Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visitors of the Night: Are all Georgian houses haunted? | Marie Guillot, October 2010

Visitors of the Night
Are all Georgian houses haunted?
by Marie Guillot, © October 2010

A scream. Then we hear Lina trying to force open the door of the old library where we are sitting. In a state of frenzy, she finally succeeds and enters the room. She is white as a ghost.
“I knew your house was haunted. They all are when they are so old, especially in Ireland.”
Having lived for 12 years in that tri-centenarian Georgian house, I thought I knew it inside out.
Lina and Garry, our American friends, are visiting us for the first time this evening.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I saw a ghost. I know you won't believe me, but I saw it moving.”
I offered:
“Let's retrace your steps, Lina. You'll show me where you saw the ghost.”
Reluctantly, holding my arm, she leads me back through the dimly lit lobby, towards the kitchen.
Then she turns around.
“Look over there. That's where I saw it.”
We are now facing the front door of the house; actually an inside glass door, preceding the final porch which has another door, the one visitors would come at.
Both of us are staring, holding our breath.
In a flash, I see a shadow moving behind the glass.
“Did you see it Marie?” she shouts. “Now you believe me.”

We were warned: there are stories about the house. Among them, a ghost soccer team playing on the main lawn; a stain of blood that does not come off a wall; a carriage coming to the front door, heard but not seen.
Since then, we have added our own stories to the repertoire. Namely a ghost dog on a Halloween night; the moaning of a child, audible only in one precise spot upstairs; and, of course, various unexplained rumblings during the winter nights. Not to mention that a piece of gutter fell down shortly after we moved in, as well as a large portion of one ceiling.
As French people, brought up from birth with la raison pure (rationalism), my family was rather excited about those stories. The game was to find a proper explanation for each incident.
Until, one day, or rather, one night...
Back from a late outing in Cork, exhausted and eager to crawl directly into bed, I made my last stop in the upstairs bathroom. There, in the quietness of the place, I heard distinctly a double tap at the window. I froze, looking blandly at the closed curtain. Tap Tap again. I have to admit that I left the room without further exploration.

Against Lina's will, I open the glass door. There, we see two bewildered crouching creatures.
Martine, Pierre!” I exclaim, “que faites-vous la?” (what are you doing there?)
The young French couple are our guests for the week. Having no English, they had decided to stay out tonight, so as not to interfere with our visitors.
They were only trying to enter quietly without bothering anyone. Now, they are deeply embarrassed by the turmoil they have created. Lina relaxes a little bit, but says that she can still feel something strange about the house. So do I. It's a matter of interpretation... and of pulling the curtain.

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