us. I instantly fetched Mrs. M——, and in her hearing Miss Langton imitated the sound on the same table, by hitting with her fist as heavily as possible. There is a drawer in the table, empty, which added to the vibration, and also pendent brass handles. I tried, but could not make noise enough. We kept watch in the room till lunch, Mrs. M—— keeping guard when we were obliged to leave, but nothing happened till, when we were sitting at luncheon (there is only a single door and a curtain between the two rooms), we heard it again as above described.
One of the informants, who described the scene which occurred the day the late Mr. S—— left this house for the last time, said "a very heavy blow like a man's fist came on the table between them." This is the same room.
The same sound occurred again while we were at lunch in the dining-room just now. The first time Miss Langton rushed to the library and found a housemaid there at the stove, so we agreed it should not count. It occurred again in about five minutes, and again she went into the room (which is next the dining-room) and found it empty and no one in the hall.
Mrs. M——, whom I asked to locate the sound, pointed to just that part of the wall by the table upon which the knock had struck.
Signed (as correct) by Mrs. M—— and Miss Langton.
(I have since asked the housemaid if she heard anything, and she says no, she was making too much noise herself. We all heard it distinctly, above the clatter of the fire-irons.)
On April 9th Mr. M—— sent me the following account of his impressions:—
"... You ask me to describe the noises I heard while staying with you at B——. I should say, in the first place, that I am a good, but light, sleeper; I seldom lie awake, am generally asleep five minutes after going to bed, but wake easily, and awake at once to full consciousness. I am not the least nervous, and have often slept in so-called 'haunted' rooms [Mr. M—— has had very exceptional opportunities in this direction]; and while I certainly cannot say that I altogether disbelieve in what are commonly called 'ghosts,' I do believe that in nine cases out of ten, noises, and even appearances, may, if investigated, be traced to perfectly normal causes.
"When talking to you and Miss Langton at the top of the stairs, just before going to bed, we all of us heard noises—rappings—coming apparently from No. 2. The noises were very undoubted, but as we were talking at the time I cannot define them more accurately.
"When first going to bed, both nights in No. 1, we heard footsteps and voices apparently in conversation above us. The sounds seemed to come from a room which was over the bed, but did not extend as far as the fireplace in No. 1, and also from the room which would be above the room next to ours behind the bed."
The rooms overhead were empty. Cf. under date April 1st.
"These noises I attributed at the time, and still attribute, to the maids going to bed. I am bound to say, however, that they were heard both by Mrs. M—— and her maid, who was in No. 1 with her, during the daytime, at an hour when it was said no servants were upstairs. These voices and footsteps did not go on for long into the night. For (I should say) some hours during the night of the 30th, I frequently heard a sound which seemed to come from near the fireplace, and which I can best describe as a gentle tap on a drum—like some one tuning the kettle-drum in an orchestra. I do not think Mrs. M—— heard this noise, for though she slept very badly, she was dozing a good deal during the first half of the night. At 3.55 a.m. I was in a state of semi-consciousness, when both I and Mrs. M—— were fully roused by a noise so loud that I wonder it did not wake people sleeping in other parts of the house. It seemed to come either from the door between No. 1 and 2, or from between that door and the fireplace. To me it sounded like a kind of treble rap on a hollow panel, but far louder than any one could rap with their knuckles. My wife described it as the sound of some one whose gown had caught the lid of a heavy coal-scuttle and let it fall. This noise was not repeated, and by a treble rap I mean the sound was like an arpeggio chord. I feel certain it was not against the false window outside, indeed it had the sound of being in the room. The kettle-drum sounds might easily have been a trick of the wind, though the night was still, but the only natural explanation of this noise that I can give is practical joking, as the noise might have come from my dressing-room. The coal-scuttle was standing between the fireplace and door-post, just where the sound seemed to come from. The second night I moved the scuttle right away to between the head of the bed and the window, and the noise was not repeated. The second night the talking and footsteps were both heard when first we went up; and once, shortly after all was still, early in the night. Nevertheless we again both of us slept very badly indeed—I may say that except from about 6 to 8 a.m. I slept very little either night. I should say that all through both nights I frequently heard the owls hooting—both the tawny owl and another, which I think was the little owl; the former on one occasion was very close to the window, and any one with a vivid imagination or unacquainted with the cry of the owl (and, strange as it may seem, a country-bred girl, staying at L—— the other day, did not know the owls' cry when she heard it), might well take it for shrieks."
N.B.—No one ever heard shrieks during Colonel Taylor's tenancy at B——.
"The third night, as I have said, we were in No. 8, and both of us slept like tops, and heard or saw nothing.
"One morning, in the smoking-room in the east wing, I heard voices which seemed to come from above, but which I am convinced were from the kitchen beneath.
"As you know, 'Ishbel' was not kind enough to show herself to me....
"P.S.—I wrote the above without reading over my wife's account. I have only to add that I had none of the uncomfortable sensations she talks of. Bodily and mentally I was comfortable all night. Nor was I in the least restless—only wakeful. But for the noises, B—— certainly strikes one as a very unghostly house."
April 3rd, Saturday.—Miss Langton and I heard footsteps walking up and down overhead at dinner-time last night, in No. 7, a room which is not in use. We looked at each other, but did not at first say anything, on account of the presence of the servants. After it had gone on for at least ten minutes, I asked the butler if he had heard them. He at once said, "Yes, and might he go and see if any one were about?" We heard him go upstairs and open the door of the room, and walk across it, but his step was quite different from the sound we had heard. He came back saying, "The housemaid had been in to draw the blind down since we had been at dinner." I have questioned her since, and she says she simply went in and out again—was not there half a minute.
About four o'clock this afternoon, Miss Langton ran in from the garden where we were gathering fir-cones, to fetch a basket out of the library, and heard so much noise going on in the drawing-room that she went in to investigate. It was empty and silent. The noise was a violent hammering on the door between the two rooms on the drawing-room side.
The two rooms below the library and drawing-room were empty, and shuttered (the smoking-room and billiard-room), No. 1 was disused (over the drawing-room), and Miss Langton found no one in No. 8 (over the library). She came back and told me at once.
I have now had the following rooms locked up and the keys taken away by the butler:—
Ground floor: All the wing and drawing-room.
Above: 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7. (I am sleeping in No. 5, Miss Langton in No. 8.)
Basement: Smoking and billiard rooms.
Mr. T—— arrived in the afternoon. We were all out till dinner-time. While at dinner, we all three, as well as the butler, heard steps walking overhead in No. 7, as we did last night.
April 4th, Sunday.—I was wakened early this morning by the sound of a crash. As it was mixed with my dreams I did not think it worth while to get up and investigate, but looked at my watch. It was twenty minutes to six. Five minutes later I heard another crash under the dome—of the kind so often described—and looked out, but the house was perfectly still. I heard the servants come down about seven o'clock.
Miss Langton, sleeping in No. 8, describes the same sounds at the same moment.
Mr. T—— writes under this date:—
"April 4th, Sunday.—I heard footsteps overhead last evening while at dinner. Sleeping in No. 1. To bed about 11 p.m. To sleep in about half-an-hour. Meanwhile I heard sounds as of reading aloud in No. 8. Woke at 6.20. Heard voices in No. 8 again."
April 5th, Monday.—Mr. T—— said at breakfast that he had heard sounds as of some one reading in Miss Langton's room, No. 8, between 11.0 and 11.30 p.m., and again the sound of voices from the same room in the morning. Miss Langton was alone, nor, as we have proved—(see under date March 2nd)—could any sound of reading or speaking have been heard, had any really existed.
April 6th, Tuesday.—Mr. T—— writes under this date:—
"To my room last night about 11 p.m. Loud thuds on the floor above me, and a heavy thud against the door dividing my room (No. 1) from the dressing-room beyond (No. 2). I went out and listened at the servants' staircase. They were talking, but not moving about. [I learnt on inquiry that they were all in bed by 10.30.—A.G.F.] I went to sleep immediately after I got to bed, but woke up later with a violent start, as if by a loud noise, though I heard nothing. I waited a few minutes and then looked at my watch. It was 12.30. I heard voices talking pretty loud. I was awake over three-quarters of an hour, then slept till 5.30."
This afternoon Mrs. ——, a lady well acquainted with the neighbourhood, came to tea. She asked me about the hauntings, and said they were matter of common talk in the district. She also told me that in the late Mr. S——'s time it had been alleged that the disturbances were intentional annoyances, though she agreed it was rather a sustained effort.
I also called to say "good-bye" to Mrs. S.——, to whom I remarked that, though I could not doubt the existence of phenomena at B——, we had been most comfortable, and had greatly liked the place.
Early this morning (I am still sleeping in No. 5) I heard the familiar crash under the dome. It was about 2.30. Mr. T—— said at breakfast that he had heard it too.
Wednesday 7th.—Mr. T—— writes under this date:—
"To bed about eleven. To sleep at once. Awakened at 2.30 by a terrific crash, and the sound of voices. A little later I heard light raps at the foot of my door, as if a dog had wagged his tail against it. Looked out, saw nothing; very disturbed night."
