Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Apparition of the Murdered Boy by Hereward Carrington 1915

THE APPARITION OF THE MURDERED BOY by Hereward Carrington 1915

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At the commencement of the French Revolution, Lady Pennyman and her two daughters and her friend, Mrs. Atkins, retired to Lisle, where they had hired a large and handsome house. A few weeks after taking possession, the housekeeper, with many apologies for being obliged to mention anything that might appear so idle and absurd, came to the apartment in which her mistress was sitting, and said that two of the servants who had accompanied her ladyship from England had that morning given warning, and expressed a determination of quitting her ladyship’s service, on account of the mysterious noises by which they had been night after night disturbed and terrified. The room from which the sounds were supposed to have proceeded was at a distance from Lady Pennyman’s apartments, and immediately over those that were occupied by the servants. To quiet the alarm Lady Pennyman resolved on leaving her own chamber for a time and establishing herself in the one which had been lately occupied by the domestics.

The room above was a long, spacious one, which appeared to have been for a long time deserted. In the center of the chamber was a large iron cage. It was said that the late proprietor of the house—a young man of enormous wealth—had in his minority been confined in this cage by his uncle and guardian and starved to death.

On the first night or two of Lady Pennyman’s being established in her new apartment, she met with no interruption. This quiet, however, was of very short duration. One night she was awakened from her sleep by a slow and heavy step pacing the chamber overhead. It continued to move backwards and forwards for nearly an hour. There were more complaints from the housekeeper, no servants would remain. Lady Pennyman began herself to be alarmed. She requested the advice of Mrs. Atkins—a woman devoid of every kind of superstitious fear, and of tried courage. Mrs. Atkins determined to make the Cage room itself her sleeping quarters. A bed was accordingly placed in the apartment, and Mrs. Atkins retired to rest attended by her favorite spaniel—saying, as she bade them all good-night, “I and my dog are able to compete with a myriad of ghosts.”

Mrs. Atkins examined the chamber in every imaginable direction; she sounded every panel of the wainscot to prove there was no hollowness that might argue a concealed passage; and having securely bolted the door of the room, retired to rest, confident that she was secure against every material visitor, and totally incredulous of the airy encroachments of spiritual beings. She had only been asleep a few minutes, when her dog, which lay by her bedside, leaped, howling and terrified, on the bed. The bolted door of the chamber slowly opened and a pale, thin, sickly youth came in, cast his eyes mildly toward her, walked up to the iron cage in the middle of the room, and then leaned in the melancholy attitude of one revolving in his mind the sorrows of a cheerless and unblest existence. After a while he again withdrew, and retired by the way he entered.

Mrs. Atkins, on witnessing his departure, felt the return of her resolution. She persuaded herself to believe the figure the work of some skillful imposter, and she determined on following its footsteps. She took up her lamp and hastened to the door. To her infinite surprise, she discovered it to be fastened, as she had herself left it on retiring to bed. On withdrawing the bolt, and opening the door, she saw the back of the youth descending the staircase. She followed till, on reaching the foot of the stairs, the form seemed to sink into the earth.

The event was related to Lady Pennyman. She determined to remain no longer in her present habitation. Another residence was offered in the vicinity of Lisle, and this she took under the pretext that it was better suited to the size of her family.

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