This post is a temporary departure from our discourse on writs. It is, after all, Halloween!
The following is a tale of a haunted bedroom, and reads a little like a Regency romance:
A young buck of the ton quit London to join a weekend house party in the south of England. His host, an older gentleman and quite worthy, owned a considerable country estate there. By reason of a wedding, the house was completely full of overnight guests, so that only one bedroom was vacant.
It was allegedly haunted.
Up to every rig and row, our hero was not above enjoying an overnight lark with an apparition and readily agreed to sleep in the disturbed room:
“Sir, you will oblige me by letting me lie there; for I have often coveted to be in a place that was haunted.”
— Apparitions; or, the Mysteries of Ghosts, Hobgoblins, and Haunted Houses by Joseph Taylor (1815)
That night, the intrepid young man committed himself to sleep, for the room was comfortably furnished and the fire had been generously built up. At three o’clock in the morning he woke, for someone had entered the room. He could not see who it was for his candle was extinguished.
Fortunately, the intruder revived the fire with a poker, the brightening glow revealing the apparition to be a young woman in naught but her shift, She was so pale as to be indistinguishable from a wraith.
It was not until she got into bed with the astonished young man that he perceived the apparition to be flesh and blood. Only the living breathe while asleep. Her hand, which he clasped, was warm.
Finding she had a ring on her finger, he took it off unperceived.
Presently, his fair bed fellow rose and left the room. Clutching the evidence of her visitation in his hand, the young man locked the door against further incursions and went to sleep.
As is the case with country house mysteries, the guests greatly anticipated the outcome of a night spent in a haunted bedroom. Indeed, everyone appeared well before nuncheon so as not to miss the opportunity to find out how the young man, so clearly awake on every suit, had passed the night before.
Before he would gratify their curiosity, however, the bachelor required the females assembled to identify the ring he held up. The daughter of the house very prettily claimed it, declaring she had lost it somehow during the night and had despaired of its recovery.
She was thrown into an even prettier state of confusion when the handsome guest took her by the hand and brought her before the master of the house, her papa, announcing:
“This is the lovely spirit by which your chamber is haunted.”
Amid the company’s good-natured laughter, the worthy host begged his weekend-guest to become a tenant for life, and offered his daughter for marriage, along with a large dowry.
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 as her husband.”