April 8th, Thursday.—Mr. T—— writes, "Woke last night at 12.30. Heard nothing, but slept very badly. I may mention that I am, as a rule, a very sound sleeper, and as I had taken a lot of exercise every day—fishing, shooting, cycling, and walking, from breakfast-time to dark—there was no reason why I should not sleep."
Mr. T—— had been out the whole of this day with the keepers—heather burning—and was obviously "dead tired" when he went to bed. It is curious that even when not disturbed, he should have slept so badly, but sleepless and nameless discomfort has assailed most persons in No. 1, though the room is large and airy.
April 8th, Thursday.—We had planned to leave yesterday, but it was borne in upon me that to-day being the anniversary of the Major's death, it would be a pity—on the hypothesis of there being anything supernormal in these phenomena—that the house should not be under observation to-night.
In the morning the Land-steward called, having heard from Mrs. S—— that we had heard footsteps about the house at night, and that I had several times observed a disreputable-looking man about the place, whom I knew not to be one of the farm-servants.
I don't know whether we have been specially on the qui vive to-day, but we seem to have heard bangs and crashes and footsteps overhead all day, though all the rooms, except Nos. 1, 5, and 8 are locked up—Mr. T—— occupies No. 1, Miss Langton No. 8, I No. 5.
Acting upon the hints given us by —— and ——, I thought the downstairs smoking-room ought to be specially under observation to-day. I was suffering from acute headache, and was obliged to lie down in my own room from lunch-time to dinner, and this smoking-room, which is known as "the Major's room," was the only sitting-room in use. A few minutes before dinner, I went down and busied myself in putting my camera to rights. It was a delicate piece of work, and when I saw a black dog, which I supposed for the moment to be "Spooks" (my Pomeranian), run across the room towards my left, I stopped, fearing that she would shake the little table on which the camera stood. I immediately saw another dog, really Spooks this time, run towards it from my right, with her ears pricked. Miss Langton also observed this, and said, "What is Spooks after?" or something of that sort. A piece of furniture prevented my seeing their meeting, and Spooks came back directly, wagging her tail. The other dog was larger than Spooks, though it also had long black hair, and might have been a small spaniel.
[It was not till after we had left B—— that we learned that the Major's favourite dog was a black spaniel.]
After dinner we returned to this room. I had intended to try Ouija and the crystal, but was in too much pain to make this possible, and Miss Langton felt she could not do it alone; it was as much as I could do to sit up at all, but, by a strong effort of will, I was able to remain downstairs till after midnight. [I was still occasionally suffering from the results of my accident.] We sat in front of the fire, playing a round game. About nine we all three heard footsteps coming from the south-west corner and going towards the door; I held up my hand for silence, but I could see, from the direction of their eyes, that they heard the sounds as I did—even the dog looked up and watched. The steps were those of a rather heavy person in heelless shoes, who walked to the door, and came back again, passed close behind Mr. T——'s chair, crossed the hearth-rug just in front of me, and stopped at or about the north-east corner, but—it seemed—remained in the room, behind Miss Langton's chair. We heard them again about 10.30; we also heard sounds several times during the evening of the talking of a man and woman. Three times over Miss Langton and Mr. T—— went out to listen, but the house was perfectly quiet, and though we were on the same floor with the servants, there had been, the whole time, three closed doors between us and their quarters in the wing, which also was in the direction opposite that from which the sounds came (the present billiard-room). About 10.45, Miss Langton and I went up to the dining-room in search of refreshment; everything upstairs seemed perfectly still, and the servants had long before gone to bed. Mr. T—— followed us up, and as we went back to the smoking-room, the voices seemed to be in high argument just inside. We could distinguish no words, though the timbre of the voices is perfectly clear in my memory. About 12.20 we went to bed. I had intended to sit up in No. 8, but found I was not equal to it, and Miss Langton would not accept my offer of sleeping there with her. She was therefore there alone, I in No. 5, and Mr. T—— in No. 1. I had not been many minutes in my room when I heard the familiar loud crash as of something falling into the hall, under the dome, and rushed out immediately—the house was perfectly still. We had left a small lamp burning in the corridor. Mr. T—— said, next morning, that he had also came out at the sound, but must have been later than I, as he was just in time to see my door shut. About twenty minutes after, I heard the shuffling footsteps come up the stairs, and pause near my door; I opened it, and saw nothing, but was so definitely conscious of the presence of a personality, that I addressed it in terms which need not be set down here, but of which I may say that they were intended to be of the utmost seriousness, while helpful and encouraging. I may add, that I knew from experience of the acoustic qualities of the house, that I should not be audible to those in Nos. 1 or 8. Absolutely, while I was speaking, the voices we had heard downstairs became audible again, this time it seemed to me outside the door of No. 8; they were certainly the same voices, but seemed to be consciously lowered. (Miss Langton's account will show that she heard voices and footsteps outside her door at about this time.) I was asleep before the clock struck two, but was awakened again about 3.30, and was kept awake for more than an hour by various sounds in the house. Roughly speaking, these were of two kinds: one, those of distant clangs and crashes which we have heard many times in varying intensity, loudest of all on our first night and on this. The other (more human in association), knocks at the door, thuds on the lower panels within, say, two feet of the ground; footsteps, not as before, but rapid and as of many feet, and again the same voices. The night was perfectly still, and I could clearly differentiate the cries of the owl (of two kinds, I think), the kestrel hawk, and even of the rabbits on the lawn. I went to the windows and looked out, but the night was quite dark, and the dawn was grey and misty.
About 5.45 I fell asleep, and did not wake till my tea came up at 7.30, when I asked the maid if she had been disturbed, and she replied that the servants had been extra busy the day before, had gone to bed early, and had slept soundly.
Miss Langton and Mr. T—— attest the above as a correct account of our experience, so far as they were concerned.
The following is from Miss Langton's private diary:—
"Miss Freer, Mr. T——, and I all agreed that, as it was the anniversary of the old Major's death, we would sit to-night in his own sitting-room, which we always call 'the downstairs smoking-room.' Just before dinner, Miss Freer, who was sitting between the writing-table and fireplace, suddenly called out, 'What is Spooks running after?' and then she said that there were two black dogs in the room, and that the other dog was larger than Spooks she said, 'like a spaniel.'
"After dinner we three sat round the fire and played games; suddenly one of us called out, 'Listen to those footsteps,' and then we distinctly heard a heavy man walking round the room, coming apparently from the direction of the safe, in the wall adjoining the billiard room, and then walking towards the door, passing between us and the fireplace in front of which we were sitting. It was a very curious sensation, for the steps came so very close, and yet we saw nothing. Footsteps died away, and we resumed our game. Three times over we distinctly heard outside the door the voices of a man and woman, apparently in anger, for their voices were loud and rough. Each time we jumped up at once and opened the door quietly—there was nothing to be seen; the passage was in total darkness, all the servants having gone to bed (the last time was nearly eleven o'clock). We certified this fact by making an expedition into the kitchen regions. We then returned to the smoking-room, and not long after the footsteps again began in exactly the same direction. This time they lasted a longer time.
"I slept in No. 8, and was so tired I slept pretty well, but before going to sleep, just before one o'clock, I heard the sound of a heavy man in slippers come down the corridor and stop near my door, and then the sound as of a long argument in subdued voices, a man and a woman."
On April 9th Miss Freer and Miss Langton left B—— in order to pass Easter elsewhere, and Mr. T—— left with them.
During Miss Freer's absence the house was occupied for some days by the eminent classical scholar Mr. F.W.H. Myers, late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, one of her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, and Hon. Sec. to the S.P.R.
It is well known that the S.P.R. is very greatly indebted to Mr. Myers for his most valuable services for many years as Hon. Sec., and for his many important contributions to its literature. He has, however, of late years somewhat alienated the sympathies of many of its members, by the extent to which he has introduced into its Proceedings the reports of spiritualist phenomena, and the lucubrations of mediums. The original rules of the society would appear to exclude the employment of hired mediums, and it is difficult to distinguish Mrs. Piper, and certain other subjects of experiment, from this class. The differences, however, between Mr. Myers and some of the members do not stop at this point, for his preference for the experiences of female mediums, whether hired or gratuitous, would appear to amount to an indifference to spontaneous phenomena, an indifference that is distinctly and rapidly progressive.
Mr. Myers, however, appeared to take considerable interest in the phenomena of B——, and on March 13, 1897, after reading the journal for the first five weeks, the only part of the evidence which has been submitted to him, or indeed to any member of the Council of the S.P.R., he wrote to Miss Freer:—
"It is plain that the B—— case is of great interest. I hope we may have a discussion of it at S.P.R. general meeting, May 28th, 8.30, and perhaps July 2nd, 4 p.m., also. Till then, I would suggest, we will not put forth our experiences to the public, unless you have any other view....
"I should particularly like to get Mr. ['Q.'] to go again in Easter week [i.e. during the Myers' tenancy]. I saw him last night, and heard his account, and next to yourself he seems the most sensitive of the group. I am very glad that you secured him.... I will send back the two note-books after showing them to the Sidgwicks. I am so very glad that you and others have been so well repaid for your trouble.... You seem to have worked natural causes well."
On April 12th Mr. Myers arrived at B——, and remained until the 22nd. He was preceded a day or two earlier by Dr. Oliver Lodge, Professor of Physics at Victoria College, Liverpool, Mrs. Lodge, and a Mr. Campbell of Trinity College, Cambridge. The party also included a "medium," the only person to whom this term could be applied, in the ordinary sense, who visited B—— during Col. Taylor's tenancy. This person was a Miss C——, but in order to avoid confusion with other persons, she is here called Miss "K." Miss "K." is not a professional medium, in the same sense in which a gentleman rider is not a jockey. She is the proprietress of a small nursing establishment in London, and at the time of her visit to B—— was described as in weak health and partially paralysed. She was accompanied by an attendant who was a Roman Catholic, a circumstance which is interesting in view of the strongly sectarian character of the ensuing revelations.
Mr. Myers recorded regularly, and transmitted to Lord Bute, the account of the phenomena which occurred during his visit, and which were testified to by four members of his party. He declines, however, to allow any use to be made of his notes of what occurred during this episode.
The regret with which his wish is deferred to is the less, because the chief value of the notes in question seems to be that of a warning against the methods employed; a fact of which Mr. Myers seems later to have himself become aware, as in regard to his journal letters to Lord Bute he wrote on March 15, 1898, a year later, "I am afraid that I must ask that my B—— letters be in no way used. I greatly doubt whether there was anything supernormal."
However, while actually staying at B——, Mr. Myers wrote to Miss Freer on April 15th, in much the same terms as on March 11th:—
"What is your idea (I am asking Lord Bute also) re speaking about B—— at S.P.R? If this is not desirable on May 28th, should you have second-sight material ready then? If it is desirable, could we meet sometime, ... and discuss what is to be said? As many witnesses as possible. Noises have gone on. I am writing bulletins to Lord Bute, which I dare say he will send on to you.... I am moving into No. 5 to be nearer to the noise. I have heard nothing. Lodge hears mainly knocks."
On April 21st he wrote again to Miss Freer:—
"If you come to S.P.R. meeting, we could talk in a quiet corner after it. I dine with S.P.R. council at seven o'clock, so there would scarcely be time [i.e. to call on you] between, but I would call at—— at 9.30 Saturday morning, if that were more convenient to you than going to the meeting."
The interview took place, and July 2nd was finally arranged as the date upon which the evidence was to be presented at a general meeting of the S.P.R.
In the meantime, however, the article of the anonymous Times correspondent appeared in that journal on June 8th—an article which was practically an attack on certain methods of the S.P.R., after which Mr. Myers published the following letter:—
ON THE TRAIL OF A GHOST.
To the Editor of "The Times."
"Sir,—A letter entitled 'On the Trail of a Ghost,' which you publish to-day, appears to suggest throughout that some statement has been made on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research with regard to the house which your correspondent visited. This, however, is not the case; and as a misleading impression may be created, I must ask you to allow me space to state that I visited B——, representing that society, before your correspondent's visit, and decided that there was no such evidence as could justify us in giving the results of the inquiry a place in our Proceedings. I had already communicated this judgment to Lord Bute, to the council of the society, and to Professor Sidgwick, the editor of our Proceedings, and it had been agreed to act upon it.—I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
"Frederick W.H. Myers,
Hon. Sec. of the Society for Psychical Research.
Leckhampton House, Cambridge, June 8."
One may gather from a comparison of this letter with the foregoing records that the standard of evidence is a somewhat variable quantity in the Society for Psychical Research. In attempting to explain the matter, Mr. Myers wrote to Lord Bute, June 11, 1897:—
"As to haunted houses recorded at length in Proceedings, there have been several minor ones, and one especially, 'Records of a Haunted House,' where I was instrumental in getting the account written. The great point there was the amount of coincidence of visions seen independently.... In the B—— case there is some coincidence of vision, but so far as I know, not nearly so much as in the Records of a Haunted House, which did appear in Proceedings. We want to keep our level approximately the same throughout."
Another point of view in relation to the same matter, is that taken by Miss Freer in an article in the Nineteenth Century, August 1897:—
"That the S.P.R. recognised that haunted houses were among the alleged facts of general interest, was proved by their early appointment of a Committee of Inquiry, on the management of which it is too late to reflect. At the end of a few months only, they practically dismissed a subject which, if considered at all, required years of patient research. They had come across the surprising number of twenty-eight cases which they considered worth inquiry; but these were presented to the public on the evidence of only forty witnesses—that is to say, an average of less than one and a half to each! The appearance of figures is recorded in twenty-four of these stories, whilst four record noises only. Ten years later the Proceedings take up the subject again, and give us at some length an elaborate story on the evidence of two or three ladies, two servants, a charwoman, and a little boy. ['Records of a Haunted House.'] No proper journal was kept, and the Society for Psychical Research came upon the scene when all was practically over."
In relation to the period of the visit of the Myers party to B—— House, Lord Bute received several journal letters from Professor Lodge, as well as from Mr. Myers, which, as he has made no request to the contrary, might be quoted here in extenso, were it not that they relate in considerable part to the proceedings of the medium, as to which the present editors agree with Mr. Myers, that "they greatly doubt if there was anything supernormal."
Professor Lodge was from the first much interested in the B—— inquiry, and wrote to Lord Bute on April 14th, two days after arrival: "I have not found anything here as yet at all suitable for physical experiments. I have heard a noise or two, and intelligent raps. Nothing whatever can be normally seen so far."
And on April 17th: "The noises and disturbances have been much quieter of late, in fact have almost ceased pro tem.... We have not heard the loud bang as yet. Knocks on the wall, a sawing noise, and a droning and a wailing are all we have heard. The droning and the wailing, some whistling, and apparent attempts at a whisper, all up in the attic, may have been due either to the wind or birds. They were not distinct enough to be evidential, though they were just audible to all of us. The sawing noise was more distinct. I think I will go to the attic about 3 a.m. to-night to see if anything more can be heard. Most of the noises occur then, or else at 6 a.m. Mr. Campbell has heard a dragging along the floor in his bedroom, No. 3. I have heard, like many others, the knocking on the wall, but for the last two nights things have been quiet.
"April 20th.—There has been nothing here for me to do as a physicist, and I return home tomorrow, but nevertheless the phenomena, taken as a whole, have been most interesting.... I know that you are hearing from Mr. Myers the details of our sittings.... There is certainly an interregnum of noises, the last three nights having been undisturbed. [After describing recent séances with Miss 'K——.'] I write just as if what we have been told were true.[F] The cessation of the noises may of course be merely a temporary lull as before, and they may break out again...."
On April 22nd, he wrote to Miss Freer "The sounds are not very strong, and latterly there has been one of your interregna in the noises, but still we heard some of them; only knocks, however, except once a low droning, a sawing noise, and a whistling whisper. Some of the raps seemed intelligent, but there was nothing to investigate on the physical side...."
And in another note, undated:—
"There has been nothing capable of being photographed. The sounds are objective though not impressive.... I have seen nothing to suggest electricity or magnetism, or any of the ordinary physical agents in connection with the disturbances; but the noises are so momentary and infrequent, that they give no real scope for continued examination."
Professor Lodge left on April 21st, and Mr. Myers on April 22nd; but Miss "K——," with Mr. Campbell, remained alone till the morning of Monday 26th, and on the afternoon of the same day Lord and Lady Bute arrived, and stayed till Wednesday 28th. Mr. MacP——, who came with them, was obliged by previous engagements to leave next morning.
They slept in the wing, and nothing occurred during their visit so far as they were concerned.
Lord Bute records, however, that he twice read aloud the whole of the Office for the dead in its five sections (vespers, nocturns, and lauds) in different places, but neither he nor any one with him saw or heard anything, unless it were a sound of women talking and laughing while he was reading the Office about 10.30 p.m. in No. 8, and this he supposed was simply the maids going to bed, though in fact the room overhead was unoccupied. He had, however, a most disagreeable impression, not in the places where he expected it, which were the glen, No. 3, and No. 8, but in No. 1. The sensation was that of persons being present, and on the second occasion that of violent hatred and hostility. He recorded "Went to No. 1 a third time, and again experienced the sensation of persons being present, but on this last occasion as though they were only morosely unfriendly."
It is remarkable that this sensation of unseen presences is one which many other persons experienced in this room, and in this room only; but it is also remarkable that this was the first indication of the hostile or irreligious tone which was thenceforth apparent. Until the sojourn of the party of members of the S.P.R. the tone had been plaintive and religious.
Mr. MacP——, who is a Presbyterian, made a remark which struck Lord Bute as interesting, to the effect that the whole of the Office for the dead, with the frequent occurrence of the words Requiam eternam, &c., might be as irritating to Intelligences which desired to communicate, as would be the effect of saying merely "keep still," or "be quiet," to persons who wished to set forth their wrongs. But this curious hypothesis would be insufficient to account for a sensation of absolute enmity.
