March 3, 2020
This story comes from Spirits of Frederick by Alyce T. Weinberg.
“”I came home late one afternoon…figured I’d shower and shave in a hurry. Well, our bedroom is up in the slave loft of this old house we’ve bought in Linganore…so I’m bending down over a dresser drawer…when, out of the corner of my eye, I see a pudgy little broad (girl) standing against the wall. Here’s this gal, four-feet-two or less, standing under the eaves. And I say, ‘Oh God! Here we go again.'”
This was part of a story William “Bill” Russell told the cashiers at a local bank. He was rather new to the area, having bought a house built in 1797 in the county (Lake Linganore area). The house stood in a grove of trees on a country road, has a pitched roof supported by thick, stone walls dotted with small, shuttered windows. It has an attic and a dirt cellar with permanent hooks in the wall and ceiling on which to hang hams – or chain slaves.
The Russells’ are city people who came to the area looking for peace and harmony “of a country place”. “They have seven children, good looks, charm and a sense of humor – otherwise, they would’ve been long gone.”
Dark stains would appear on freshly sanded floors and doors. These stains were in the shape of fingers and toes. Frayed tarot cards would appear from under the bed. No one in the family would claim these cards. When the Russells’ St. Bernard would sniff at the old smudges, she would always slink away, with her tail between her legs. An old bent, tin cup would keep returning to the kitchen sink, no matter how many times it would be thrown out.
After weathering the throes of remodeling, and the workmen were long gone, they began hearing things. And not the normal sounds you would hear in the country! They would hear doors opening and closing, toilets flushing by themselves. They even had friends and neighbors that would bear witness.
When the family bought the house, it had been empty for three years. Before them, an architect lived in the house and they were told he left suddenly to join a guru, but nobody told them the house was haunted
(Of course not!)
They took the doors to Goodwill and had them stripped down to bare wood (I guess Goodwill did that back then?) and when the carpenter put them back on the hinges, the doors wouldn’t shut or would bounce back open. Bill shoved the door closed with his hip and four dirty fingerprints appeared. “Just like that!” the temperature in the room dropped at least ten degrees. The carpenter picked up his tools and walked off the job.
Even after putting two coats of a dark stain on the doors, the fingerprints reappeared. At some point, they found out another owner – Mr. Peddicord – died on the other side of the door. He was found by C. P. Jacobs, the county sheriff. He had been shot and no suspect was ever apprehended.
One night, they realized their dog was gone. They went upstairs to look for her, found footprints by the newly sanded wood floors – fresh footprints. About a half hour later, the front door pops open and in walks the dog. She – the dog – walked upstairs, stands near the footprints and they disappear.
Every morning, about 5 o’clock, the dog would start growling like somebody was outside. Her ears would perk up and her fur would gristle, she would prance around until someone let her out. She would streak to the barn door and run around in circles. They eventually put up a fence, to keep her from running to the barn.
One day, they’re sitting on the patio…a thunderstorm blows up and they notice that one of the attic windows is flapping in the breeze. Bill goes up to close it…by the time he gets there, it’s already closed and locked.
The guest bed shakes, drawers will slam getting hands caught.
The little girl Bill saw? He is the only one that has seen her – and only her clothing. She was transparent… they think she is always there, someplace, and have named her Hatti.
Is she the child of a slave, sold away from her mother? Is she the trespasser? Or is she being trespassed against? Did she frighten poor old Mr. Peddicord into accidentally shooting himself? Did she appear to the architect, sending him to seek a guru?
In any case, the Russells aren’t leaving. Bill stats that she gives him stories to talk about…
“What’s going to happen next?”
I speak my heart out.
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