The Book of Dreams and Ghosts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 242 pages of information about The Book of Dreams and Ghosts.

So much for supposed hauntings by spirits of the dead.

At the opposite pole are hauntings by agencies whom nobody supposes to be ghosts of inmates of the house.  The following is an extreme example, as the haunter proceeded to arson.  This is not so very unusual, and, if managed by an impostor, shows insane malevolence. {202}

THE DANCING DEVIL

On 16th November, 1870, Mr. Shchapoff, a Russian squire, the narrator, came home from a visit to a country town, Iletski, and found his family in some disarray.  There lived with him his mother and his wife’s mother, ladies of about sixty-nine, his wife, aged twenty, and his baby daughter.  The ladies had been a good deal disturbed.  On the night of the 14th, the baby was fractious, and the cook, Maria, danced and played the harmonica to divert her.  The baby fell asleep, the wife and Mr. Shchapoff’s miller’s lady were engaged in conversation, when a shadow crossed the blind on the outside.  They were about to go out and see who was passing, when they heard a double shuffle being executed with energy in the loft overhead.  They thought Maria, the cook, was making a night of it, but found her asleep in the kitchen.  The dancing went on but nobody could be found in the loft.  Then raps began on the window panes, and so the miller and gardener patrolled outside.  Nobody!

Raps and dancing lasted through most of the night and began again at ten in the morning.  The ladies were incommoded and complained of broken sleep.  Mr. Shchapoff, hearing all this, examined the miller, who admitted the facts, but attributed them to a pigeon’s nest, which he had found under the cornice.  Satisfied with this rather elementary hypothesis, Mr. Shchapoff sat down to read Livingstone’s African Travels.  Presently the double shuffle sounded in the loft.  Mrs. Shchapoff was asleep in her bedroom, but was awakened by loud raps.  The window was tapped at, deafening thumps were dealt at the outer wall, and the whole house thrilled.  Mr. Shchapoff rushed out with dogs and a gun, there were no footsteps in the snow, the air was still, the full moon rode in a serene sky.  Mr. Shchapoff came back, and the double shuffle was sounding merrily in the empty loft.  Next day was no better, but the noises abated and ceased gradually.

Alas, Mr. Shchapoff could not leave well alone.  On 20th December, to amuse a friend, he asked Maria to dance and play.  Raps, in tune, began on the window panes.  Next night they returned, while boots, slippers, and other objects, flew about with a hissing noise.  A piece of stuff would fly up and fall with a heavy hard thud, while hard bodies fell soundless as a feather.  The performances slowly died away.

On Old Year’s Night Maria danced to please them; raps began, people watching on either side of a wall heard the raps on the other side.  On 8th January, Mrs. Shchapoff fainted when a large, luminous ball floated, increasing in size, from under her bed.  The raps now followed her about by day, as in the case of John Wesley’s sisters.  On these occasions she felt weak and somnolent.  Finally Mr. Shchapoff carried his family to his town house for much-needed change of air.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
The Book of Dreams and Ghosts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook