The Haunted and the Haunters - Edward Bulwer Lytton - E-Book

The Haunted and the Haunters E-Book

Edward Bulwer Lytton

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Beschreibung

A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to me one day, as if between jest and earnest, "Fancy! since we last met I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London." "Really haunted,-and by what?-ghosts?" "Well, I can't answer that question; all I know is this: six weeks ago my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, 'Apartments, Furnished.' The situation suited us; we entered the house, liked the rooms, engaged them by the week,-and left them the third day. No power on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I don't wonder at it."

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The Haunted and the Haunters

The Haunted and the HauntersHaunted and the HauntersCopyright

The Haunted and the Haunters

Edward Bulwer Lytton

Haunted and the Haunters

A friend of mine, who is a man of letters and a philosopher, said to me one day, as if between jest and earnest, "Fancy! since we last met I have discovered a haunted house in the midst of London.""Really haunted,—and by what?—ghosts?""Well, I can't answer that question; all I know is this: six weeks ago my wife and I were in search of a furnished apartment. Passing a quiet street, we saw on the window of one of the houses a bill, 'Apartments, Furnished.' The situation suited us; we entered the house, liked the rooms, engaged them by the week,—and left them the third day. No power on earth could have reconciled my wife to stay longer; and I don't wonder at it.""What did you see?""Excuse me; I have no desire to be ridiculed as a superstitious dreamer,—nor, on the other hand, could I ask you to accept on my affirmation what you would hold to be incredible without the evidence of your own senses. Let me only say this, it was not so much what we saw or heard (in which you might fairly suppose that we were the dupes of our own excited fancy, or the victims of imposture in others) that drove us away, as it was an undefinable terror which seized both of us whenever we passed by the door of a certain unfurnished room, in which we neither saw nor heard anything. And the strangest marvel of all was, that for once in my life I agreed with my wife, silly woman though she be,—and allowed, after the third night, that it was impossible to stay a fourth in that house. Accordingly, on the fourth morning I summoned the woman who kept the house and attended on us, and told her that the rooms did not quite suit us, and we would not stay out our week." She said dryly, "I know why; you have stayed longer than any other lodger. Few ever stayed a second night; none before you a third. But I take it they have been very kind to you.""'They,—who?' I asked, affecting to smile."'Why, they who haunt the house, whoever they are. I don't mind them. I remember them many years ago, when I lived in this house, not as a servant; but I know they will be the death of me some day. I don't care,—I'm old, and must die soon anyhow; and then I shall be with them, and in this house still.' The woman spoke with so dreary a calmness that really it was a sort of awe that prevented my conversing with her further. I paid for my week, and too happy were my wife and I to get off so cheaply.""You excite my curiosity," said I; "nothing I should like better than to sleep in a haunted house. Pray give me the address of the one which you left so ignominiously."My friend gave me the address; and when we parted, I walked straight towards the house thus indicated.It is situated on the north side of Oxford Street, in a dull but respectable thoroughfare. I found the house shut up,—no bill at the window, and no response to my knock. As I was turning away, a beer–boy, collecting pewter pots at the neighboring areas, said to me, "Do you want any one at that house, sir?""Yes, I heard it was to be let.""Let!—why, the woman who kept it is dead,—has been dead these three weeks, and no one can be found to stay there, though Mr. J― offered ever so much. He offered mother, who chars for him, £1 a week just to open and shut the windows, and she would not.""Would not!—and why?""The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead in her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled her.""Pooh! You speak of Mr. J―. Is he the owner of the house?""Yes.""Where does he live?""In G― Street, No. ―.""What is he? In any business?""No, sir,—nothing particular; a single gentleman."I gave the pot–boy the gratuity earned by his liberal information, and proceeded to Mr. J―, in G― Street, which was close by the street that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to find Mr. J― at home,—an elderly man with intelligent countenance and prepossessing manners.I communicated my name and my business frankly. I said I heard the house was considered to be haunted,—that I had a strong desire to examine a house with so equivocal a reputation; that I should be greatly obliged if he would allow me to hire it, though only for a night. I was willing to pay for that privilege whatever he might be inclined to ask. "Sir," said Mr. J―, with great courtesy, "the house is at your service, for as short or as long a time as you please. Rent is out of the question,—the obligation will be on my side should you be able to discover the cause of the strange phenomena which at present deprive it of all value. I cannot let it, for I cannot even get a servant to keep it in order or answer the door. Unluckily the house is haunted, if I may use that expression, not only by night, but by day; though at night the disturbances are of a more unpleasant and sometimes of a more alarming character. The poor old woman who died in it three weeks ago was a pauper whom I took out of a workhouse; for in her childhood she had been known to some of my family, and had once been in such good circumstances that she had rented that house of my uncle. She was a woman of superior education and strong mind, and was the only person I could ever induce to remain in the house. Indeed, since her death, which was sudden, and the coroner's inquest, which gave it a notoriety in the neighborhood, I have so despaired of finding any person to take charge of the house, much more a tenant, that I would willingly let it rent free for a year to any one who would pay its rates and taxes.""How long is it since the house acquired this sinister character?"