2009-12-23

015 - There Is No Death, by Florence Marryat: The Spirit of the Flemish Woman in the Cap of Mechlin Lace

 
Another sister of mine, Blanche, used to live in a haunted house in Bruges, of which a description will be found in the chapter headed “The Story of the Monk” (see "There Is No Death in Bruges-la-Morte”). Long, however, before the monk was heard of, I could not sleep in her house on account of the disturbances in my room, for which my sister used to laugh at me. But even when my husband, Colonel Lean, and I stayed there together, it was much the same.
One night I waked him to see the figure of a woman, who had often visited me, standing at the foot of the bed. She was quaintly attired in a sort of leathern boddice or jerkin, laced up the front over a woollen petticoat of some dark color. She wore a cap of Mechlin lace, with the large flaps at the side, adopted by Flemish women to this day; her hair was combed tightly off her forehead, and she wore a profusion of gold ornaments.
My husband could describe her as vividly as I did, which proves how plainly the apparition must have shown itself. I waked on several occasions to see this woman busy (apparently) with the contents of an old carved oak armoir which stood in a corner of the room, and which, I suppose, must have had something to do with herself.
My eldest son joined me at Bruges on this occasion. He was a young fellow of twenty, who had never practised, nor even enquired into Spiritualism – fresh from sea, and about as free from fear or superstitious fancies as a mortal could be. He was put to sleep in a room on the other side of the house, and I saw from the first that he was grave about it, but I did not ask him the reason, though I felt sure, from personal experience, that he would hear or see something before long.
In a few days he came to me and said: “Mother, I'm going to take my mattress into the colonel's dressing-room to-night and sleep there.”
I asked him why.
He replied: “It's impossible to stay in that room any longer. I wouldn't mind if they'd let me sleep, but they won't. There's something that walks about half the night, whispering and muttering, and touching the bedclothes, and though I don't believe in any of your rubbishy spirits, I'll be ‘jiggered’ if I sleep there any longer.”
So he was not “jiggered” (whatever that may be), as he refused to enter the room again.


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