Startling Experiences of An English Couple in Italy.
Pestered By a “Poltergeist”
Startling Experiences of An English Couple in Italy.
FOLLOWERS of Conan Doyle will be interested in Mr. Kerr’s experiences of an unruly spirit or “poltergeist”, as related in the Hibbert Journal, a religious quarterly. The editor, an eminent British scholar, in publishing the story states that he has investigated the circumstances and, whatever the explanation, has complete confidence in the genuineness of the narrative.
Mr. Kerr while waiting for a house of his own, temporarily occupied a villa in an Italian lake town which had for many years been occupied by two elderly ladies, one of whom had lately died. Relating his and his wife’s experiences in their new temporary home he says:—
“The first evening we were sufficiently tired to look forward to comfortable beds and fragrant linen sheets.
“Though tired, I was not very sleepy and vainly awaited the pleasing moment, known to those who are addicted to reading in bed, when the lines become confused and the meaning of the last paragraph seems to be of extra importance. Although sleep would not come, I was lazily comfortable and the book was fairly interesting. I turned luxuriously in my bed, and then I heard light but distinct footsteps on the stone stairs leading from the hall. The stair-carpets had been removed, and I could hear the footsteps very plainly. I wondered—somewhat lazily at first— who it could be. My wife had retired to her room; the footsteps were not hers, for she has a rather heavy step and quite unlike those to which I listened.
“At the top of the stairs the footsteps hesitated, and, as if someone were walking in the dark, I heard hands feeling over the panels of the door of my room. Then by the bright light which was flooding my bedroom I heard and saw the handle (not a knob as is used in England, but a whitemetal handle, some four or five inches long) of the door move upward. A thought, almost of annoyance, passed through my mind that it was a silly and futile proceeding to move the handle upward, as the door could only be opened by pressing the handle down,. Again I heard a hand or hands passed over the door, and for the second time I heard and saw
the movement of the handle. I quietly got out of bed and suddenly threw the door open. The strong light from my room lit up the landing, but I could see no one. I then returned to my bed and
“All was quiet for a time, and then I heard the footsteps again; this time they were descending the wooden starrs which led from the floor above; they reached the landing and passed across it to the morning-room, where I distinctly heard someone moving about. I remember noticing that there was no noise of the morning-room door having been opened.
“I said nothing to my wife about what I had heard. Every evening, every day and night I heard footsteps somewhere in the house, except when I was on the top floor or in the basement. In the daytime they struck me as being more distinct. I would hear them when I sat reading; they would go in front of me, and, less often, follow me when I went up or down the stairs. When sitting in the drawing-room I would hear someone moving about the morning-room immediately overhead, and several times chairs, and so forth, were unmistakably shifted in the room above.
“It was evident that my wife also heard the noises which disturbed me. Now and again a pause in her conversation, a listening attitude, and a puzzled look had made me feel sure that she also heard what I did, and now I was convinced. I still, however, kept my own counsel. She would sometimes ask me, ‘Did you hear that?’ but my invariable answer was ‘No.’ On one occasion, at our evening meal, she asked me to go into the hall and see what was tapping or knocking. I had heard this noise for some little time, but had taken no notice of it. I went out and found that the tapping came from the door (which was ajar) at the top of the basement steps. On approaching the door it was rather disconcertingly pulled to; I promptly locked it and returned to the dining-room. After that the tappings were heard faintly at intervals during the evening.
“Some days later I had gone out one afternoon, leaving my wife alone in the house. During my absence two French
ladies called, in order to obtain some information about the house, which they thought of taking after our departure. “The three ladies talked for some time and, at one point of the conversation, when one of the French ladies was speaking, my wife heard someone at the front door; the inner glass door was opened and leisurely closed, and footsteps were heard in the hall. “The French lady who had been speaking asked: ‘You have, then, someone staying in the house?’ My wife answered, ‘No,’ and explained that her husband must have come home, having let himself in with his latchkey. She then went into the hall and called me once or twice. Receiving no answer, she concluded that I was not anxious to join the party. The visitors then left. “My wife, never doubting for a moment that I was in the house, hurried upstairs, calling me as she went. She found me in none of therooms.andthinkingthat I, in an unwonted fit of playfulness, was hiding from her, searched for me thoroughly. She found no one. Fear then came upon her; she fled downstairs and locked herself in the kitchen from which she was released by my arrival about an hour later. “She met me in the hall and rather excitedly told me that there was someone in the house, begging me to search immediately for the intruder. I at once assented. I locked all the doors on the ground floor, putting the keys in my pocket, and, arming myself with a for-
midable alpenstock and lighting a lantern in case of the electric light being suddenly turned off, I searched the two upper floors in a very drastic and complete manner. I then examined the ground floor and basement in an equally thorough fashion. Vastly to my wife’s disappointment, and to some extent (for I had had but little hope of success) to my own, our quest proved fruitless. “I said nothing to my wife until we had settled down the next day in our new house. I questioned her and told her all my own troubles in Villa Wisteria. “As we compared notes, my wife was surprised to find that I had also suffered from the attentions of the poltergeist, and had suffered at the same moment as herself on so many occasions. We were rather impressed by our experiences, and very thankful to find ourselves safely away from the hated footsteps and other' worrying noises. “As for Villa Wisteria, I visited it again a couple of days or so after we had left it, in order to make sure that we had left nothing behind. The rooms were bare and empty, and, as I explored them from top to basement, I listened everywhere intently, but heard nothing. The house lay empty for a considerable time, but was eventually taken by two sposin (young, newly married people), who, so far as I know, have not been disturbed by any unwelcome visitors. This I can believe, for they are doubtless fulfilling the destiny of all sposini, and are ‘living happily ever afterward.’ ”
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