A private letter, written by Lord Bute on April 29th to a distinguished ecclesiastic, repeats these statements, and adds one or two additional touches which it is desirable to quote:—
"We returned yesterday after spending forty-eight hours at B——, where we heard and saw nothing, but as my proceedings were mainly ecclesiastical, your Grace may like to know what happened.
"On the way I was shown the inclosure in the churchyard wherein lie, in unmarked graves, the late Major S——, his 'housekeeper,' and his old Indian servant. I would have gone and prayed there, but the place seemed to me too public.... B—— is a remarkably beautiful place, and the day was splendid; were it not for the grandeur of the scenery, I should have called the landscape laughing, or at least smiling. The house is remarkably bright and cheerful, and indeed luxurious. There is a really nice set of family pictures from about the time of Charles II.... The place is a perfect aviary, and the sight of the innumerable birds, evidently encouraged by long kindness, building their nests was very pleasant, and has some psychological interest, since animals sometimes see these things when we do not, and there was evidently nothing to scare the birds, rabbits, or squirrels.... As her ladyship and I did not wish to be troubled at night, we took rooms in the wing, which the late Mr. S—— is said to have built in order to save his children from the haunting, and which has been but little troubled; and we slept there quite comfortably. Soon after 6 p.m. I went to the place near the burn where apparitions have so often appeared, and which was, I think, first indicated by Ouija. I read aloud the vespers for the dead, but no phenomenon appeared, nor had I any sensation. About 7.30 I went to a room which I will call A [No. 1] ... and read aloud the first Nocturn of the dirge; there was nothing to be seen or heard, but I felt some physical inconvenience in beginning, like an impediment in speech, and I had a very strong sensation that there were persons listening....[G] Soon after 10 p.m. I went and read aloud the two next Nocturns in room B . As I finished the second, Mr. MacP—— and I heard two women speaking merrily outside the door, and I doubt not they were the maids going to bed. During the night, although we slept well, my servant [who slept in No. 4, next to Mr. MacP—— in No. 5], like other people in haunted rooms, could not sleep after five, and he tells me one of the maids saw the bust of a woman with short hair, as though sitting at the foot of her bed.
"In the morning I said Lauds in room C [Library]. No phenomena or sensation. Soon after 5 p.m. said Placebo again in room B . Nothing. Then visited the haunted burn again for some time. Nothing. About 7.30 read the first two Nocturns again in room D [No. 3]. Nothing. Soon after ten read the third Nocturn in A . Made slips of pronunciation, and felt the presence of others very strongly, and that it was hostile or evil, as though they were kept at arm's-length; a disagreeable sensation continued until I threw some holy water on my bed before getting into it, when it suddenly disappeared. Next morning I said Lauds in A . I had no difficulty in utterance; the sense of other presences was not strong, and I had no feeling of hostility [on their part], but rather of their having to put up with a slight nuisance which would soon be over. These subjective feelings are in no way evidential, nor would I mention them were they not confined to one place out of five, and occurred whenever I went there, at three most varying hours.... My servant, the second night, could not sleep between 4.30 and 6."
Miss Freer returned alone to B—— on April 28th. The Journal is now resumed.
April 28th.—I returned to B——, arriving at 7 p.m. Slept in No. 8. Quiet night.
This morning I inquired of the servants as to what occurred in my absence. They have very definite views as to the nature and causes of the phenomena during the visit of Mr. Myers's party ... including much table-tilting at meals, and so on. When questioned as to any experiences of their own, all answered to the same effect, that they shouldn't have taken notice of anything that happened at that time, but that something had occurred after the last two members of the party had left on the day of his Lordship's arrival, "and that," said the cook, "was quite another matter."
The experience was Carter's, the upper housemaid, and she told it in a manner that it would be difficult to distrust. She was not anxious to talk about it, and seemed annoyed that it had been mentioned at all. I wrote down her story verbatim.
"It was about four o'clock, or may be a little later, but it was just getting light; there is no blind to the skylight in my room, and I woke up suddenly and I thought some one had come into the room, and I called out, 'Is that you, Mrs. Robinson?' and when she didn't answer I called out 'Hannah,' but no one spoke, and then I looked up, and at the foot of my bed there was a woman. She was rather old, and dressed in something dark, and she had a little shawl on, and her hair short. It was hanging, but it didn't reach nearly to her shoulders. I was awful frightened, and put my head down again. I couldn't look any more."
I asked about the height of the woman, wondering if it were like the figure seen in the drawing-room, and Carter said, "I didn't notice, only the top part of her." I said, "Do you mean she had no legs?" and she said, "I didn't take notice of any." She was genuinely concerned and alarmed.
This is probably the incident thus described by The Times correspondent. "One of the maidservants described a sort of dull knocking which, according to her, goes on between two and six in the morning, in the lath and plaster partition by the side of her bed, which shuts off the angular space just inside the eaves of the house. She likened it to the noise of gardeners nailing up ivy outside. She seemed honest, but as she had seen the ghost of half a woman sitting on her fellow-servant's bed, one takes her evidence with a grain or two of salt. Any noises she has really heard may be due to the cooling of the hot-water pipes which pass along behind the partition just mentioned to the cistern." The hot-water pipe theory has been already discussed.
Before proceeding, it had better be again mentioned that, owing to the fact that several of the persons interested in B—— were Roman Catholics, and the Rev. P—— H—— having been one of the principal witnesses, as well as having himself appeared phantasmally in the house, it was considered desirable to obtain the assistance of some clergy of that communion. Miss Freer accordingly secured the services of three members of a famous society; one of those was the Rev. P—— H—— himself, one a well-known Oxford man who takes much interest in such questions, and the third a man of great experience at a place where miracles are said to be frequent. However, their Superior refused to allow them to come, and she then applied to a well-known monastery, but was again refused help. Lastly, she turned to the secular clergy, and obtained the assistance of two priests and a bishop. The priests are here designated MacD—— and MacL——. All three were previously well known to her, and she had especial reason to consider them not only worthy of her esteem and confidence, but, moreover, as taking an instructed and intelligent interest in the subject.
April 29th, Friday.—Rooms for to-night:—
|No.||3. Rev. A. MacD——.|
|"||4. Rev. A. MacL——.|
The priests arrived late in the evening. I put them in No. 3 and 4, though I like to give No. 1 to new-comers. However, I had promised that to Madame Boisseaux, whom we are expecting from Paris, with the dressing-room for her maid.
April 30th.—The priests both look very weary. They were not frightened, but the sounds have kept them awake all night.
Young S—— called to-day; he is going to help me to get up a dance for the servants. His mother is away at S——.
May 1st.—I shall have to move the priests. They persist that they are not frightened, but they are both looking shockingly ill and worn, and the Rev. MacD—— is not in a state of health to take liberties with. The Rev. MacL—— seems in the same mental state as was Mr. P——. He sees nothing, but is supernormally sensitive, and without any hint from me, declared that he felt the drawing-room, wing, and No. 7 to be "innocent."
Poor little "Spooks" is the chief sufferer. She sleeps on my bed now, but even so, wakes in the night growling and shivering, and she refuses her food, and is in a dreadfully nervous state. Perhaps I ought not to keep her in No. 8, where we have so often heard the patterings of dogs' feet, and where Miss Moore was once pushed as by a dog, in broad daylight.
May 2nd.—Nothing occurred. We perhaps all slept the sounder last night, having been kept up till two o'clock waiting for Madame Boisseaux, who never turned up. She and the M——s and Mrs. "F." arrived to-day.
|Madame Boisseaux arrived,||and was put into||No. 1.|
|Her maid||"||" 2.|
|Father MacD——||"||" 3.|
|Father MacL——||"||" 4.|
|Mrs. "F."||"||" 5.|
|Mr. and Mrs. M——||"||" 6 and 7.|
May 3rd.—The general tone of things is disquieting, and new in our experience. Hitherto, in our first occupation, the phenomena affected one as melancholy, depressing, and perplexing, but now all, quite independently, say the same thing, that the influence is evil and horrible—even poor little Spooks, who was never terrified before, as she has been since our return here. The worn faces at breakfast were really a dismal sight.
In spite of her long journey, Madame Boisseaux could not sleep. She was so tired, she dropped to sleep at once on going to bed, but was awoke by the sound of a droning voice as if from No. 3, and, at intervals, more distant voices in high argument. She said she dared not go to sleep; she felt as if some evil-disposed persons were in the room, and it would not be safe to lose consciousness. But she saw nothing. She looks so ill that her maid, a very faithful old servant, has been to beg me, "pour l'amour de Dieu," to give Madame another room. So to-night I will put her in No. 5.
