|Josef Mandl, "Apparition at a Grave," 1916|
This curious little Welsh tale was first published in 1892. This reprint is from the magazine "Bye-Gones," for December 14 of that year.
The Rev. John S. Simon tells the following story in the Christmas number of the Methodist Recorder. The story was told to him by his father, the late Rev. John Simon, who was born at Rhewl, and was a well-known preacher in the Vale of Llangollen :—
"One morning, many years ago, an excited group of villagers assembled under the yew trees in the churchyard. An extraordinary event had occurred. During the night a man who lived in a neighbouring village had been aroused from his sleep by a mysterious person who had entered his room. Following a beckoning finger, he had risen from his bed and hastened to Llantysilio church. To his surprise the church was open. Through the windows beamed ghostly light. He listened. He heard them denounce the then possessor of the Hall. He should not die a natural death; when he died the Hall would be seized by a stranger who had no legal right to it. These words the terror-stricken man distinctly heard, and then he retreated and fled to his village, The news was soon whispered abroad, and my father used to describe the solemn conclave under the yew trees, and the profound discussions of the rustic sages. Time rolled on. The owner of the Hall did not seem ‘one penny the worse’ for ghostly denunciation. One day, however, he was in his cellar decanting wine, when he cut his hand severely with a broken bottle. The wound was obstinate and would not heal. He went away from home, but the hand grew worse. Finally he died. On the day of the funeral a gentleman of military appearance presented himself at the Hall to take part in the ceremony. He was not known. The funeral cortege set out. A keen eye might have noticed that the stranger did not Join the procession. When the mourners returned to the Hall they found that they could not enter. The place was shut. The military man had taken possession. It was subsequently understood that he claimed the Hall in a stake he had won when gambling with the late proprietor. We believe that the estate was thrown into Chancery, remaining there for many long years. To the best of my recollection, I have given facts which sceptics, having purged their souls by repentance, may ponder.”There is a footnote to this story. In 1821 Thomas Jones, the owner of Llangollen Hall, died. Although it was believed he had made out a will, this document could not be found. The following year, an old woman named Catherine Jones (who was better-known by the delightful name of "Kitty Taerty,") dreamed that Jones' will had been placed in his coffin, under the deceased's head. Locals found her story credible enough for a group of men to turn resurrectionist. One night, they excavated Jones' grave, but a search of the coffin found nothing. While undertaking this ghoulish task, the nervous men saw a...something...moving in the churchyard.
They did not bother to investigate. The would-be grave-robbers reburied the coffin as quickly as possible and made a hasty exit.
Jones had no near relatives, so the estate wound up in Chancery, and was eventually sold.