Monday, 5 January 2009


“...There are various indistinct traditionary rumours respecting the old ruins being haunted by the ghost of a certain necromancer, who is said to have lived about the end of the fourteenth or the early part of the fifteenth century. At the same time I admit that I never met anyone who had seen the phantom; and I have frequently used this as an argument to convince the ignorant peasantry of the absurdity of the idea. One day as I was conversing with one of the most intelligent among them on the subject, I enquired if he, who had lived all his life in the neighbourhood, and was now an old man, had ever seen the ghost. 'Never,' he replied. 'Did your father, who inhabited the cottage before you, ever see him?' 'No; but he was certain the ghost haunted the ruins for all that.' 'Do you know anyone who ever saw him?' I enquired. 'No,' said he, 'and that is my great reason for believing that he haunts the ruins.' 'How so?' I asked. 'Because no-one will go near them after nightfall for fear they should see him; and that is, I think, proof enough for anyone who is not an infidel.' Of course it was of little use attempting to combat such a logician, and I gave up on the point, greatly to the self-glorification of my adversary”

“But is there really nothing known with certainty of the history of those ruins?”

“Nothing,” replied the priest. “Whenever a tradition worthy of any credence is brought forward respecting them, it is always mixed up with so much that is false as to make it of little or no value. My poor friend, the late priest of the parish, took a great interest in the matter, but I am afraid that his attempts to throw light on the subject have only made obscurity doubly obscure.”

“How so?”

“Well, I can hardly describe it satisfactorily. He was rather an eccentric character, and occasionally it was exceedingly difficult to know whether he was in jest or in earnest. He has left behind him many memoranda which he made respecting the ruins, and many traditions concerning them; but the latter are of so wild and fantastic a character, as not only to prove themselves utterly fictitious, but at the same time to throw great doubt upon other details which otherwise would have appeared purely historical. Some of his narratives are told, however, in such a matter-of-fact way as to give one the impression that he had derived them from some local traditions representing events which might formerly have happened, but which have become so distorted by being verbally handed down from father to son, that the original facts have been totally lost. Others of them, however, are very possibly the creation of his own brain. At any rate the safer plan is to consider them as such.”

“What makes you imagine it possible that any of them had an original foundation in fact?” I inquired.

“That is a very difficult question to answer,” he replied. “I admit that the only data I can offer are the occasional descriptions he gives of different parts of the building, which are narrated so minutely as to throw some air of truth over the tale. I am somewhat inclined to believe that at the commencement he conscientiously determined to write an authentic sketch of the history of the whole castle; but finding it impossible, he merely amused himself by inventing the tales he has put together.”

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