10 JANUARY 1931, Page 17


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sia,—In the early days of their marriage and when I was a small baby, my father, the late William Caldwell Roscoe— brother-in-law of the late Mr. R. H. Hutton—rented a lonely old house in North Wales. My parents' bedroom lay at the end of a long passage approached by three steps. The first night they slept there they heard light footsteps that sounded like those of a woman coming up the passage and stopping at their door. My father thinking that someone was there got up and opened the door, but seeing no one went round -the house, with the same result. After that sometime during every night the same steps came up the passage to the door— they never returned down the passage. They learnt after a time from the country people that a lady was known to haunt the house. The story went that her husband had been cruel to her, and that when her little son lay dying in the big room at the end of the passage (occupied by my parents) he had refused to allow her to go near the child and that ever since the poor lady walked up the passage to try to enter the room.

As a small baby I slept in a cot at my mother's bedside, and while she and my father were at dinner in the evenings, my nurse sat in the room to look after me. After a time she gave notice and on my mother's asking her what she had to complain of, she said she was hurt in her mind because my mother did not trust her. " You very often draw your dress round you so it shall not rustle (it was a silk dress) and come softly up the passage to see if I'm sitting by the baby." When my mother told her the cause of the steps she, being a strong-minded young woman declared that she would sit with the door open to see if she could see anyone.

My father used from time to time (he was a barrister) to go on Circuit with the late Judge Crompton, and when he did so the nurse slept in his dressing-room to be near my mother, and often when there she would call out—" We can go to sleep now, Ma'am—the lady's been." There was another smaller room opening on to this passage, known as the Bachelor's room, which friends who came to stay with my father sometimes occupied. On one occasion the late Mr. Walter Bagehot, afterwards editor of the Economist, was given that room. The next day at breakfast he said to my father that he hoped his wife had not been taken ill in the night as he had heard someone walking in the passage. He was told the supposed source of the sounds and the following morning he came to breakfast looking a good deal disturbed and begged to be put into another room as he could not pass another night in his present one. Once, my mother used to tell us, as she was going up to bed, she suddenly felt herself joined at the three steps at the beginning of the long passage by someone taller than herself and instinctively stepped off *he strip of carpet laid up the passage on to the boards at the side and with this companion she reached her bedroom door and then turned and ran down to my father and said to him, "You must come up at once. Oh ! I've walked with the lady." After telling us this she would say, " But, of course, it could only have been my fancy," and then she would rub her hand up and down her arm and exclaim quite involuntarily, "Oh, but I can feel it still." The old house occupied by my parents seventy-three years ago still stands, but whether the poor lady, ever seeking to reach her dying child, still walks up that passage I have [The above story was entered. for our Ghost Story Com- petition. It was not awarded a prize, but we publish it in the belief that it will interest our readers.—En. Spectator.]