"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

This story appeared in the London "Times" on Dec. 11 1873.  It reads like a real-life version of William Hope Hodgson's story "The Whistling Room."

Pity Yelp was not around in those days.  I'd love to see the reviews this hotel would've gotten.

A singular circumstance came to light in the Bristol Police Court, on Tuesday. Mr. Thomas B. Cumpston, and his wife, Mrs. Ann Martha Cumpston, of Virginia Road, Leeds, were brought up for being disorderly at the Victoria Hotel and with letting off fire-arms. It was stated in evidence by the landlady of the hotel, Mrs. Tongue, that the defendants took an apartment at the hotel, on Monday evening, and retired to rest about twelve o'clock. About four o'clock in the morning she was awoke by loud screams and shouts in their bed room, succeeded by a report of fire-arms. She went down and found that they had both leapt from their bed room into the yard below—a depth of upwards of twelve feet—and then made their way to the railway station opposite.

Mr. T. Harker, the night superintendent on the Bristol and Exeter Railway, said the parties rushed into his office, partly dressed, crying out "Murder," and they were in a terrible state of excitement. They told him they had escaped from a den of rogues and thieves, and they had to defend themselves. They were under the impression that someone was following them, and they made him search the waiting room to see there was no one there. Upon his sending for a policeman, Mr. Cumpston was searched, and a revolver and three knives were found upon him.

When asked by the magistrate what he had to say in explanation of the matter, Mr. Cumpston, who had an impediment in his speech, said he and his wife had been staying at Clifton; but, intending to proceed to Weston-super-Mare that morning, they came down and engaged a room at the Victoria Hotel, being near the railway station. They were alarmed at about four o'clock in the morning by terrible noises which they could not explain, and which frightened them very much. The bed seemed to open, and did all sorts of strange things. The floor, too, opened, and they heard voices. They were so terrified that they opened their bed-room window and leapt out.

Mrs. Cumpston, also, gave her version of the affair. She said they heard terrible noises at about four o'clock in the morning. The floor seemed to be giving way. It certainly opened, and her husband fell down some distance, and she tried to get him up. What they said was repeated every time they spoke. Being very much frightened she asked her husband to fire off his pistol, which he did, into the ceiling. The noises continuing, they got out of the window, but she did not know how. When they got outside she asked her husband to fire off his pistol again. They then ran up to the railway station. In reply to the Bench, the lady said she did not hear the noises so plainly as her husband. Ultimately, a Mr. Butt, who had been telegraphed for from Gloucester, attended the Court, and in reply to the Bench said the parties occupied a very good position in Leeds. He offered to take proper charge of them if they were handed over to him, which was ultimately done, the defendants being discharged from custody. No explanation can be given of this strange affair, and the belief is that it was an hallucination on the part of the husband.

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