Mrs. "F." who was in No. 5, was disturbed by knocks at her door (cf. Mrs. W——'s experience in the same room), and to-night is to sleep in my room, No. 8, which last night was also somewhat noisy, but she will not be alone. The Rev. MacD—— looks so ill from two nights' sleeplessness that the priests are to go into the wing to-night. They were unwilling to move, and made no complaints, and now do not say they have seen anything, merely that the evil influence about them was painful and disturbing.
Mrs. M——, who, it will be remembered, was much disturbed during her last visit, begged that she might be quiet, and we gave her No. 7. She is the only person who has had a really good night, except Mr. M——, who had a fancy to sleep in the smoking-room, in the hope of a visit from the Major, but nothing happened. As he had been mountaineering all day, he probably would have slept well under any conditions.
May 4th.—I am thankful to say the priests slept well in the wing. Madame Boisseaux, in No. 5, was disturbed by knocks at her door, but as she wisely remarked, they had the advantage of being outside. Mr. M—— had moved into No. 1, and slept fairly well, but said he felt as before, "not alone," but as he had felt that before, expectation may count for something.
Mrs. "F" slept with me; I was awoke early by my dog crying, and I saw two black paws resting on the table beside the bed. It gave me a sickening sensation, and I longed to wake Mrs. "F" to see if she would see them, but I remembered her bad night of yesterday, and left her in peace.
The priests spend much time in devotions, and are very decided in their views as to the malignity of the influence. The bishop comes to-day, and we hope he will have Mass said in the house. We shall then have ten Roman Catholics in the household—two visitors, three clergy, two visitors' maids, and three of our own servants. That should have an effect upon the Major! Miss Moore and Scamp arrived.
May 5th.—The bishop is in No. 1. He arrived to lunch to-day. Last night all was quiet after bedtime, but sitting in the drawing-room about five o'clock, having just come in from a drive, five of us heard the detonating noise, as it were in the empty room overhead. Madame B——, Mrs. "F," Mrs. M——, the Rev. MacL——, and myself. Mrs. "F" left this morning.
The priests went with me to the copse. They saw nothing, but were in too anxious a state to be receptive. I saw Ishbel for one moment. She looked agonised, as never before.
Mr. B. S—— dined with us, and the servants, indoor and out, danced in the hall in the evening. We had pipers, and some supper for them in the billiard-room. The gardener and the butler and cook say there was a great crash in the room just when the parish minister was saying grace, and that many of the people from outside noticed it, and "they just looked at each other." I was myself in the room, but as we had just had a very physical and commonplace disturbance—the arrival of an uninvited and intoxicated guest, of which the other people did not know as I did—I was preoccupied at the moment.
Mass this morning in the drawing-room.
May 6th.—Madame Boisseaux has had to go suddenly; there has been terrible news for her of this Paris fire. She came into my room very early with her telegram (arrived too late for delivery last night). I did not like to worry her with questions, overwhelmed as she was, but she said her room "resounded with knocks."
There was Mass said in the ground-floor sitting-room this morning, and as I knelt facing the window I saw Ishbel with the grey woman, nearer the house than ever before. She looked pensive, but, as compared with last time, much relieved.
This is the last time the figures were seen. The following details are quoted from a letter written by Miss Freer to Lord Bute on this day: "Mass was said this morning in the downstairs room, the altar arranged in front of the window, so that, as we knelt, we faced the garden. Poor Madame Boisseaux was dressed for travelling, and in much agitation. As the carriage which was to take her to the station was expected at any moment, I suggested that she and I should remain upstairs, but she said she should like to be there, if only for a few minutes, the more that the 'intention' was to be partly for those who had suffered in the fire, and for their sorrowing friends. She and I, therefore, knelt close to the door, keeping it slightly ajar, so as to be able to obey a summons at any moment.
"Suddenly she touched my arm, and directed my attention to the window. There I saw a figure standing outside, which—so slow-sighted am I—I took for the moment for Madame's maid, and thought she had come to call our attention through the window—a long 'French' one, opening out on to the lawn—as less likely to disturb the service. I was starting up when I perceived that the figure was 'Ishbel'—the black gown, like that worn by the maid, had misled me for the moment. 'Marget' seemed to hover in the background, but she was much less distinct than the other. A minute later we were called away.
"The room had been selected by the priests themselves, but it is the one I should myself, for obvious reasons, have chosen for the purpose."
When the bustle of Madame's hasty departure was over, and we had breakfasted, the bishop blessed the house from top to bottom, and especially visited rooms Nos. 1, 3, and 8, and also the library. He sprinkled the rooms with holy water, and especially the doorway leading to the drawing-room, where noises have so often been heard. He and the priests had hardly gone when there was a loud bang upon a little table that stands there. It is an old work-table, a box on tall, slender legs, and the sound could easily be imitated by lifting the lid and letting it fall smartly, but I saw no movement—not that I was watching it at the moment. The bishop and priests returned, and the ceremony was repeated, after which the bang again occurred, but much more faintly.
The three clergy left this afternoon. Miss Moore and I are now alone.
This bang was the last phenomenon of an abnormal kind during this tenancy. Miss Moore and Miss Freer stayed in the house another week without anything further occurring either to themselves, their guests, or the servants.
During that time, they received six more guests: Miss C——, Miss "Etienne," with her brother, a lawyer, and three other visitors, with whom Miss Freer had no previous acquaintance, but who received an invitation under the following special conditions, not being, as were other guests, personal friends, or, in one or two instances, accompanying personal friends by whom they were introduced, and at whose request they were invited.
Sir William Huggins had some time before written to Lord Bute to beg him to obtain admission to the house for Sir James Crichton Browne, who is, of course, well known as a physician of great eminence, and in especial as an expert in psychology, and whom Sir William stated to be deeply interested in phenomena such as those observed at B——.
Lord Bute accordingly wrote to Miss Freer, who wrote to Sir James. He did not immediately reply, which surprised her, after so earnest a request, and because admission to the house for the purpose of such observations was a mark of confidence, which as a hostess she was very chary of giving, and which would never have been extended to him, notwithstanding his scientific eminence, had it not been for the intercession of Sir William Huggins and Lord Bute, through whom he had sought it.
He wrote to her after some time, apologising for the delay on the score of illness, begging to know if it were still possible for him to be admitted, and whether he might bring with him a scientific friend. Miss Freer consented, and he then wrote announcing his arrival and that of a nephew, a student at Oxford, interested in science. He then asked, by telegram, whether a third guest could be admitted, to which she also consented, and his two friends, one of whom is believed to have been the anonymous Times correspondent, accordingly came, four days after the phenomena had, as has been stated, apparently ceased. The way in which this hospitality was repaid is a matter of common knowledge. Their hostess knew of no intention to make copy of their visit, with full names, geographical indications, and repetition of private conversations, until the publication of the Times' article of June 8th. They remained from Saturday evening till Monday morning, and, like others, saw and heard nothing; and much time was spent in repeating the already often repeated experiments as to possible sources of the sights and sounds observed at B——. Their observations appeared to be able to penetrate no further than the mark of the shoe which Miss Freer pointed out on the door in the wing, made subsequently to the flight of the H—— family, a passage under the roof, with which the household had long been as familiar as with the hall-door, and the suggestion that a certain stream might run under the house, the which stream runs nowhere near the house at all, as Miss Freer was already well aware, a fact which she demonstrated for their benefit on a map of the estate.
This is perhaps a suitable point at which to add a letter from the head-gardener who has been referred to more than once, more especially as an important witness to the phenomena of the H——s' tenancy.
He writes to Miss Freer in reference to a statement by The Times correspondent:—
"July 8th, '97.— ... I might also mention to you, while writing, that 'the intelligent gardener' that was made mention of in The Times was a journeyman, and not myself, as many have supposed. I thought it proper to tell you, madam, because I told you and several others that I was in the house and had heard something."
The Times correspondent's statement is as follows:—
"An intelligent gardener whom I questioned told me that he had kept watch in the house on two separate occasions, abstaining from sleep until daylight appeared at seven o'clock, but without hearing a sound."
The under gardener's experience of two nights is as exhaustive of the subject as that of The Times correspondent and his friends, who also remained two nights, but do not allege that they "abstained from sleep."
Mr. "Etienne" was the last guest at B——, and arrived the evening before the house was vacated. He afterwards told Lord Bute that he had brought, without the knowledge of any one in the house, two seismic instruments, but that they recorded nothing, and that during the night he heard a sound as of a gun being fired outside the house. This he attributed to some poacher unknown, an explanation which seems hardly probable, as at this time of year there is nothing to shoot except rabbits. One never hears of a poacher shooting rabbits, and in any case, he would hardly do so in the immediate neighbourhood of an inhabited house, and discharging his gun once only.
