A young gentleman, going down from London to the west of England, to the house of a very worthy gentleman, to whom he had the honour to be related; it happened, that the gentleman’s house was at that time full, by reason of a kinswoman’s wedding, that had lately been kept there. He therefore told the young gentleman, that he was very glad to see him, and that he was very welcome to him: “But,” said he, “I know not how I shall do for a lodging for you; for my cousin’s marriage has not left a room free, save one, and that is haunted; but if you will lie there, you shall have a very good bed, and all other accommodations.” “Sir,” replied the young gentleman, “you will very much oblige me by letting me lie there; for I have often coveted to be in a place that was haunted.” The gentleman, very glad that his kinsman was so well pleased with his accommodations, ordered the chamber to be got ready, and a good fire to be made in it, it being winter-time. When bed-time came, the young gentleman was conducted up into his chamber, which, besides a good fire, was furnished with all suitable accommodations; and, having recommended himself to the Divine protection, went to bed. Lying some time awake, and finding no disturbance, he fell asleep; out of which, however, he was awaked about three o’clock in the morning, by the opening of the chamber-door, and the entrance of somebody in the appearance of a young woman, having a night-dress on her head, and only her shift on: but he had no perfect view of her, for his candle was burnt out; and though there was a fire in the room, yet it gave not light enough to see her distinctly. But this unknown visitant going to the chimney, took the poker, and stirred up the fire; by the flaming light whereof; he could discern the appearance of a young gentlewoman more distinctly, but whether it was flesh and blood, or an airy phantom, he knew not. This appearance having stood some time before the fire, as if to warm itself, at last walked two or three times about the room, and then came to the bedside; where having stood a little while, she took up the bed-clothes, and went into bed, pulling the bed-clothes upon her again, and lying very quietly. The young gentleman was a little startled at this unknown bed-fellow; and, upon her approach, lay on the further side of the bed, not knowing whether he had best rise or not. At last, lying very still, he perceived his bed-fellow to breathe; by which guessing her to be flesh and blood, he drew nearer to her, and taking her by the hand, found it warm, and that it was no airy phantom, but substantial flesh and blood; and finding she had a ring on her finger, he took it off unperceived. The gentlewoman being all this while asleep, he let her lie without disturbing her, and patiently waited the result of this singular situation. He had not long remained in suspense, when his fair companion hastily flung off the bed-clothes again, and getting up, walked three or four times about the room, as she had done before; and then, standing a while before the door, opened it, went out, and shut it after her. The young gentleman, perceiving by this in what manner the room was haunted, rose up, and locked the door on the inside; and then lay down again, and slept till morning; at which time the master of the house came to him, to know how he did, and whether he had seen any thing, or not? He told him; that an apparition had appeared to him, but begged the favour of him that he would not urge him to say any thing further, till the whole family were all together. The gentleman complied with his request, telling his young friend, that, having found him well, he was perfectly satisfied.
The desire the whole family had to know the issue of this affair, made them dress with more expedition than usual, so that there was a general assembly of the gentlemen and ladies before eleven o’clock, not one of them being willing to appear in dishabille. When they were all got together in the great hall, the young gentleman told them, he had one favour to desire of the ladies before he would say any thing, and that was, to know whether either of them had lost a ring? The young gentlewoman, from whose finger it was taken, having missed it all the morning, and not knowing how she lost it, was glad to hear of it again, and readily owned she wanted a ring. The young gentleman asked her if that was it, giving it into her hand, which she acknowledging to be hers, and thanking him, he turned to his kinsman, the master of the house- “Now, Sir,” said he, “I can assure you,” (taking the gentlewoman by the hand,) “this is the lovely spirit by which your chamber is haunted,”- And thereupon repeated what is related.
I want words to express the confusion the young gentlewoman seemed to be in at this relation, who declared herself perfectly ignorant of all that he said; but believed it might be so, because of the ring, which she perfectly well remembered she had on, when she went to bed, and knew not how she had lost it.
This relation gave the whole company a great deal of diversion: for, after all, the father declared, that since his daughter had already gone to bed to his kinsman, it should be his fault if he did not go to bed to his daughter, he being willing to bestow her upon him, and give her a good portion. This generous offer was so advantageous to the young gentleman, that he could by no means refuse it; and his late bed-fellow, hearing what her father had said, was easily prevailed upon to accept him for her husband.
All October, in the lead-up to Halloween, I have been presenting a ‘Creepy History’ series, featuring extracts from old books that have been largely forgotten. The final entry in the series will be tomorrow. Normal service (journals and snippets) will be resumed in a few days.