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CARDIFF,

,SWANSEA.I

MERTHYR.

HAVERFORDWEST.

NEATH.

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.THE HARDGATE MYSTERY. .

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a« T vTnS*a^r.s 8ee* front door-was a. I had left it, and those on either side the entrance were both locked and bolted. í So struck were both these gentlemen-men name8 are well known—that they Q8er *° until we had gone over every oom in the house. This we did, and then to talk over the event until daylight did aPPear, f0 delights blown out without any appa- tm ?ause>.t° se« doors unlatch and open, stationary for a few second*, and then 0" again; to see chairs move about as though there was an earthquake at Ravens- hill, bells ringing, fire-irons dancing about, were every-day experiences at Hardgate and Iby wife, my servant, and my children all declare that they had separately and together leen the apparition of a small, diminutive "oman in black moving to and fro in the upper rooms of the house. However, as I have previously stated, I attribute a good deal to the vividness of woman's imagination. But I am a sceptic, and, therefore, perhaps a trifle biassed. Time and tide wait for no man, and time good old Time ;—n<-w rapidly at Kavetishiil, amid the many hospitalities for which it was 10 justly renowned, and my tenancy of Hard- 8*te, like all good things, came to an end. ■t»at before I gave up possession I held a council of war, and decided upon two things— first, to relate to those in my confidence what information I had obtained respecting the past record of Binns and the character of liilrdgate; and, secondly, to hold a committee of inquiry as to the causes that had led to the remarkable manifestations that all had from time to time witnessed. And here I will generously take the reader into the innermost recesses of my heart, and raBkly avow that, while my address on the previous history of Hardgate was being delivered before the self-appointedeommittee, 8u''j-cfc, even at that to rude and su £ gestions that they had been the ftt v'ctims of the greatest fraud by °.rn times, and it was only ^"itb pi !c'ous admixture of spring water the » f?iv8t succeeded in appeasing rath of rcsen who even then averred that if ^,d aold- Tea a, ^ate kad been vacant for five or six rs before my tenancy, and has been vacant er 8in°e, and is likely so to remain. The use of its vacancy was, and is, that, rightly or wrongly, people said there was something h ^8r a^°Qt the place, but nothing definite aa ever been stated. The house had been Oered by the owner rent free on eevera occasions, but declined with thanks, and until » *00' 1'ke, came upon the scene £ 5 per *nnum was generally regarded as its market Shost inoluded, with the other fixtures, th k OWner himself, who had onca lived in houae, was compelled to leave, because his wife refused to live there and the servants deell-lied to sleep there. It had been a ladies' school, with a large and fashionable connec- tion, until one of the pupils sought an early grave by jumping out of the top window on to the pavement below rather than remain alone au unwilling prisoner in her bedroom, Which I found out was none other tn-an the blood-stained ohainber, where she was ordered to do penance for some trivial offenee. Hardgate had in days gone by been tenanted by a doctor in extensive practice, and whose family being at the seaside, bad invited young nephew, a lad of some sixteen sum- mtv,3' e'P k'm company. Called out l*6 °nf he told his visitor to itinction l*ht until hit return, which in- literattv carried"1 fearce,y *>e said to have the lad wa^ firn^l '• ,on his uncle's return a"d on his "sensible on the «o°r, knew was that lie had^ consciou?n.e3S> alt Th» bov l; it 8?!en 8°methirig. di<*d f-ir Ji ,]'f ^vee years and, happily. J f + t l drive]li"8 ^iot. doctor's Jp Srd fl'om the 1;PS of th« heriat fc 1°* j"r8elf» who also told me that riouso^i usJRRd firmly believed in theiwyste- "ous character of the house. ar" l6aVln" 1 old r-H telling you something, said an Pack arw(c'!nai1 my wife when helping to niised' l ^are'^ no^ speak before, for 1 pro- t,^e ,,° silent on the kubject," continued Under Woman, who was the wif« of the Ulli tjr-gardener 'of the owner, but 1 bivi You t. felt 80 sony for vou and wondered how \V> 'n P'ace-" is the matter with the the n.>^ Queried my wife, anxious to draw the oid wotylan out a little. ca^i < if m& am> tbey do say as it's what they k'-mself The master tried living in it aTJd no 30lne years ago, but had to give it up, 'ame 'jkne ^as ^ve(i there since until you ^ft to c..f*V (^° sa^ a8 ^ow a P00r woman, being of ut;arve with her two children up in one after 18 attics, committed suicide, ehilrl cm*,n £ the throats of her two j8 r^n» and the blood-stained floor 0 be seen to this day, and the room You sleep in has been papered and re-papered a score of times, to my knowledge, but the of the blood from above still comes through the paper, and nothing will prevent it except, pulling the place down." I had this etory repeated to me by the old -uiijin herself .the same afternoon, who evi- dently believed what she was telling me, for .she insisted upon my invblable secrecy m'thi- matter, loot it should come to her iiKim ears. And as! listened I thought, This is some- thing like a proper foundation upon which to buiid any theory." And ten minutes after the story^was finished, I was examining the top aitic for blood sfc^ins. "ure enough from one corner of the room vrhe,nce the principal