BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois


My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters

by Henry Addington Bruce

Excerpt:

When the Cromwellian wars broke out, he was in his prime, a stout, sturdy Englishman, suffering, as did his fellows, from the misrule of the Stuarts, and ready for any desperate step that might better his fortunes. Volunteering, therefore, under the man of blood and iron, tradition has it that from the first battle to the last his drum was heard inspiring the revolutionists to mighty deeds of valor. The conflict at an end, Charles beheaded, and the Fifth Monarchy men creating chaos in their noisy efforts to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, he lapsed into an obscurity that endured until the Restoration. Then he reemerged, not as a veteran living at ease on laurels well won, but as a wandering beggar, roving from shire to shire in quest of alms, which he implored to the accompaniment of fearsome music from his beloved drum.

Thus he journeyed, undisturbed and gaining a sufficient living, until he chanced in the spring of 1661 to invade the quiet Wiltshire village of Tedworth. At that time the interests of Tedworth were identical with the interests of a certain Squire Mompesson, and he, being a gouty, irritable individual, was little disposed to have his peace and the peace of Tedworth disturbed by the drummer's loud bawling and louder drumming. At his orders rough hands seized the unhappy wanderer, blows rained upon him, and he was driven from Tedworth minus his drum. In vain he begged the wrathful Mompesson to restore it to him; in vain, with the tears streaming down his battle-worn, weatherbeaten face, he protested that the drum was the only friend left to him in all the world; and in vain he related the happy memories it held for him. "Go," he was roughly told — "go, and be thankful thou escapest so lightly!" So go he did, and whither he went nobody knew, and for the moment nobody cared.

But all Tedworth soon had occasion to wish that his lamentations had moved the Squire to pity. Hardly a month later, when Mompesson had journeyed to the capital to pay his respects to the King, his family were aroused in the middle of the night by angry voices and an incessant banging on the front door. Windows were tried; entrance was vehemently demanded. Within, panic reigned at once. The house was situated in a lonely spot, and it seemed certain that, having heard of its master's absence, a band of highwaymen, with whom the countryside abounded, had planned to turn burglars. The occupants, consisting as they did of women and children, could at best make scant resistance; and consequently there was much quaking and trembling, until, finding the bolts and bars too strong for them, the unwelcome visitors withdrew.

Unmeasured was Mompesson's wrath when he returned and learned of the alarm. He only hoped, he declared, that the villains would venture back — he would give them a greeting such as had not been known since the days of the great war. That very night he had opportunity to make good his boast, for soon after the household had sought repose the disturbance broke out anew. Lighting a lantern, slipping into a dressing-gown, and snatching up a brace of pistols, the Squire dashed down-stairs, the noise becoming louder the nearer he reached the door. Click, clash — the bolts were slipped back, the key was turned, and, lantern extended, he peered into the night.

The moment he opened the door all became still, and nothing but empty darkness met his eyes. Almost immediately, however, the knocking began at a second door, to which, after making the first fast, he hurried, only to find the same result, and to hear, with mounting anger, a tumult at yet another door. Again silence when this was thrown open. But, stepping outside, as he afterward told the story, Mompesson became aware of "a strange and hollow sound in the air." Forthwith the suspicion entered his mind that the noises he had heard might be of supernatural origin. To him, true son of the seventeenth century, a suspicion of this sort was tantamount to certainty, and an unreasoning alarm filled his soul; an alarm that grew into deadly fear when, safe in the bed he had hurriedly sought, a tremendous booming sound came from the top of the house.

Here, in an upper room, for safe-keeping and as an interesting relic of the Civil War, had been placed the beggar's drum, and the terrible thought occurred to Mompesson: "Can it be that the drummer is dead, and that his spirit has returned to torment me?"

A few nights later no room for doubt seemed left. Instead of the nocturnal shouting and knocking, there began a veritable concert from the room containing the drum. This concert, Mompesson informed his friends, opened with a peculiar "hurling in the air over the house," and closed with "the beating of a drum like that at the breaking up of a guard." The mental torture of the Squire and his family may be easier imagined than described. And before long matters grew much worse, when, becoming emboldened, the ghostly drummer laid aside his drum to play practical, and sometimes exceedingly painful, jokes on the members of the household.


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