Mr. "Etienne's" experiments are the more interesting because that among many suggestions made by Sir J. Crichton Browne, the only one which had not been already considered, was the use of seismic instruments. This—the house being within the seismic area—seemed so reasonable, that Miss Freer at once entered into correspondence with the well-known Professor Milne, with a view to experiment in this direction. The following is from his reply:—
"May 15th, 1897.—I was much interested in your note of the 13th, and fancy that the sounds with which you have to deal may be of seismic origin. Such sounds I have often heard, and the air waves, if not the earth waves, can be mechanically recorded. What you require to make the records is a seismograph with large but exceeding light indices, or a Perry tromometer.... The reason I think that the sounds are seismic is, first, on account of their character, and secondly, because you are in one of the most unstable parts of Great Britain, where between 1852 and 1890, 465 shocks (many with sounds) were recorded. Lady Moncrieff, when living at Comrie House in 1844, often heard rumblings and moanings, and such sounds, possibly akin to the 'barisal guns'[H] of Eastern England, often occur without a shake. The mechanism of this production may be due to slight movements on a fault face, and they may be heard, especially in rocky districts, in very many countries...."
Miss Freer's reply was an urgent request that machinery and an operator might be at once sent up to B——. Professor Milne replied that delicate instruments, such as he himself employed, could only be used by one other person, but suggested that she should hire from a well-known London firm what are known as "Ewing's-type" seismometers, adding, "I doubt whether these will record anything but movements to which you are sensible."
Miss Freer's designs, however, were frustrated, for on applying for an extension of tenancy for this purpose, Captain S——, the proprietor, peremptorily forbade the continuance of scientific observation—a remarkable parallel to his father's refusal to permit the use of the phonograph when suggested by Sir William Huggins.
In relation to his experiments at B—— Mr. "Etienne" writes:—
"Lord Bute has asked me to describe a seismographic instrument which I used during my short visit to B——. The instrument consisted of a light wooden frame or platform which rested on three billiard-balls. The balls in their turn rested on a horizontal plate of plate-glass. Through two wire rings in the centre of the platform already mentioned a needle stood perpendicularly, resting on its point on the plate of glass. The centre of the plate of glass (and the area round it and within in the triangle describable with the balls at its angles) was smoked. You will see that the parts of such an instrument are held together by gravitation, and a very little friction, and that a tremor communicated to the plate will not simultaneously affect the platform. The needle-point describes on the smoked surface which it moves across the converse of any movement of the plate which is not simultaneously a movement of the platform, and the error between this and the description of the tremor drawn by an absolutely fixed point—say the earth itself—has been calculated on a replica of this instrument as equal to the error of a pendulum thirty feet long."
It will be noticed that the phenomena began, so far as Miss Freer was concerned, upon the night of her arrival in the house, February 3rd, and ceased (if we except the sound heard by Mr. Etienne), after the service performed by the Bishop on the morning of May 6th. This period comprises ninety-two days, but from these must be subtracted the seventeen days between Miss Freer's leaving B—— on the morning of April 9th, and that of the departure of Mr. Myers's medium, Miss "K.," on the morning of April 26th.
Of the remaining seventy-five days, Miss Freer was absent from the house for four days, from March 16th to March 20th, and for two nights after Miss "K.'s" leaving; during this latter interval, however, Lord Bute was himself on the spot. On the other hand, she remained in the house for eight days after the service performed by the Bishop, during which time no phenomena occurred.
Of the sixty-nine days of which a record is kept in the journal, viz., from February 3rd to May 14th, exclusive of twenty-three days for the reasons already indicated, daytime phenomena occurred upon eighteen days, and night phenomena upon thirty-five nights.
To these must be added the night of April 27th, the occasion of the vision seen by Carter the housemaid during Lord Bute's visit. Thirty-four nights, or almost exactly half the period, were entirely without record of any phenomena whatever. This is without counting the seven nights of the last week, during which there were observers for longer or shorter periods in the house, none of whom recorded any sight or sound of a supernormal kind, unless it were the percussive or detonating noise heard by Mr. "Etienne."
The term "night" is here understood to cover the period between the hour of going to rest at night, to that of leaving one's room next morning, even if the phenomena occurred in the daylight hours of the early morning. The term "day" is used to cover the hours of active, waking life, from breakfast to bedtime.
To sum up the character of the phenomena, it may be well to begin with those that are visual.
1. The phantasm of the Rev. P. H——. This was seen once only, and by Miss Langton, on the night of February 17th. Of the identity no doubt can be felt, since Miss Moore and Miss Freer afterwards recognised the accuracy of the description on meeting the Rev. P. H—— for the first time, in a crowded railway station on May 25th. This is the only one of the apparitions which is undoubtedly that of a living person, and like many such apparitions, it occurred at an hour when it is probable that he was asleep. B—— is a place to which Father H——'s thoughts were naturally and disagreeably drawn, and to which his attention had been called anew. On awaking, he would probably have no recollection of the circumstances, or at the utmost would have an impression of having dreamt that he was there.
2. The woman once seen by Miss Freer in the drawing-room. She was older than Sarah N——, who died at the age of twenty-seven, but of whose haunting of B—— there is some tradition, but assisted by the parish register of marriages and births it is not difficult to form a guess at the identity of the phantasm. As there is some uncertainty as to whether the person in question is still living, though it is probable that she is dead, the vision is mentioned here before those as to which there is no reason to doubt that they represent the dead. There is reason to believe that the same apparition has been seen by former occupants of the house, and it is alleged to be that of a member of the S—— family.
3. The phantasm seen by Carter the housemaid, on the night of April 27th, who was described as "rather old," may possibly have been identical with the above.
4. The nun to whom was given the name of "Ishbel." This subject has been already discussed, and the suggestion thrown out that the phantasm was an erroneous mental picture of the late Rev. Mother Frances Helen, evolved from the imagination of a half-educated person who had never seen the lady in question, and knew little about her. This figure was seen many times by Miss Freer and Miss Langton, twice by the Rev. Mr. "Q.," and probably by Madame Boisseaux, who unhappily died suddenly before the editors had an opportunity of asking her for exact information. There were also earlier witnesses. She was never seen elsewhere than in the glen, except once by Miss Langton, and on the one occasion when a Bishop was saying Mass in the house, and Miss Freer saw her outside the window just after the elevation of the chalice. It was stated, however, by two separate witnesses, that a figure, probably the same, had been seen inside the house on at least one occasion, when, some years before Colonel Taylor's tenancy, Mrs. S—— was keeping her room, and a maid who was bringing up a tray met the figure on the stairs, and experienced such a start that she dropped the tray.
5. The lay-woman dressed in grey to whom was given the name of "Marget," and who was sometimes seen in the company of "Ishbel," usually as though upbraiding or reproving her. She was seen by Miss Freer and Miss Langton, and her voice in conversation with "Ishbel" was heard not only by them, but by Mr. C—— and Miss Moore, Mr. "Q." and Miss "Duff" (cf. Mrs. G.'s evidence, p. 68).
6. The appearance of the wooden crucifix seen in No. 3. It was about eighteen inches long, and the figure was of the same wood as the cross. Its earliest appearance is to the Rev. P. H——. It afterwards appeared to the Rev. Mr. "Q.," and lastly to Miss Freer, none of the witnesses knowing anything in detail of the experience of the others. It was also seen in the crystal by Miss Langton—possibly by thought transference from others.
When the Rev. P. H—— saw it he was always drowsy, but when it appeared to Mr. "Q." its appearance was immediately preceded by a sensation of acute chill on his part, and its appearance to Miss Freer by a similar sensation on the part of "Endell." It is perhaps worth while to remark, that we are told that among spiritualists the sensation of cold is supposed to be an unfavourable indication as to the character of the spirits who are present, and that in the cases of both Mr. "Q." and Mr. "Endell" the appearance of the crucifix seemed to put an end to the chill.
7. The dogs. These were much more often heard than seen, the sounds being those of their pattering footsteps, sometimes as of their bounding about in play, and sometimes of their throwing themselves against the lower part of doors. It seemed, however, that they were visible to Miss Freer's living dog at times when they were not visible to her, and indeed the abject terror which the Pomeranian displayed in No. 8 was so distressing, that she changed her room from No. 8 to No. 5 in consequence.
A dog was, moreover, seen by Miss Freer and Miss Langton in the smoking-room on April 8th; Miss Freer and Miss Moore have described more than one occasion when they felt themselves pushed as by a dog; and on the night of May 4th, Miss Freer saw the two forepaws only, of another and larger black dog resting on the edge of a table in No. 8.
Other apparitions seen in the house by former occupants were described to members of Colonel Taylor's party as well as to earlier tenants, but here, as elsewhere, we have refrained from all quotation from the relatives of the present proprietor.
It is interesting to remark that one apparition which was constantly expected during Colonel Taylor's tenancy was expected in vain. This was that of the little old gentleman with stooping form and limping gait mentioned by earlier witnesses. His peculiar step was heard very frequently, and by a great number and variety of witnesses, alone and collectively; and his appearance, naturally enough, was constantly looked for, but it never occurred.
In the same way there was one expected sound which never occurred, though frequent in the experience of earlier witnesses—that of the rustling of a silk dress, suggesting to the mind of the hearer the idea of some one who, either in fact or in thought, had worn such a garment.
