"...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 6, 2015

Book Clipping of the Day

"The Water Ghost," by Alfred Kubin


I always say, a ghost just isn't a ghost unless it's damn good and mad about something. This tale of a deadly love triangle and spectral vengeance in Yorkshire comes from a 1901 book, "The Great North Road," by Charles George Harper:

The "White House" was the scene of a murder in 1623. At that time the innkeeper was a certain Ralph Raynard, who "kept company" with a girl in service at Red House, Thornton Bridge. The lovers quarrelled, and in a pique the girl married a farmer named Fletcher, of Moor House, Raskelf. Unhappily, she did not love the man she had married, while she certainly did retain an affection for her old sweetheart, and he for her. Going between Raskelf and Easingwold on market-days on her horse, she would often stop at the "White House" and chat with Ralph Raynard; the ostler, Mark Dunn, minding the horse when she dismounted. Raynard’s sister kept house with him at the inn, and she saw that no good could come of these visits, but he would not listen to her warnings, and the visits continued. It was not long before Fletcher’s neighbours began to hint to him something of these little flirtatious of his wife with her old lover; and one evening he caught the ostler of the "White House " in his orchard, where he was waiting for an opportunity to deliver a message from Raynard to her. The man returned to the inn without having fulfilled his mission, and smarting from a thrashing he had received at the hands of the indignant farmer. Shortly after this, Fletcher had occasion to go a journey. Things had not been going well with him latterly, and his home was rendered unhappy by the evidence of his wife’s dislike of him. Little wonder, that he had dismal forebodings as he set out. Before leaving, he wrote on a sheet of paper :—

"If I should be missing, or suddenly wanted be,
Mark Ralph Raynard, mark Dunn, and mark my
wife for me,"

addressing it to his sister.

No sooner was he gone than Mrs. Fletcher mounted her horse and rode to Raskelf, where, with Raynard and Mark Dunn, a murderous plot was contrived for putting Fletcher out of the way. They were waiting for him when he returned at evening, and as he stood a moment on Dawnay Bridge, where the little river runs beneath the highway, two of them rushed upon him and threw him into the water. It would be difficult for a man to drown here, but the innkeeper and the ostler leapt in after him, and as he lay there held his head under water, while his wife seized his feet. When the unfortunate man was quite dead they thrust his body into a sack, and, carrying their burden with them to the inn, buried it in the garden, Raynard sowing some mustard-seed over the spot.

This took place on the 1st of May. On the 7th of July, Raynard went to Topcliffe Fair, and put up at the "Angel." Going into the stable, he was confronted by the apparition of the unhappy Fletcher, glowing with a strange light and predicting retribution. He rushed out among the booths, and tried to think he had been mistaken. Coming to a booth where they sold small trinkets, he thought he would buy a present for his sweetheart, and, taking up a chain of coral beads, asked the stallkeeper how it looked on the neck. To his dismay the apparition stood opposite, with a red chain round its neck, with its head hanging to one side, like that of an executed criminal, while a voice informed him that presently he and his accomplices should be wearing hempen necklaces.

When night had fallen he mounted his horse and rode for home. On the way, at a spot called the Carr, he saw something in the road. It was a figure emerging from a sack and shaking the water off it, like a Newfoundland dog. With a yell of terror the haunted man dug his heels into his horse and galloped madly away; but the figure, irradiated by a phosphorescent glimmer and dragging an equally luminous sack after it, was gliding in front of him all the while, at an equal pace, and so continued until the "White House" was reached, where it slid through the garden hedge and into the ground where Fletcher’s body had been laid. 
Raynard’s sister was waiting for him, with supper ready, and with a dish of freshly cut mustard. She did not see the spectre sitting opposite, pointing a minatory finger at that dreadful salad, but he did, and, terrified, confessed to the crime. Sisterly affection was not proof against this, and she laid information against the three accomplices before a neighbouring justice of the peace, Sir William Sheffield of Raskelf Park. They were committed to York Castle, tried, and hanged on July 28, 1623. The bodies were afterwards cut down and taken to the inn, being gibbeted near the scene of the crime, on a spot still called Gallows Hill, where the bones of the three malefactors were accidentally ploughed up a hundred years ago.

2 comments:

  1. WOWW..!! That is a freaky story..!! Perfect for Samhain.. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. The murderers got what they deserved. Sometimes ghosts are vindictive, sometimes they are just.

    ReplyDelete

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