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The Powis Castle Ghost Revealing A Hidden Box To A Woman


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

The following is the narrative:--It had been for some time reported in
the neighbourhood that a poor unmarried woman, who was a member of the
Methodist Society, and had become serious under their ministry, had seen
and conversed with the apparition of a gentleman, who had made a strange
discovery to her. Mr. Hampson, being desirous to ascertain if there was
any truth in the story, sent for the woman, and desired her to give him
an exact relation of the whole affair from her own mouth, and as near the
truth as she possibly could. She said she was a poor woman, who got her
living by spinning hemp and line; that it was customary for the farmers
and gentlemen of that neighbourhood to grow a little hemp or line in a
corner of their fields for their own home consumption, and as she was a
good hand at spinning the materials, she used to go from house to house
to inquire for work; that her method was, where they employed her, during
her stay to have meat, and drink, and lodging (if she had occasion to
sleep with them), for her work, and what they pleased to give her
besides. That, among other places, she happened to call one day at the
Welsh Earl of Powis's country seat, called Redcastle, to inquire for
work, as she usually had done before. The quality were at this time in
London, and had left the steward and his wife, with other servants, as
usual, to take care of their country residence in their absence. The
steward's wife set her to work, and in the evening told her that she must
stay all night with them, as they had more work for her to do next day.
When bedtime arrived, two or three of the servants in company, with each
a lighted candle in her hand, conducted her to her lodging. They led her
to a ground room, with a boarded floor, and two sash windows. The room
was grandly furnished, and had a genteel bed in one corner of it. They
had made her a good fire, and had placed her a chair and a table before
it, and a large lighted candle upon the table. They told her that was
her bedroom, and she might go to sleep when she pleased. They then
wished her a good night and withdrew altogether, pulling the door quickly
after them, so as to hasp the spring-sneck in the brass lock that was
upon it. When they were gone, she gazed awhile at the fine furniture,
under no small astonishment that they should put such a poor person as
her in so grand a room and bed, with all the apparatus of fire, chair,
table, and candle. She was also surprised at the circumstance of the
servants coming so many together, with each of them a candle. However,
after gazing about her some little time, she sat down and took a small
Welsh Bible out of her pocket, which she always carried about with her,
and in which she usually read a chapter--chiefly in the New
Testament--before she said her prayers and went to bed. While she was
reading she heard the room door open, and turning her head, saw a
gentleman enter in a gold-laced hat and waistcoat, and the rest of his
dress corresponding therewith. (I think she was very particular in
describing the rest of his dress to Mr. Hampson, and he to me at the
time, but I have now forgot the other particulars).

He walked down by the sash-window to the corner of the room and then
returned. When he came to the first window in his return (the bottom of
which was nearly breast-high), he rested his elbow on the bottom of the
window, and the side of his face upon the palm of his hand, and stood in
that leaning posture for some time, with his side partly towards her.
She looked at him earnestly to see if she knew him, but, though from her
frequent intercourse with them, she had a personal knowledge of all the
present family, he appeared a stranger to her. She supposed afterwards
that he stood in this manner to encourage her to speak; but as she did
not, after some little time he walked off, pulling the door after him as
the servants had done before.

She began now to be much alarmed, concluding it to be an apparition, and
that they had put her there on purpose. This was really the case. The
room, it seems, had been disturbed for a long time, so that nobody could
sleep peaceably in it, and as she passed for a very serious woman, the
servants took it into their heads to put the Methodist and Spirit
together, to see what they would make of it.

Startled at this thought, she rose from her chair, and kneeled down by
the bedside to say her prayers. While she was praying he came in again,
walked round the room, and came close behind her. She had it on her mind
to speak, but when she attempted it she was so very much agitated that
she could not utter a word. He walked out of the room again, pulling the
door after him as before.

She begged that God would strengthen her and not suffer her to be tried
beyond what she was able to bear. She recovered her spirits, and thought
she felt more confidence and resolution, and determined if he came in
again she would speak to him, if possible.

He presently came in again, walked round, and came behind her as before;
she turned her head and said, Pray, sir, who are you, and what do you
want? He put up his finger, and said, Take up the candle and follow
me, and I will tell you. She got up, took up the candle, and followed
him out of the room. He led her through a long boarded passage till they
came to the door of another room, which he opened and went in. It was a
small room, or what might be called a large closet. As the room was
small, and I believed him to be a Spirit, she said, I stopped at the
door; he turned and said, 'Walk in, I will not hurt you.' So I walked
in. He said, 'Observe what I do.' I said, 'I will.' He stooped, and
tore up one of the boards of the floor, and there appeared under it a box
with an iron handle in the lid. He said, 'Do you see that box?' I said,
'Yes, I do.' He then stepped to one side of the room, and showed me a
crevice in the wall, where, he said, a key was hid that would open it.
He said, 'This box and key must be taken out, and sent to the Earl in
London' (naming the Earl, and his place of residence in the city). He
said, 'Will you see it done?' I said, 'I will do my best to get it
done.' He said, 'Do, and I will trouble the house no more.' He then
walked out of the room and left me. (He seems to have been a very civil
Spirit, and to have been very careful to affright her as little as
possible). I stepped to the room door and set up a shout. The steward
and his wife, and the other servants came to me immediately, all clung
together, with a number of lights in their hands. It seems they had all
been waiting to see the issue of the interview betwixt me and the
apparition. They asked me what was the matter? I told them the
foregoing circumstances, and showed them the box. The steward durst not
meddle with it, but his wife had more courage, and, with the help of the
other servants, lugged it out, and found the key. She said by their
lifting it appeared to be pretty heavy, but that she did not see it
opened, and therefore did not know what it contained; perhaps money, or
writings of consequence to the family, or both.

They took it away with them, and she then went to bed and slept peaceably
till the morning.

It appeared afterwards that they sent the box to the Earl in London, with
an account of the manner of its discovery and by whom; and the Earl sent
down orders immediately to his steward to inform the poor woman who had
been the occasion of this discovery, that if she would come and reside in
his family, she should be comfortably provided for for the remainder of
her days; or, if she did not choose to reside constantly with them, if
she would let them know when she wanted assistance, she should be
liberally supplied at his Lordship's expense as long as she lived. And
Mr. Hampson said it was a known fact in the neighbourhood that she had
been so supplied from his Lordship's family from the time the affair was
said to have happened, and continued to be so at the time she gave Mr.
Hampson this account.

Such is the tale. I will make no comments on it. Many similar stories
are extant. After one more tale, I will leave these Spirit stories, and
I will then relate how troublesome Ghosts were laid.

The Spirits of the preceding tales were sent from the unseen world to do
good, but the Spirit of the maiden who gives a name to a Welsh lake,
cried out for vengeance; but history does not inform us that she obtained
satisfaction. There is a lake in Carnarvonshire called
Llyn-Nad-y-Forwyn, or the Lake of the Maiden's Cry, to which is
attached the following tale. I will call the tale

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