True Irish Ghost Stories

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True Irish Ghost Stories
Of all species of ghostly phenomena, that commonly known as "haunted
houses" appeals most to the ordinary person. There is something very
eerie in being shut up within the four walls of a house with a ghost. The
poor human being is placed at such a disadvantage. If we know that a
gateway, or road, or field has the reputation of being haunted, we can in
nearly every case make a detour, and so avoid the unpleasant locality.
But the presence of a ghost in a house creates a very different state of
affairs. It appears and disappears at its own sweet will, with a total
disregard for our feelings: it seems to be as much part and parcel of the
domicile as the staircase or the hall door, and, consequently, nothing
short of leaving the house or of pulling it down (both of these solutions
are not always practicable) will free us absolutely from the unwelcome
presence.

There is also something so natural, and at the same time so unnatural, in
seeing a door open when we know that no human hand rests on the knob, or
in hearing the sound of footsteps, light or heavy, and feeling that it
cannot be attributed to the feet of mortal man or woman. Or perhaps a
form appears in a room, standing, sitting, or walking--in fact, situated
in its three dimensions apparently as an ordinary being of flesh and
blood, until it proves its unearthly nature by vanishing before our
astonished eyes. Or perhaps we are asleep in bed. The room is shrouded
in darkness, and our recumbent attitude, together with the weight of
bed-clothes, hampers our movements and probably makes us more cowardly. A
man will meet pain or danger boldly if he be standing upright--occupying
that erect position which is his as Lord of Creation; but his courage
does not well so high if he be supine. We are awakened suddenly by the
feel that some superhuman Presence is in the room. We are transfixed with
terror, we cannot find either the bell-rope or the matches, while we
_dare_ not leap out of bed and make a rush for the door lest we should
encounter we know not what. In an agony of fear, we feel it moving
towards us; it approaches closer, and yet closer, to the bed, and--for
what may or may not then happen we must refer our readers to the pages of
this book.
But the sceptical reader will say: "This is all very well, but--there are
_no_ haunted houses. All these alleged strange happenings are due to a
vivid imagination, or else to rats and mice." (The question of deliberate
and conscious fraud may be rejected in almost every instance.) This
simple solution has been put forward so often that it should infallibly
have solved the problem long ago. But will such a reader explain how it
is that the noise made by rats and mice can resemble slow, heavy
footsteps, or else take the form of a human being seen by several
persons; or how our imagination can cause doors to open and shut, or else
create a conglomeration of noises which, physically, would be beyond the
power of ordinary individuals to reproduce?

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