Tactile. The most important of these were the experiences of Miss "N." on the night of March 3rd, and of Miss "Duff" on the night of March 22nd, both in No. 3; and of a maid, Lizzie, on the night of March 23rd, in the room above No. 3, on the attic storey, who all testified to the sensation of the moving of the bed, or the handling of the bed-clothes. These were the only occasions during Colonel Taylor's tenancy, but the phenomenon is one often testified to by earlier witnesses, both during the H——s' tenancy and that of the family of the late Mr. S——.
It presents a peculiar difficulty in the way of the theory that all the phenomena at B—— were subjective hallucinations, and this is especially the case with regard to the evidence of a witness who has not been brought forward in the preceding pages, but whose account of a similar experience is reported by two first-hand witnesses. On one occasion he had the whole of the upper bed-clothes lifted from off him and thrown upon the floor, while a pile of wearing apparel, which was laid on a chair beside the bed, was thrown in his face.
It is of course conceivable that the whole of these experiences, including the last, were the result of an hallucination; but on the other hand, it would be very unwise, in the present state of our ignorance on the subject, to dogmatise as to the possible action of unseen forces upon what is commonly called matter. It is interesting to note that this senseless and childish trick coincides with what was said by Miss A—— as to the presence of mischievous elementals, and also what she says as to apports.[I]
1. The sensation of the movement of the bed itself, whether as being rocked, as in the experience of Miss "Duff" on March 22nd, and of Miss Langton on several occasions, and by guests of the H—— family, or of being lifted up, as in that of the maid Lizzie, is a phenomenon by no means uncommon, and if objective is of the nature of levitation; but we have unfortunately no evidence from a second person observing the phenomenon from outside. Whether it were actually moved it is impossible to say, but the sensation seems to have been more than subjective.
2. The sensation of struggling with something unseen, described by Miss "Duff," March 22nd, and of the sensation of an incumbent weight, as described by Miss "Duff" (same date) and Miss "N." on March 2nd. This coincides with the arrest of his hand experienced by Harold Sanders. These phenomena adapt themselves to the theory of subjectivity more easily than the foregoing, because they more closely resemble those of nightmare (familiar to most persons), although they occurred while the witnesses were awake.
3. The sensation of being pushed by a dog was experienced in two different rooms by Miss Freer and Miss Moore respectively. If Mr. "Endell" were touched by Ishbel on the evening of March 1st, as appeared to Miss Freer to be the case, he had no independent consciousness of the fact that might not have been referred to expectation, so that this cannot be regarded as evidential.
For lack of other classification, we mention under this heading of "tactile" the sensation of chill experienced by Mr. "Endell" and Mr. Q—— in No. 3, and which appears to be the same as that described by Harold Sanders as the sensation of "entering an ice-house."
The audile phenomena were so frequent and so various, that a conspectus of them is given in an appendix. Some of them appeared to be human in origin, such as voices, reading or speaking, footsteps, and, according to earlier witnesses, screams and moans. Others might have been caused by dogs, such as pattering footsteps, jumping and pouncing as in play, the wagging of a dog's tail against the door, and the sound as of a dog throwing itself against the lower panels. Other sounds have been differentiated, as the detonating or explosive noise; the clang sound, as of the striking of metal upon wood; the thud or heavy fall without resonance; and the crash, which was never better described than as if one of the beasts' heads on the staircase wall had fallen into the hall below. It very often, or almost always, seemed to occur under the glass dome which lighted the body of the house, and the falling object seemed to strike others in its descent, so that it was not ineffectively imitated by rolling a bowl along the stone floor of the hall, and allowing it to strike against the doors or pillars, when the peculiar echoing quality was fairly reproduced by the hollow domed roof and surrounding galleries.
The editors offer no conclusions. This volume has been put together, as the house at B—— was taken, not for the establishment of theories, but for the record of facts.
[C] They consisted of a small part of the evidence already quoted.
[D] We have since ascertained by experiment that no sound short of beating with a hammer on the wall itself is audible between the two rooms; also, that the upsetting of a metal candlestick on the bare boards in the nearer servants' room (over No. 1) cannot be heard in No. 8.
[E] Cf. Mrs. Robinson's account ante.
[F] These remarkable disclosures included, among other details, the murder of a Roman Catholic family chaplain, at a period when the S——s were and had long been Presbyterian, the suicide of one of the family who is still living, and the throwing, by persons in mediæval costume, of the corpse of an infant, over a bridge, which is quite new, into a stream which until lately ran underground.
Professor Lodge had not had the same opportunity of acquiring a critical standpoint as to such statements, as those whose knowledge of the place was more intimate.
[G] The words, in uttering which Lord Bute was thus affected, were, "Regem cui omnia vivunt venite adoremus," an invitation in which he meant to include all intelligent beings.
Miss Freer, Miss Langton, and a third guest, chatting one night about 10.30 in this room, were startled by one of the familiar crashes outside. Miss Freer treated the matter lightly, fearing lest the lady in question, by no means a nervous person, however, should be alarmed; and receiving no reply turned to look at her, and observed that her lower jaw was convulsed, and that she was painfully struggling to recover speech.
[H] See Appendix II.
[I] See Appendix I.
A lady, known to readers of Proceedings S.P.R. as Miss A——, who is an habitual automatic writer, but whose social position removes her from the temptations and tendencies of the ordinary so-called medium, was good enough on March 10, 1897, to contribute the following automatic script in reply to a request from Lord Bute:—
"I do not much care for the influence of this house; it is most decidedly haunted, but not by any particularly good spirits, the haunting being carried on by mischievous elementals, and as far as I can make out there is some one who lives there through all the changes, who supplies a great deal of force, and who is not aware of the power. I think that a great deal more is added to what really takes place, as the hauntings appear to me to consist of disturbing noises, with now and then a case of apport, for the elementary forces are not sufficient to produce forms unless a great deal of outside force is given.
"The forms that would appear would always be different, as each mediumistic person would supply his own surroundings. The only one I am not sure about is the shadowy figure of an old man whom I have twice seen in rather a dark passage, and from his surrounding light I should say he may often be there.
"I think the noises would stop of themselves, at least the more disturbing part, if a less attentive attitude were taken towards them."
These statements present certain interesting points as coming from one who had never seen the house, and knew nothing of its phenomena. "The shadowy figure of an old man in a dark passage" seems to point to the figure, possibly, of the Major, seen by earlier witnesses in the dark lobby—the only dark corner in the house—outside the door of the downstairs smoking-room, and whose voice was heard there by Miss Freer, Miss Langton, and Mr. T—— during the tenancy of Colonel Taylor.
An occasion upon which the phenomena might be described as those of "mischievous elementals," and also of apports, is referred to in the summing up of tactile phenomena, though it did not occur during the tenancy of Colonel Taylor.
On the other hand, the phenomena were often more active when least looked for, and some of those most expected never occurred. As there was not even a servant, nor even a dumb animal, common to the occupation of the S—— family and the tenancy of the H——s or Colonel Taylor, we are at a loss to know who the person can be who lives at B—— through all the changes, and supplies force during the past twenty years.
Readers not acquainted with this phenomenon may be referred to an interesting correspondence in the pages of Nature (Oct. 1895, and Seq.), opened by Professor G.H. Darwin—
"In the delta of the Ganges," he says, "dull sounds, more or less resembling distant artillery, are often heard. These are called Barisal guns, but I do not know the meaning of the term."
The same sounds have been recorded by M. Rutot of the Geological Survey along the Belgian coast, and are alleged to be pretty common in the North of France. M. van der Broeck, Conservator of the Museum of Natural History of Belgium, says—
"I have constantly noticed these sounds in the plain of Limburg since 1880;—more than ten of my personal acquaintances have observed the fact. The detonations are dull and distant, and are repeated a dozen times or more at irregular intervals. They are usually heard in the daytime, when the sky is clear, and especially towards evening after a very hot day. The noise does not at all resemble artillery, blasting in mines, or the growling of distant thunder."
M. van der Broeck elsewhere refers to "similar noises heard on Dartmoor, and in some parts of Scotland." Readers of Blackmore's story of "Lorna Doone" will remember, among other valuable observations of out-door life, his accounts of "the hollow moaning sound" during the intense cold of the winter, of which he gives so graphic an account. It was "ever present in the air, morning, noon, and night time, and especially at night, whether any wind was stirring or whether it were a perfect calm" (Chap. xlvi.).
Another correspondent in Nature refers to remarkable noises among the hills of Cheshire: "When the wind is easterly, and nearly calm on the flats, a hollow moaning sound is heard, popularly termed the Soughing of the Wind, which Sir Walter Scott, in his glossary to 'Guy Mannering,' interprets as a hollow blast or whisper."
Another writer quotes experiences in East Anglia, tending to show that such sounds may be reports arising from the process of "faulting" going on, on a small scale, at a great depth, and not of sufficient intensity to produce a perceptible vibration at the earth's surface.
It would seem that in districts such as Comrie in Perthshire, East Hadden in Connecticut, Pignerol in Piedmont, Meleda in the Adriatic, &c., sounds without shocks are common during intervals, which may last for several years. Remarkable sounds, not apparently accounted for, are reported to proceed from Lough Neagh in Ireland.