noises arose wai f^ark stain of something running from one corner of the room to the ctmtre. The same stain was found on the bedroom paper below, as described by cut informant. I couldn't, I wouldn't, believe the old Roman's story, and so sceptical was I that I cut away a portion of the stained boards and took it to an analyst for examination, for by its colour it might have been pitch or any- thing else. But the result of the analysis was that the wi" were found to be those of blood, but j. e er it was the bhjod of a bullock or a 1 mari I'eing the analyst could not tell, owing Se'y, I suppose, to tbe Iajjse of time. At was on this report tbatl ms.de up m* mind to have a committee of inquiry and take the boards of the bloody chamber up. Never shall °r £ et that inquiry as long as memory olds a seat in this distracted globe." h f-7i8el-V a Saturday, being half- a7» an<^ J was, moreover, anxious the destinations should take place by daylight, 80 a three o'clock the committee began to rnve There were se\en in all, including Jself, At half-past we commenced opera- ions m solemn silence, only broken by one tellow who exclaimed, Well, we are a parcel this "° e arll"in £ on aQ idiotic errand like in\h& fil8t tbins was to tate tbe boards up •tains6 C°rner of the room containing the blood nuiiLt0°JS w,ere a1 ready at work for the at Ji? •W n be V0ry fell°w who had sneered youn» ,lnclulrT—but who was a very smart Wh £ Z?et-ld' "Wait a moment, boys, ^nats this mean?" the ou.r«atten^on ^or tlie ^rst time to l"'rd oov°'ii thal' "h,le < lene'll of tbep.™ t'hlr!? <>;>PMS.°t «he room, covered bv t^°8 1 blood ataina came was Affile 6ft. or aboliT^i &nd f?r a BPace of lv'i>g with hideon^ • I 8126 of and re8era- Vlvidness a grave, by small boards 2ft. long and differing in colour and growth to the others. Orders were at once given to take up one of the larger boards in the corner first, and this done, everyone indulged in a roar of laughter, for underneath wa.s about a bushel and a half of oats. What did I tell you," shouted the legal sceptic. Rats," affirmed another, while, \Vait a moment," requested a third, I know some- thing about the habits and customs of rats, and there is not a vestige of evidence that a rat has been here, and it would have taken thousands of rats to carry them here. Besides," he continued, these oats are entire oats; they are only withered by age; and it is a well-known fact that oats are commonly used for the absorption of blood." And so a change came o'er the spirit of the committee, and great excitement prevailed when orders were given to remove the small two-foot wide boards. This done, we dis- covered that one joist had been practically cut away, and that for the whole length of six feet there were between two and three inches of mould, of which lime formed a very large concomitant. We searched diligently for anything of interest in the mould, and found a piece of human hair, an old-faabioned staylaee, a small bone, and a piece of blood-stained paper. on which was scrawled in an illiterate hand the words I I diedfor feat- of him." This finished, we took up every other board in the room, and with the exception of the space 6ft. x 2ft. in the corner, and where the oats were found close by, under every board was as clear as the day the house was built a hundred years ago. What more could we do by way of investigation P We didn't take ths trouble to re-lay the boards, but locked up the room and came downstairs, and brought in a unanimous verdict, which was also a very open one, and may be summed up in the words, The whole affair is very strange f am afraid, in the words of Hamlet, I taught them to drink deep ere they departed that night, which was the only night of my residence at Hardgate that I was really frightened. The last. two of the committee had risen to go. it was half-past twelve o'clock when that cold, icy chill suddenly seized the whole of us, We looked at one another, as by instinct, as much as to say, I feel very queer," when from the locked blood-stained room was beard the sound of voioes loudly quarrelling. A struggle, a heavy fall, a short silence, .9 and the door of the room opened and banged, and step by step down the staircase leading from the attics came this mysterious thing. We had heard it walk that staircase before on many occasions, but now it began lo descend the second flight. II Step by step, with heavy, measured stride, came this awful goblin of another and unex- plored world—came within a yard of where we were standing with the door wide open and fear and terror written on every face. There was no scoffing then, and, as by intuition, we all placed ourselves in an atti- tude of defence, so realistic was the dread fefling experienced, until, with a loud grunt ZtB of contemptuous defiance, the front door opened and closed, and no more was heard. Whether that was the last of the Hardgate mystery 1 cannot tell, as we left about a week after, and were uot troubled with Mr. Binns again. Whether Hardgate is still tenanted hy that gentleman I cannot say, and I do not care, but our year's experience in a haunted house —if there is such a thing—will never fade from our memory, witnessing as [we had re- peated;}' done manifestations which as intelli- gent beings we could not account for by ordinary laws. To this day, aye, even while I am writing these lines, a constant and never failing source of conversation to my two eldest, boys is to be found in the recital of rheir youthful experiences of the Ghost of John Jam 3 Christopher Benjamin Binns.