See Nature, Oct. 1895, and following numbers; articles by M. van der Broeck in Ciel et Terre (Belgium), Dec. 1, 1895, and following numbers, also Geol. Mag., vol. ix. 1892, pp. 208-18.
|Recorded under Date.||Heard in Room.||Witness.||Description of Sound.|
|Feb. 4||No. I.||Miss Freer
|Loud clanging sound, as of metal struck with wood
Voices in conversation
|No. III.||"Mac," the maid||Voices, footsteps, things dragged about|
|Feb. 5||Attics||Two housemaids||Continuous reading|
|Feb. 7||No. VII.||Miss Moore||Reverberating bang close to bed|
|Noises and footsteps
Clanging sound upstairs
|Feb. 8||"Butler's room"||Mac||Footsteps and sounds on door|
|No. VII.||Miss Moore||Reverberating bang|
|Noises percussive or explosive|
|The Glen||Miss Freer
|Voices in conversation|
|Feb. 9||No. VII.||Miss Moore
|Noises percussive or explosive|
|Feb. 10||No. I.||Miss Moore||Clangs. Voices in conversation|
|No. V.||Mr. W——||Knockings.|
|No. VIII.||Colonel Taylor||Footsteps overhead|
|Feb.13||No. I.||Miss Moore||Clanging noise|
|No. V.||Mrs. W——||Knockings|
|Feb. 15||No. IV.||Miss Langton||A loud crash|
|Feb. 16||The Glen||Miss Langton
|Voices in conversation|
|Feb. 17||Drawing-room||Mrs. W——
|Footsteps overhead in disused room|
|Clanging noise, four times repeated|
|Feb. 18||No. VIII.||Miss Freer||Banging sounds|
|No. VIII.||Miss Moore
|Sounds as of an animal's movements in the room in daylight|
|The Glen||Miss Langton
|Voices in conversation|
|The Glen||Miss Langton (later)||Voices in conversation|
|Feb. 19||The Glen||Miss Langton||Voices in conversation and footsteps|
|Feb. 20||No. VIII.||Miss Moore
|Sounds of active movement of an animal in the room|
|Feb. 21||No. VIII.||Miss Moore||Footsteps of an old man shuffling in slippers|
|Movements of animal|
|Bang on wall near No VII.|
|Feb. 25||Wing||Mr. "Endell"||Clang noise "like a pavior's hammer dropped"|
|No. I.||Mr. Garford||Violent banging on door of Nos. I. and II.|
|No. III.||Mr. "Q."||Groans; "a greatly magnified edition of sounds I have several times heard in the drawing-room"|
|Feb. 26||No. I.||Mr. Garford||Detonating or percussive noise like "a wheel-barrow on a hard road"|
|March 1||No. IV.||Mr. MacP——||Loud clanging sound in the room|
|March 2||No. VIII.||Miss Freer
|Movements of animal in the room|
|No. III.||Miss "N."||Thud, sounding from below|
|March 5||No. VIII.||Miss Moore||Movements of animal in the room|
|Attics||Two maids||Monotonous reading|
|No. I.||Mrs. B.C.||Monotonous reading (also mentioned by Mr. Garford as occurring in No. I.)|
|Mrs. B.C.||Bang on door of room|
|Attics||Mrs. Robinson (cook)||Voices in conversation
Bangs on the wall of room
|March 7||Attics||Robinson (butler)||Heavy body falling in the room|
|No. II.||Mr. C——||Movements of heavy body in the room
Footsteps as if descending stairs
Loud rapping on doors of Nos. I. and II.
|March 8||No. II.||Mr. C——||Noises in No. I. (empty room)|
|March 10||No. VIII.||Miss Moore
|Animal moving in the room
|March 13||No. VIII.||Miss Moore
|Attics||Robinson, and Mrs. Robinson||Loud bangs|
|No. IV.||Miss Langton||Loud bangs|
|March 15||No. VIII.||Miss Moore
|No. IV.||Miss Langton||Vibrating bang|
|Wing||Colonel Taylor||Vibrating bang|
|[Miss Freer was absent for four nights, and no Journal was kept.]|
|March 20||No. I.||Miss Moore
|Metallic sound in room "like the 'giving' of a large tin box"|
|March 22||No. IV.||Mr. MacP——||Heavy footsteps overhead|
|No. III.||Miss "Duff"||Resounding crash at door
Resounding crash in room
|March 23||Drawing-room||Miss "Duff"||Monotonous reading (also mentioned as occurring in No. III.)|
|March 24||No. V.||Miss Freer||Crash of something falling under dome|
|No. VIII.||Colonel C——||Loud thump on door of room|
|No. I.||Mr. W——||Explosive noises
Crash of something falling under dome
|Attics||Two housemaids and kitchen-maid||Loud knockings|
|Butler's room on ground floor||Mrs. Robinson||Footsteps and knocking on door of No. III.|
|No. III.||Miss "Duff"||Shuffling foot steps outside room|
|No. II.||Miss "Duff"
|Fall against door of No. I.|
|March 25||No. II.||Miss Langton||Loud thump on door between I. and II.|
|March 27||Attics||Carter (housemaid)
|March 29||Library||Miss Freer
|Footsteps in locked-up room overhead|
|March 30||Library||Miss Freer
|Footsteps in locked-up room overhead|
|Corridor||Mr. and Mrs. M——
|Rappings in No. II. (empty).
(See Mr. M——'s account)
|March 31||No. VIII.||Miss Langton||Shuffling footsteps in the room
Knock near the wardrobe
|No. I.||Mrs. M——
|Metallic clangs in the room like "tuning a kettle-drum"; later, "terrific noise," "like treble rap on a hollow panel,"--like "the lid of a heavy coal-scuttle let fall"|
|Drawing-room||Mrs. M——||Voices in library
Detonating noise (like a distant cannon)
|April 1||No. VIII.||Mr. M——
|Voices and footsteps in room overhead (empty)|
|Drawing-room||Mrs. M——||Voices and footsteps overhead|
|In the garden||Mrs. M——
|Limping footsteps overhead
Voices of a man and woman
|April 2||Library||Miss Freer
|Heavy blow on table|
|Heavy blow on table (heard in dining-room)|
|Footsteps overhead in empty room|
|April 3||Library||Miss Langton||Violent hammering on door in daylight|
|Footsteps overhead in empty room|
|April 4||No. V.||Miss Freer
|Crash under dome|
|April 5||No. I.||Mr. T——||Monotonous reading|
|April 6||No. I.||Mr. T——||Thuds on floor above, and on door of room
Voices in conversation
|April 7||No. V.||Miss Freer||Crash under dome|
|No. I.||Mr. T——||Crash under dome
Voices in conversation
Raps at foot of door
|April 8||Various parts of the house||Household generally||Crashes and bangs and footsteps heard during the day|
|Shuffling footsteps in the room
Voices outside door
|No. IV.||Miss Freer||Crash under dome|
|No. VIII.||Miss Langton||Shuffling footsteps|
|No. I.||Mr. T——||Voices|
|No. IV.||Miss Freer||Thuds on lowest panels of door
Footsteps of many persons
|[No Journal kept between April 8 and April 29. During this period Professor Lodge's notes testify to "knocks on the wall, a sawing noise, a droning and a wailing, ... some whistling, and apparent attempts at a whisper, all up in the attic.]|
|May 3||No. I.||Mme. Boisseaux||Monotonous voice from No. III.
Voices in argument
|No. V.||Mrs. "F."||Knocks at door|
|May 4||No. V.||Mme. Boisseaux||Knocks at door|
|May 5||Drawing-room||Mme. Boisseaux
|Detonating noise in empty room overhead (No. I.) in daylight|
|Billiard-room||Gardener, butler, cook and others||Crash in the room|
|May 6||No. V.||Mme. Boisseaux||"Room resounded with knocks"|
|Bangs on table|
|May 13||No. I.||Mr. "Etienne"||[?] Detonating noise|
[Compare Plan of House.]
1. The rooms spoken of in the text as "the library," and the "upstairs," or "wing" smoking-room, are those marked in the Plan as the "morning-room," and the bedroom to the extreme east in the wing.
2. Most of the maid-servants slept in rooms Y and Z, over 1 and 2, until the alarm of March 25, when they moved to the rooms on the other side the house (X and W), thus leaving those over Nos. 1 and 2 empty.
3. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson (butler and cook) occupied room W till March 13, when both moved into the butler's room off the hall, which during the first month had been occupied by Mac the maid, who became ill and returned south.
4. Opinions regarding the noises, and experiments as to their origin, will be found on the under-mentioned pages of the Journal.
Opinions, pp. 92, 111, 113, 120, 124, 128, 133, 143, 144, 147, 153, 154, 159, 162, 166, 168, 173, 179, 187, 198, 201, 207, 215, 219, 234, 242.
Experiments, pp. 109, 129, 140, 160, 175, 180, 218, 220.